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Prediction: Khan Will Dominate Peterson in Rematch

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KhanPeterson Hogan35Prediction: Amir Khan will thoroughly dominate Lamont Peterson in their rematch on May 19.

If Amir Khan wants to take the next step into the ‘great’ or ‘elite’ territory of the welterweight ranks, he needs to win his rematch with Lamont Peterson in dominant fashion. And I think he will.

In short, Amir Khan is simply the superior fighter of the two. Peterson’s backstory is incredible and inspiring. As a prizefighter, he’s something short of great. His toughness and determination are his only discernable strengths as neither his speed nor his power are enough to win a fight against top competition.

Perhaps to a fault, Amir Khan is a crowd-pleasing fighter. His fights are never dull. He throws a good volume of punches and obliges any willing party in a slugfest. If you stand in front of Amir Khan, you’re likely to have a really tough night.  At 25, he’s also entering the prime of his boxing years.

Khan and Peterson’s first fight, on Dec. 10, was thrilling, if not marred by refereeing controversy. I think the referee did a pretty poor job throughout the fight, and any fight that has fans and writers both mentioning the ref in the first breath of a fight recap means the ref played too large of a role in the outcome. The two points taken from Amir Khan for pushing definitely impacted the scoring, but they weren’t completely unwarranted. Amir Khan did push continually throughout the fight, and that’s not legal according to the rules. That said, it was a ticky-tacky interpretation of the rule and a one-point deduction was certainly enough.  Furthermore, the pushing was largely a bi-product of Lamont Peterson consistently leading with his head. In what proved to be the strategic move that won him the fight, Lamont Peterson led with his head and backed Amir Khan up all night. In some sense, it was really effective aggression (very influential in ringside scoring). Effectiveness aside, it directly led to most of the pushing. Amir Khan operates best in space, and he needed to create separation between himself and Peterson, so his natural reaction was to push him away. Technically, it was illegal; but it was a bad call to take points away for the minor infraction. Still, it wasn’t the referee’s fault that Amir Khan walked away without his hand raised.

This gets to my main point: Amir Khan should have made adjustments to control the distance and pace of the fight, and I’m confident he will do just that in their rematch.

Tactical issues that Khan should—and better–have resolved for this fight (and if he has, it will be a dominant victory):

1)    Learn how to hold. Granted this, too, is technically illegal, Bernard Hopkins made a living late in his career by picking his shots, and then holding. It’s not always fun to watch, but it’s wildly effective. Especially when Khan gets hurt, he needs to learn to grab a hold of his opponent so they stop hitting him. He hasn’t yet displayed this quality that veteran fighters adopt.  Seeing Devon Alexander employ this strategy of landing hard, clean shots and then holding Marcos Maidana this past weekend was a perfect example to follow. While mildly underwhelming, it was an extremely decisive victory that put Alexander in line for a big fight in a lucrative division. Frankly, Alexander likely learned from watching Khan fail to contain Maidana in the later rounds in their Fight of the Year winning battle just a year ago.

** Side note: I think you’ll know all you need to know about Khan from his Maidana fight. He’s by far the superior fighter/boxer (and you get to see his strong body punching), but his willingness to engage and refusal to hold are paramount. Khan is fun to watch, offensively skilled, and extremely vulnerable to power punches. Oh, and he can bullied. Khan fights fire with fire, but if you’re willing to take a few punches coming in, you can back him into the ropes and force him into a brawl. Despite being neither granite-chinned nor very difficult, Khan has no problem mixing it up in the pocket.

2)    Become a better inside fighter/force an inside fight. If he stands his ground in the center of the ring and forces a war of attrition/uppercuts, he would dismantle Lamont Peterson. His body punching, speed and accuracy would overwhelm Peterson.

