Fight Predictions

Comments are welcome.  Results in red.

Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev II: Kovalev will have to come up with something special this time.  As is always the case when a boxer and a slugger have a second bout, the boxer has the advantage of knowing what the slugger will do.  If Ward maintains his punch output, we’ll likely see a one-sided decision, but if Kovalev can hold him off with his own offense, it could be the epic setup for number 3.  Ward split decision. I don’t even know.  Ward won by low-blows, I guess.

Errol Spence Jr. vs. Kell Brook: Spence will start slow and look awkward at times against Brook’s slickness, but won’t be rattled when Brook connects cleanly.  Spence will start to take over in the late rounds and set the pace, staying more active for the win.  Spence UD. In a fight that showed both fighters struggle, Brook’s injury to the orbital bone from his previous fight caused abnormal swelling early, and eventually, led to him being unable to continue.  Brook took a knee voluntarily in round 11 for a KO.

Gervonta Davis vs. Liam Walsh: I think Davis and Mayweather have underestimated the opponent this time, who is undefeated through 21 fights.  At the moment, though, Walsh is still no more than a very successful local fighter, all of his wins taking place in the UK.  We’ll likely see the green in Davis even more than we did in his last fight, but he could very well come up with a KO.  Davis KO 5.   Fulfilling the prediction earlier than I expected, Davis crudely pummeled his way to a 3rd round KO with little difficulty.

Terence Crawford vs. Felix Diaz: Crawford will have his hands full with Diaz, who throws tight, accurate combinations and doesn’t tire easily.  With a three inch height advantage and his incredible skill set, though, Crawford should pull out the win with little difficulty.  Crawford UD. Diaz held up well but couldn’t compete with Crawford’s arsenal and started taking way too much punishment in the later rounds, good TKO stoppage, round 10.

Saul Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Without a perfect night, Alvarez will have to rely some bad luck for his opponent.  Higher punch output from a larger man with the crowd and the judges on his side is hard to beat.  Of course, Saul will be the smarter, more accurate, more skilled, all-around better person.  As much as I’d like to predict a KO for Canelo, I have to say decision for Chavez.  Alvarez had a perfect night, but looked like he would’ve easily taken the win without a perfect night, too.  Treated like a mere formality for introducing the superfight in September.

Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko: Unless Wlad can pull a B-Hop this time around, Joshua will settle into a rhythm that will keep all but a few of the signature Klitschko right hands from landing at all, and none will be very effective.  His jab will keep Joshua at bay, but Joshua’s strength and punch output will stifle Klitschko’s offense just like Fury’s strength and offense did.  Joshua by KO round 5. Both fighters put in an admirable performance, with Joshua able to land the finishing blows.  Joshua by KO 11.

Shawn Porter vs. Andre Berto: Berto will lose his composure in the middle rounds and start slugging without covering up, then Porter will start to land precision shots.  Berto’s chin is strong enough to get him back up if he is knocked down, so it’s unlikely we’ll see a knockout.  Porter by UD. Porter started trading earlier than I expected, but handled himself just as well or better.  Berto complained repeatedly of headbutts, but Porter apologized twice in the post-fight interview, and used plenty of other methods to solidly outlcass his opponent.  Good fight, but not competitive enough to warrant a rematch. KO round 9.

Gennady Golovkin vs. Daniel Jacobs: Jacobs will be an opponent worthy of Golovkin, but nothing more. Golovkin’s rhythm may be thrown off in the early rounds, but as he builds pressure, Jacobs will begin to crumble.  Golovkin by KO round 5. The scorecards make it sound much closer than it was, but Jacobs was staggered in round 4 and again late in the fight.  Golovkin didn’t score a knockout, but Jacobs looked like the larger man in the ring, showing that Golovkin’s talent makes up for any size discrepancy.

Danny Garcia vs. Keith Thurman: While Thurman may be the better natural athlete, Garcia has shown on so many occasions that he knows how to pull out the stops at the right time and adjust in the ring.  He’s able to handle tremendous power shots from the likes of Lucas Mathysse and navigate the subtleties of a flashy fighter like Amir Khan.  This will be tough for both fighters, but expect Thurman to have trouble finding an opening, with Garcia finding it hard to weather the early rounds, surprised by his opponent’s accuracy.  Garcia by decision.

Thurman did indeed have trouble finding openings, and Garcia was staggered early, but it was Thurman’s volume rather than his power or accuracy that won the decision.  Garcia could conceivably win a rematch by being more active, if Thurman grants one.

Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward: Ward will have his hands full with probably the strongest opponent of his career, but more than ever before, his ability to use angles and distance will come in handy.  UD for Ward.

