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.