Sherdog’s Weekend Boxing Preview

By James Kinneen Aug 30, 2019
WHAT: Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Luke Campbell, Lightweights
WHEN: Aug. 31
HOW TO WATCH: ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: To see if Campbell’s Olympic pedigree, hometown advantage, size and unique training methods are enough to be more than a pitstop on Lomachenko’s path to owning all the lightweight championships.

Lomachenko is looking to take control of every lightweight crown except Richard Commey’s IBF title when he takes on Campbell. What does Campbell bring to the table? He won a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics -- he won the gold at bantamweight, while Lomachenko took the gold at lightweight -- is the tallest opponent Lomachenko has faced as a professional and will hold a six-inch reach advantage in the fight. He is also a southpaw and hails from Hull, England, but fights out of London, where the fight is taking place.

How good is Lomachenko? Because of college football’s debut and the odd timing of the bout, this fight is flying under the radar, with few people outside of England talking about it as a big event. Yes, Lomachenko is going to London to face an opponent who trains out of that exact city, is facing a southpaw with only two losses -- they came in split decisions to Jorge Linares and Yvan Mendy -- and taller than any fighter he has ever fought. However, most people are overlooking the bout as an easy test for the pound-for pound king, a quick belt grab on the way to a showdown with Teofimo Lopez, provided he beats Commey, for all the belts at 135 pounds.

Should they be? If Campbell is going to win, he needs to take advantage of his height. Lomachenko’s big wins over southpaws have come against rather small ones like Gary Russell Jr. and Guillermo Rigondeaux, though he did look good against Jose Pedraza. Lost in the YouTube highlight-reel dominance of Lomachenko is how much he struggled with Linares’ size. As such, it is possible that Campbell, lifted by his hometown crowd, keeps Lomachenko away from him for a couple of rounds, then reaches into his amateur experience to adjust to whatever adjustments the Ukrainian makes. Is it likely? No, Lomachenko is likely too good and Campbell is likely too stiff, but it is possible.

If it does happen, Campbell will have an unusual training technique to thank. While Anthony Yarde’s trainer is convinced you do not need to do any sparring, for this bout, Campbell has been sparring against three guys at once. The idea? Lomachenko finds such unique angles that taking on three guys at the same time will teach you to defend from punches coming from anywhere. It sounds crazy, but then again, Lomachenko showed us how he has been training: He has been juggling, playing tag, balancing dominoes on top of each other, kicking a hacky sack, tying a tennis ball to his hat and punching it and a bunch of other wacky stuff.

Campbell has the hometown advantage, the edge in height and is at least trying something unique to unseat Lomachenko. Will it work?

* * *

WHAT: Hughie Fury vs. Alexander Povetkin, Heavyweights
WHEN: Aug. 31
HOW TO WATCH: ESPN+, 4 p.m. ET
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because despite the 15-year age gap, Fury and Povetkin find themselves in similar circumstances. Povetkin is 39 and Fury is 24, and they both need a win to stay relevant in the heavyweight division.

Fury grew up believing that he and cousin Tyson were going to become the new Klitschko brothers, splitting the heavyweight titles and batting away anyone who did not share the family name. Tyson has obviously lived up to the billing, but Hughie has faltered thus far. While he deserves credit for traveling to Bulgaria and fighting Kubrat Pulev when nobody else would make the trip, he wound up getting stopped in the seventh round. A loss to Joseph Parker looks decent considering he is the only man who has beaten Andy Ruiz, but Parker went on to lose his next two fights. Fresh off a win over what is left of Samuel Peter, Fury needs to beat Povetkin or all the name recognition in the world will not keep him from falling down the heavyweight ladder; and the heavyweight division is too stacked to recover from that kind of fall anytime soon.

Povetkin won an Olympic gold medal, then beat a who’s who of early 2000s heavyweights, including Chris Byrd and Hasim Rahman. Unfortunately, he was too small and not skilled enough to take out Wladimir Klitschko and suffered his first professional loss against the long-reigning champion. Povetkin then went on a run against heavyweight B-listers until he ran into Anthony Joshua, who stopped him in the seventh round. Now, he is trying to use Fury as his bounce-back fight.