Kovalev managed to dominate the first half of the fight and stay strong through the second half, winning on many scorer’s cards, but losing a unanimous decision by one point.  One of the great fights of the past decade at least, the rematch is inevitable.

Gennady Golovkin vs. Kell Brook: Golovkin will show how accurate he can be when it counts.  Brook will take the early rounds using rhythm and speed to avoid punishment.  When he tries to dig in and push Golovkin back, he’ll have no luck.  The distance will close and Golovkin will start to land flush.  Golovkin KO round 8.  “” Round 5.

Deontay Wilder vs. Chris Arreola: Wilder will probably be less aggressive than usual once he feels his opponent’s power, but he’ll also start to see openings once he gets a chance to lean on him a bit in clinches.  Arreola will land exciting shots and cut off the ring well, but he’ll rest when he needs to fight, and he’ll fight when he needs to rest.  His conditioning will slow him down enough that he’ll start taking dangerous punches.  Wilder by KO round 4. Arreola fought smart, but he wasn’t in great condition, and Wilder was too big, strong, and fast, KO round 8.

Saul Alvarez vs. Amir Khan: Tough one to predict with the way judges in boxing conduct themselves.  Fortunately, this one won’t go to the 12th.  You can’t rely on a fighter’s style from night to night, his activity, or how the judges will see his work, but you can rely on character.  Canelo, on his worst night or his best night, will work hard, throw accurate, powerful shots, and stay moderately active through the whole fight.  Khan, worst or best, will throw lots of flurries and dance around for about four rounds.  Then, he’ll slow down and expect his opponent to let him throw one or two punches weak punches at a time.  When Alvarez shows he has no plans of slowing down, a mere Khan will crumble.  Canelo by KO round 8.  “” round 6.

Victor Ortiz vs. Andre Berto  II: Ortiz seems to take punishment a little better than Berto, but he also seems to take more than Berto.  This one will come down to the wire, but if they trade knockdowns, Berto better hope he scores the first.  To the Victor goes the win, Ortiz by KO round 6. Berto did, in fact, score first.  Berto KO round 4.

Error Spence Jr. vs. Chris Algieri: Spence has been biding his time and intelligently choosing fights that will start to get him major network exposure since his pro debut.  Algieri is the ideal candidate for his breakout performance.  In Algieri, Spence gets a recognized name, a formidable chin, and a technician good enough to highlight Spence’s more exceptional abilities.  Algieri has arranged a series of extremely difficult fights recently and has assumed the unfortunate position of stepping-stone, which is exactly what we’ll see play out this Saturday.  Algieri’s technique won’t be enough to keep up with superior accuracy, speed, agility and power.  Spence by UD. Algieri down in round 4 and twice in round 5, TKO round 5 Spence.

Jose Pedraza vs. Stephen Smith: Pedraza’s reach and agility will be too much for Smith, who’s still developing his technique.   Action should be plentiful, as neither fighter does well on his heels.  Pedraza by majority decision. UD Pedraza.

Gary Russell Jr. vs. Patrick Hyland: I’d always like to root for the Irishman, but sometimes it’s a lost cause.  Hyland has an almost perfect record well-insulated by hometown fights against undistinguished opponents.  While he gradually worked away from fights like his third, against Peter Buckley (31-206), he was barely competitive when he finally stepped up to gatekeeper Javier Fortuna, and since then has returned to form (his last opponent’s record was a dismal 18-6-1).  Gary Russell will use his speed and accuracy to win (almost) every round on points. TKO round 2 Russell.

Nikolay Potapov vs. Stephon Young: If anyone is interested, tonight’s Showtime fight between Potapov and Young masquerades as a good match up, but don’t be fooled.  While two fighters of the same height with 14 wins and no losses should be a fail-safe for matchmaking, each contestant has a total of six knockouts, which, even at bantamweight, isn’t impressive.  I had never seen either fighter compete before, but one look at their previous matches tells you all you need to know.  Young has a lot of natural talent, but harnesses very little of that with lazy technique.  He’s been successful in his short pro career but he’s only had a few fights scheduled past 6 rounds.  Potapov is no sensation, but he knows how to take a punch, how to slip a punch, and how to score points for a full 10 rounds.   Potapov by unanimous decision. Majority draw. Both men thoroughly demonstrated mediocrity, Potapov landed nothing of any effect, and Young landed almost nothing at all.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley: Teddy Atlas will have his hands full attempting to work out the right strategy for Bradley to beat Pacquiao.  In the end, it’ll be a great performance from both men but one will come out on top with better accuracy and speed.  UD for Pac.  “”

Luis Ortiz vs. Tony Thompson: Yet Another heavyweight mismatch.  At this final stage of his career, Thompson manages to look very lucky even against top opponents.  He’ll need all the luck he can get against Ortiz, whose obvious lack of discipline in training won’t prevent him from systematically breaking Thompson down until the fight is called.  Ortiz KO round 6. Like I said, all Ortiz, KO round 6.