3)    Get off the ropes. In addition to rolling some punches, Amir needs to learn to just get out of a bad situation. He doesn’t exactly embody the term ring generalship, and frankly he does not look like he’s being trained by the best trainer in the world (more to come on this below). He needs to circle away, land shots, and take the center of the ring again. He essentially needs to do what Miguel Cotto did in his rematch with Antonio Margarito (easier to do against a fighter as shot/slow as Margarito than a hungry Lamont Peterson). With Khan’s pedigree, this should’ve been resolved years ago.

If he can make any one of those changes, he wins this fight easily. If he makes any 2+ of them, he’ll win by a near shutout/KO. Lamont Peterson simply cannot compete with Amir Khan on even terms. The only way Peterson remains competitive is if Khan allows him to dictate the pace and location of the fight.  This leads me to my next point… these are issues solved in the gym.

If Amir Khan would have consistently spun off of the ropes (which he did intermittently) rather than push off, this rematch never would have happened and Khan would be off to a fight bearing more financial significance. This also would not have been that close of a fight. Amir Khan (same as in the Maidana fight where he nearly was stopped) cannot get off the ropes when he’s tired/hurt. He also does not know how to fight off the ropes. If you watch the classic Mayweather v. Jose Luis Castillo fight (the first one), you’ll see what it looks like to effectively fight off of the ropes. It’s something Floyd’s done his whole career. Now, to be fair, Floyd is a gifted HOF-bound fighter that has skills Amir Khan could only dream of.  BUT, when he needed to, Floyd stuck his heels in the center of the ring and refused to be backed down by a far better fighter than Lamont Peterson.  Khan either needs to learn how to fight on the ropes or control the pace/distance enough to not end up on them. This is where I question Freddie Roach. How is he not preparing his fighter with enough tools/tricks to stay off of the ropes when that one adjustment would clearly win him the fight?

From a personal standpoint, I think we’ll learn a lot about Freddie Roach in this fight. If he still has what it takes to be a premier trainer, this fight won’t be close. Roach seems to not give a ton of tactical advice to his fighters (which can be seen on “On Freddie Roach”) in between rounds. He doesn’t help them make adjustments anymore. I also think this was a major factor in the most recent Juan Manuel Marquez fight against Manny Pacquiao. Manny kept falling into the same traps throughout the fight, and Freddie was not telling him how to avoid them (lead uppercuts and/or a stronger conviction to a jab would have done the trick).

To be clear, I’m not questioning the merits of a deserving (and recently-elected) Hall of Famer in Freddie Roach. Surely, he turned a 122-lb Filipino fighter from a fireball that only had a 1-2 into one of the greatest offensive fighters of all time. But how much of that was the trainer and how much of that is due to the athlete? Well, I guess I am questioning the merits a little bit. All I’m saying is that he has the better horse in this Khan-Peterson rematch, and any one of a few tactical changes that he could implement in the gym should easily get his fighter a victory.

Amir Khan is yet to truly dominate a great opponent. Marco Antonio Barrera was well past his prime when they fought, and as much as I like Paulie Malignaggi, he epitomizes the term ‘gatekeeper’. If you can’t beat him convincingly, you’re not destined to be a world beater. Peterson isn’t that great opponent, but in order to get his chance at beating a top tier fighter and avoid being looped into that ‘good, but not great’ category, Khan needs to have one hell of a night in this rematch. Again, I think he will.

This fight has more significance to the state of boxing than one would think. This 140-154-lb weight classes have been among the most exciting/best divisions in boxing for the last decade. If Manny takes care of his business against Timothy Bradley (no guarantee, mind you) and Floyd turns Cotto into a gatekeeper, what’s left in these weight classes? The re-emerging Devon Alexander? Not exactly a must-buy PPV name.

 If Amir Khan can make the slight aforementioned adjustments to his game, he will win and look good doing so. If he’s able to do that, he can position himself for countless big fights in this division. If not, let’s hope Canelo is as good as advertised (he’s not yet a world-class fighter), because he’ll be one of the few shining stars left in these ranks.

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Jermell Charlo Unifies Super Welterweights Via Solar Plexus Punch

David A. Avila

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WBC super welterweight titlist Jermell Charlo knocked out IBF and WBA titlist Jeison Rosario with a knockout punch delivered to the solar plexus on Saturday to add two more belts to his collection.

