Usyk/Joshua…A Rematch of Alternate Endings…..


It is late in a London pub this Saturday night. The sound is deafening. As a non boxing enthusiast walks by, they wonder why the noise is louder than usual…….

At that same exact moment, 1,600 miles away in an undisclosed oblast, the boisterous output of countless Ukrainian soldiers shakes the very soil they are protecting……….

The rematch between Oleksandr Usyk 19-0 (13), and Anthony Joshua, 24-2 (22) this Saturday night in Saudi Arabia will provide the conclusion to the opening herein. 

The rematch is the tale of two stories, or alternate endings, as you will. The curtain rises……

Act 1-First Ending…..USYK, The Champion…..

Usyk is a modern day Picaso, painting on the canvas of the squared circle fight after fight.  In his first fight with Joshua, Usyk performed a masterclass taking the title from the former champion. 

A former top cruiserweight champion, now wreaking havoc in the heavies, he is on a similar career path reminiscent of a legend from Atlanta. 

Back in February, this rematch was the last thing on the champion’s mind as his beloved homeland of Ukraine was senselessly invaded. The overused idiom, “fighting for something larger than yourself” can unapologetically be inserted here as Usyk left boxing to fight for his country. At the urgence of his fellow soldiers, he left to pursue the rematch with Joshua. 

As long as Usyk doesn’t get careless, which he has never shown to be, this fight will be one-sided. Usyk will be even more dominant this time around. He knows the power Joshua possesses, and he has the edge of having bested him the first time around. In fact, Usyk was close to putting Joshua in serious trouble late in the first fight, last September. 

What we know….Usyk possesses the blueprint to beat Joshua. Working from his southpaw stance, a stance that Joshua admittedly admires and credits for giving him difficulty, Usyk circles, works in and out, and lands power when the opportunity presents itself. That said, it is the active jab of Usyk that is the core of the blueprint. 

In the first fight, it was Usyk’s jab that caused Joshua to reset, over and over. The southpaw’s  jab confused Joshua, and he fought cautiously, not knowing when the left power shot would come. In fact, this caused Joshua to correctly keep his right glove sealed tightly to his face, keeping himself out of harm’s way. This is textbook; however, Joshua was so cautious, he negated his own advantage, the power of his right hand.  Joshua was trapped in the tangled web that is the genius of the Ukrainian. 

Usyk needs only to follow his game plan from last September, and improve upon it. Use his speed, which was a factor against the heavy muscled lumbering approach of Joshua, and mix in the sneaky power left like he did initially in Round 3 and then throughout the fight. The jarring effect of Usyk’s power left caused Joshua to rethink everything, and arguably had him doubting his own gameplan. 

Joshua has been almost embarrassingly complementary regarding Usyk’s southpaw style. I’m unsure if he believes he can be successful. Usyk can use this to his advantage and possibly switch stances, confusing Joshua and providing an opportunity for a huge opening.  

In the lead up to this rematch, Joshua’s energy is off, not in a physical sense, but in a mental one. His body language is off and he appears to visibly show signs that he has doubt he can actually win. Usyk’s job is half done, the other half is the easy part for a painter.   


Act 2-Alternate Ending…..Joshua The Challenger…..

Anthony Joshua, are you all in? Have we already begun to see the decline? The oddity of the first fight with Andy Ruiz goes without saying. Even in the rematch, although one-sided, was not overly convincing in a stylistic sense, and more of a case of a lesser Ruiz, than an improved Joshua. 

Flash-forward to the first fight with Usyk, and it is clear, something is amiss. Sure he KO’d Kubrat Pulev in between; however Pulev is a tailored made-flat footed opponent who was fighting on a 13 month layoff. 

Combine all of this with the aforementioned vitality zap, and Saturday night may be the longest of his career yet, unless he focuses on the basics.

In the first fight, Joshua’s body attack was non-existent, his jab was sloppy and non committal, and his inability to fully commit to his power provided a recipe to relinquish his belts.    

If Usyk had any vulnerability in the first fight, it was his inability to fight off his back foot. If you look close enough, you can see that Joshua’s angles and movement were giving Usyk a bit of confusion. When Joshua moved Usyk back even with a lazy jab, Usyk looked uncomfortable, and he had to reset, stopping all of his beautiful movement. The problem is, Joshua could not sustain it, and he allowed Usyk to dictate the terms. Further, Joshua did not cut off the ring, and  allowed Usyk to control the space. 