Deontay Wilder vs. Artur Szpilka: Wilder has been more active in the past year and after his one-sided defeat of Stiverne, even I’m convinced he has a shot at the top.  Szpilka is a gatekeeper but an untested one, giving Wilder the opportunity to look very good, or very bad.  Szpilka is a hard-punching southpaw, which would normally give Wilder the benefit of the doubt if he were to lose, but in this case, the opponent is also a plodding, defensively disadvantaged fighter.  Wilder can’t attain greatness by winning this fight, no matter how he performs, but it will give us a better look at his technique and how he adjusts in the ring with a young, strong fighter.  Wilder by KO round 10.

Wilder wanted to wait until the tenth to confirm my prediction but Szpilka’s face couldn’t handle another round. 

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Tyson Fury: Fury insists Wlad is nervous about the fight because he’s never fought an opponent his size (which isn’t entirely true), but we’ll see how nervous Fury gets the first time Wlad touches him with a jab.  Fury’s legs aren’t good enough for him to run effectively against someone with such long reach and his defense isn’t good enough to withstand many Klitschko right crosses.  Wlad will most likely get to Fury by round two, and Fury will have choice of feigning an injury or just blatantly running for the entire fight like David Haye.  As long as the referee doesn’t allow too much dirty fighting, Klitschko will catch Fury no later than round four.  Klitschko by KO.

Talk about unexpected.  Fury came in almost 30 pounds lighter than he did just a few fights earlier, and he fought like it.  With a low output, he managed to stifle Klitschko’s normally formidable jab, which has always been the foundation for his somewhat one-dimensional offense, but was never known to be his one and only keystone.  That’s how he looked against Fury, throwing very little and landing almost none as he was repeatedly overwhelmed by Fury’s reach and speed.  When Klitschko did finally seem to be lining up his signature right hand, Fury took the shots and kept moving steadily.  A rematch is possible, but based on Klitschko’s performance may not differ greatly.

Miguel Cotto vs. Saul Alvarez: Cotto’s refined footwork and dedication to combination punching will make the early, slower rounds for Alvarez one-sided, but as the rounds progress, so will Canelo’s lead.  The difference in power and accuracy will be apparent by the fifth round, and if Alvarez is able to avoid Cotto’s body work well enough, he’ll be moving too fast for Cotto stay in his rhythm and create offense.  By round 9, if Cotto hasn’t already succumbed to the assault, he’ll be showing signs of fading characteristic to his style: lots of sidestepping, very little offense, ducking unnecessarily low when avoiding combinations.  If Alvarez has weathered the storm well enough, he’ll work until he pinpoints the right shot, and come away with a late knockout.  Alvarez TKO round 10.

Alvarez allowed Cotto to be more active, but was able to win most exchanges with his faster counter shots and by being more accurate and powerful.  Cotto looked good but relied too much on his legs, as instructed by Freddie Roach, and relied too little on stamina, heart and chin (which likely wouldn’t have been enough for the win either).  A hard-fought match until the finish, Cotto looked a little worse for the wear, and Alvarez looked almost as good as new.

Brandon Rios vs. Tim Bradley Jr. Bradley’s foot and hand speed are so far above his opponent’s that only great accuracy, great defense, or perfect timing could overcome those advantages, and Rios possesses none of those.  Rios is taller and much more active, but his reach is shorter than Bradley’s.  He’ll get hit in the body too much and won’t be able to counter fast enough.  Best case scenario for Rios is a knockdown or two, if Bradley’s off his game.  Bradley by split decision.

Bradley was not off his game at all.  In fact, it looked as if he’s benefited greatly from his short time with new trainer Teddy Atlas.  Fighting smart, he was able to keep Rios off-balance and off-rhythm for the entire fight, taking very little punishment.  Rios was unable to continue after a series of body shots in the ninth round.

Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Andre Berto: This fight, supposedly intended to be the last of Mayweather’s career, will feature one of the best boxers of the era taking on an adversary who couldn’t even compete with opponents Mayweather already beat comprehensively.  Offerings fans little, and analysts less, this fight will serve to showcase Mayweather’s strengths and Berto’s weaknesses, but won’t tell us much about either fighter’s legacy.  Berto doesn’t have the head movement or foot speed to avoid Mayweather’s accuracy all night, and he’s so overmatched offensively, he won’t have much choice but to cover up for as long as he can.  Mayweather by KO round 8.

Mayweather coasted to an easy points decision.  Berto never had a good round.