“I’m definitely bringing home the straps,” said Charlo.

Shades of Bob Fitzsimmons.

Back in 1897, Fitzsimmons used the same solar plexus punch to dethrone Gentleman James Corbett for the heavyweight title in Carson City, Nevada.

In another casino city Charlo (34-1, 18 KOs) floored Dominican Republic’s Rosario (20-2-1, 14 KOs) three times at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Conn. He and his brother co-headlined a heavy duty pay-per-view card with no fans in attendance on the Premier Boxing Champions card.

Charlo jumped on Rosario quickly in the first round when he charged and clipped him with a left hook to the temple. Down went the two-belt champion for the count. But he got up seemingly unfazed.

For the next several rounds Rosario was the aggressor and put the pressure on Charlo who was content to allow the Dominican to fire away. Occasionally the Houston fighter jabbed but allowed Rosario to pound up and down with both fists.

After allowing Rosario to get comfortable with his attack, suddenly Charlo stopped moving and connected with a short crisp counter left hook and right cross in the sixth round. Down went Rosario again and he got up before the count of 10.

Charlo said it was part of the game plan.

“I’m growing and I realize that the knockout will just come,” he said.

Charlo was in control with a patient style and allowed Rosario to come forward. But the Dominican was more cautious in the seventh.

In the eighth round Charlo jabbed to the head and then jabbed hard to Rosario’s stomach. The Dominican fighter dropped down on his seat as if felled by a gun shot. He could not get up and convulsed while on the floor. The referee Harvey Dock counted him out at 21 seconds of round eight.

“That jab that got to him must have landed in a vital point,” said Charlo after the fight. “I hope he recovers and bounces back.”

Charlo now has three of the four major super welterweight world titles.

WBC Super Bantamweight Title

Luis Nery (31-0, 24 KOs) captured the WBC super bantamweight title by unanimous decision over fellow Mexican Aaron Alameda (25-1, 13 KOs) in a battle between southpaws. The war between border town fighters was intense.

Nery, a former bantamweight world titlist, moved up a weight division and found Alameda to be a slick southpaw with an outstanding jab. At first the Tijuana fighter was a little puzzled how to attack but found his groove in the fourth round.

But Alameda, who fights out of Nogales, Mexico, began using combinations and finding success.  A crafty counter left uppercut caught Nery charging in a few times, but he managed to walk through them.

In the final two rounds Nery picked up the action and increased the pressure against the slick fighting Alameda, He forced the Nogales fighter to fight defensively and that proved enough to give the last two rounds for Nery and the victory by unanimous decision. The scores were 115-113, 116-112 and 118-110 for Nery who now holds the WBC super bantamweight world title. He formerly held the WBC bantamweight title.

Roman Wins

Danny “Baby-Faced Assassin” Roman (28-3-1, 10 KOs) managed to rally from behind and defeat Juan Carlos Payano (21-4, 9 KOs) in a battle between former world champions in a nontitle super bantamweight clash. It wasn’t easy.

Once again Roman fought a talented southpaw and in this fight Payano, a former bantamweight titlist, moved up in weight and kept Roman off balance for the first half of the fight. The jab and movement by the Dominican fighter seemed to keep Roman out of sync.

Roman, who fights out of Los Angeles, used a constant body attack to wear down the 35-year-old Payano and it paid off in the second half. Then the former unified world champion Roman began to pinpoint more blows to the body and head. With seconds left in the 12th and final round, a left hook delivered Payano down and through the ropes. Sadly, the referee missed the knockdown. It didn’t matter as all three judges scored it identical at 116-112 for Roman after 12 rounds.

