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Three Punch Combo: An Elite Prospect in Martinez, Potential April Upsets and More

Matt Andrzejewski

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Martinez

THREE PUNCH COMBO — ShoBox returns on Friday from Las Vegas with an excellent tripleheader headlined by 122-pound prospect Angelo Leo (16-0, 8 KO’s) who takes on Neil Tabanao (17-4, 11 KO’s). While I like the main event and am interested to see the continued development of Leo, it is one of the undercard fights that particularly piques my interest.

Xavier Martinez (13-0, 9 KO’s), a 21-year-old 130-pound prospect, takes a big step up in class when he takes on veteran John Vincent Moralde (21-2, 11 KO’s) in the co-feature.

In my estimation, Martinez (pictured) is an elite prospect. There is a lot to like about him and he passes the eye test.

By nature, Martinez is an aggressive boxer-puncher. He likes to work behind a powerful stiff  left jab. The way he commits to throwing the jab is impressive for a fighter his age and this is a punch he lands with a high degree of accuracy.

Behind that jab, Martinez will work heavy handed combinations to the head and body. What impresses me most when watching him is the fluidity with how he throws his combinations. And much like the work he does with his jab, Martinez is very accurate when delivering his power shots.

Defensively, Martinez moves his head well but does have a flaw in which he sometimes comes forward with his left hand low. This has led to him being clipped on occasion.

Make no mistake, Moralde is no pushover and could provide the first test for the young Martinez. Last May, Moralde sprung a mild upset against then undefeated Ismail Muwendo and will look to repeat that feat against Martinez.

Moralde likes to counterpunch. He is often content to sit back and wait for his openings. He has quick hands as well as quick reflexes, so when openings do appear, he is quick to jump on them. In particular, Moralde possesses a very good left hook that when landed clean can do damage.

Moralde is the type of veteran that can expose any and all mistakes of less seasoned fighters. As such, he makes for an intriguing test for the up-and-coming Martinez. This is a classic ShoBox fight and I am very interested in seeing just how it plays out.

 April Upsets

 We saw plenty of upsets in the sport in the first quarter of the year. April is loaded with several big fights and I suspect we see a few more upsets this month. With that in mind, here are two spots for potential upsets.

Danny Garcia vs. Adrian Granados

 On April 20th, welterweight Danny Garcia (34-2, 20 KO’s) looks to bounce back from his defeat to Shawn Porter last September when he faces veteran Adrian Granados (20-6-2, 14 KO’s). While many are overlooking Granados in this spot, he certainly has the ability to spring the upset.

As we all know, styles make fights. And simply put, the style of Granados could be problematic for Garcia.

Garcia is a classic boxer-puncher. He is also a very good counterpuncher. But he is not a volume puncher. Rather, he selectively picks his spots. Yes he is accurate when he lets his hands go but he can be out-hustled which is why he has been involved in so many close decisions throughout his career.

Granados is an aggressive pressure fighter. He may not be a big puncher but he will throw a high volume of punches. Granados can get hit but has shown to have a world class chin. His style, chin and relentless determination have given many top fighters fits.

Granados can out-hustle Garcia. This fight could resemble the Mauricio Herrera fight for Garcia back in 2014. Many boxing experts thought Garcia got out-hustled that night by a fighter with a somewhat similar style to Granados and was given a nice gift on the scorecards. Will Danny Garcia be so fortunate this time around?

Srisakat Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada

 In a highly anticipated rematch of their 2018 slugfest that ended in a draw, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41 KO’s) takes on Juan Francisco Estrada (38-3, 26 KO’s) for Sor Rungvisai’s 115-pound title.

I like Estrada in this spot. First off, I thought Estrada edged out the first fight. But the main reason I see him winning the rematch is that I think he is the more well-rounded fighter who can make the necessary adjustments to perform better.

Sor Rungvisai, who possesses thudding power in both hands, knows only one way to fight; he comes forward applying pressure and looking to brawl. But defensively he is very limited.

Estrada can box as well as slug. I think in the first fight he was baited into slugging more than boxing. In the rematch, he can make the adjustment to box from the outside, using his jab more, and expose Sor Rungvisai’s defensive liabilities.

The rematch between Sergey Kovalev and Eleider Alvarez showed what can happen when the necessary adjustments are made. For Estrada, making a committed effort to box the one-dimensional Sor Rungvisai should result in a wide decision victory.

It’s Too Soon for Lomachenko-Lopez

 Teofimo Lopez (12-0, 10 KO’s) continues to make overtures about fighting unified lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KO’s). But that does not seem to be a wise idea at this time.