Saul Alvarez vs. James Kirkland: This stay-busy fight for Alvarez will prove to be a disservice.  Kirkland is a worthy opponent in his power, youth and determination, and in no other way, which is exactly what makes this fight an unnecessary risk for Alvarez.  He’s likely to take hard punches for at least a few rounds only to defeat a man, at a catch-weight, who holds no significant rank in the division.  Alvarez will start slowly, finding his range while Kirkland flails by comparison.  Kirkland will land a few two-punch combinations and Alvarez will finally pick up the pace, widely defeating Kirkland in a boring unanimous decision.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.: The biggest fight in the history of the sport will, as much as possible, live up to the hype.  Pacquiao will be forced to throw hard shots once it becomes apparent that Mayweather can move and jab accurately all day even with Manny’s awkward style.  Mayweather will be forced to hold at times when Pacquiao’s quick hooks get too close to the mark, but Floyd will put on a show of his own, returning calculated counter shots whenever Pacquaio starts to take the lead.  Floyd will land enough hard right hands between rounds 5 and 9 to damage Manny’s face considerably and either swelling or cuts may distract him in the late stages.  Manny will close strong and win at least three rounds, but ultimately give Mayweather the split decision.

Casual observers and MMA fans are disappointed they didn’t get to see another installment of Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield, or Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward, but those of us who follow the sport didn’t expect that.  Most of us, actually, were pleasantly surprised by the pace Mayweather set for the fight, and the way he reacted to Pacquiao’s power.  Using his legs to set distance and his jab to hold Manny off, Mayweather landed almost double the number of punches his opponent did and was hardly vulnerable in the process. The pound-for-pound debate is, or should be, finally over.  Styles make fights.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Chris Algieri: Pacquiao has obviously lost a step since his era of dominance and especially since his knockout loss to Marquez.  Algieri proved to have some great attributes against Provodnikov including a formidable chin, solid power, and some boxing ability.  His hand speed will never match Pacquiao’s, even in his diminished state, but the combination of his precision, foot speed, and defense will make for an interesting fight.  I doubt Pacquiao will try to knock Algieri out if he’s met with reciprocal firepower, so I expect a 12 round competitive fight, with Pacquiao taking a unanimous decision.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana II I didn’t put in a prediction for the first fight, because I thought there was no need, but it turned out to be incredibly competitive, probably more so than any other Mayweather fight we’ve seen in about a decade.  This one probably won’t be.  Mayweather is a master of adapting in the ring, and the 13th round against Marcos Maidana will be his next shot at perfecting his strategy.  He’ll likely take a few rounds to get going, as he so often does, and Maidana may not be firing on all cylinders quite as effectively as he was in their previous fight.  Glove gate or not, Maidana will need all his roughhousing tactics and probably the benefit of the doubt from the referee to win rounds in this fight.  I see Mayweather figuring out the formula by the middle rounds, with Maidana showing a little less fire in his belly, and the result being another comfortable decision win for Mayweather.  With Maidana’s reckless abandon fight style, and in the case that he’s less successful than he wants to be, he might even open himself up to a knockdown or two.

Almost exactly as expected, Mayweather was able to adapt to Maidana’s style almost seamlessly, starting faster than in the first fight and allowing far fewer exchanges against the ropes.  One of the most important factors in the fight was referee Kenny Bayless, who is typically one of the best officiators to have in the ring, but on this night catered to Mayweather’s complaints (even giving him the benefit of the doubt on an absurd accusation that Maidana bit his hand through the glove), making their rematch the most frustrating Mayweather fight to watch since he fought Ricky Hatton.  Similarly, that night, Joe Cortez gave every advantage to Mayweather, allowing him to grab and hold at will, making it impossible for Hatton to gain momentum.  The advantages afforded by Bayless may have been a moot point, however, as Mayweather maintained his intensity throughout the fight much better than in their first encounter, using his legs as we haven’t seen in years. 

Bernard Hopkins vs. Sergey Kovalev: Kovalev’s power and accuracy will be the story of the fight.  Hopkins is a living legend who can smother and stifle fighters who rely only on power, or slip and dodge fighters who rely on volume and accuracy, but he can’t stop big, hungry, powerhouses with technical ability.  Hopkins can lean and pull and hold, wearing down even those with formidable stamina, so there’s a chance that he could prevent the majority of his opponent’s intended damage, but even then, a win is unlikely.  Kovalev will be active even if his combinations are somewhat lacking; undeterred by Hopkins’ slick tactics, he wins by early stoppage.

