Sherdog’s Weekend Boxing Preview

By James Kinneen Jun 21, 2019

What: Andrew Cancio vs. Alberto Machado, Junior Lightweights

When: June 21
How to Watch: Dazn 7:30 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Too see if Andrew Cancio can repeat his upset performance in the same venue, or if Alberto Machado will validate his excuses and Dazn’s investment in him.

Fresh off a couple of well-received performances on HBO and with the WBA (Regular) Super Featherweight title around his waist, Puerto Rico’s Alberto Machado was believed to be one of Dazn’s best pickups. And when the then undefeated fighter coming off a first-round knockout victory over Yuandale Evans was matched against Andrew Cancio, a fulltime gas worker with four losses already, it was supposed to be an easy showcase for Dazn’s future cash cow.

And everything was going to plan when he knocked down Cancio in the first round, but Cancio beat the count, walked Machado down and stopped him in the fourth. After the loss, Cancio went back to work at the gas company, while Machado went to work making excuses for the loss, mainly focusing on how his personal life got in the way of his weight cut.

Now they will rematch in the same venue as the first fight, The Fantasy Springs Resort and Casino in Indio California. Having won the first matchup, Cancio is doing the same things he did before the first fight, hoping to do everything the same. The onus is on Machado to change things in the ring, as well as out.

Cancio has a great story: the working-class hero that becomes a world champion. But on Saturday, in the same place he pulled off the upset the first time, he’s going to have to try and replicate his unlikely victory. Machado is going to have to prove he wasn’t just being a sore loser, and that Dazn was smart to believe in him.

What: Angel Acosta vs. Elwin Soto, Junior Flyweights

When: June 21
How to Watch: Dazn 7:30 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if Elwin Soto can stop Angel Acosta’s destructive run through Mexico’s junior flyweights.

Trained by Freddie Roach, Puerto Rico’s Angel Acosta is 20-1 with twenty knockouts. His sole loss came to Japan’s Kosei Tanaka, the undefeated WBO flyweight champion. Since that loss, he has stopped four straight opponents, all but one of them from Mexico.

Acosta is too good to be saddled with a marketing gimmick like calling himself “The Mexican hunter” or something stupid like that, but it does warrant mention. Promoters are trying to sell this fight as another entry in the famed Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry, but Acosta hasn’t let that rivalry result in anything other than one-sided stoppage victories.

Now, Elwin Soto will be the next Mexican to try and take down Acosta. Since dropping a four-round decision in his third fight as a professional, Soto has rattled off twelve wins with nine coming by way of stoppage. Unfortunately for him, that one loss came the only time he fought in the USA, and this bout will take place in California.

It’s hard to hype the Mexico-Puerto Rico rivalry when Angel Acosta has been laying waste to anyone that dares enter the ring to mariachi music. Elwin Soto will get the next shot. We’ll see if he can do any better.

What: Sebastian Fundora vs. Hector Zepeda, Junior Middleweights

When: June 21
How to Watch: Showtime 10 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if a 6-foot-7, 154-pound fighter is a possible future of the sport or a sideshow in boxing history.

In the heavyweight division, in the early 2000s suddenly you needed to be at least 6-foot-5 to compete. On message boards, people declared that this was the natural way boxing would go as athletes became bigger, stronger and faster, and the question of whether all-time greats like Mike Tyson or Joe Frazier could compete, never mind become champions, in the modern era became widely debated. And while 6-foot-2 Andy Ruiz put a dent in that theory a few weeks back, there are still people that believe heavyweights need to be basketball player tall to become world champions.

Which, in a very roundabout way, brings us to Sebastian Fundora. Fundora is 6-foot-7 and fights at 154 pounds. To put that in perspective, Reggie Miller was the same height, is considered one of the skinnier players in NBA history, and outweighed Fundora by fifty pounds. Even if you don’t like boxing, you should tune into the fight to see what a guy that tall and skinny looks like since there can’t be many guys like that in the world.

