Sherdog’s Weekend Boxing Preview

By James Kinneen Aug 24, 2018
This weekend offers boxing fans a variety of both good and bad pugilistic options. Do you want to see Ghana’s (maybe) next superstar? Lomachenko’s next opponent? Canelo’s brother? Or the kid who got kicked off of YouTube for the Japanese suicide forest video?

What: Jamal James vs. Mahonry Montes, Welterweights When: August 24
How to Watch: Fox Sports 1 8PM ET
Why You Should Care: Because Jamal James is a really good boxer, and a really interesting guy.

So many boxers revert to clichés that boxing is their life, and all they think about is winning their next fight. But, Jamal James isn’t like that.

“We’re more than boxing around here.” These are the words of Jamal James, a truly fascinating, cerebral man who is also a very good prizefighter. James is nicknamed “Shango” which means “African God of Thunder” and references his grandfather’s Calypso band “Shangoya”. His stepfather/trainer, Sankara Frazier, has released a CD of his own soul music while James listens to music as varied as Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole. On Friday night, he will be fighting in his hometown of Minneapolis which is great because the kids he mentors can come watch him fight. By all accounts Jamal James is a really nice guy, he’s also a very good boxer.

James has lost only once in his career, a decision to Yordenis Ugas which James took on three days’ notice. His opponent on Friday, Mahonry Montes is a 43-fight veteran Mexican fighter of Russian descent. Sporting a record of 35-7-1 with 24 knockouts, he’s fought guys like Humberto Soto and Egidijus Kavaliauskas, but has only been stopped twice in his career.

Jamal James has spoken of his motivation to win a world title, saying “Nothing is going to stop me from my goal of coming home with a world title around my waist. That will validate everything I tell these kids. It’ll show them that with the right foundation, they can make it too.” James thinks nothing can stop him; on Friday night. Mahonry Montes will try.

What: Willie Monroe Jr. vs. Javier Francisco Maciel, Middleweights When: August 24
How to Watch: Fox Sports 1 8PM ET
Why You Should Care: Because the Monroe boxing dynasty needs to get back to beating great fighters.

Willie Monroe Jr.’s great uncle, Willie “The Worm” Monroe is one of only three people to ever beat Marvelous Marvin Hagler, taking a ten round decision over the hall of famer in 1976. Unfortunately, since that victory the Monroe boxing dynasty has faltered anytime they’ve come up against truly elite competition. Monroe’s father Willie Lee Monroe was a very good middleweight, but could never beat the elite fighters he faced, like Otis Grant. And so far, Monroe Jr.’s career has gone the same way. Although a very good fighter, slick southpaw Willie Monroe Jr. has lost to the two elite fighters he has faced, GGG and Billy Joe Saunders. If Monroe Jr. wants to reverse the fortune of his family, he’s going to have to continue winning fights until he can get another shot at a truly special fighter. On Friday, he will need to beat the rugged Argentinian Javier Francisco Maciel to keep that dream a possibility, or we will have to wait a few years to see if another Monroe ever can.

What: Raymundo Beltran vs. Jose Pedraza, Lightweights When: August 25
How to Watch: ESPN 10:30 PM ET
Why You Should Care: Because the winner of this unique clash of boxing pathways gets Vasyl Lomachenko in December.

Mexico’s Ray Beltran is facing Puerto Rico’s Jose Pedraza, in a very close matchup, with the winner set to face Vasyl Lomachenko December 1st in LA. That should be reason alone to watch this fight, but if not, it is also an interesting clash of vastly different paths to boxing stardom.

37-year-old Ray Beltran has no business being a contender, nevermind the WBO lightweight champion. The former sparring partner of Manny Pacquiao never seemed destined for greatness, he had two losses to journeyman opponents in his first eight fights and took the job as a sparring partner because he needed money to feed his kids. But, following a career resurgence motivated in large part by a need to win in order to earn a green card, Beltran has become the WBO lightweight champion and is only one win away from facing the pound for pound best fighter in the world.

Jose Pedraza’s career has been much more prototypical. Hailing from the famed boxing island of Puerto Rico, Pedraza had a lengthy amateur career which saw him take bronze in the Pan American games before competing in the 2008 summer Olympics. As a professional, he is 24-1 with the sole loss coming to Gervonta Davis in a fight that cost him the IBF super featherweight title.

A Ray Beltran-Vasyl Lomachenko matchup would be a fascinating battle between a journeyman turned champion versus perhaps the greatest amateur boxer of all time. But, before it can happen we get to see if Beltran can get by a less heralded, but still very talented former amateur boxing star.

What: Isaac Dogboe vs. Hidenori Otake, Junior Featherweights When: August 25 How to Watch: ESPN 10:30 PM ET Why You Should Care: Because Azumah Nelson thinks Dogboe is the guy to “make Ghana boxing great again” but we’ve seen Ghana’s fighters falter lately.

Isaac Dogboe is undefeated, 19-0 with 13 knockouts. But, he is not yet beloved by his home nation because he spent so much of his life being educated and trained in England, not in Ghana. However, one man who does believe in him is the great, Azumah “The Professor” Nelson, who thinks Dogboe will return Ghana to boxing greatness.

The problem is, just last month we saw what happens when a fighter from Ghana comes in with an undefeated record and the backing of Dogboe himself, and ends up looking far from ready to face elite competition never mind boxing greatness, when Rafael Mensah lost round after round to Alberto Machado on HBO.

This Saturday Dogboe will fight 37-year-old Japanese veteran Hidenori Otake, who has lost only twice in his career and has never been stopped as a professional. If Dogboe is who Nelson thinks he is, he should stop Otake and force the people of Ghana to embrace him as their own. If he’s not, then the people of Ghana will have been right in keeping their distance.

What: Ramon Alvarez vs. Nicolas Luques Palacios, Junior middleweights

When: August 25 11PM ET
How to Watch: beIn Sports Espanol
Why You Should Care: To eee Canelo’s brother before you watch GGG-Canelo 2.

Ramon Alvarez is a professional boxer with 26 wins and 6 losses including a 2016 loss to Antonio Margarito. But, more importantly he is the older brother of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. He thinks he can eventually become a world champion, which he can’t, but if you want to see how similar or different he is to his more famous brother while he beats up a tomato can of an opponent, then you should go ahead and tune in!

And one you shouldn’t….

And finally, a quick word about Logan Paul. Unfortunately, watching a YouTuber box a video game streamer may end up the most watched boxing match of the weekend. Logan Paul has made a living making racist, insensitive videos for children, so while it would be funny to see him get beat up, I suspect viewers will quickly realize why “Celebrity Boxing” faded in popularity, and celebrity basketball and softball never really caught on; when you have the opportunity to watch the best in the world at something, watching two scrubs (even well-known scrubs) doing it is just plain boring.


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