Dan Rafael has reported that Stevenson and Valdez are reportedly in advanced talks for a fight which would take place in April. The fight is supposed to take place in Las Vegas with the likely venue in my opinion being the MGM grand. If this fight can be finalized and made then it’ll be one of the better match ups we see this year in the sport. For Stevenson this is the real start of his potential hall of fame run as he’s unifying immediately after winning his first super featherweight world title. At only 24 he has plenty of time and potential to build a resume which sees him enter the hall of fame. Based off his last performance I’d expect him to be a heavy favorite in this fight as Oscar Valdez didn’t look good in his own most recent bout while Stevenson took apart a world champion with relative ease. Valdez at his best can compete and even potentially win this fight as he’s got power and the performance he put on versus Miguel Berchelt was amazing. I don’t think Stevenson is a good stylistic match up for him but i’m glad hes taking the fight.
With Valdez and Stevenson fighting it puts Emanuel Navarrete in a weird spot as he was rumored to be moving up and fighting Valdez but will now have to defend his featherweight title. The WBO featherweight rankings have slim pickings and the other champions are busy so he may have to go back to fighting four or five times a year to stay busy. I’m going to write another post article about who Navarrete could fight next and what his best options are.
Abraham Nova continues his journey to becoming a featherweight in this fight as he’s only one pound over the limit. While he hasn’t made championship weight next I presume he can make it as this seems like it was a catch weight due to Encarnacion being a late replacement. William Encarnacion was a 2012 Olympian but hasn’t done great as a pro and is weighing in at almost the super featherweight division in this fight despite having most of his career at Super Bantamweight. Encarnacion has some power and decent skills but is under sized in this fight and will need to land the best punch of his life to win it in my opinion.
Abraham Nova is a big featherweight with respectable power himself. His career has stagnated over the last few years and he’s not as good technically as has been made out but hes still a fighter who could challenge for a world title some day.
Abraham Nova should be too big for Encarnacion to deal with especially considering the short notice he was given for the fight. I expect Nova to walk Encarnacion down and stop him in six or seven rounds.
This fight is an IBF eliminator for the Super Flyweight world title which Jerwin Ancajas holds. Jade Bornea is 16-0 with 9 knockouts and will take his first step into the world scene after seven years as a pro. Mohammed Obbadi is 22-1 with 13 knockouts and has stepped up to world level once before when he fought Cristofer Rosales, he lost the fight after he retired in the corner at the end of the 7th round.
Jade Bornea is a good fighter who throws quick combinations to the body and head. He works to the body well and has stopped quite a few of his opponents with body shots. Bornea had an excellent amateur career where he claimed wins over the likes of Kosei Tanaka and Murodjon Akhmadaliev, both of whom have gone on to win world titles.
Mohammed Obbadi has good movement and uses his legs a lot instead of taking the center of the ring. He mostly throws one or two punches at a time and doesn’t sit down on them so generates a lot less power than his record suggests.
I think this fight will be very competitive for the majority of the rounds but Bornea’s combination punching and consistent body work will lead him to a twelve round decision win after Obbadi slows down late in the fight. It’ll likely be an 8-4 fight in Bornea’s favour.
Joe Smith Jr was supposed to be defending his WBO Light heavyweight world title versus Englands Callum Johnson but the aforementioned Johnson tested positive for Covid. Instead of rescheduling the fight Top Rank, the promoters for this event, went in search of a replacement opponent on less than three week’s notice. Most of the fighters they contacted couldn’t make the weight in time or didn’t want to risk fighting on such short notice. Geffrard was already pencilled into fight the week before in a stay busy bout so when he got the call to fight for the world title he jumped at the opportunity.