With a combination of natural speed, athleticism and power that is rarely seen in this sport, the 21-year-old Lopez seems destined for superstardom. And with so much talent there is little doubt he could beat Lomachenko right now. But taking that fight now would be a huge risk for him as can be seen in the example of David Reid.

Reid was once talked about in much the same way that Lopez is talked about today. Shortly after winning a world title, a still relatively green Reid took a massive step up in competition to take on Felix Trinidad.

Trinidad was in the prime of a Hall of Fame career. It was a big risk for Reid, but those involved in his career had so much confidence in his talent that they believed he was ready for the big fight.

Reid ended up giving a valiant effort. Reid even put Trinidad on the canvas in the third round. But as the fight progressed, the more seasoned Trinidad began unleashing a ferocious beating on Reid whose natural talent against less seasoned and much less skilled fighters had masked his shortcomings.

In the end, Reid took such a vicious beating that the fight essentially ended his career. Yes there were other issues, notably a recurring eye injury, but the beating from Trinidad played a big factor in Reid’s quick downfall.

Lopez and his team should take note of what happened to David Reid. Teofimo still needs more seasoning before he is ready for Lomachenko. While it is certainly possible that Lopez could defeat Lomachenko right now, if things don’t go well his blossoming career could come crashing to an end.

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Looking at the Heavyweight Calendar (Odds Review)

Miguel Iturrate

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Joshua vs Ruiz

This past Saturday night saw Deontay Wilder’s WBC world heavyweight title defense against Dominic Breazeale go down on Showtime. The fight lasted just 137 seconds as Wilder floored Breazeale with a cannonball of a right hand to end the night early.

With Wilder out of the way, Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr is up next. They meet June 1st at Madison Square Garden. Two weeks later, on the 15th of June, ESPN+ will deliver Tyson Fury vs Tom Schwarz, so fight fans will get a look at all three members of the “Big Three” all in a month’s time.

Wilder’s erasure of Breazeale this past weekend sent a message to the rest of the division as well as giving him a highlight reel to show during upcoming negotiations. Wilder entered a strong -1000 favorite at the sportsbooks for this fight.

Check out our pre-fight review of the Wilder vs Breazeale odds right here at TSS –

http://tss.ib.tv/boxing/featured-articles/57588-wilder-vs-breazeale-odds-review

Looking forward, the odds posted for Joshua and Fury’s upcoming tussles are even less competitive. Let’s take a look at what the books are giving us as we await the two big Brits fighting in the USA.

Madison Square Garden – New York City – Saturday, June 1, 2019

Heavyweight 12 rounds –

Andy Ruiz Jr +1500 Over 6½ +100

Anthony Joshua -3000 Under 6½ -130

Ruiz Jr is 32-1 overall with his lone loss coming at the hands of Joseph Parker in a failed WBO world title bid. That same WBO belt is now in the hands of Joshua as are the WBA and IBF belts.

Joshua was a big favorite over Jarrell Miller, his original opponent, who was denied a license in New York after testing positive for a buffet of steroids. Ruiz Jr took the fight with less than a full training camp, but you have to believe that he is going to come in highly motivated. Ruiz Jr has been caught at a different type of buffet, the all-you-can-eat kind, but even when in the best of shape his body type isn’t “poster boy material.” Miller was big and bulky as well, but he was a near 300 pounder whereas Ruiz Jr will come in between 250 and 260 pounds, which is right around Joshua’s size. Rather than slaying a 300-pound giant, he is facing a guy who is shorter and fatter than him, making it very hard for Joshua to look great on paper.

At +1500 will people bite on Ruiz Jr? He is more experienced than Miller and he is probably a better fighter overall and though he is facing a formidable champion, Joshua is not a finished product. Perhaps Joshua will be chasing an early finish, feeling the pressure of Wilder’s performance, and if so will he make a mistake that Ruiz can exploit? We are roughly 10 days from finding out.

MGM Grand Garden – Las Vegas, Nevada – Saturday, June 15, 2019

Heavyweight 12 rounds –

Tom Schwarz +1800 Over 9½ -105

Tyson Fury -3600 Under 9½ -125

Tyson Fury closes out the run of top heavyweights with a very deliberately chosen showcase fight against Tom Schwarz. Schwarz is 24 years old and 24-0 but he is a fighter who has come up on the regional German scene and as the old boxing cliche goes, there are levels to this game.

