Friday, June 24, 2016

Anthony Joshua vs Dominic Breazeale

02 Arena, London, England, June 25
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

In the 2012 Olympics Joshua struck gold while Breazeale was eliminated in the first round of the tournament. Their careers played out pretty much the same way in the pro ranks with Joshua facing and defeating a substantially higher caliber of opponents than Breazeale.

In their previous fights, both beat powerful but relatively inexperienced southpaws. But while Joshua (16-0, 16 KOs) effortlessly dismantled Charles Martin in two rounds, Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs) was decked by Amir Monsour in a life-and-death struggle before Monsour succumbed to a jaw injury in the sixth round.

Any which way you look at it, Joshua is the more composite, fluid and accomplished fighter. Faster on the trigger with his jab, Joshua needs only a round or two to figure out Breazeale, and once he does, it becomes a one-sided affair. Dominating the action from long range and up close and personal, Joshua drops Breazeale multiple times before stopping him in the fifth round. 

Joshua could have ended the fight at any time; he just chose to hold back, get in some rounds and give the fans their money's worth.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter

Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, NY, June 25
By Peter Lim

Styles make fights and this one's riddled with intangibles. Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) is a slick boxer with fight-ending power in both fists. Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) is a well-rounded boxer-brawler who, when matched against better-skilled fighters, knows how to use his brute strength to bully his way to victory as he did against Adrien Broner and Paul Malignaggi. In his only loss, Porter was not outboxed but out-bullied by an even tougher brute by the name of Kell Brook.

Thurman is the better boxer so the overriding question here is, can Porter evade or absorb Thurman's bombs well enough to impose his will on Thurman? The answer is probably no.

Thurman is calculating with his power punches; he delivers concussive shots to the head and digs in paralyzing body blows at opportune moments before sneaking out the side door.This befuddles Porter and stymies his offense, allowing Thurman to dictate the action with relative ease. If Thurman goes for the knockout, he might very well get it; but Porter is too dangerous for him to want to take that risk, and Thurman is content to cruise to a comfortable decision victory.

Great effort by both fighters. Porter sure has a strong set of whiskers on him. Had he applied more consistent pressure on Thurman, the belt might be his.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Craig Baker vs. Steve Lovett

Lakeland Events Center, Lakeland, Florida, June 12
TV: Bounce
By Peter Lim

This intriguing cross-town match-up between two Houston area light heavyweights is as dead-even a match-up in actuality as it is on paper. The winner propels himself from prospect to contender while the loser takes a U-turn back to the proverbial square one. Being from the same Houston area, they have sparred before so neither will be too much of a mystery to the other.

Both boxers favor using jolting jabs to set up potentially lethal right hands and both will find a measure of success deploying that mode of combat against each other. But Lovett, at six-foot-two, sports a slight height advantage over Baker, which ultimately tips the balance of the fight. Lovett is first on the trigger just a tad more often enough to eke out a split decision win. 

It's almost inconceivable to me how Lovett was so flawless for the first five rounds but unraveled so completely like a ball of yarn in the second half of the fight. Kudos to Baker for hanging tough and making the right adjustments.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Ruslan Provodnikov vs. John Molina Jr.

Turning Stone Casino, Verona, NY, June 11
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Whether this bout ends in the first round or, as unlikely as it may be, goes the distance, we're guaranteed an action-packed war that has the potential of winning awards for the Fight of the Year, Knockout of the Year and Round of the Year categories. Both are relentless kill-or-be-killed fighters who pay little attention to defense.

Molina (28-6, 23 KOs) might have a slight edge in power, punch for punch, but as in Hagler-Hearns, the harder chin prevails over the harder punch in this fight. Provodnikov (25-4, 18 KOs) is first to strike with a combination that drives Molina back, but once Molina regains his footing, he returns fire with a vengeance, setting the tone for the rest of the fight.

The action is scintillating for the first three rounds with both fighters taking turns to unload on the other. Molina lands the harder shots but Provodnikov is the more uncompromising of the two and connects at a higher volume. By the fourth round, Provodnikov's punches have taken a higher toll on Molina than vice versa and Molina gradually begins to fade. A left-right-left hook combination drops Molina in the fifth round and Provodnikov moves in for the kill with a two-fisted assault that renders Molina out on his feet, prompting the referee to jump in and halt the action.  

Molina showed a whole new cerebral dimension to his game. The jab is the first punch a boxer learns to throw, but Molina only discovered it after 35 pro fights.