Friday, November 27, 2015

James DeGale vs. Lucian Bute

Centre Videotron, Quebec City, Canada, Nov. 28
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

In 2012 Carl Froch punished and brutally stopped Bute, leaving behind a shell of what was once a supremely confident and devastatingly accurate left upper-cutter. DeGale is offensively reckless and defensively flimsy enough to have been picked apart by the Bute of old, but the gun-shy Romanian-Canadian will be a split second too tentative to seize upon the Londoner's flaws. DeGale out-hustles, imposes his will on and eventually stops his fellow southpaw in eight rounds.

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Tyson Fury

ESPIRIT Arena, Dusseldorf, Germany, Nov. 28
By Peter Lim

Klitschko's reign is clearly coming to an end, but it will not be Fury who ends it. Short of catching the champion napping, Fury is simply too lumbering, inexperienced and immobile to infiltrate Klitschko's educated defense and produce an upset. Experience prevails over youth in this bout. In typical Klitschko fashion, the Ukrainian stabs the Irishman all night with thudding jabs before stopping him with a perfectly-timed one-two in the fifth round.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Jermall Charlo vs. Wilky Campfort

The Bomb Factory, Dallas, TX, Nov. 28
By Peter Lim

The winner of this fight simply boils down to whose jab is first to find its target, and it will be Charlo's. Both are composite boxer-punchers with sound fundamentals, but Charlo's long jolting jabs allows him to dictate the action and eventually impose his will on Campfort.

Campfort is most dangerous when he is hurt and when he catches his opponents napping, but Charlo is cerebral enough of a fighter to avoid making reckless rookie mistakes. Campfort also has the propensity to get the upper hand against stationary fighters who sit in the pocket and trade, but Charlo is just not that kind of guy.

By the fourth round Charlo's thumping jabs pave the way for damaging straight rights and left hooks. The writing is on the wall, but the determined and durable Haitian stubbornly refuses to yield and resorts to rushing Charlo in an attempt to lure him into a phone booth war. Charlo, though, sticks to his game plan, spins out of the danger zone and stops Campfort with a left-right-left in the eighth round.

There hasn't been a jab as destructive as Charlo's since Mark Breland in his heyday. It's a weapon that inflicts damage in and of itself and not just a punch to set up other power shots.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Miguel Cotto

Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, Nov. 21
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View
By Peter Lim

The temptation here is to assess Cotto's and Canelo's performances against their three common opponents - Floyd Mayweather Jr., Austin Trout and Alfonso Gomez - to gauge the outcome of their showdown, but that would be a mistake. Talent-wise, Mayweather was a notch or two above, and Gomez was a notch or two below Canelo and Cotto. Both fought competitive bouts against Trout but Trout was a difficult southpaw who has nothing in common, style-wise, with either.

The reality is, Canelo-Cotto will be more one-sided and nowhere as dynamic as the pre-fight hype has let on for the simple reason that Cotto's near-flawless previous two outings were deceiving. As excellent a trainer as Freddie Roach is, he is no miracle worker. Cotto is not the born-again youthful fighter he looked like against Sergio Martinez and Daniel Geale as both opponents were severely compromised; Martinez was reduced to a one-legged fighter for most of the bout and Geale was depleted from having to melt down to the 157-pound catch weight imposed by Cotto.

Cotto is competitive in the early rounds with jolting jabs and signature hooks to the body but as the fight progresses, the younger, fresher Canelo exposes Cotto as a fighter a tad past his prime the same way Cotto exposed Shane Mosley in 2007. Cotto, though, is less defensively sound, less punch resistant and more shopworn than Mosley was eight years ago.

By the middle rounds, Canelo is first to the draw and dominates the exchanges, not so much through better speed but slicker timing. His fluid combinations, punctuated by left hooks to the body, take a cumulative toll leaving Cotto a bloody and swollen mess. As Canelo begins to land punches with virtual impunity, either the referee or Roach will intervene in the 10th round to end the slaughter. 

Cotto might be a tad over the hill but even at 35, he still proved he retains enough skills and guile to be a top-shelf fighter in the game. There was absolutely no shame in losing as gallantly as he did against Canelo, who will likely live up to the greatness that was anticipated for Salvador Sanchez before his life was cut short at age 23.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Brandon Rios vs. Timothy Bradley

Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV, Nov. 7
By Peter Lim

Brandon Rios is almost an exact clone of Ruslan Provodnikov; although he isn't as powerful as Provodnikov, he's a tad sharper, slightly more polished and a more consistent body puncher, which will ultimately tilt the balance in this showdown.

The same thrilling back-and-forth action that was Bradley-Provodnikov transpires, with Bradley landing at a higher volume and Rios connecting with the more debilitating shots, his signature hooks to the body in particular. Working his jab overtime, Bradley pulls comfortably ahead at the halfway mark, but Rios is able to make subtle adjustments in the middle rounds to time Bradley between punches as he flurries and stop him in his tracks with accurate counters.

Rios scores a knockdown Bradley late in the fight to eke out a razor-close split decision victory in a Fight of the Year candidate.

Hats off to Rios for being honest to the fans and, more importantly to himself, in recognizing and acknowledging that he's depleted as a fighter, both mentally and physically.