Former contender David Haye mounted a 2016 comeback, booking fights against Mark De Mori (30-1-2) and Arnold Gjergjaj (29-0). It took Haye precisely 6:42 to dispose of both of them, and though Fury is a completely different beast than Haye, the level difference between he and Schwarz may be even as striking.

Wilder has gotten through his “challenge” and if Fury and Joshua also emerge as winners as expected, it will leave several open questions –

– Will Fury vs Wilder 2 happen first, or will Wilder vs Joshua go down first? Could Joshua and Fury meet and freeze Wilder out?

And….

– Will we see any of these fights take place in 2019?

If Joshua or Fury stumble, it will only add to the chaos in the heavyweight division. But if the professional oddsmakers know anything, it isn’t likely to happen.

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Three Punch Combo: An Early Look at Inoue-Donaire and Under the Radar Fights

Matt Andrzejewski

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Inoue vs Donaire

THREE PUNCH COMBO — This past Saturday, Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16 KO’s) punched his ticket to the bantamweight final in the World Boxing Super Series when he impressively knocked out Emmanuel Rodriguez in the second round of their scheduled 12-round fight. The win sets up a showdown with veteran Nonito Donaire (40-5, 26 KO’s) who punched his ticket to the final with an impressive knockout of Stephon Young last month.

As expected, Inoue has opened as a monstrous favorite in the betting markets. While this suggests a one-sided wipeout, I have some other thoughts.

Inoue is pound for pound one of, if not the, hardest puncher in the sport today and put that power on full display in his destruction of Rodriguez in the semi-finals. But having enormous power does not make him indestructible.

In watching that fight against Rodriguez, there were clearly flaws on display on the defensive side of Inoue’s game. For one, Inoue does not move his head at all and as such can be hit. Rodriguez landed several clean punches on Inoue in the first round. And Inoue frequently keeps his hands low looking to bait opponents into throwing to set up counter opportunities. It has worked so far but could be something he pays for down the road.

Donaire is a smart and skilled fighter and though he is 36, his last few fights have shown that he still has plenty left in the tank. Moreover, he possesses one thunderous left hook and has always been at his best when fighting below 122. He has all the capabilities to expose Inoue’s flaws and a left hook that can alter the course of a fight as we have seen him doing plenty of times in the past.

Unlike a lot of people, I do not consider Donaire to be another layup for Inoue. There is real danger in this fight for Inoue if he does not make changes to his game. Donaire has starched big punching rising stars before and I would not discount his chances to expose the significant defensive flaws in Inoue’s game.

 Under The Radar Fight

Boxing returns to ESPN on Saturday with a card from Kissimmee, FL headlined by 130- pound champion Masayuki Ito (25-1-1, 13 KO’s) who is making the second defense of his title against former US Olympian Jamel Herring (19-2, 10 KO’s). While I think this should be an excellent fight, the co-feature, which is flying deep under the radar, should be even better.

In this fight, former two division world champion Jose Pedraza (25-2, 12 KO’s) makes his return to the ring after losing his lightweight title to Vasiliy Lomachenko in December to face Antonio Lozada (40-2-1, 34 KO’s). Given their respective styles, this fight at the very least will provide plenty of sustained action.

Appropriately nicknamed “The Sniper,” Pedraza at his best is a precision puncher. A boxer-puncher by trade, he uses subtle movement inside the ring to create angles that are used to land sharp power shots on his opposition. He is also a very good inside fighter and will shift around on the inside to once again set up just the right angle to land his power shots with maximum efficiency. But despite being a good inside fighter, Pedraza has a tendency to stay in the pocket a bit too long which leaves him open to getting hit.

Lozada is best known for his upset TKO win against one-time blue-chip prospect Felix Verdejo in March of 2018. However, he failed to build momentum off that win and is coming off a lackluster split draw his last time out to 12-7-1 journeyman Hector Ruben Ambriz Suarez.

Lozada certainly does not have the technical proficiency of Pedraza. He is slow and plodding. But what he does bring to the table is relentless pressure combined with a high volume of punches. He will press forward, recklessly at times, winging punches consistently hoping to wear down his opposition through attrition.  As such, he tends to get hit a lot and can be involved in shootouts.

Cleary, Pedraza is the more skilled fighter, but given Lozada’s all-offensive mindset as well as Pedraza’s willingness to stay in the pocket, the leather is all but guaranteed to be flying from the opening bell. Neither are big punchers either so I suspect we see a fight that goes rounds providing many exciting exchanges and one that could certainly steal the show on Saturday.

