Saturday, December 16, 2017

Billy Joe Saunders vs. David Lemieux

Place Bell, Laval, Canada, Dec. 16
By Peter Lim

This boxer versus banger matchup might appear a virtual tossup on paper, but fights are not fought on paper and the action that transpires in the squared circle will be markedly different and more one-sided than what was predicted on the drawing board. Styles make fights and Saunders (25-0, 12 KOs) will have Lemiuex (38-3, 33 KOs) all figured out in this one.

There’s little mystery to Lemiuex’s modus operandi - come forward, close the distance with the jab and let your fists fly. It’s a right-handed style Saunders has dealt with his entire career. Saunders’ educated left-handed style, on the other hand, is something Lemieux has never dealt with on the world stage. (His first-round KO over a washed-up Hector Camacho Jr. doesn’t count).

After a feeling-out round or two, Saunders dominates the exchanges with two-fisted combinations punctuated with his southpaw right hook. Lemieux keeps things suspenseful by rocking Saunders with occasional power punches but they are too few and far in between to shift the momentum of the fight. The accumulation of punches eventually takes its toll on Lemieux as he is dropped multiple times for an eighth-round TKO.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux

Madison Square Garden, New York, Dec. 9
By Peter Lim

The good big man defeats the good little man in this excellent showdown, a historical first in the sport between a pair of two-time Olympic gold medalists. As savvy and defensively flawless as Rigondeaux is, his eight-pound climb up two weight divisions to 130 will be too much of a size disadvantage to overcome against a fighter of Lomachenko’s caliber. Rigondeaux was a small 122 to begin with, and Lomachenko will probably move on to 135, maybe even 140, before his career is over.
Lomachenko’s victories against Gary Russell Jr. and Nicholas Walters provide somewhat of a harbinger to how this fight will unfurl. Like Rigondeaux, Russell was a slick, counter-punching southpaw and Walters a crude right-handed version of the Cuban. Lomachenko had little trouble dealing with both opponents’ style.

The first half of the fight will be competitive with Lomachenko pressing the action with his signature high-volume punches and Rigondeaux countering with accuracy and timing. But Lomachenko’s punches, especially his body shots, will take more of a toll on Rigondeaux than vice versa. As Rigondeaux fades, Lomachenko ups his punch output, dominating the middle and late rounds to win a comfortable decision.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Jermell Charlo vs. Erickson Lubin

Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, NY, Oct. 14
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Jermell Charlo (29-0, 14 KOs) could not have a better sparring partner than Errol Spence to fine tune his skills for Erickson Lubin (18-0, 12 KOs). Lubin, at this juncture of his career at least, might be a B or B-minus version of Spence, so Charlo will be ready for anything he brings to the table.

But take Spence out of the equation, and Charlo will still be a substantial favorite. Both fighters have about equal punching power but Charlo is superior in just about every other department, especially in big fight experience. It will take Charlo three or four rounds to figure Lubin out, but once he does, he will systematically break him down and stop him with a multi-punch combination in the eighth round.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV, Sept. 16
TV: Showtime Pay-Per-View
By Peter Lim

To label this fight as a skills-versus-power matchup would simply be an overgeneralization. True, Alvarez has the edge in skills and Golovkin in power. But Canelo is no slouch in the power department and GGG, a former Olympic gold medalist, might have lost a mere 10 rounds in his previous 17 title defenses.

Canelo's superior hand and foot speed befuddles GGG for the first half of the fight. Fluidly sidestepping GGG's charges, Canelo rattles the Kazakh with picturesque and rapid-fire combinations to the head and ribcage like no other boxer has done before. GGG finds sporadic moments of success with his jab and by investing in well-placed crunching shots to the torso, but they are too few and far between to win any of the first six rounds.

The power differential begins to mark a shift in momentum in the seventh round. While Canelo is a natural 154-pounder who hits like a middleweight, GGG is a natural 160-pounder who hits like a light heavyweight. As flashy and crowd-pleasing as Canelo's flurries were in the first half of the fight, GGG's more deliberate and educated punches has exacted more of a toll on Canelo than vice versa.

Pumping his sledgehammer jab overtime, GGG presses the action with calculated pressure and begins to land the more debilitating blows with increasing frequency. Canelo feistily continues to box and bang but it becomes clear that his punches don't pack the same TNT as those of GGG.

Going into the ninth round, it appears Canelo has built enough of a lead to simply stay on his feet, cruise and perhaps steal one more round to win the fight. But his Mexican DNA refuses to let him turn into a Mayweather. He meets GGG head on and pays a high price as GGG gets the better of the exchanges with bludgeoning punches upstairs and down.