If Joshua is to be successful in the rematch, he needs to fight tall, and commit to the jab, which carries a four inch reach advantage. Use the stick as a weapon, not just as a range finder. Be a big heavy against a blown up cruiser. Back Usyk up, and use combinations to set up the advantage. Work the body, and impose his will. 

That said, he must have success early and often. Heavily muscled fighters fatigue quickly. Evander Holyfield was the rare exception. Usyk appears bigger in the rematch than he was the first go; however, where Joshua’s size is more akin to a bodybuilder, Usyk’s size is more about endurance strength with speed. 

If Joshua fights tall, works behind the jab, and stays disciplined he can keep the superior boxer at bay. This will force Usyk to fight off of his back foot and not allow him to impose his will like he did in the first fight. 

Go back to the basics. Under the wise guidance of Robert Garcia this time around, Joshua may just be all in……


We may get a heavyweight version of Hagler v. Hearns at some point in this one, but only for a minute or so. I believe both bigs will try and make an early statement. Due to his speed, Usyk will get the better of it and will work under Joshua’s long reach, negating his power. Joshua will smartly understand that this tactic will not work, even though he is the bigger man. As such, each blueprint will have to be executed. 

There is a lot to like about Joshua’s chances after rewatching the tape and seeing that it is only the most basic components of the sweet science that he needs to execute to have success. That said, the physical piece is only half. You must have a mindset that knows no defeat. Usyk has that, Joshua has not shown that he does. 

Joshua will have more success and make things interesting; however, Usyk is just too good at this point in his career. He gets better with every fight and will be even better in the rematch. Joshua’s improved limited success will be his downfall. He will provide openings for the champion and will begin to take a beating. As the fight carries on past the middle rounds, and the heavily muscled Joshua begins to get arm weary, the speed of Usyk will become power and Joshua will find himself in trouble. His heart will say fight but his mindset will enter down that dark lonely land known as doubt. 

Joshua will show a warrior’s heart, but the referee has a job to do. Usyk’s combination punching with bad intentions are too much. 

Usyk TKO 8

As a loud patron leaves the London pub, the non boxing enthusiast  inquires of the uproar….the patron says..”Joshua was knocked out”. 

At that same exact moment, 1,600 miles away in an undisclosed oblast, the Ukrainian soldiers celebrate with pride as one of their own defends the world heavyweight championship…AND STILL!!!…….for these soldiers, and all of the Ukraine, all is right, if only for a moment…..

Curtain Closes

The Matrix Reloaded…The Return Of Vasiliy Lomachenko

Everybody…get on your feet right now…..For Loma….the best pound for pound fighter in the world…Whoever don’t agree….you know what?….Y’all musta forgot” 

We last saw P4P great and WBA lightweight champion Vasiliy Lomachenko (11-1 9KOs) in the ring on May 12 against the rugged Jorge Linares (44-4 27 KOs), at the time, the current WBA lightweight champ. Linares had been the top dog of the division for several years. Lomachenko moved up to face Linares in an attempt to capture his third title in as many weight classes.

Said Lomachenko before the bout- “The life of a boxing athlete is short, so I don’t have time to waste, or time to take tune-up fights or whatever…….I want the best, and to get the most out of my short boxing career by fighting the best that I can”

Through the first five rounds, Lomachenko cut off the ring, got inside Linares’ length, pressed the action, showed the great footwork forged by years of dancing and competitive sports, and did what Loma does.  Linares, who did land some good shots at random times, began to get visibly frustrated. 

In the sixth, Linares, the skilled boxer and champion that he is, landed a straight right and dropped Loma. Although Loma was a bit off balance, take nothing away from Linares, he did something that had not been seen before. Not overly hurt by the shot Loma regroups to finish the round and carries over his strategy of reassessing his attack to the 7th, allowing Linares to take the round. 

In the 8th, Loma is back on the attack and opens a cut over Linares’ left eye and goes after it throughout the round.  Both gave as good as they got in the 9th in a close round as Linares landed a good uppercut but Loma was offensive as well. 

In the tenth and final round, Loma paints his masterpiece, the movement, the precise combination punching, the one-two’s, the quickness, the step over and hook to the body. BANG! Game-Set-Match.


“Will there be another Loma? Probably not. Stopped Jorge Linares with a body shot. See y’all musta forgot..”