Another Under The Radar Fight

Also on Saturday, Fox Sports 1 will televise a card from Biloxi, MS featuring a crossroads fight between former 154-pound champion Austin Trout (31-5, 17 KO’s) and former US Olympian Terrell Gausha (21-1, 10 KO’s). But it is another 154-pound fight on the undercard that is receiving almost no coverage that I want to highlight. It pits Chordale Booker (14-0, 7 KO’s) against Wale Omotoso (27-3, 21 KO’s).

Booker turned pro in 2016 after a successful amateur career and has kept up a fairly busy schedule. He is coming off a dominating 8-round unanimous decision over veteran Juan De Angel in January and now is taking a big jump up in his caliber of opposition in facing Omotoso.

Booker, a southpaw, likes to press forward behind a stinging right jab. He possesses elite level hand speed and likes to use that jab to set up quick power punching combinations. Booker is also an excellent counter puncher and possesses a very potent right hook coming from that southpaw stance. He will often hold his left low to bait his opponents into opening up to set up counter opportunities. However, he has also been clipped by his share of left hooks fighting in this manner and this is something he will need to tighten up against Omotoso. So just how will Booker respond to Omotoso’s pressure and heavy handed body attack? Depending on the answer, we will either see Booker step up to the next level or get exposed. And that’s what makes this fight so intriguing to me

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Serhii Bohachuk KOs Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez in Hollywood

David A. Avila

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in Hollywood

HOLLYWOOD, Calif.-Super welterweight prospect Serhii Bohachuk got his first taste of upper tier boxing from Mexico’s Freddy Hernandez and gave him his best Sunday punch to win by knockout.

Bohachuk (14-0, 14 KOs) showed the excited Hollywood crowd he’s more than ready for former world title challengers like Hernandez (34-11, 22 KOs) or maybe even the current contenders with an exuberant display of pressure fighting at the Avalon Theater.

The smiling Ukrainian fighter has been steadily attracting fans to the 360 Promotions fight cards.

Trained by Abel Sanchez, the lanky and pale Bohachuk – whose nickname “El Flaco” fits perfectly – always moved forward against Mexico City’s Hernandez who has made a reputation of being crafty despite the strength of competition. With Bohachuk constantly applying pressure the Mexican fighter used the first round to touch and feel his way around the Ukrainian bomber.

In the second round a sharp counter right floored Hernandez who quickly got up and resumed the contest. It looked like the end was near until Hernandez caught Bohachuk with a solid right cross. It was a warning shot well heeded by Bohachuk.

Both fighters exchanged vigorously in the third round with the Ukrainian fighter’s youth a definite advantage. Hernandez was able to display his fighting tools more effectively in the third round but could it be enough?

Bohachuk was clearly the heavier-handed fighter but was finding it difficult to connect solidly against the Mexican veteran. But in the fifth round Bohachuk lowered his gun sights and targeted the body with a left hook that dropped Hernandez.  The fight was stopped by referee Wayne Hedgepeth at 1:40 of the fifth round.

Other Bouts

A battle of super featherweights saw Rialto, California’s Adrian Corona (5-0) rally from behind to defeat Florida’s Canton Miller (3-3-1) by split decision after six rounds.

Corona had problems with Miller’s speed in the first two rounds and was unable to track the moving fighter’s direction. But in the third round Corona began to apply more aggressive measures against Miller and was especially effective with lead rights. The momentum changed quickly.

Miller switched from orthodox to southpaw and it served to pause Corona’s momentum, but he seldom scored with solid blows. Though Miller landed quick soft blows, Corona was landing with strong shots and convinced two of the three judges that he was the winner by 58-56 twice. A third judge saw Miller the victor by the same score 58-56.

“It’s not my job to judge the judges,” said Miller. “It’s my job to just fight.”

Corona was happy with the victory.

“I could have put the pressure on him a little more,” said Corona. “It was a very technical fight and he put on a great fight.”

Other Bouts

George Navarro (6-0-1, 2 KOs) knocked out Cesar Sustaita (3-5) with a perfect overhand right that disabled the senses and forced referee Raul Caiz Jr. to halt the fight at 1:37 of the first round.

“I worked hard to prepare for this fight,” said Navarro.

A super bantamweight clash saw Humberto Rubalcava (10-1, 7 KOs) knock out Daniel Constantino (3-3-2) and win by knockout after a flurry of a dozen blows went unanswered. Referee Angel Mendez stopped the battering at 1:39 of the first round.

Photo credit: Al Applerose

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