Fundora is 12-0 with eight knockouts and has stopped his last four opponents within five rounds, while Hector Zepeda is 17-0 with four knockouts, against far weaker competition. So, while “future of the sport” is a bit hyperbolic, Fundora’s success or failure could certainly affect how taller fighters decide what weight to fight at.

Primo Carnera was virtually a circus freak before he started boxing, and he stood 6 feet, 6 inches tall. Nowadays, he would be considered a good-sized heavyweight, not a sideshow attraction. So maybe Sebastian Fundora is nothing but a skinny guy that should gain weight and move to a more reasonable weight class, or maybe a couple years from now the lighter weight classes will be full of emaciated fighters looking to take advantage of absurd height disparities over their opponents. Friday’s fight will go a long way to showing which the case is.

What: Jermell Charlo vs. Jorge Cota, Junior Middleweights

When: June 23
How to Watch: Fox 8 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: To see if losing his chance at revenge resulted in a dangerous lack of motivation against a knockout puncher.

In his last fight, Jermell Charlo lost a hugely controversial decision as well as his WBC 154 pound title to Tony Harrison. They were supposed to be fighting this weekend, but Harrison injured his shoulder and had to pull out of the fight. Instead, Charlo will face Jorge Cota, a 28-3 Mexican who has stopped twenty five opponents (though he is coming off a loss to Jeison Rosario in April).

With the Harrison fight supposed to take place later this year, Charlo’s motivation has to be questioned. He is a heavy favorite in the fight and is believed to be the far superior fighter despite the Harrison loss, and doesn’t need to look great or be dominant to get the fight he wants later this year. AS long as he wins, it’s going to happen.

So, the question is, what kind of motivation could Charlo be carrying into the bout. Yes, he is fresh off the first loss of his career, but he could conceivably have waited for Harrison to heal instead of taking this fight. He’s basically in a no-win situation.

That lack of a real purpose could be a dangerous prospect when you’re facing a guy that has 23 KO’s in 25 wins type of power. It might not matter, since Charlo is likely too good. But it might.

What: Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Julio Ceja, Junior Featherweights

When: June 23
How to Watch: Fox 8 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because Ceja has too many KO wins and KO losses for this to turn into another boring Rigondeaux fight.

In his last fight, under Ronnie Shields the usually sleep inducing (Dan Rafael tweets “zzzzzz” at the mere mention of his name) Guillermo Rigondeaux scored a first-round knockout over Giovanni Delgado. Obviously, it was nowhere near the level of competition he had been facing before he quit against Lomachenko, but it may have been a sign of the new, exciting version of the Cuban amateur great.

Up next is Julio Ceja, who provides another perfect opportunity for Rigondeaux to be in an exciting fight. Why? Ceja is 32-3, with 28 knockouts and has been stopped twice himself (including in his last fight against Franklin Manzanilla). That means, Ceja’s only shot for a win is to knock the now (supposedly) 38-year-old two-time Olympic Gold Medalist out, and Rigondeaux has an opponent in front of him that he could well put to sleep if he lands a couple good shots. Ceja’s no slouch though, the 26-year-old Mexican lost his shot at the IBF bantamweight title to Jamie McDonnell and held a couple of lesser belts over the course of his career.

On Saturday, we have the legendary Cuban amateur Guillero Rigondeaux facing a hard punching 26-year-old, but even if the bout isn’t competitive it should still be fun. Ceja has enough power to hurt Rigondeaux in the unlikely event he lands clean, and Rigondeaux has an opponent he could very well stop if he wants to keep his knockout streak rolling.

It would take a lot for Rigondeaux to make this fight boring. The old “El Chacal” probably could, we’ll see if the new version of Rigondeaux will and if it’s enough to get Rafael to stop tweeting “zzz” at him.

Also, on Saturday night at 8PM ET on FITE TV PPV, Paulie Malignaggi will face MMA fighter Artem Lobov in a bareknuckle boxing match. Malignaggi has talked massive amounts of trash, and it would be disastrous for him to get beaten by an MMA fighter with a sub-.500 record who is best known for being Conor McGregor’s friend and having weirdly short arms. Talking about fighting for the respect of boxing and those that have died in the ring is great, but he really needs to win to justify all that talk.
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