A world title in his 3rd weight division, and also sets a new record for capturing world titles in three divisions in the fewest fights, 12, beating the previous mark by 8. 

The win against Linares didn’t come without a price. Lomachenko injured his shoulder early in the fight. He stated to ESPN that it had popped out but had gone back in; however, it was providing challenges for him throughout the fight.  After  seeing a specialist, he found out that he had tore his labrum. 

He had surgery on May 30. As Dr. Neal ElAttrache told ESPN, he believed the surgery to have been a success- 

“The tissue was very nice and we were able to achieve a very nice sturdy repair that should provide him with stability in his shoulder, and I am optimistic for an excellent prognosis”  

This Saturday night, from The Theatre at Madison Square Garden, Lomachenko is back and in true modus operandi fashion, facing a tough opponent…….his first fight back from shoulder surgery. This time out he’s going to knuckle up in a unification bout with the man they call “The Sniper” once beaten Jose Pedraza (25-1 12 KO), the current WBO lightweight titlist. 

The only loss on Pedraza’s resume is Gervonta “Tank” Davis, a TKO 7 in January 2017. Loma will no doubt have an added incentive to get Pedraza out of there before the 7th to best Davis’ effort. There has been plenty of Loma v. Davis rumblings in the past.

In August, Pedraza beat tough as nails Ray Beltan by UD. Pedraza showed an active jab and fought from both stances. Beltran, not known for his speed, couldn’t handle Pedraza’s.  Beltran tried to brawl and force the fight but got cut early and was dropped in the 11th. In the end, it was youth and speed that earned the UD for Pedraza. 

In watching tape of Pedraza, and from memory of watching his fights, he throws an active jab, goes to the body, and has good speed and movement. That said, there is one glaring flaw in his game, his inability to go defensive after he throws his shots or while he is throwing them. He is wide open up the middle and as a fighter that moves forward, is susceptible to walking right into an uppercut. As he throws his jab, the openings are there to be exploited. 

Pedraza would be wise to tread lightly here with his approach. There are different levels in this game and when fighting this Ukranian, you’re pretty much at the peak. If your defense is not tight and you make mistakes, you then enter The Matrix.  

As we understood post-fight, Loma was not 100% against Linares, which may or may not have explained the knockdown and the uncharacteristic shots that were landed on Loma. Even with an injured shoulder, he stopped a tough champion. Assuming the shoulder is fight ready, as it should be, I look for Loma to do what Loma does. The beautiful movement, combination punching, tapping his punches to find the range then adding his power, utilizing the trade-mark step over while throwing with bad intentions, and so on…..

As Lomachenko recently told Teddy Atlas-

“I want to unify titles. It was my first goal when I came into the pros. I tried to unify titles at 126, 130, now I try at 135. Maybe this weight will be lucky for me. … I want to prove my father is the best coach, a genius of boxing. That’s why I do this. But it’s not his plan, it’s not his choice about second titles, third titles, it’s my choice. I want to put my name in boxing history.

“My father watched when he won his title, and he explained what I need to do in the training. … My father is the gamer, I am the game. … We have a little secret for this fight, we’ve changed a little bit of the strategy. So we’ll see in the ring.”

Ah yes, Anatoly, aka PAPAChenko, the master mind, the former amateur boxer with the unique forward thinking training methods, not only physically, but mentally. The total package……. Hi-Tech Training…..

You see the greatness not only with his son but also on all that he touches, providing wise guidance in the past to …..Oleksandr Usyk, the undisputed cruiserweight titlist and odds on favorite for Fighter of the Year, and newly crowned WBC light heavyweight champion Oleksandr “The Nail” Gvozdyk just to name a few. 

When you watch Vasiliy and Anatoly work, you can’t help but see it…..respect between a fighter and coach, but also the love between a father and son. 

Yes, this is The Matrix Reloaded………………




A Jack Of All Trades Will Make It Difficult For Stevenson To Be Super

It is a lonely time when a pugilist unexpectedly finds themselves on the canvas. Their faculties rudely interrupted as they try to make sense of it all. The crowd is a blur, a faint voice counting numbers, “one, two, three…..”

They get up but their legs have left them. Instead of muscle they are reduced to jelly. “What the hell are you doing?” says the mind, “Mayday, Mayday..” says the legs..”What the hell is happening to my balance?” counters Mr. Equilibrium

At that exact moment the fighter wobbles into the ropes. They try to fight on but their legs give out and they fall again face first. They get up again but it’s no use, legs gone, they wobble again into the ropes as the referee grabs them and waves off the fight.