Saul Alvarez vs. Erislandy Lara: Lara’s speed, adaptability and strong boxing skills along with legitimate power will bother Alvarez, especially in the early rounds when he’s usually trying to establish a rhythm.  Lara will be better equipped to capitalize on these moments and establish his own rhythm than most of Canelo’s opponents, but he’ll struggle to find a groove as soon as he feels his opponent’s power.  The fight will be competitive throughout, unless Alvarez can land consistently to the body and slow Lara down enough to land combinations.  Both fighters will have their moments toward the end of the fight with Alvarez landing harder shots, possibly scoring a knockdown, and taking the scorecards by split decision.

Lara’s footspeed managed to stymie Alvarez for much of the fight and his jab served him well, but Canelo’s power and accuracy were enough to win most of the rounds.  The judges saw another fight entirely, one where movement is rewarded over effective punching, and Alvarez never hurt Lara, but the right man won the fight.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley Jr. II: Pacquiao will start strong in an attempt to set a tone for the fight.  Bradley will try to match Manny’s pace, his normally very accurate combinations betraying him against Manny’s unconventional style.  Pacquiao will work hard throughout the fight, taking moderate punishment early, with the late rounds being less active for both fighters.  Bradley should keep his punch output high, but even with a more competitive fight than the first, if the cards are close, Pacquiao will take the decision.

The fight was less competitive than the first, Bradley claiming yet another foot-related injury in the early rounds, despite the fact that his only success was in those rounds.  Pacquiao redeemed himself just as he said he would, and moves on to better opponents having cleared all traces of controversy.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios: Pacquiao will start slow, allowing the fighters to feel out the rhythm of the fight.  Rios will start to put together combinations in the second or third round but will also absorb punishment.  By the middle of the fight Pacquiao will have quelled the offensive incursion and will begin an assault of his own.  Rios will stand up to the punishment better than most Pacquiao opponents but will begin to wilt by the late rounds.  Pacquiao by unanimous decision.

Pacquiao thoroughly dominated Rios using combinations and foot speed.  Rios held up well against the assault, looking strong throughout the fight, but not winning a round.

Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov: Provodnikov has a great chin and won’t be overwhelmed by Alvarado’s formidable offense on the inside, but Alvarado showed in his rematch with Brandon Rios that he’s smart enough to box if brawling is a bad option.  I see Alvarado fighting only in spots, and frustrating Provodnikov with head movement and foot speed.  ESPN reports Provodnikov giving up three inches in reach, augmenting Alvarado’s boxing competency and making way for a unanimous decision by a considerable margin. 

Alvarado failed to use his boxing skills to his advantage, inviting a brawl with the superior brawler.  Provodnikov landed enough enough solid combinations to get a stoppage from Alvarado’s corner.

Cris Arreola vs. Seth Mitchell: Arreola has been showing signs of decline in recent fights, even as his weight has come down to a more reasonable level.  Mitchell’s endurance will be the difference in the later rounds, but if Arreola can use his power and combinations to gain a lead early, it won’t come to that.  Arreola by TKO.

Arreola managed his output well while still unloading a fearsome assault.  Mitchell couldn’t get away from the straight right and the second one he threw all but ended the fight.

Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Mathysse: Garcia will use his youth and athleticism to move around Mathysse and land a few straights shots for at least a round or two.  By round three Mathysse will start finding Garcia and eventually get him to trade.  Once Garcia tries to stand and fight, Mathysse will score the knockout. 

Garcia was patient and used his boxing ability to open Mathysse up after an early onslaught.  Once his eye was swollen badly, Mathysse became very vulnerable and even suffered a late knockdown.  Garcia took yet another surprising victory.

Erislandy Lara vs. Alfredo Angulo: Lara will start slow but once he matches his rhythm to Angulo’s defensive weaknesses the fight will become one-sided.  Lara by unanimous decision.

Lara turned out to be the fast starter in this fight, coming out strong for rounds 1 & 2 but looking very vulnerable in round 3.  Angulo managed two knockdowns before about midway through the fight some kind of a facial injury caused Angulo’s face to swell dramatically in the beginning seconds of the round.  After Lara landed a few precision shots, Angulo turned to the ref who waved off the action. 

Marcos Maidana vs. Josesito Lopez: Lopez will struggle early on against Maidana’s better precision, but Maidana will tire in the late rounds leaving an opening for Lopez to accumulate points for a decision. 

Lopez did have trouble early but more because he was trying to find his range than because of anything Maidana did.  Lopez hurt Maidana at least twice but he couldn’t seem to decide whether to box or slug, which left extra opportunities for Maidana to brawl.  Lopez was knocked down and swarmed immediately after getting up, leading to the referee stopping the fight.

Saul Alvarez vs. Floyd MayweatherMayweather will be more than Alvarez expects, landing consistently, moving faster than any opponent he’s faced.  Alvarez will defend well early and show his power but Mayweather’s speed and accuracy will contribute to an accumulation of punishment that will eventually wilt Alvarez into a unanimous decision.

