Boxing News Week 2 August 2020: Lightweight On Fire!

Loma vs Teo

The remainder of 2020 continues to look brighter as 2 more great match ups are coming our way. The 135 lb title landscape will be significantly altered when Teofimo Lopez unifies his IBF title vs Vasiliy Lomachenko who risks his WBA, WBO, and WBC belts (the WBC gave him the unnecessary tag of Franchise Champion). The winner of that collision will certainly be the man at 135 holding the legitimate versions of the 4 major belts. The WBC title and the WBA regular belt are sideshow pieces at this point. The 23 year old Lopez is coming off his biggest win to date, an early TKO win over Richard Commney to claim the IBF version of the title. Hailing from Brooklyn, the brash young challenger was a shrewd negotiator who talked shit and demanded and eventually got Lomachenko’s team to cede some of his purse. Lopez was set to make the largest payout of his career and still caused drama by stating that it wasn’t enough. Reactions were strong from fans ready to call it a duck but the fight appears to be set.

Lomachenko is the familiar face heading into this contest. ESPN has him as their pound for pound number one fighter and he has been a dominant force in the sport for seven years. After debuting at championship level and competing for a world title in his second bout he has been undefeated since 2014. Lomachenko has hardly lost a round in racking up 3 world titles in 3 different divisions and was dubbed “NoMasChenko” by many fans for a stretch of four fights where he made his opponents quit. Lomachenko has been a master boxer throughout his career displaying a sublime combination of footwork, angles, hand speed, accuracy and is just so calm and well balanced in the ring. He can defeat his opponents boxing on the outside or move inside and score without being touched.

Everything would point to Lomachenko being the easy favorite. He is much more proven as a professional and despite the two having the same number of contests, Lomachenko has faced 9 world champions to Lopez’s 1. Lomachenko is also a once in a generation type of talent as far as ring gifts and skills go. Lopez at this stage is really an unknown commodity. In Lopez’s favor we have youth, power, the confidence of an undefeated fighter and a size advantage. Lopez is outgrowing 135 while Lomachenko seems to get himself up to 135. My wildcard factors are Lomachenko’s age and his layoff and injuries. Vasiliy is 32 years old which does not seem old but he had a rumored 300 amateur contests and at the lighter weights guys seem to age quicker. Yes many boxers regularly fight deep into their 30’s and even into their 40’s but for a guy like Lomachenko who relies on his reflexes and speed any slight drop off could be disastrous. We saw Lomachenko hit the canvas against Jorge Linares and struggle mightily with Luke Campbell back in August of 2019. Speaking of August and Campbell that is the last time Lomachenko entered the ring and he has had several injuries including a shoulder/collarbone vs Linares. Could this accumulation of issues compounded with Lopez’s youth spell disaster. I don’t think so but then again we don’t know what Teofimo’s ceiling is just yet.

Garcia vs Campbell

In another big match up at 135 lbs 20-0 (17) Ryan Garcia takes on 20-3 (16) Luke Campbell. This US vs UK clash has parallels to the previously mentioned Lomachenko vs Lopez contest. It pits a young, exciting, KO punching, and lightly proven contender vs an older, crafty boxing, southpaw, with a proven track record and an Olympic Gold. Ryan Garcia at 22 has built his name through social media platforms and engages his fans with videos with his skills on full display. Back in February he stopped former title challenger Francisco Fonseca in just one round and found himself the center of attention among prospects. During the COVID shutdown he exchanged barbs with several high profile fighters like Linares and Gervonta Davis before ultimately landing this fight with Campbell. The winner here will move on to face WBC titlist (remember Lomachenko is the real champ here this was awarded when they upgraded Vasiliy to “Franchise Champion”) Devon Haney. Now I scoff at the legitimacy of the title shot at stake but nonetheless Devon Haney is among the best young talents in this sport. A meeting between Haney and Garcia would pit two of the best and most exciting young talents up against each other and trim the fat at the top of the division.

I spent plenty of page space to Garcia but that is not to sleep on Campbell. Campbell turned pro at 25 after winning gold at home in the London 2012 Games. He has 3 losses but one of which was avenged and the other 2 were outstanding performances in defeat vs Linares by split decision and vs Lomachenko in a competitive fight despite the scorecards. Campbell will carry a wealth of 12 round main event experience and a much deeper ledger of opposition. Does this mean he should be the favorite? Not necessarily, there has always been pitfalls of picking winners based on spirited losing efforts. Campbell is a talented fighter whose expected to pick up a strap before his career is finished but he is at an interesting crossroads with young guys moving in like Haney, Garcia and Lopez along with the possible entry of Tank Davis. There is also of course the two men who have beaten him, Lomachenko and Linares, who both will continue to compete and be in the title picture for the foreseeable future. For Garcia this a breakout fight but for Campbell his chips are down and this is a great opportunity to burst the bubble of a big time prospect who may be in over his head.

