There’s lots of boxing this week and while the two main cards are Prograis vs Taylor and Shakur Stevenson vs Joet Gonzalez theres plenty of other good cards starting on Thursday. The card to look out for on thursday contains a light fly weight world championship between the defending champion Elwin Soto (His first defense) and Edward Heno. The last time we saw Elwin Soto was when he won the title via a 12th round tko of Angel Acosta, he was behind on all 3 cards heading into the final round but showing he carries his power late he was able to rock Angel Acosta and force the referee to stop the fight. Many people felt including myself that this was an early stoppage and that given the chance Angel Acosta likely would have been able to make it out of the 12th round and pick up a hard earned decision. Either way that doesn’t matter now and he’s making his first defense against the number one rated WBO light fly contender Edward Heno. I expect it to be competitive in the early rounds until Elwin Soto starts to break Heno down and will likely stop him between rounds 6-10. The other notable fight on this card is Angel Acosta the former WBO light flyweight champ who is making his first comeback fight since to losing his title to the above mentioned Elwin Soto. He’ll be fighting Raymond Tabugon a fighter more known for the people he’s lost to such as Luis Nery, Juan Francisco Estrada and more recently Andrew Moloney. while he’s better than his 22-10-1 record suggests expect Acosta to take care of business in the first half of this 10 rounder. With both Acosta and Soto on the same card I imagine that if both win their fights a rematch will be made for early next year so be on the lookout for that.
The next card along is in Italy headlined by Francisco Patera defending his EBU light weight title vs Domenico Valentino. Patera is on an excellent run at the moment having beaten Lewis Ritson in a fight where he was a underdog , to then make two defenses of the EBU title he now holds and on Friday will be making his 3rd defense. Valentino was a decent amateur but at the age of 35 he’s done nothing in the pro’s which suggests to me he’ll be able to stop Patera’s run of good form. Expect Patera to win wide on points or via a late stoppage if he can wear Valentino down by being a class or two above him. The only real chance I give Valentino is if he goes through 12 rounds and because he’s Italian and he’s fighting in Italy they rob Patera. Maxim Prodan is fighting Tony Dixon in a defense of his IBF international welter weight title , I expect Prodan to stop Dixon who has struggled and been knocked down at area level in the UK. The other notable fight on this card is one of Italy’s best prospects in Daniele Scardina defending his own IBF International title but this one at super middle. He’s fighting llias Achergui who is a step down in competition compared to Scardina’s last fight and while I’m sure he’ll give it a go he’s been brought in to help Scardina progress up the IBF rankings. Whether Scardina will KO him or not i’m not sure as Scardina’s record is heavily padded to make him look like much more of a puncher than he really is.
Next up on Friday and the last major card before Saturday is Chayaphon Moonsri vs Simpiwe Konkco for the WBC Minimum weight title. Moonsri is currently the longest active reigning world champion but also one of the least well known. At 53-0 he is also the boxer with the largest win streak that’s still active. If you want to watch this fight then you’ll likely have to wait to find it on youtube afterwards as no major promotion or broadcaster has taken the fight on. Moonsri has only fought in Thailand and never unified and shows no sign of doing so in the future so it’s likely he’ll continue to be boxing’s best kept secret. Konkco is a good fighter and likely the best contender in the minimum weight division however he’ll be up against it having to travel to Thailand and also having had only 4 rounds in the last year due to inactivity and his last fight being called a no contest due to a headbutt. He was perhaps lucky that it was ended in the fourth however because in the second he’d been dropped by Joey Canoy who isn’t near the level of Moonsri. I expect Moonsri to win on points and improve his record to 54-0
Next up is the card that i’m most looking forward to this weekend. The Josh Taylor vs Regis Prograis card , this card is stacked top to bottom and is in my opinion the best card thats being put on in the UK this year. Starting from the bottom of the card you have Austin “Ammo” Williams and Shannon Courtenay both in 4 rounders versus opposition they should easily beat. Like all prospects these two are both in learning fights to get the experience they’ll need later on in their careers however I’d like both of them to be stepped up a little bit now as how much you can actually learn from fighting someone thats 1-3 and 0-1 respectively is debatable. Both Denis Radovan and Abass Baraou are in fights they should win quite comfortably. Luke Blackledge who’s fighting Radovan has become a more of a Journeyman in the latter part of his career and Radovan shouldn’t have much trouble winning on points here. Abass Baraou is a prospect that I rate quite highly and while the guy he’s fighting John O’Donnell has a nice looking record of 33-2 he’s been inactive and never gone beyond British level. Baraou should be able to stop O’Donnell who having made his debut in 2004 is at the end of his career. Connor Benn is in a good fight with Steve Jamoye who’s operated at European level for a few years now. Connor Benn could easily lose this fight because of his lack of amateur experience and the way he fights makes it so it’s either him being knocked out or his opponent and you never really know who it’s going to be until someones on the floor. I favour Connor Benn in this matchup mostly because of Jamoye’s lack of power and that he’s a late notice replacement expect Connor Benn to win by KO in rounds 4-8. The next fight on this stacked undercard is Yves Ngabu vs Lawrence Okolie , this is a fascinating fight because it’s a big step up for Okolie who in only 13 fights has won the British , Commonwealth twice and a continental belt. Yves Ngabu is a very solid fighter who could very well upset Okolie’s dream of becoming World champion for the immediate future. For me this is a 50/50 fight where the