All the talent and physical ability Alvarez had to offer just didn’t seem to amount to much in this fight.  Mayweather was as perfect as ever against the toughest, smartest, strongest opponent he’s faced in years.  Who’s left now?

Nonito Donaire vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux: Donaire has been so impressive in displaying natural talent it’s hard to believe any style could overcome his abilities.  Rigondeaux will no doubt capitalize on the openings in Donaire’s defense more than other fighters and Donaire may have to show some heart in this fight, but he’ll overwhelm Rigondeaux.  Donaire by knockout.

Donaire didn’t have a game plan going into the fight as he admitted in the post-fight interview.  It looked as if he expected to overwhelm his opponent using his reach and his speed, but Rigondeaux was much faster and sharper.  Donaire’s defense remained intact, but he was unable to mount any significant offense even acknowledging the flash knockdown he scored.  Rigondeaux is now the one to beat in the division.

Saul Alvarez vs. Austin Trout: Alvarez is ready for a test against a tough, skilled fighter, and no one is a better candidate than Austin Trout.  Both coming off wins over legitimate gatekeepers in Miguel Cotto and Shane Mosley, Trout and Alvarez are looking to establish a prestigious place among the elite of the division.  Trout is quick and strong but seems to lack fluidity in his combinations, whereas Alvarez shows gaps in his defense and breaks his rhythm at inappropriate times, but has a solid offense.  Trout is a skilled and gifted fighter, but Alvarez is more talented and equally gifted, with superior precision and pressure.  Alvarez by unanimous Decision.

The fight was closer than it should have been for Alvarez, but he did what he had to do against an awkward, slick fighter.  Trout showed his defensive prowess but it was nowhere near as effective as it was against Miguel Cotto.  Alvarez had similar difficulty mounting an offense, actually throwing and landing fewer punches than Trout, but Alvarez was so much better able to control the fight than Cotto did, that Trout eventually became reluctant to throw his own.  Alvarez is almost there.  Soon he’ll be ready for Mayweather. 

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II: Even though I expect a hell of a fight, I don’t see Alvarado making the same mistakes he did in the first.  I think Rios will have trouble keeping up with a more mobile Alvarado but will still have success and a high punch output.  Alvarado will get beaten up inside and take a few scary shots, but eventually he’ll come out on top; Alvarado by close decision.

Alvarado stayed smart for most of the fight and stuck to the strategy I predicted. Rios put Alvarado down momentarily with a good jab, and got some good combinations in, but he was unable to adjust to Alvarado’s movement.  A very good fight, if not as great as the first; I think everyone is itching to see the rubber match and both fighters have already verbally agreed.

Tim Bradley Jr. vs. Ruslan Provodnikov: Provodnikov is a heavy hitter and an experienced fighter, but his defense is far from impenetrable.  He will have to pressure Bradley to have any success, but carefully maintain his guard at the same time.  Bradley knows how to make a fight awkward and ugly.  If he doesn’t beat Provodnikov with counters and superior maneuvering, he probably will with headbutts and holding.  Bradley by unanimous decision.

I don’t know whether to say I was totally right or completely wrong.  Bradley did not fight at all the way I expected, and Provodnikov made the fight sensational in his own efforts, but the result was what I predicted. I have to admit Bradley made good on his promise to fight aggressively, even to a fault, and demonstrated the same impressive skills he used to beat Pacquiao.  Provodnikov showed a hell of a heart too, and I’d be glad to see a rematch. 

Bernard Hopkins vs. Tavoris CloudHopkins has flipped the hourglass more times than we can count, but his last fight against Dawson suggested the sand may finally be running out.  Cloud probably has a less comprehensive skill set than Dawson but Hopkins is even older than he was in that last bout.  Hopkins’ chin will probably save him from a knockout and his slickness will frustrate the younger fighter, but Cloud will be able to pick his shots if his feet can out maneuver the old man.  Cloud by close decision.

Hopkins did it again in a convincing win over a legitimate titleholder.  Cloud had trouble getting off combinations, as so many of Hopkins opponents do.  Most surprisingly, Hopkins actually seemed to be faster than Cloud, not just in his head movement, but faster on his feet, faster with his hands and just generally able to respond more quickly.  Cloud barely landed a solid punch whereas Hopkins was able to land a few totally clean, very hard shots, at his pace.  He’s made his place in history that much more significant, again. 

Cris Arreola vs. Bermane Stiverne: Arreola should be able to use his ability to throw combinations with his undeniable power to defeat Stiverne. Stiverne is large and powerful as well, but his speed and defense are great weaknesses. Depending on what kind of shape he’s in come fight night, Arreola might give us a knockout. 

