What: Josh Warrington vs. Carl Frampton, FeatherweightsWhen: Dec. 22
How to Watch: ESPN+ 3 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because Carl Frampton will either complete a Tyson-Fury like comeback or get sent into an unhappy retirement by a young champion.
Carl Frampton is 26-1 and a former two weight world champion but has openly spoken about hating boxing just two years ago. Now, Frampton is claiming because of a change in trainers he is like a smaller Tyson Fury, coming back from a mental rock bottom to return to boxing, and to the heights he has previously held. That would be a nice story.
But Josh Warrington doesn’t care whether Frampton loves boxing or not. Warrington is undefeated, 27-0 and holds the IBF world featherweight title. But, hailing from the UK he has heard all about how good Carl “The Jackal” Frampton is for years, and how if they ever fought each other who knows what would happen? Now after dealing with the Carl Frampton legacy for years, he must deal with the renewed version of Frampton.
Even with guys this small, the United Kingdom isn’t big enough for two marquee featherweights. On Saturday, we’ll see if Josh Warrington can remind Carl Frampton why he stopped loving boxing and send him into an unhappy retirement.
What: Jermall Charlo vs. Matvey Korobov, MiddleweightsWhen: Dec. 22
How to Watch: Fox 8 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if an extremely last-minute change of opponents, to an extremely capable fighter, affects Jermall Charlo.
In boxing, opponents get replaced on short notice all the time. However, “short notice” usually means a month or less, not the four days Matvey Korobov is fighting Jermall Charlo on. But, while that may be a good thing for the lesser known Korobov, it is a hugely dangerous proposition for Jermall Charlo.
Jermall Charlo was originally supposed to fight Willie Monroe Jr., but when Monroe failed a VADA test, Korobov, who was fighting on the undercard, stepped into the main event. While both he and Monroe are southpaws, Korobov presents a few unique challenges “The Worm” does not. Russia’s Korobov had a long and hugely successful amateur career, which included two World Championship gold medals, and is 28-0 as a pro having beaten guys like Brian Vera and Jose Uzcategui, with his only loss coming to Andy Lee. That is not the resume of a guy you want to face on a few days’ notice.
Yet, that’s what Jermall Charlo is doing. Undefeated at 27-0 with 21 knockouts, the WBC interim middleweight champion is one of the fighters most people think are destined for middleweight stardom. But, on Saturday night, he has a test on his hands and unfortunately for him, it’s a pop quiz.
What: Jermell Charlo vs. Tony Harrison, MiddleweightsWhen: Dec. 22
How to Watch: Fox 8 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Tony Harrison can bring his family the title they never could win.
Jermell Charlo is Jermall’s twin brother, and the WBC light middleweight champion. Theirs is a fun boxing family story, two undefeated twin brothers that followed their father into the gym, two title holders, and an appearance on the same Fox card on Saturday to grow their fame and fortune.
Tony Harrison comes from a boxing family too, but his story isn’t so fun. Harrison’s grandfather was Henry Hank, a huge puncher that fought 92 times against guys like Bob Foster, Dick Tiger, Harold Johnson and Jimmy Ellis. But despite a stellar career, Hank never won a world title, never got his proper due, and now appears mostly on “forgotten fighters” lists. It’s a shame, and Tony Harrison knows it. He has vowed to both win a title for his family, and for the once boxing hotbed city of Detroit Michigan. And to do that, he needs a knockout.
Jermell Charlo will likely outbox Harrison, but Harrison has knockouts in 21 of his 29 fights. He needs to work the body early, slow down Charlo, and look for the KO victory in the later rounds. If he does that, he can bring the Harrison family it’s first world title and hopefully thank grandpa for the heavy-hand genetics. If he loses, he’ll have to make way for the better family story and hope another Harrison can reverse the trend.
What: Dillian Whyte vs. Derek Chisora, HeavyweightsWhen: Dec. 22
How to Watch: Showtime 5:30 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because it’s a heavyweight bout with legitimate bad blood involved.
There’s nothing worse than fake feuds. Even when it’s clear that two boxers are good friends, guys feel the need to drive PPV sales and media interest by shoving each other at a weigh-in or lobbing a mild insult at their opponent. Because of this, fights where guys legitimately don’t like each other are rare and should be cherished.
Which is why this fight should be good. Derek Chisora and Dillian Whyte legitimately do not like each other. Before their first fight, Dereck Chisora threw a table at Dillian Whyte. Not a water bottle, not an energy drink, he threw a table. And before this fight, Chisora has claimed he will go for the knockout because Eddie Hearn won’t let him win (as he felt happened in their first fight) while Whyte said Chisora was “a donkey. Donkeys do what donkeys do, stand in fields and eat hay."
That’s confusing, but clearly an insult. But, aside from the beef there are more reasons to watch the fight. Rumors are that the winner has a legitimate shot at being Anthony Joshua’s next opponent, and the first fight was very good. Whyte (who has only lost to Anthony Joshua as a professional) took a split 114-115, 115-113, 115-114 decision in a fight described as “epic.”
Whyte is expected to win, as Chisora has lost eight fights as a professional and lost the first bout. But, when two guys dislike each other strongly, even a fight that isn’t great can become must-see TV.
What: Cristofer Rosales vs. Charlie Edwards, FlyweightsWhen: Dec. 22
How to Watch: Showtime 5:30 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Charlie Edwards failed in his first title shot because he wasn’t ready, or because he’s not that good.
At only 25 years old and with a 13-1 record, the UK’s Charlie Edwards will already be getting his second shot at a world title on Saturday, the problem is, when he last fought for a world title, he lost. In 2016, against Filipino veteran John Riel Casimero, Edwards was roughed up all night, dropped, then stopped in the tenth round. But Edwards has won five fights in a row (against limited opposition) and has claimed in interview after interview that the issue was that he was too young and inexperienced against Casimero, but now, two years later, he’s ready for a world title. That may be true, but it could also be the case that he’s just not good enough to be a world champion. On Saturday, we’ll find out.
His opponent is Cristofer Rosales, the 28-3 WBC flyweight champion who hails from the same Nicaraguan town as Alexis Arguello. While he has been fighting since 2013, he is only 24 years old, a year younger than Charlie Edwards. Charlie Edwards wants you to believe he wasn’t mature enough for a title until now, while Cristofer Rosales already has one despite being younger that the Englishman. We’ll see if Edwards is ready now, because if he’s not, he never will be.
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