GGG drops Canelo for the first time in his career with a body shot at the end of the tenth round that appears to sap him of whatever reserves he has left in his tank. Rather than resorting to survival mode, Canelo decides to go for broke and comes out firing with both fists in the eleventh round. GGG easily absorbs the incoming fire and drops Canelo three more times but the brave Mexican beats the count each time and miraculously survives the round.

Coming out for the final round, Canelo is an exhausted fighter but GGG has also depleted most of his firepower. He goes through the motions of chasing Canelo around the ring, doing enough to win the round but unable to land a fight-ending punch. At the end of the day, all judges have Canelo winning more rounds but GGG is declared the victor by close but unanimous decision courtesy of the multiple knockdowns.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Floyd Mayweather Jr. versus Conor McGregor

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV, Aug. 26
TV: Showtime PPV
By Peter Lim

Let's face it; anyone who thinks this is a real fight that might even be remotely competitive is borderline delusional. Imagine the fastest wide receiver in the NFL challenging Usain Bolt to a 100-meter race; that's how much of a mismatch this amounts to.

Explosive sprinting is a major component of the wide receiver's job description but he also has to catch the ball, sidestep, break tackles and make tackles. Bolt on the other hand, has only had to run in a straight line for a fixed distance as fast as he can for his entire career.

Likewise, boxing is a major component of McGregor's sport, but he also has had to kick, wrestle, grapple, apply choke holds and defend himself against all those maneuvers. Since he was a preteen, Mayweather has specialized in boxing, and boxing only, winning an Olympic bronze in the amateurs and going undefeated in 49 pro fights.

From a pugilistic standpoint, the ball will be in Mayweather's court for the entirety of the fight. Even at age 40 and coming off a two-year layoff, he will be able to end the fight as and when he pleases, including in the opening round. But Mayweather duped the public, and perhaps even McGregor, into believing that this is a legitimate competition so he will keep up that illusion and carry McGregor into the middle rounds.

He might even allow McGregor to unleash a flurry or two along the way while avoiding any direct hits with his signature shoulder roll. He begins to exert his superiority in the fifth round and hurts McGregor with a few well-placed shots to the body. In the sixth round, McGregor's inexperience in the ring becomes painfully obvious as leaves himself wide open for a body-head combination that sends him to the canvass for the full count.

Both Mayweather and McGregor will walk away with millions from their ultimate con job, but it will mark one of the darkest days of combat sports. Hopefully, fans will learn from this travesty and will never again be fooled again by a hype-over-substance ruse of this magnitude.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Terence Crawford vs. Julius Indongo

Pinnacle Bank Arena, Omaha, NE, Aug. 19
By Peter Lim

At this juncture of his career, Terence Crawford (31-0, 22 KOs) is a class or two above everyone in the 140-pound division. But from a style standpoint, no one stands a better chance of pulling off an upset against him as the tall, rangy and awkward Julius Indongo (22-0, 11 KOs).

Indongo, 34, came out of nowhere (Namibia is as close to nowhere as you can get) over the last eight months to capture two of the four junior welterweight belts. (Crawford owns the other two). A southpaw, he fights at fights at a frenetic pace, bouncing around on springy legs while firing long, whippersnapper punches from crazy angles. It will give Crawford fits in the early rounds.

By the fifth round, though, Crawford would have figured out his style, kills his rhythm by smothering him in clinches and begins delivering strategic punches upstairs and down. Crawford's accurate shots to Indongo's beanpole torso gradually takes its toll as he systematically breaks the African down with a combination of finesse and fury.

Indongo's legs begin to betray him in the late rounds rendering him more or less a stationary target for the sharpshooting Crawford who clinically dissects and stops him in the tenth round.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mikey Garcia vs. Adrien Broner

Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, NY, July 29
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

All one needs to do is look at Broner's 2013 loss to Marcos Maidana to know how this fight will unfold. Garcia is a sharper, more polished version of Maidana and Broner is no better now than when he faced the tough Argentinean.

And if the saying that you're only as good as your last fight bears carries any weight, Broner is really in trouble. If he had to struggle to win a split decision against an 18-4-2 opponent in his last outing, he's in for a beating against a fighter of Garcia's caliber.