That fighter was unbeaten Badou Jack (22-1 -2 13 KO) back in 2014. A short right hand courtesy of Derek Edwards landed directly on the point of Jack’s chin and at the time, a rising star watched a possible title elimination bout with James DeGale derailed after the TKO loss.

In life, we are faced with many challenges and roadblocks. Some expected, some not, but it’s how we face adversity that ultimately determines our destiny. Boxing is often a metaphor for life. A loss does not define you, it defines you when refuse to go on.

There are high expectations when you are promoted by a legend and the upset to Edwards could have derailed his career had he let it, instead, he tightened things up and it is obvious he committed himself to be the best he could be. If you’ve been watching Jack since the Edwards fight you can see it. He has gotten better fight after fight, adding a different wrinkle each time out. Since losing unexpectedly by TKO to Edwards , Jack has gone 6-0-1. A true definition of a champion.

Further, his run from Dirrell to Cleverly has been quite impressive. Showcasing something different each time out, speed, movement, combinations, very systematic and calculated in his approach. He beat a string of quality fighters/champions who have given others hell and did it in succession.

Jack has become a different/better fighter than he was even just a few years ago. Not a lot of fighters have the ability to continuously improve. You know what most fighters will bring fight after fight, but with Jack, he seems to redevelop himself in the ring during the fight. He has a stong mindset which is aligned with his physical skills in executing the fight plan.

Going into Saturday night’s fight against Adonis Stevenson (29-1 24 KO), I look for Jack’s ever improving jab to set the tone. His body work is top shelf but he is mastering the jab now to go along with his underrated movement. With his expanding and improving skill set in all phases, it is his jab that he works behind which sets up everything else. He will need the stick to keep Stevenson at distance.

Stevenson is a southpaw; however, 2 out of the last three Jack opponents, DeGale and Bute are southpaws. Probably not a coincidence that Team Jack’s journey towards Stevenson has been very calculated.

Ok, we all know that Jack needs to be mindful of Stevenson’s left. That said, once thing that I’ve noticed as I went back and watched film on Jack is that since the Edwards fight, he holds the right hand very high and is disciplined in his approach. He uses it for defense but is very adept at firing it for offense when he needs to. Something to keep an eye on Saturday night.

If Sakio Bika can take Stevenson the distance with a limited skill set, Jack should find many opportunities for success. Further, on fight night, Stevenson would have had only four fights in just over three years.

Watching film on Stevenson’s KO loss to Darnell Boone back in 2010 and the similar knockdown he took at the hands of Andrzej Fonfara, Jack will have opportunities. It was a left jab followed by a sharp right that gave Stevenson his only loss and although he beat Fonfara, he was knocked down with almost the same combination. In watching Jack and reviewing film, I have observed the same punch selection used by Jack against the previous two southpaws. Again, something to watch on Saturday night.

In watching Stevenson over the years and reviewing tape for this piece, I compare it to a broken record. He does the same thing over and over. Jab high, jab high, jab low, power left, move in, move out, jab high, jab low, power left. Not to be disrespectful to Stevenson, he has held the WBC World Light Heavyweight Belt since 2013, it works for him. That said, we’ll see if he can execute the same strategy with an adversary with many tools in the tool belt.

I look for Jack to frustrate Stevenson with his movement and combination punching. Jack’s speed also will be a factor. Stevenson has not fought anyone who possessed the overall skill set that Jack has at a similar point in their career.

I look for Stevenson to come out strong and try to impose his will but will be surprised by Jack’s movement and counter punching. They will have some close rounds and Jack may even be the victim of a flash knockdown but slowly Jack will begin to take control of the fight pushing Stevenson back.

One glaring observation in reviewing film on Stevenson is that he has difficulty fighting backwards. As Jack begins to move forward and take the fight to Stevenson in the middle rounds, Stevenson will be less effective with his approach. His power will weaken as he moves backwards and the body work that Jack will put in early and often will contribute as well.

If he can stay out of a firefight and away from Stevenson’s left, Jack will relegate the champ to a one-dimensional fighter. The call here is Jack by MD but only because I do not believe he can get a UD in Stevenson’s Canada.

It is a joyous time when the ring announcer announces “And The New!!!” Getting off the deck to win at life.