In the ring, Fury is a poor man’s version of his cousin. Long and athletic, he bounces on his toes and tries to use his reach and boxing ability to frustrate opponents. At this stage of his career, Povetkin is a bit plodding but should hold the power advantage in the fight. Povetkin should stalk Fury, try to slow him down with body work and see if he can get a late stoppage.

Povetkin is old and needs to win in order to be more than just the guy everybody remembers from the early 2000s. Fury needs to win to get out of his cousin’s shadow. Only one can emerge victorious.

* * *

WHAT: Charlie Edwards vs. Julio Cesar Martinez, Flyweights
WHEN: Aug. 31
HOW TO WATCH: ESPN+, 1 p.m. ET
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Because Martinez is not nervous about taking on a hyped British prospect, as he has already knocked out one before. Edwards is a young British fighter who people believe has the potential to become something special.

Andrew Selby in March took his 11-0 record, his Olympic pedigree and his championship bloodlines as the brother of Lee Selby to Mexico to face off against a little-known Mexican knockout artist. In a shocking upset, Martinez knocked him out with a body shot, and the boxing world took notice.

Edwards is the WBC flyweight champion, thanks to his win over Cristofer Rosales. He had previously lost a title shot against Johnriel Casimero in his ninth professional appearance, but soon after, Edwards claimed he was not ready and believed he would have the experience in his next title fight to actually pull off the victory. Some scoffed at the perceived excuse making, but he proved himself correct when he won the championship.

In the ring, this an obvious boxer-versus-puncher matchup. Edwards has only six knockouts in 16 fights, while Martinez, whose sole loss was a split decision in his pro debut, has stopped 11 of his 15 opponents. Martinez will stalk, Edwards will box, and we will see what happens when Martinez fights outside of Mexico for the first time and heads to England to challenge a British boxer for his belt.

* * *

WHAT: Erislandy Lara vs. Ramon Alvarez, Junior Middleweights
WHEN: Aug. 31
HOW TO WATCH: Fox, 8 p.m. ET
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: To see if Lara, five years removed from a split decision that could have changed everything, can embarrass Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s brother and show he has “learned to fight.”

Did Lara get screwed out of a decision in his fight against Canelo? Well, one judge saw him winning the fight, USA Today thought he won and, to this day, Lara believes he was robbed. The fight was in 2014, shortly after Canelo lost to Floyd Mayweather and before the Miguel Cotto fight for the middleweight title, the Canelo-weight saga and the Gennady Golovkin fights. It is wild to think of how differently Canelo’s career and boxing as a whole would be in 2019 if Lara had gotten that decision.

While Canelo rocketed to record Dazn contracts and became the most famous fighter in the world, the decision hurt Lara’s career in a major way. Already little-known outside of the hardcore boxing community, the still dangerous Lara got stuck fighting guys like Vanes Matirosyana and Yuri Foreman, until he dropped a decision to Jarrett Hurd in 2018 and then “rebounded” with a draw in March. Now 36 years old, the clock is ticking on Lara becoming anything other than the guy everyone avoided and the man who gave Canelo a difficult fight.

Lara now turns to Canelo’s older brother. Alvarez is 28-7 and has been knocked out three times as a professional. While his name has gotten him fights against guys like Brandon Rios and Antonio Margarito, he has never beaten anybody especially notable and should not be able to do much against Lara. Why does Lara want to fight him? Because he wants to win another world title -- the fight is for the vacant WBA regular 154-pound championship -- and wants another shot at Canelo. While that is hugely unlikely -- Canelo-Lara 1 seemed like a huge risk, and it was shocking when the former took the fight -- it was brought up in a prefight trash talk segment. The older Alvarez shot down the idea, as he believes he will win the fight and erase any slim chance of a Canelo rematch happening.

After his fight against Lara, Canelo said he would give Lara a rematch “when he learns to fight.” Five years later, Canelo is the biggest star in the sport and Lara is reeling from a bad loss and a tough draw. Now, he has a chance to embarrass Canelo’s brother in the ring and turn to the Mexican superstar to ask an important question: “Have I learned to fight yet?”

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