Broner's speed might trouble Garcia for the first two rounds but once Garcia figures him out, he will walk him down, beat him to the punch and brutalize him with combinations. Broner begins fighting on survival mode as early as the fourth round but Garcia is measured and relentless at the same time as he continues to break Broner down with vicious and accurate shots upstairs and down.
In the ninth round, Garcia fires a right to the head followed by a left took to the ribcage that sinks Broner to his knees for the full count, exposing him, beyond all doubt, as the most overrated and over (self) hyped fighter in the recent history of the sport.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Jermall Charlo vs. Jorge Sebastian Heiland

Barclay's Center, Brooklyn, NY, July 29
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Heiland's crude, brawling style is tailor-made for Charlo. Nevermind that Heiland is only the second southpaw Charlo has faced as a pro. That it will be Charlo's debut fight at 160 pounds will also be a non factor. Heiland will not only be a sitting duck for Charlo, he will actually walk into Charlo's incoming blows.

Given that Charlo has dropped and stopped fighters in world title bouts with every punch in the book - left jab, left hook, left uppercut, right cross and right uppercut - the only question mark in this style mismatch will be when and how Heiland will meet his demise. The crystal ball answer to that is, a double left hook in the fourth round.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Manny Pacquiao vs. Jeff Horn

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia, June 2
By Peter Lim

Granted, Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38 KOs) is not the same fighter he was 10 or even five years ago, but this is a gross mismatch no matter how over the hill he is. For a fighter with 17 pro bouts, Horn (16-0-1, 11 KOs) has looked pretty good but not in any way exceptional against B-minus opposition.

The disparity in talent and experience cannot be more glaring. Pacquiao drops Horn multiple times before stopping him in the fifth round in a one-sided affair.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sergei Kovalev vs. Andre Ward II

Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, NV, June 17
By Peter Lim

The first fight unfolded exactly as I predicted, except that the wrong fighter won the decision. Since both fighters truly believe they decisively won the fight, they will fine-tune rather than overhaul their respective game plans in the rematch. The course of the rematch though, will for the most part, repeat itself.

In the first encounter Kovalev inflicted more damage from mid-to-long range but Ward was more effective when he took the fight into chest-to-chest territory. Ward will try and capitalize on his success of smothering Kovalev and killing his momentum with his signature jab-and-grab and hold-and-hammer tactics, while being infuriatingly elusive on the outside.

But Kovalev will have also made adjustments in training camp in both his offense and defense. The Russian intensifies his pressure by doubling up on his jab and increasing his punch output. At the same time, he knows he cannot win the hold-and-hit exchanges that Ward will instigate so, rather than trying to outpunch Ward in the entanglements, he strategically clamps down with the bearhug and headlock to force a break.

The heavier handed Russian might score a flash knockdown or two en route to winning eight of the 12 rounds, just as he did in the first fight. Hopefully, the judges will get it right this time around.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Regis Prograis vs. Joel Diaz

Turning Stone Casino, Verona, NY, June 9
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

This matchup can best be described as a B-caliber superfight. If boxing were baseball, Prograis-Diaz would be the minor league world series. Both undefeated fighters have shined on the prospect circuit and have been on the cusp of being elevated to contender status. Both are exciting boxer-brawlers and neither likes to take a backward step, but Progais is the more cerebral of the two and that will ultimately tip the balance of the fight.

The early and middle rounds are competitive with each fighter testing the other's chin and punching power in many a ferocious exchange. But as the fight progresses, Prograis capitalizes on Diaz's weaknesses more the vice versa. Firing his southpaw right jab in doubles and triples to set up combinations, Prograis dominates the late rounds to win a close but convincing unanimous decision.

I predicted Prograis would win via a mix of methodology and machismo, but it was all machismo.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Kell Brook vs. Errol Spence

Bermall Lane Football Ground, London, England, May 27
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

All things being equal and sans any unforeseen collisions of styles, sleights of hand, or tricks under their sleeves, Spence (21-0, 18 KOs) should emerge victorious in this scintillating encounter. His slick southpaw mode of combat, explosive punching and defense should allow him to out-maneuver Brook (36-1, 25 KOs) to a close but unanimous decision.

But in this sport where two men of similar size do battle in a 20X20 square foot ring, all things are never equal. And there are always intangibles that come into play.

We know Brook has a rock solid chin, having stood up to Gennady Golovkin's murderous punches for five rounds while managing to effectively return fire in spurts. But Spence is riding a 12-fight KO streak, scoring knockouts against fighters who had never previously been stopped in his last six bouts. Unlike Golovkin, though, Spence's potency stems from accuracy, timing and immaculate technique which can have a different impact than sheer brute punching power.

Punch for punch, Spence is probably the deadlier of the two, but Brook is no slouch in the rocking, socking department either. Moreover, he throws punches in bunches and has the propensity and audacity to return fire a split second after getting nailed. He hits harder than any fighter Spence has previously faced, and Spence's chin has never been significantly tested before. The quintessential bully, Brook imposes his will on his opponents simply by being rougher, tougher and more alpha.