Coming our way this August:

ESPN: Carl Frampton vs. Darren Traynor, 10 rounds, junior lightweights

Showtime: David Benavidez vs. Roamer Alexis Angulo, 12 rounds, for Benavidez’s WBC super middleweight title

DAZN: Cecilia Brækhus vs. Jessica McCaskill, 10, for Brækhus’ WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF welterweight titles

ESPN: Eleider Alvarez vs. Joe Smith Jr., 12 rounds, light heavyweights

FOX: Shawn Porter vs. Sebastian Formella, 12 rounds, WBC/IBF welterweight eliminator

DAZN: Dillian Whyte vs. Alexander Povetkin, 12 rounds, for Whyte’s WBC interim heavyweight title & Katie Taylor vs. Delfine Persoon, 10 rounds, for Taylor’s WBC, WBO, WBA and IBF lightweight titles

ESPN: Jose Ramirez vs. Viktor Postol, 12 rounds, for Ramirez’s WBO and WBC junior welterweight titles

Women’s Boxing

Terri Harper and Natasha Jonas waged a 10 round war in a UK main event on DAZN this past Saturday. It was the first time two British women competed for a world title on British soil. Jonas had Harper in all kinds of trouble in the 8th round. Harper survived to hang on to her WBC 130 lb title with a split draw. Skip to 10:21 for the action from last weekend.

American top contender Mikaela Mayer congratulated the two on social media but did promise to “whoop” both. Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Promotions has been talking rematch with Harper and Jonas. Mayer in the meantime has fired shots at undefeated Polish WBO champion Ewa Brodnicka on Twitter and Instagram.

Norway’s Cecilia Braekhus at 38 looks to make her 3rd US appearance as she defends her welterweight championship vs American Jessica McCaskill. Braekhus has all 4 major titles at the weight class and has been a defending champion since 2009 with a total of 23 title defenses. “The First Lady” looks to maintain that streak in Tulsa vs her 35 year old challenger. McCaskill’s most notable fight would be a unanimous decision loss to Katie Taylor. Braekhus, Taylor and American Olympic Gold Medalist Clarissa Shields make up the list of current female fighters.

Taylor rematches her Belgian rival Delfine Persoon in 2 weeks time. They waged the best women’s boxing match I’ve ever seen back in June of 2019 at Madison Square Garden. The fans were treated to a close and controversial decision after a bloody and bruising war. After 10 rounds Taylor came away with her titles but not everyone viewing he fight agreed. The contest supported the shocking upset of Anthony Joshua by Andy Ruiz and the rematch is the co-feature to another UK heavyweight fight with Dillian Whyte taking on Alexander Povetkin.

For the hardcore fans:

“Maravilla” Sergio Martinez returns to the ring in Spain on Friday the 21st. Martinez is best remembered for coming out of obscurity in Argentina to claim the middleweight title and defended it several times and was in the pound for pound discussion. He has not fought since losing to Miguel Cotto just over 6 years ago. In defeat, Martinez’s knees gave out early in the fight after he had a long recovery from surgery. Many fans who bought the pay per view and those making up the live audience felt robbed and demanded a refund after they felt Cotto and Martinez cashed in knowing the situation with the knee. I’m not in the business of telling people what they can and can’t do but Sergio’s knees were major problems for him in his last 3 fights and he is now in his 40’s. He has nothing to prove outside of possibly just redeeming the embarrassment in New York or just getting a win to retire on a victory. I wish him the best.

Later this month boxing goes down under as Aussie former titlist meets Aussie prodigy as Jeff Horn squares off with Tim Tszyu at 154 lbs. Horn is best known for defeating Manny Pacquiao on ESPN by controversial decision and living in the limelight for a little while before being stopped by Terrence Crawford and losing his WBO title. Tszyu the 25 year old son of Kostya Tszyu, has moved down from his debut at 160 and is undefeated at 15-0 (11). He has had no speed bumps yet but also hasn’t faced anyone with the sort of experience that Horn has. Horn is a rough customer and combines an unorthodox style with roughhousing with his forearms, headbutts and headlocks. I’m curious to see how this plays out and should be a good gauge as to whether this Tszyu is the real deal. His father gave us one of the all time great highlights.

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