Joe Smith Jr’s rise to an unlikely world title is well documented at this point and he’s a fighter that has fought on the world stage consistently for the last five years. Steve Geffrard on the other hand isn’t very well known at all and has spent the majority of his career fighting on small shows while building a record. Geffrard actually lost his first two professional fights after a good amateur career which set him back massively as no big promoter would invest in him. Long stretches of inactivity in recent years also haven’t helped his pro career though he has gained huge experience through sparring the likes of Sergei Kovalev and Joshua Buatsi to name just a few. While there’s little footage of Geffrard online he seems to be technically well schooled. Due to the level of the opposition in the videos and how long ago they were it’s hard to work out quite how good Geffrard is but I would presume he’s reasonably good as he has been called to spar top pro’s all over the world. A lot of fighters who become sparring partners for more established pro fighters tend to take negative traits into the ring of not letting their hands go but I think Geffrard won’t suffer from that problem. He’s trained by Kevin Cunningham who is a well regarded trainer who’s worked with multiple world champions. I don’t think Cunningham would train Geffrard if he had a sparring partner mentality or wasn’t any good which gives me hope of a good fight come Saturday night. From recent interviews Geffrard also seems to understand that this is an opportunity of a lifetime for him so I expect him to fight to the best of his abilities
Joe Smith Jr will be looking to land the overhand right throughout the fight both behind a double jab and also by itself. Smith has a decent left hook as well but the overhand right is his biggest asset and the one by which he’ll either win or lose the fight by. Smith will push forward as that’s both in his nature and his best style of fighting while Geffrard will likely box from the outside and try to land counter left hooks when Smith attempts to land his overhand rights. I expect a few closish early rounds before Smith’s power shows through when he lands an overhand right and hurts Geffrard. After that it’ll be hard for Geffrard to win rounds as Smith’s punches are more damaging and depending on his chin he could get stopped before the twelve either if Smith lands cleanly or if he gets broken down in the second half of the fight. Another more unlikely option is that Joe Smith Jr walks forward and gets countered by left hooks and kept behind Geffrard’s solid jab for twelve rounds. I could see this happening especially as Smith had a bad case of Covid last year and at the best of times hasn’t dealt with mover’s especially well. Geffrard being a late replacement also play’s to his advantage in some ways as he knows Joe Smith Jr’s style well but Smith will have no idea what Geffrard’s style is and hasn’t had time to switch up game plans. I still think Joe Smith Jr’s power and experience at the championship level will pull him through to a late stoppage or 9-3 decision but the fights an interesting one and Smith is the sort of champion who could be dethroned by any hungry challenger with the right style.
This is a good fight between two fighters that are fringe prospects especially in the case of Tazhibay. Shinard Bunch is one of the most active boxer’s in the sport as he’s had twenty fights in just over two years. He’s taken a few fights versus other prospects on the way up and while hes 0-1-1 in those fights he should have got the upset decision over Janelson Figueroa Bocachica. Tazhibay is the opposite of Bunch with him only having nine fights in six years against mostly limited competition.
Shinard Bunch has a lot of power and has been improving as a fighter due to his activity. Tazhibay hasn’t fought since 2019 and from footage still fights in an amateurish style where he doesn’t plant his feet enough to get power. He has a nice straight right hand which he throws to the body and head but rushes his punches for the most part. I think he’ll want to get into exchanges, much to his detriment, and will get clipped by a right hook from Bunch.
The activity and power difference will set these two apart with Bunch picking up a stoppage win in the third or fourth round in my opinion.
I expect this to be a good fight to watch as Nunez presses the action against his foes while Arrieta also likes to come forward. Both of these fighters are undefeated and are facing off against each other in order to prove themselves on TV. The winner will likely start to get offered fights by Premier boxing champions and with the backing of a major promoter could aim for world honors.
Luis Reynaldo Nunez is a fighter with a lot of confidence and that shows in his style in the ring as he’s not hesitant to let his hands go and establish himself on the front foot. He consistently punches to the body which is a good sign for a young prospect. I also like his punch selection and the variety of combinations he throws. He’s got respectable power but certainly won’t be regarded as a power-puncher.
Carlos Arrieta has a nice left hook to the body and is also a consistent body puncher. He doesn’t move around the ring or have the variety of punches that Nunez has in my opinion but he’s competent in his own right. He hasn’t fought many opponents with winning records and had a hard fight with Ricardo Nunez who I would expect him to stop or at least not struggle against if he’s to compete with a talent like Nunez. Ricardo Nunez isn’t a bad fighter but is past his best and was up in weight versus Arrieta at featherweight rather than his more natural weight class of Super Flyweight.
I think Luis Reynaldo Nunez will be a class above Arrieta who will get picked apart by Nunez due to the gaps in foot and hand speed. Nunez also has more tools than Arrieta who at his best will come forward and bang away at the body. I think Nunez will win by decision as Arrieta will be competitive enough that he won’t get stopped and Nunez hasn’t looked to be a devastating puncher at featherweight like he was at super bantamweight. With this fight being over the featherweight limit I would be impressed if Nunez’s power carries up through the weight classes and he stops Arrieta
This should be an entertaining fight for however long it lasts. Ali Izmailov is an up and coming prospect who’s moving quickly in the Light heavyweight division. Israel Duffus is a gatekeeper who has been a pro for ten years.