But Spence's ring generalship, rooted in his decorated amateur career, ensures that he avoids being lured into the back-alley brawl that Brook will try to instigate. Time and again, Brook manages to rock him with clean punches but Spence has the wherewithal to cover, clinch and spin away from any sustained punishment and box his way to a decision win in the 115-113 to 116-112 range.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, NV, May 6
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View
By Peter Lim

This all-Mexican showdown is a super fight only by virtue of celebrity, not because their respective skill sets match up evenly. Canelo earned his superstardom the hard way, taking on an impressive list of opponents with a diverse array of styles. Conversely, Chavez, for the most part, inherited his lofty status from his legendary dad and namesake.

Talent-wise, this will prove to be a mismatch. Chavez's size advantage will not even be factor in this fight.

Utilizing his superior ring IQ, Canelo deftly boxes circles around Chavez, much like Sergio Martinez did for 11 rounds in 2012. At opportune moments, he steps in with power punches and accurate combinations that cumulatively break Chavez down as the fight wears on.

Chavez proves gutsy if nothing else and tries to up the ante by pressing the action in the later half of the fight. But Canelo will not be content to cruise to a decision victory. He meets Chavez's aggression head on, winning the heated exchanges with the better-educated punch sequences. Canelo hurts Chavez with a counter hook and immediately pounces on him with a two-fisted flurry to stop him in the tenth round.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Anthony Joshua vs. Vladimir Klitschko

Wembly Stadium, London, April 29
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Over a decade ago, I predicted that once the Klitschko brothers were gone, the heavyweight division would return to normal with the average fighter standing 6-foot-2 to 6-foot-4 and weighing in between 220 and 230 pounds. Anything above 6-foot-4 and 230 pounds, I believed, posed more of a liability than an asset to a fighter in a 20X20 square foot ring. The Klitschko brothers were merely an anomaly in the sport.

How wrong I was. The heavyweight division has undergone an unprecedented growth spurt over the last 15 years leaving the division in a perpetual state of gigantism.

Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KOs) is the quintessential example that a bigger, bulked-up frame need not necessarily impede agility, movement or explosiveness. His jab proves not only faster than Klitschko's, it is harder as well. First on the draw, Joshua catches Klitschko with one-twos throughout the fight. In the seventh round, Joshua, 27, closes the show with a picturesque straight right as emphatically and decisively as Klitachko (64-4, 53 KOs) used to do with that same punch throughout his career.

Klitschko, 41, finally retires and the long overdue changing of the guard is official.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Shawn Porter vs. Andre Berto

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY, April 22
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Porter's and Berto's styles ensures this will be fan-friendly encounter no matter the duration of the fight. Porter (26-2-1, 16 KOs) is a natural brawler by instinct who can box cerebrally when he needs to; Berto (31-4, 24 KOs) is a boxer who favors thinking over instinct, but when caught in the trenches, he can duke it out with the best of them.

Both fighters are veterans of numerous bruising and bloody battles but Porter appears to have emerged from the rubble the fresher and less-shopworn of the two.

Porter's slight edge in strength and punch resistance will make all the difference. Berto attempts to stick and move only be cut off and forced to trade. The ultimate bully, Porter gets the better of the exchanges and Berto begins to fade in the middle rounds.

Fighting in desperation mode, Berto tries to lure Porter in and set him up with a fight-ending counter, but Porter absorbs his best shots with ease and aplomb. Berto eventually succumbs to Porter's sustained aggression in the tenth round, tasting the canvass on two or three occasions along the way.

Porter stopped Berto' one round short of what I predicted but everything else went down the way I called it, including the knock downs.

Jermell Charlo vs. Charles Hatley

Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY, April 22
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Although their records do not appear too disparate, this all-Texas matchup is a mismatch. Charlo's level of opposition exceeds Hatley's by leap and bounds, he's superior in every respect of the game and, despite his substantially lower knockout percentage, is the harder puncher.

The fight might be close in the early rounds solely because Charlo (28-0, 13 KOs) is a slow and tentative starter. But once he figures Hatley (26-1-1, 18 KOs) out, Charlo effortlessly imposes his will, methodically dissects Hatley and knocks him out with a picturesque multi-punch combination in the sixth round.

I was spot on with this prediction. Charlo was the consummate pro and Hatley was exposed as an overhyped pretender.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jason Sosa

MGM National Harbor, Oxon Hill, Maryland, April 8
By Peter Lim

The temptation (and frequent mistake) in predicting the outcome of many fights is paying too much attention to a common opponent. There are a multitude of factors and intangibles that come into play besides the one guy they had both previously encountered. But with Vasyl Lomachenko and Jason Sosa, their performances against their common and most high-profile opponent speaks volumes about how their showdown will unfold.

