Last week Premier Boxing Champions and Showtime Sports announced their schedule for the remainder of 2020. My gut reaction is excitement with the lineup of fights they are offering fans to finish off the year. Showtime did not have a very good 2019 and their 2020 was not off to a great start but as the year is in the second half they have the best schedule to wrap up 2020.
I really like the two Charlo fights, Davis vs Cruz, and Oubaali vs Donaire. These fights really intrigue me as a fan and are not a given. Overall the fights here are mostly evenly matched on paper with no clear cut mismatch or showcase fights. Fulton Jr vs Leo is for the vacant WBO 122lb title in a battle between the #1 and #2 in the WBO ranks. Both men are undefeated 26 year old American fighters at a weight that is not typically occupied by much American talent. The IBF and the WBC also have the pair in their top 15 and Fulton is in the RING top 10 as well. Fulton has two impressive wins over Joshua Greer and Adam Lopez who are prospects who were featured on ESPN this summer and featured in my own writing. This title became vacant when Emmanuel Navarrete moved up and vacated. The landscape for this division is very interesting with undefeated Rey Vargas from Mexico 34-0 holding the WBC belt and Murodjon Akhmadaliev at 8-0 holds the IBF and WBA titles. My immediate prediction is Fulton by decision.
The second fight on the list is Angulo vs Benavidez for the WBC title at 168. This fight appears to be the least competitive on paper and a clear step down in class for Benvidez. Angulo got the biggest win of his career back in January by split decision over undefeated Anthony Sims Jr. It was a persistent performance by Angulo to edge out a win but it was mostly on a reluctant Sims. Benavidez is ranked #1 in RING and is 22-0 with 19 KO’s and has ran through his competition. I don’t envision this to be very competitive. Angulo is a tough guy and went 12 rounds with Zurdo Ramirez in a WBO title fight so he may go 12 here but I am picking Benavidez by stoppage.
I think fights 3, 6 and 8 are all in the too tough to call category. Lubin and Gausha is a good clash of styles. Lubin was a killer coming up the ranks and was seen as the hottest prospect in boxing before getting stopped inside the first round vs Jermell Charlo. He has been on a winning streak ever since and is still developing at 24 but this is a huge step up following soft touches on the comeback trail. Gausha is a US Olympian who has come up short in his step up fights with a draw against Austin Trout and loss to Erislandy Lara. I feel is Gausha can get out of the first 4 rounds he can win this fight. Lipinets rebounded from his loss to Mikey Garcia by scoring his career defining win vs Lamont Pedersen. Abdukhakorov is a young undefeated fighter coming off his signature win over Luis Collazo and I just have a tough time separating these two. This might turn out to be the most entertaining of the fights. Colbert just defeated former title holder Jezreel Corrales and Arboleda defeated tough contender Jayson Velez and now they meet in a 130lb contest. Good evenly matched fight just am struggling to pick here.
Jermall Charlo was awarded the WBC 160 lb title without winning a title fight. He was the leading WBC contender and had been calling out Gennady Golovkin when he held the title and was calling out Canelo Alvarez who was elevated to a BS Franchise title. That change for Canelo resulted in Charlo being handed a belt he never won. Charlo held a title at 154 and is undefeated at 160 but he lacks real win of consequence at 160. Sergiy Derevyanchenko is a tough middleweight from Ukraine now fighting out of Brooklyn, New York. Sergiy has been through a meat grinder of tough assignments with Tureano Johnson, Jack Culcay, Danny Jacobs and Gennady Golovkin. He was on even keel with Jacobs and I thought he had done enough to defeat Golovkin 114-113 but lost by a similar margin on the judges cards. I actually felt Charlo was defeated by Matvey Korobov in their 160 lb contest and despite his solid jab and his power I think Sergiy is going to win. Charlo will probably be the odds makers’ favorite and the writers’ favorite but I think he is in for a tough night. My only question is if Sergiy can get a decision. The only doubt I have in my pick was how badly he was rocked by Culcay and the difficulty of his last few fights and what they may have taken out of him.
Jermell Charlo and Jeison Rosario meet with their 3 belts at 154 at stake in a highly consequential bout for the division. Both men are ranked #1 and #2 respectfully with RING and the winner should be awarded the vacant 154 lb RING Title. Charlo won back his title earlier this year with a stoppage win over rival Tony Harrison whom he dropped a close decision to. Charlo showed plenty of weaknesses in both fights but was ultimately able to see it through with his devastating power. Rosario defeated Julian Williams earlier this year to win a pair of unified titles. Rosario upset Williams who himself upset Jarrett Hurd and it is tough to make out where his level is. Charlo for his faults is a more consistent and proven commodity and Rosario has been stopped before. Leaning toward a Charlo stoppage here in the first half but this should be a fun one while it lasts.
Davis vs Sant Cruz has intrigue as it is for two different titles at two different weight classes giving it a Sugar Ray Leonard vs Donny LaLonde feel. Santa Cruz is also holding the WBA title at 126 so if he wins he could simultaneously hold titles in three different weight classes which is a distinction held by Henry Armstrong. Now given today’s watered down title picture I would not equate the feats to each other but I cannot recall the last time someone did this even in a 3 or 4 title belt era. Davis appears to be the instant favorite on social media among fans based on his power, youth, being the heavier fighter, and his explosive capabilities. Recently Davis was seen on Youtube pounding Ivan Redkac a welterweight during a hard sparring session. Santa Cruz is 31 and perhaps is biting off more than he can chew by stepping up yet another weight class. Santa Cruz hit his peak in 2017 with a win over Carl Frampton but he is still quite formidable. Back in 2012 he was a 23/24 year old champion fighting on the undercards of big fights and carving out a name for himself by winning belts in 4 different divisions. He went to war with Abner Mares and out boxed Carl Frampton. Santa Cruz has boxed for 7 more years as a pro and has 16 more fights. Outside of Jose Pedraza, Tank Davis really lacks a world class guy in their prime and that includes his biggest name win of Yuriokis Gamboa. I am going to pick Santa Cruz here on points which may even turn out to be a minority pick.
Future Hall of Famer Nonito Donaire soldiers on at age 37 after a year off after going to war when he meets 118 lb titlist Nordine Oubaali. Oubaali won his belt against US Olympian Rau’shee Warren on the pay per view undercard of Manny Pacquiao vs Adrian Broner. He boxed a tight, disciplined fight and won a comfortable decision and has gone on to defend his title successfully two times. Donaire will lose a fight convincingly and seem done only to reinvent himself. In the World Boxing Super Series Tournament he came back down in weight from 126 to 118 at an advanced age for a fighter his size to make it to the finals. He was paired with the undefeated Monster Naoya Inonue best known for his destructiove punching power of the lower weights. What unfolded was the RING 2019 Fight of the Year as Donaire displayed speed, skill, power, and heart. He broke Inonue’s orbital bone early in the fight and had the champion seeing double for a majority of the contest. Donaire went to the vanvas in the 11th on a crippling liver shot but rose to his feet and threw his left hook with KO intentions until the final bell. I actually think Oubaali is going to win a decision here but Donaire is going to have his moments.