There are some good boxers on this weekend, if you don’t feel like watching that 0-1 Irish one.
What: Luis Nery vs. Jason Canoy, 12 rounds, bantamweightsWhen: Oct. 6
How to Watch: ESPN+ 11 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if a motivated and disciplined Luis Nery can improve upon an already impressive career, or if his past mistakes are indicative of a much larger issue.
Mexico’s Luis Nery is 26-0 with 20 knockouts but has had some discipline issues in the past. Yes, despite this impressive record and him holding the WBC silver bantamweight title, Nery has struggled to make weight in the past; at one point coming in five pounds overweight for a title fight, and has tested positive for PED’s, positive results he claimed were due to tainted Mexican meat.
Following a lengthy suspension, Nery has hopefully learned his lesson and found a new motivation that will carry him for the rest of his career. The optimist would argue, if Nery was that successful just going through the motions and trying to cut corners with steroids, what will a motivated, disciplined Luis Nery look like? Jason Canoy could be the first to know. The five-foot four-inch Filipino has lost 3 of his last 6 fights but has never been stopped as a professional. If Nery is focused and has gotten his career on track, he may be able to keep Canoy from seeing the final bell.
But, the pessimist wonders if the weight issues and PED usage weren’t signs of a lack of discipline, but instead a crutch Nery knew he needed. Either way, we’ll (or at least Nery) will find out soon enough.
What: Jessie Vargas vs. Thomas Dulorme, 12 rounds, welterweightsWhen: Oct. 6
How to Watch: DAZN 9 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Jessie Vargas or Thomas Dulorme will ever be able to get the marquee win they’ve both been so close to.
Jessie Vargas and Thomas Dulorme have both been so close to greatness, but never able to beat it. Vargas had Tim Bradley on the verge of a knockout, only for the referee to stop the fight early after mistaking the ten second warning as the final bell. He fought Adrien Broner to a draw, and lost a decision to Manny Pacquiao. Thomas Dulorme has beaten guys like Demarcus Corley and Hank Lundy but has faltered against other competition, including a 2015 loss to Terence Crawford. If they were to retire tomorrow, both guys would get to say they faced some of the best, but neither guy could say they ever beat the best. So, they fight on.
Being on the increasingly popular DAZN gives the winner of this fight a huge opportunity to face an elite fighter, a well-known fighter, an all-time great fighter, while the loser will just add another fighter to the list of successful guys they’ve done well against, but ultimately lost to.
Someday Jessie Vargas or Thomas Dulorme will be on a plane, in a coffee shop or at a PTO meeting talking to a casual sports fan, and their boxing career will come up. And when the long-retired fighter gets asked about all of the boxers the person has heard of, getting to say “Yeah, I beat that guy” rather than “Yeah, I fought that guy” is vastly different.
What: Artur Beterbiev vs. Callum Johnson, 12 rounds, for Beterbiev's IBF light heavyweight titleWhen: Oct. 6
How to Watch: DAZN 9 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see how Beterbiev deals with a fellow undefeated fighter motivated by his father’s death.
Did you know Artur Beterbiev, despite how good he is and how much people think he will become a colossal star in the next couple of years, has never faced an undefeated fighter? It’s true, despite having faced, and stopped twelve different fighters over the course of his career, he’s never faced somebody who had never lost before.
Until now. See, Callum Johnson is undefeated, 17-0 with 12 knockouts, and while he is not expected to win this fight, he has an extra source of motivation. Johnson told the BBC that he wants to win for his father, who died of a heart attack in 2008. He wants to lay the belt on his father’s grave. He wants to prove to his father that he was right, because his father was telling Johnson he’d be fighting for world titles when Callum Johnson didn’t believe in himself.
Beterbiev has the skills and the power of a future world champion, but Callum Johnson is an undefeated fighter with a dangerous motivation.
What: Jarrell Miller vs. Tomasz Adamek, 12 rounds, heavyweightsWhen: Oct. 6
How to Watch: DAZN 9 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Tomasz Adamek can find his old form, and make the critics screaming “mismatch” eat their words.
Tomas Adamek was once the WBC light heavyweight champion of the world, moved up to heavyweight, beat guys like Eddie Chambers, Chris Arreola and Dominick Guinn, and once faced Vitali Klitschko. Although he has won his last three fights, when his matchup with Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller was announced critics argued that he was far past his prime, this fight was a complete mismatch, and that he was only getting the shot because of the Polish crowd he could bring to see the fight. Dan Rafael tweeted “But because Adamek, a former light heavyweight and cruiserweight world titleholder, is a hugely popular Polish fighter and the card is in Polish-heavy Chicago he is being fed to Miller, who is on the verge of a world title fight. Some close to Hearn have voiced their concerns over how much of a gross mismatch the fight is.”
Those are tough words for a former world champion to hear, especially when facing a largely unproven future title contender.
For Miller (who was once a high-level kickboxer and fought Mirko Cro Cop in Glory), this is a no-win situation. If he struggles, critics will call him overrated, good but not great, cite the absurdity of a prizefighter consistently coming into the ring around and sometimes over 300 pounds, and scoff at the idea of him having a chance at a fighter like Anthony Joshua. If he loses, his career will take a huge step backwards, and his resume will have a permanent, ugly blemish.
Everyone is saying Big Baby Miller should win this fight easily, but if Adamek can find a little bit of that pride that forever exists in the soul of a once great prizefighter, he may prove his, and the fight’s critics, wrong.
What: Sor Rungvisai vs. Iran Diaz, 12 rounds, for Sor Rungvisai's WBC junior bantamweight titleWhen: Oct. 6
How to Watch: One Championship’s Free “One Super App” 6:30 a.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Diaz has learned enough from Juan Manuel Marquez to avoid ending up as another Rungvisai highlight reel knockout.
Sor Rungvisai should knock out Iran Diaz, then move onto a fight against Carlos Cuadras sometime in 2019. That’s the plan, that’s the most likely outcome, and that’s what would be best for the sport. Rungvisai is a pound-for-pound great fighter, while Diaz is 14-2 and has already been knocked out twice, so this fight should not be especially interesting.
Except that Iran Diaz has had some unique help for this fight. Diaz has worked with Juan Manuel Marquez, one of the best fighters of the last decade and one of the greatest counterpunchers of all time. If Marquez has managed to teach Diaz anything, this fight could become one worth waking up for. If not, you should have slept in and caught the knockout on twitter.
What: Naoya Inoue vs. Juan Carlos Payano, 12 rounds, for Inoue's WBA "regular" bantamweight title, World Boxing Super Series quarterfinalsWhen: Oct. 7
How to Watch: DAZN
Why You Should Care: To see if “The Monster” is as real as his reputation would have you believe.
In the era of livestreaming and YouTube, there aren’t many mythical figures left in sports. With so much available video, the idea of a guy that most people haven’t seen, who the most hardcore fans assure you is better than all the guys you’ve heard of, seems to be a relic of the past. Yet, that seems to be what we have with Japan’s Naoya “The Monster” Inoue.
Inoue is 16-0 with 14 knockouts, ranked second in the world at 118 by ESPN, and is already a huge superstar in Japan, but most boxing fans have only heard of him when HBO’s commentary team was forced to acknowledge that while their super flyweight roster was good, there’s a young kid in Japan who may be able to lay waste to the whole lot of them.
But is he really that good? While to this point he has looked unstoppable, Juan Carlos Payano is 20-1 and has never been stopped as a professional. If “The Monster” is that good, he’ll stop Payano and make the world scared. If he’s just another hipster hype job led by the desire to know about a guy they don’t talk about on SportsCenter, he won’t. It’s really that simple.
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