Ali Izmailov can fight both on the front and back foot though when fighting on the back foot doesn’t move around a lot. He’s a strong fighter with clubbing power which he uses to full effect when throwing left and right hooks to the body of his opponents. He has a low left hand and 90% of his defence consists of a shoulder roll which so far has been effective though may lead him vulnerable at world level. One of his favorite punches is a counter overhand right, a jab to the body and then a left hook to the head is something hes also fond of throwing. He’s very relaxed in the ring especially considering he only has six fights. I don’t think he’ll become a marquee name but I think he’ll challenge for a world title at Light heavyweight as long as he can make the weight without any issues. He hasn’t yet made championship weight for Light heavyweight which is a bit of a worry.
Israel Duffus has respectable power but doesn’t quite have the technical skills of Izmailov. A large amount of his hooks are wide and he loads up on them enough that outside of lower level competition his opponents see them coming. His upper body movement and defence in general are quite impressive especially considering the shaky start he had to his career. The biggest issue he has is that he doesn’t throw nearly enough punches and seems to have a sparring partner mentality at times as if he just let his hands go he could do a lot better. He has the power and the skill to set the punches up without much risk due to his good defence but for some reason he’ll happily not punch for minutes at a time.
I think Ali Izmailov will establish his jab to the body and head early on with the fight progressively becoming more one sided in his favor due to him out-working Duffus. Izmailov’s consistent body punching will also slow Duffus down who even while not tired doesn’t throw many punches.
Frank Sanchez is a heavyweight contender that has a lot of potential but isn’t the most exciting fighter to watch. He’s technically very good and has reasonable power but nothing special. Christian Hammer has been around the European circuit for a long time with varied success. In recent years hes become a bit of a journeyman and with him taking this fight on short notice I don’t expect him to be overly motivated.He was also injured in his fight versus Hughie Fury just a few months ago which led to him retiring in the corner.
I think Frank Sanchez will out-box Hammer without too many issues due to his superior technical skills. He also has more momentum than Hammer and has had a full training camp for this fight. Hammer tends to shell up and look stuck in the mud when he comes up to world level. I’m not sure if Sanchez will get the KO as hes not a big puncher and Hammer is tough when he wants to be. I could see the Hammer corner pulling him out late in the fight but I would lean towards Frank Sanchez winning on points.
This is a solid match up in the heavyweight division between dangerous two time world title challenger Ortiz and former world champion Martin.
Luis Ortiz is the more technically sound of the two fighters and has more power in my opinion. I’d be very confident in him winning this fight as he’s proved hes a better fighter than Martin and on tape it’s clear how skilled he is but he’s 40 and has fought for a year. With older fighters they can suddenly become washed from one fight to the next and with Ortiz’s inactivity and his bad knockout loss to Deontay Wilder you have to wonder what he has left.
Charles Martin was very lucky to become world champion as his opponent injured his knee and couldn’t continue meaning he won his title by knockout. He then lost the title in a one sided two round blowout to Anthony Joshua in 2016. He’s had two significant bouts since and gone 1-1. A close loss to Adam Kownacki was no shame but again reinforced his place in the heavyweight rankings. A more recent win over Gerald Washington was good however Washington isn’t half the fighter Ortiz is and should probably think about retirement soon. Martin hasn’t fought since early 2020 but seems to be in reasonable shape.
I think Luis Ortiz will stop Charles Martin early as he’s accurate and Martin will be rusty due to his absence from the ring. Ortiz is the better fighter and will only lose this fight if he’s aged badly in the last two years.
This is a good fight between fringe contenders Martin and Duno. Frank Martin is 14-0 and has looked great in his last two fights. He’s a combination puncher with good footwork and excellent hand speed. Martin can box adeptly on the back foot and front foot and generally has a lot of tools at his disposal.
Romero Duno is a respectable come forward fighter with slightly above average power. He isn’t as adaptable as Martin but is fairly effective in his own style of fighting.
I think Frank Martin will win a decision after ten rounds due to his adaptability and his excellent punch selection and variation in his combinations. I think Frank Martin has a lot of potential and could be a dark horse in the lightweight division where theres so many talented fighters.