“I made some adjustments and picked up the pace and got the win,” said Roman who formerly held the WBA and IBF super bantamweight world titles.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

Arne K. Lang

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Jermall Charlo UD 12 Derevyanchenko; Figueroa and Casimero Also Triumphant

The Mohegan Sun Casino in Uncasville, Connecticut, was the site of the first pay-per-view boxing event in the United States since the Fury-Wilder rematch on Feb. 22. There were six fights in all, five of which were title fights and the other a title-eliminator. They were divided into two tiers but bundled into a package that cost approximately a dollar a round with a facile intermission tossed in at no extra charge.

The headline attraction of the first “three-pack” – and the most anticipated fight of the evening – found WBC world middleweight champion Jermall Charlo defending his title against Sergiy Derevyanchenko. The Ukrainian gave Gennady Golovkin a hard tussle when they fought in November of last year at Madison Square Garden – GGG won a unanimous decision but the scores were tight and many thought Derevyanchenko deserved the decision – and the expectation was that tonight’s match would also be very competitive.  But it really wasn’t although the rugged Derevyanchenko rarely took a backward step.

The fight went the distance and there were no knockdowns, but Charlo buckled his knees at the end of round three and Derevyanchenko ended the fight with cuts above both eyes. The judges had it 118-110, 117-111, and 116-112.

With Canelo Alvarez apparently headed to 168 and GGG showing his age at 38, one can make a strong case that the undefeated 30-year-old Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) is now the top middleweight in the world. Derevyanchenko, who was 23-1 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing before turning pro, saw his pro record decline to 13-3 with all three losses in middleweight title fights.

The middle fight of the first tier was a lusty encounter between Mexican-American super bantamweights Brandon Figueroa and Damien Vazquez. Figueroa, one of two fighting brothers from the Mexican border town of Weslaco, Texas, was a huge favorite over Vazquez, a Colorado native who moved to Las Vegas as a freshman in high school and had fought extensively in Mexico where he made his pro debut at age 16. But Vazquez, the nephew of former three-time world super bantamweight title-holder Israel Vazquez, came to fight and gave a good effort until the fight turned lopsidedly against him.

In the middle rounds, Figueroa’s high-pressure attack began to wear Vazquez down. Vazquez had a few good moments in rounds six and eight, but when his right eye began swelling from the cut above it, he was fighting an uphill battle. He took a lot of punishment before referee Gary Rosato halted it at the 1:18 mark of round 10.

Figueroa, 23, successfully defended his WBA 122-pound title while improving his record to 21-0-1 with his 16th KO. Vazquez declined to 15-2-1.

The lid-lifter was a WBO bantamweight title defense by John Riel Casimero with Duke Micah in the opposite corner. Micah, from Accra, Ghana, came in undefeated at 24-0, but Casimero had faced a far stronger schedule and was a substantial favorite.

A Filipino who was been training in Las Vegas under Bones Adams, Casimero took Micah out in the third round. The Brooklyn-based Micah was somewhat busier in the opening frame, but the tide turned quickly in favor of the Filipino. Casimero hurt Micah with a left hook in round two and went for the kill. He wasn’t able to finish him, but Micah was on a short leash and referee Steve Willis was quick to step in when Casimero resumed his attack after the break. The official time was 0:54.

Casimero (30-4, 21 KOs) was defending the title he won last November with a third-round knockout of favored Zolani Tete in Birmingham, England. He was slated to fight this past April in Las Vegas against Naoya Inoue, but that fight evaporated as a result of the coronavirus. After the bout, Casimero called out Inoue (and others): “I’m the real monster,” he said. “Naoya Inoue is scared of me. You’re next. I would have knocked out anyone today. If Inoue doesn’t fight me, then I’ll fight Guillermo Rigondeaux, Luis Nery, or any of the top fighters.”

Check back shortly for David Avila’s summaries of the remaining fights.

Photo credit: Amanda Westcott / SHOWTIME

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Mairis Briedis and Josh Taylor Impress on a Busy Fight Day in Europe

Arne K. Lang

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In the busiest weekend of boxing thus far in 2020, there were fights of note all over the map in Europe. The most compelling was held at the Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich where the long-delayed WBSS cruiserweight final pit IBF world cruiserweight title-holder Yuniel Dorticos against Mairis Briedis. Both had only one loss on their ledger, that coming in a semifinal of Season One of the WBSS tourney.