Didn’t know enough about Stiverne for this one.  He didn’t match Arreola’s skill of throwing combinations, but he surpassed him in just about every other area.  Arreola will have to work on his defense, his accuracy and even his power if he wants to rival the Klitschkos again.

Miguel Cotto vs. Austin Trout:Austin Trout is a legitimate opponent for Cotto, but not much more.  Cotto showed a combination of speed, coordination and accuracy that was tough even for Floyd Mayweather to beat during their showdown in May.  Trout will probably be able to capitalize on some openings in Cotto’s defense, but will likely be unable to match the offense abilities of his opponent.  Cotto will struggle to produce a knockout unless he fully commits to his body work, but he should come out on top.  Cotto by unanimous decision.

Trout was on top of his game in a way that Cotto just wasn’t.  Trout was not only the much stronger fighter, but he was faster and sharper than Cotto.  I didn’t give Trout enough credit, but I think boxing fans can agree that Cotto wasn’t the same fighter he was against Mayweather.  A combination of factors led to a unanimous decision for Trout, with misleading scores that imply that Cotto never won a round.  I don’t think either man was damaged by the punches much, but the right man won. Cotto refused to say definitively whether he would fight again.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV: Many people predict Marquez will have less than he did in the previous three bouts whether due to age or the punishment he’s taken in the past.  I think the fight will only serve to prove how faded Pacquiao has become taking fights against opponents like Tim Bradley and Miguel Cotto, not to mention the trilogy he already fought with Marquez.  Marquez may perform better than expected (as usual), but Pacquiao fanatics are right about one thing: Pacquiao probably should win by knockout, if the hype is true.  If not, maybe Marquez was always the technically superior fighter, and maybe Pacquiao’s physical gifts are starting to slip just enough that technique balances out just a little bit better than it did before.  I see Pacquiao firing far fewer explosive combinations and with less success than in the first three fights, Marquez slipping somewhat less successfully as well.  In the late rounds I expect Pacquiao’s technique to degrade to the point that Marquez is able to take late rounds and make the final contest just as controversial as all three of the first fights combined.  Pacquiao by decision. 

Wow.  Fourth…time is the charm? Marquez looked like a beast in there against Pacquiao, utilizing his overhand right which has always caught Manny better than other shots.  Marquez managed to slip and parry better than in the first three fights and Pacquiao looked less effective in every way.  His combinations weren’t there, his speed was decreased, even his power didn’t seem to be there.  The debate over who won the first three is finally over.  Doesn’t matter.  Pacquiao was knocked unconscious like he was Ricky Hatton.

Chad Dawson vs. Andre Ward: Ward is just so much more agile and defensively sound than Dawson, I can’t imagine him getting caught with anything unless he decides to trade, which he won’t.  Dawson will work his straights through the middle rounds, stifling some of Ward’s attempts at combinations with holding and a 5 1/2 inch reach advantage.  Ward will outmaneuver Dawson and earn his respect with hard shots that by the end of the fight will deter Dawson from mounting an offense.  Ward will be slow to start, needing time to adjust to Dawson’s southpaw stance, but over twelve rounds will pick up enough decisive rounds to take an uncontroversial decision.

Everyone’s predictions turned out to be correct, and yet so inaccurate at the same time.  Ward did use his footwork to dance circles around Dawson, but his disadvantage in reach didn’t seem to affect his aggression.  His smaller size certainly didn’t detract from his power.  In fact, Ward was more aggressive and dominant than we’ve ever seen him.  All told, Ward put Dawson down three times during the fight and thoroughly dominated him in every area until the final knockdown that inspired Dawson to beg Steve Smoger to stop the fight.  Ward took the opportunity to shine in his most important challenge.  He worked Dawson from every angle, taking the risks he needed to in order to be spectacular.  Finally, I agree.  He was.

Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: After re-watching Martinez-Margarito I’m confident that Maravilla will have a greater size disadvantage than expected. Chavez will look slow and uncoordinated as he usually does for the first couple rounds and then he’ll begin going into a higher gear, testing Martinez’ usually impeccable defensive ability in every exchange.  Martinez will take some body shots but in much less concentrated bursts than Chavez’ previous victims.  Chavez will be unable to keep up with Martinez’ speed in the late rounds and his accuracy will suffer, causing him to be edged out in crucial rounds. Close decision for Martinez.

This fight went almost exactly as predicted with Martinez showing his skills for 11 1/2 rounds thoroughly dominating Chavez.  Also as predicted, however, Chavez withstood the assault with an iron chin and finally blasted Martinez, almost completely out of the fight before he escaped again with the decision.

