The week of boxing starts in Atlantic city in the USA headlined by Claressa Shields vs Ivana Habazin. Claressa Shields looks to add to her impressive collection of belts by picking up the vacant WBC and WBO super welterweight Woman’s world titles. Facing her is Ivana Habazin the former IBF welterweight champion. This fight shouldn’t be all that competitive seeing as Shields is one of the best female fighters right now and Habazin hasn’t faced any decent opposition since being stopped by Mikaela Lauren in 2016. For all the drama around this fight it’s no where near as good of a fight as Shield’s last fight where she became the undisputed middleweight champion. I predict Shields to either win a wide decision or to stop Ivana on her feet in the later rounds.
On the under card Alicia Napoleon Espinosa fights Elin Cederroos in a unification at super middleweight. I can’t say all that much about this fight other than i’m glad that they are unifying though its not surprising considering their division only has 23 active fighters in it. I’ve watched Napoleon fight a few times and she’s a good fighter and has also faced better competition than Cederroos which is why I think she’ll win a decision over 10 rounds to claim another title.
Elsewhere on the under card Jaron Ennis returns in what should be a one sided bout vs Bakhtiyar Eyubov. Ennis could be one of the future stars of the sport however he won’t get there unless his competition is stepped up. Eyubov isn’t anywhere near his level and I think Ennis will likely break him down in the later rounds because Eyubov is very tough and won’t want to be stopped in front of an audience on television. If he can take Ennis late into the fight and Ennis has stamina issues this fight could be interesting because Eyubov is a decent puncher so watch out for that. The final under card bout I want to highlight on this card is Apti Davtaev vs Keith Barr. Davtaev is a heavyweight with a lot of potential but it seems to be getting wasted as he hasn’t progressed opponent wise for a while now and he is getting to that age where he needs decent fights to get himself into the title mix. Barr isn’t the opponent to get there as really hes a domestic gatekeeper in the USA and not much else. Davtaev should win this within 4 or 5 rounds and hopefully his next fight is a step up from this level.
The next card of the weekend comes out of Atlantic city yet again this time Jesse Hart vs Joe Smith Jr headlines. This is one of my favourite fights of the weekend because it just features two guys that are good fighters who are fighting just to fight not for any made up title or some other bullshit. Jesse Hart continues his new campaign at light heavyweight after moving up by fighting world title challenger Joe Smith Jr however this fight is personal for Hart because he wants to exact revenge for his mentor Bernard Hopkins who in his final fight was stopped by Smith. For Smith he wants another shot at a title after he feels he didn’t perform to his best vs Dmitry Bivol last year. I think this fight will be extremely competitive and entertaining as both are big punchers and have huge motivation for this fight. However I do think Hart will come out the winner because I think Light heavy suits him well and he pushed Gilberto Ramirez to the edge twice in championship fights while beyond one big punch Smith looked out of ideas vs Bivol.
On the under card Stevon Nelson takes on Cem Kilic in a battle of unbeaten super middleweights. This is the biggest test of their careers for both of them and especially in the case of Nelson could be a pivotal moment for them. I’m not sure who wins this fight but for Nelson its vital he wins this fight as he can’t afford to lose at this level at the age of 31 if he still wants to challenge for a title. Whats more likely for either of them going forward is that they get called up to fight a big name who needs a tune up fight and thats their opportunity to spring an upset and get their name out there.
Also on the under card Joseph Adorno fights Hector Garcia in a step up fight where if he gets the KO i’ll be impressed. Adorno is only 20 but has been very impressive in his fights so far and I expect him to continue looking good here. Sonny Conto , Jeremy Adorno and Xander Zayas all take part in prospect building fights while Shinard Bunch takes on Dennis Okoth over 6 rounds in a fight where I think Okoth will pull off the upset. Okoth is a good fighter that just doesn’t have a promoter behind him which has led to him facing prospects on the road. Because he’s always in competitive fights I think he will have the edge over the still green Shinard Bunch.
The Final card that i’m interested in this weekend is located in Texas and features Jaime Munguia vs Gary O’Sullivan over 12 rounds for no title. I wrote an article about this fight yesterday and so won’t go into detail on here. To sum it up I think Munguia stops O’Sullivan but I also think his lack of defense will still show and will lead many to write him off as a fighter even though he’s still very young.
On the under card Franchon Crews Dezum defends her WBC and WBO Super middleweight Woman’s world titles vs Alejandra Jimenez over 10 rounds. Crews is a good fighter and also more used to the weight class than Jimenez who is moving down from heavyweight for this fight. I think Crews will win and hopefully fight the winner of Napoleon vs Cederroos for the undisputed super middleweight championship.
Elsewhere on the under card Hector Tanajara takes on Juan Carlos Burgos over 10 rounds. Tanajara is a good fighter that doesn’t have the most power but I don’t think this will stop him challenging for a title and I also don’t think he loses before he gets there as a lot of vacant belts will open up in the next year or so. I think he will win this fight on points because Burgos isn’t what he was and also hasn’t fought in over a year. Joshua Franco fights Jose Alejandro Burgos over 10 rounds in a fight that I don’t think will be all that competitive. Burgos has been stopped at a lower weight than this and Franco will have gained lots of experience after his trilogy with Oscar Negrete. This will enable him to get the KO somewhere between rounds 3 and 6. Both Hector Valdez and Angel Fierro fight in step up fights that they should come through though Fierro could have some problems with Alex Martin. James Wilkins , George Rincon and Tristan Kalkreuth take part in prospect building fights on the under card as well.
This is the first major boxing weekend of the year and it should be a good one though from a UK stand point it will be hard to find ways to watch most of these fights. I hope you all enjoy the weekends fights and that all the boxers get home safely, as always I’ll be back next week for a preview of the upcoming weekends action.