Heading in, Briedis was recognized as the more well-rounder boxer. Dorticos had a style somewhat similar to Deontay Wilder, meaning that he was over-dependent on his big right hand. It figured that Briedis would fight with extreme caution, using his faster hands and superior footwork to keep out of harm’s way, but to the contrary he wasn’t afraid to trade with Dorticos and actually landed the harder punches. At the end, he captured the IBF belt and the more coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy with a majority decision. The judges had it 117-111, 117-111, and a confounding 114-114.

The first fighter from Latvia to win a world title, Briedis (27-1, 19 KOs) is now a two-time world cruiserweight champion. He previously held the WBO cruiserweight belt, but vacated it rather than adhere to the organization’s mandate that he give Krzysztof Glowacki a rematch. (Their first fight, a TKO 3 for Briedis, was very messy and he was fortunate that he wasn’t disqualified.) Dorticos, the Cuban defector, returns to his adopted home in Miami with a 24-2 record.

Briedis, 35, may own only one piece of the world cruiserweight title, but at the moment he is clearly the topmost fighter in the division.

York Hall, London

Apinun Khongsong’s first engagement outside the Orient didn’t go well for him. The 24-year-old Thai boxer with an Muay Thai background was out of his element against WBA/IBF champion Josh Taylor who dismissed him in a hurry with a “solar plexus punch” that would have made Bob Fitzsimmons proud. The punch from the left-handed Scotsman sent Khongsong to the canvas writhing in pain and he was down for several minutes before he was able to stand upright. The official time was 2:41 of the opening round.

Taylor, the Tartan Tornado, was making his first start since October of last year when he won a 12-round majority decision over Regis Prograis in a Fight of the Year candidate. His next fight may be a full unification of the 140-pound belt with Jose Carlos Ramirez in the opposite corner. Both he and Khangsong entered today’s fight with 16-0 records, but Taylor, who scored his 13th knockout, was in a different league.

Undercard Bouts of Note

In a 10-round bantamweight contest, Charlie Edwards (16-1, 1 NC, 6 KOs) out-classed British countryman Kyle Williams (11-3). The referee awarded Edwards nine of the 10 rounds. Edwards, 27, previously held the WBC 112-pound title but was forced to relinquish it because he had trouble making the weight.

York Hall has been a jinx for David Oliver Joyce, the 33-year-old super bantamweight from Mullinger, Ireland, who is 0-2 in this building and 12-0 elsewhere. Joyce failed to last three rounds today in his match with Ionut Baluta. A Romanian who fights out of Bilbao, Spain, Baluta knocked Joyce down with a big left hook and then swarmed all over him when he arose, forcing the referee to intervene. The official time was 1:49 of round three.

It was the sixth straight win for Baluta (14-2, 3 KOs) and his third straight over a once-beaten opponent.

Riga, Latvia

Riga native Richard Bilotniks successfully defended his version of the European 175-pound title and advanced to the finals of the Golden Contract Light Heavyweight Tournament with a one-sided 10-round decision over Hosea Burton. A late bloomer who won only four of his first eight pro fights, Bilotnicks 30, won every round on one of the scorecards and eight rounds on the others to advance record to 17-5-1. Burton, who lost for the second time in 27 starts, let down his cousin Tyson Fury who flew to Latvia to cheer him on.

Struer, Denmark

At an arena in the city of Struer, hometown lass Dina Thorslund had a harder time than expected with Nina Radovanovic, but the Serb got no respect from the judges who didn’t see fit to award her a single round. Thorslund (15-0, 6 KOs) successfully defended her WBO world 122-pound title.

In the chief undercard bout, heavyweight Filip Hrgovic (11-0, 9 KOs) moved a step closer to a world title opportunity with a second-round blast-out of late sub Alexandre Kartozia. There was no need to count when Hrgovic leveled Kartozia with a big right hand.

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