Saul Alvarez vs. Josesito Lopez:Lopez will look impressive as he did against Ortiz with a crucial distinction, Alvarez will never get caught with a barrage of flush punches and then move straight back with his hands down.  Lopez will apply pressure throughout the fight but will be outmatched by Canelo’s accuracy and speed.  If Lopez tries to trade, he could get knocked out, but I expect a lopsided decision for Canelo.

A great action fight, Lopez showed his heart and chin standing toe-to-toe with Alvarez for the most part, but was overwhelmed in just a few rounds.  Canelo looks ready for top competition, but let’s hope he doesn’t get thrown into a fight with one of the pound-for-pound kings until he’s refined his skills just a little bit more.

James Toney vs. Tomasz Adamek: Adamek will pepper Toney with punches even though his reach is much shorter.  Toney will try to grab and smother Adamek with little success.  He may headbutt Adamek in the attempt to slow the onslaught and will stand up well to his power but the referee will take pity on him as he stumbles around the ring incoherently by round 3 or 4.  TKO stoppage by round 4.

Someone took pity on Toney, the fight was cancelled.

Shane Mosley vs. Saul Alvarez: Mosley’s straight punches will give Alvarez trouble from the beginning, especially if Alvarez gets a slow start.  The early rounds may go to Mosley, but in the end Alvarez’ persistent aggression and youthful endurance will carry him through Mosley’s less productive rounds for a close decision win. 

Alvarez looked better against Shane Mosley than I’ve ever seen him look.  His power was evident throughout the fight even though Mosley was never hurt.  Mosley looked good himself but his strengths (speed and precision) were eclipsed by an equal (if not superior) arsenal in Alvarez. Early on the jab worked well for Mosley but by the end of the fight he had no answer for the combinations from Alvarez.  One or two early rounds to Mosley, but not a close decision.

Bernard Hopkins vs. Chad Dawson II: Hopkins by two or three rounds in a controversial and ugly decision, with a disgraceful post-fight diatribe from Dawson.

Hopkins finally looked his age against Dawson.  His physical stature, speed, power, and activity were all diminished against Dawson.  While one entirely blind judge scored the fight a draw, the other two fairly gave every round to Dawson.  Surprisingly, Hopkins refused comment, and Dawson was respectful.

Miguel Cotto vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.: Mayweather in a lopsided decision victory, taking few punches with little effect, Cotto battered by straight rights and check hooks.

Cotto fought to win against Mayweather, putting on one of the best performances of his career.  Mayweather only damaged Cotto briefly in the last round, but kept control of the action throughout the fight with perfect precision and speed.  I gave three rounds to Cotto but the judges saw it as somewhat more one-sided.  Floyd was respectful of Cotto’s performance and acknowledged the Pacquiao fight in his interview.  Cotto refused comment.

Marco Antonio Rubio vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.: Rubio’s slow pace and lazy jab will be his undoing.  Little Chavez will hop around haphazardly moving his hands a lot more than Rubio, which in collusion with his inflated reputation will influence the judges to give him all but two or three rounds.  Rubio’s chin and body punches will give Jr. something to think about but the judges won’t notice because Jr.’s supremely evident confidence will smooth out most of the rough spots.

Chavez Jr. dominated the fight even more fully than I expected, and with the disadvantage of a last-minute weight drain due to a one-pound disparity between his home scale and that of the weigh-in site.  Rubio not only looked slow but entirely ineffective despite a height advantage and by the late rounds was being bullied into inactivity.  Chavez looked more accurate than I remember him being and considering his sustained focus and endurance, he may be more of a force in the division than I thought. 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley Jr.: Bradley is quick and fairly agile but he doesn’t use his legs as much as his head to avoid punches and he’s no Marquez when it comes to playing the matador.  Bradley’s style will make offense difficult for Pacquiao because it’s much easier for Pacquiao to use his speed when he can hop in and out in Hattonian relentlessness.  Bradley, however, will stifle Pac’s speed by bearing in, head down, for every exchange.  Somewhere in the first five rounds, Pacquiao will suffer a cut from a headbutt, probably over an eye.  Pacquiao’s offense will wane in favor of his ragged eye and so will Bradley’s effectiveness as he can’t produce any results unless the other guy lets him burrow inside with his head down.  The end of the fight will be boring, and if it goes 12 rounds, fans will wish it hadn’t.  Pacquiao by decision.

The most unexpected result I’ve ever seen at the end of a boxing match.  Not only was I wrong about the action, but Bradley won.  Both guys fought an active, interesting fight for almost every round, but somehow, Bradley was awarded a split decision.  Maybe the restraint he demonstrated in not headbutting the whole fight got him extra points.  That’s all I can figure.

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