winner likely fights for a world title in their next few fights so whoever wins your likely to see them in big fights in the future. I don’t think Okolie gets the credit he deserves for stepping up this quickly and showing in every test so far that he’s worthy of carrying on the fast track towards a world title. He gets a lot of hate for the Matty Askin fight which while terrible was also over a year ago now. I think he’s the British prospect who’s most likely to win a world title in the next 12 months because of his awkward style and that he doesn’t try to please the fans in the ring he just gets the job done and moves on. I expect a hard fight however I think Okolie can become European Champion by using his range and awkward style to get a decision over Yves Ngabu. Ricky Burns vs Lee Selby is the next fight along and one that no one would have expected to see a year ago as Selby has jumped up two weight divisions since then and Burns has gone down one. Both are former world champions who have seen better days and for the loser of this fight its unlikely they’ll be in any big fights again. The reward for the winner? most likely a title shot vs the newly elevated Devin Haney next year in America. For this fight I can’t really pick a winner however if I had to bet I’d go with Ricky Burns becuase of his experience at lightweight. Now on to the Heavyweights where we have Dereck Chisora vs David Price. This fight seems more suited to 6 or 7 years ago when both were coming up the ranks than now but here we have it. Both have seen a resurgence in their careers as of late which could end up making this a very entertaining fight. Both are unreliable when it comes to their performances in the ring with David Price often gassing out after 4 or 5 rounds and Chisora not being motivated for fights so if your betting on fights this weekend don’t go on this one. For me while Price had a good win against David Allen I feel that Chisora is levels above Allen and will bring the pressure to Price and likely KO him anywhere from the 3rd round onwards. If Price can pull it off I’d be happy for him because his career has been derailed by drug cheats such as Tony Thompson and Erkan Teper and he deserves something back for the sport treating him so cruelly. The main event of this card is one of the best fights on paper of the year. Champion vs Champion , Prime vs Prime , undefeated vs undefeated. If your going to watch any fight this weekend watch this one , it’s a complete 50/50 where I can’t pick a winner. One day i’m Leaning towards Taylor then the next towards Prograis. For me this has potential fight of the year written all over it and as a boxing fan has to be close to the peak of the sport. A massive shoutout has to be given to the World boxing super series who have made this match up happen by building a tournament of the 8 best fighters in the super lightweight division and having them fight each other in match ups of the best versus the best again and again. On the line in their fight on Saturday night are two world titles the IBF and the WBA ( the IBF being Taylors belt and the WBA being Prograis) also on the line is the Muhammed Ali trophy which can only be won by Winners of the World boxing super series and for the fighters is a once in a lifetime opportunity to compete for it. I have no clear pick for this fight but for both of these fighters this is their breakout fight and I’m just excited to watch the fight come saturday.
Going over to America next on Saturday we have a card headlined by Erickson Lubin vs Nathaniel Gallimore. Lubin is working his way towards a 2nd world title shot after he was KO’ed in the first round vs Jermell Charlo in 2017. Gallimore will be wanting to upset the odds and get himself a title shot by beating Lubin and revitalising his career. My pick is Lubin points or late stoppage here as both are decent punchers. The other notable fight on this card is Robert Easter Jr vs Adrian Granados . This is another fight where both fighters are looking to get towards a title shot, for me I don’t think Granados will get to that level as I feel he is now on the decline in his career and if he loses this he won’t have had a good win since 2015 when he knocked out Amir Imam. Easter is also chasing a win after drawing earlier this year vs Rances Barthelemy in what was one of the worst fights of the year with each fighter barely throwing 10 punches a round. My pick is Easter on points.
The other good card coming out of America on Saturday is Shakur Stevenson vs Joet Gonzalev which is a great fight for the vacant WBO featherweight world title. Both are unbeaten prospects with Shakur Stevenson being a 2016 Olympian. Stevenson is expected to win here but I think this fight will be closer than most think especially with the bad blood between the pair. I expect a close competitive fight with Stevenson taking a decision perhaps controversially due to him being the house fighter. The other notable fights are Joshua Greer Jr vs Antonio Nieves in what is a slight step down in competition after many felt he was lucky to get the decision last time out , also worth noting that his last opponent has actually already beaten Antonio Nieves so whether they are setting up the rematch or its a coincidence I don’t know. Mikaela Mayer is facing Alejandra Soledad Zamora in a 10 round fight for the NABF Female super feather weight title. Mayer should win comfortably on points here but its worth noting that Zamora is from Argentina but can fight for the North American Boxing federations belt which doesn’t quite make sense considering Argentina is in South America. Mayer is Top Ranks top Woman prospect so expect her in a world title bout within the next 12 months. The other two fights that I’m looking forward to on this card are the debut’s of Xander Zayas who was signed by Top Rank at the age of 16 in a record breaking deal and Jared Anderson who is a top American amateur that Top Rank have signed at the age of 19. Anderson will be campaigning at heavyweight while Zayas will be at Welterweight.
That was a long write up but it just shows how much quality boxing we have this week and the schedule towards the end of the year is looking just as good. As always I’m hoping that all the boxers make it through their fights without coming to serious harm and you’ll find the next weekly preview of the boxing next Thursday.