As a slight favorite, Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) effortlessly dominated and stopped Nick Walters in November. Sosa (20-1-4, 15 KOs), on the other hand, was a substantial underdog when he fought Walters to a draw in 2015. It was a fair verdict despite the lopsided scores that the HBO commentators had in favor of Walters.

Sosa forced the slick and hard-hitting Walters into the trenches where they brawled on relatively even terms. Lomachenko had answers to Walters movement and nullified his power regardless of whether they engaged at long range or up close and personal.

Brain bests brawn in this showdown. As tough and doggedly determined as Sosa might be, it's no match against arguably the best ring IQ in the sport today. Mixing hard and soft punches from his southpaw stance, Lomachenko pecks, peppers and pounds Sosa with combinations upstairs and down en route to a 10th round stoppage.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs

Madison Square Garden, NY, March 18
TV: HBO Pay-Per-View
By Peter Lim

It will not be lost on Daniel Jacobs (32-1, 29 KOs) and his team that, the longer you let Gennady Golovkin (36-0, 33 KOs) hang around, the more dangerous he becomes as he figures out your style and starts piercing through your defense with lethal punches from both fists from every conceivable angle upstairs and down.

Figuring his best chance for victory is to pounce early, strike first and strike hard, Jacobs will unleash his big guns from the opening bell, sparking a shootout as violent and heart-stopping as Hagler-Hearns.

Jacobs lands some hellacious right hands and left hooks in his blitzkrieg attack, testing Golovkin's chin, heart and grace under fire like never before. The Kazakh appears out on his feet for the first time in his career, but as Jacobs moves in for the kill, he runs smack into one of Golovkin's sledgehammer hooks that renders the New Yorker unconscious in front of his hometown crowd before the end of the first round.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Danny Garcia vs. Keith Thurman

Barclay's Canter, Brooklyn, NY, March 4
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Garcia and Thurman represent each other's toughest tests to date. Garcia might have fought a longer list of quality opponents, but in that same vein, he is the more shopworn of the two. Both are 28 years old but Thurman appears to be the fresher of the two and holds an edge in both speed and power.

Garcia has proven he has the dexterity to out-maneuver slick speedsters and the chin to outlast crushing power punchers but he has never faced a fighter like Thurman, with such a lethal combination of blaze and bang . He neutralized Amir Khan's speed with timing and absorbed Lucas Mathysse's power shots with aplomb. Thurman, though, represents an eclectic hybrid of Khan and Mathysse who has incorporated their best assets but discarded their weaknesses.

The result of this showdown will be determined not by who has the better assets but who has the more exploitable weakness. Shawn Porter and Luis Collazo exposed Thurman's Achilles' heel - he doesn't handle body shots too well - something that has not been lost on Garcia and his camp.

Thurman dominates the early rounds with superior speed and movement, but midway through the bout, Garcia digs a hook to the torso that visibly hurts Thurman. While Porter and Collazo allowed Thurman to regroup, Garcia does not make the same mistake. He zeroes his shots downstairs to inflict further damage. Thurman never fully recovers and, for the remainder of the fight, he is preoccupied with protecting his ribcage, paving the way for Garcia to cruise to a comfortable decision victory. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Carl Frampton vs. Leo Santa Cruz II

MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV, Jan. 28
TV: Showtime
By Peter Lim

Carl Frampton (23-0, 14 KOs) entered the ring a slight underdog when he faced Leo Santa Cruz (32-1-1, 18 KOs) last year. Frampton pulled off a minor upset by controlling the distance and tempo of the fight to befuddle Santa Cruz and edge him by a majority decision.

Having won their first encounter, Frampton should be a slight favorite in the rematch. But it will be Santa Cruz's turn to adjust his fight strategy and turn the tables on Frampton this time around.

Santa Cruz underestimated Frampton's boxing ability and gamesmanship in their first encounter and tried to steamroll and out-brawl the Irishman as he did successfully against 32 previous opponents. He won't make the same mistake in the rematch.

Santa Cruz will tone down his signature blitzkrieg attacks in lieu of a more calculated but less macho approach. Utilizing his longer reach, he beats Frampton to the jab from the outside. He nullifies Frampton's in-and-out forays by covering and countering with accurate shots instead of returning fire with reckless abandon like he did in the first fight.

Santa Cruz's measured game plan might make him a less exciting fighter but, against the wily Frampton, it gets the job done. Santa Cruz wins a close but clear-cut decision on the scorecards, laying the groundwork for an intriguing tie breaker.