S-8 Quick Peek….Wilder v. Ortiz

The Heavyweight Champ is fighting!!!! The Heavyweight Champ is fighting!!! There was a time when this statement attracted the attention of the world but in recent times, not so much. That said, the bigs have been making a comeback and look to gain more momentum this Saturday night. The Barclays Center in Brooklyn will be the venue when Deontay Wilder (39-0 38 KO) and Luis Ortiz (28-0 24 KO) scrap for Wilder’s WBC World Heavyweight Title. Will Bronze Bombs be the reason that King Kong topples from the Empire State Building?…..Read on……..

Tape Tales

Wilder- Age- 32, Height-6’7, Reach-83″ Orthodox

Ortiz-Age- 38, Height-6’4, Reach-84″ Southpaw

Last 3-

Wilder (3-0)

7-16-16 TKO 8 over Chris Arreola

2-25-17 TKO 5 over Gerald Washington

11-4-17 KO 1 over Bermane Stiverne

Ortiz (3-0)

11-12-16 UD Malik Scott

12-10-16 KO 7 over David Allen

12-8-17 KO 2 over Daniel Martz

Common Opponents May Provide A Bit Of Clarity

Malik Scott- While it was not quite the phantom punch, Wilder KO’d Scott in one round with a shot off the temple. Ortiz on the other hand went the distance with Scott in route to a UD.

Not much to take away from the Wilder fight other than when Wilder hits you in a venerable area, the fight is over.

In route to his UD, Ortiz had problems with the movement and speed of Scott and got touched up.

And The Winner Is……..

Speed never has a bad day. I’ll stop just short from saying that Ortiz is tailor-made for Wilder. If Wilder fights a disciplined game plan as he did in the first Stiverne bout this will end violently. Ortiz has decent head movement and overall skills for a big man but is a plodding fighter. Wilder is an above average counter puncher with speed and should catch Ortiz early and often. Doubt still hovers over the Wilder chin; however, we have seen him take some solid shots and has been no worse for the wear. Not Ortiz solid shots but it appears Wilder has been prepared for the journey.

Wilder will set the tone with his jab and keep the powerful Ortiz at distance teasing him at times by allowing him to come in and land a few shots. Wilder will also work his opponent’s body more than he ever has.  This will all be part of the gameplan. This will be his web. Wilder will look to unload the big right at the precise moment. This time, an uppercut to end it.

Heavyweight Champ John L. Sullivan once quipped, “I can whip any son-of-a-bitch in the house”

Wilder has the same mindset everytime out and seems like he is always looking for the respect that he believes he is due. This is what drives him. He trains and fights like the challanger and believes he is superior to anyone he faces. When the body’s mental and pysical faculties are in alignment the end product is rarely defeated.

Wilder by 5th Round KO.

S-8 Quick Look….Spence v. Peterson

Rising star Errol Spence Jr. (22-0 19 KO) will give veteran and former two division champion Lamont Peterson (35-3-1 17 KO) a shot at his IBF Welterweight World Title on Saturday night from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. This will be Spence’s first defense of the title that he captured in Kell Brook’s back yard. Peterson relinquished his WBA Welterweight strap in order to be able to knuckelup with Spence.

Tape Tales

Spence Jr. Age-28,  Height- 5’9 1/2, Reach- 72″, Southpaw

Peterson-  Age- 33 Height- 5’9, Reach-72″, Orthodox

Last 3-

Spence- (3-0)

5-27-17 TKO 11 over Kell Brook

8-21-16 KO 6 over Leonard Bundu

4-16-16 TKO 5 over Chris Algieri

Peterson- (2-1)

2-18-17 UD over David Avanesyan

10-17-15 MD over Felix Diaz

4-11-15 Loss- Danny Garcia MD

Common Opponents May Provide A Bit Of Clarity

None/none of note.

And The Winner Is…

The resume is all Peterson, having fought some of the best fighters in their prime, Lucas Matthysse, Danny Garcia, Amir Khan, Victor Ortiz, Timothy Bradley Jr. The experience alone for Peterson should allow him to have at least some moments in this matchup. Both are at different stages in their respective careers, Spence a rising star, Peterson seeming to have missed opportunities along the way.

In the past two years Peterson has fought once and comes in facing one of the top P4P fighters in the game. This will not end well. Peterson does not have the power to keep Spence honest. What Peterson does have is the boxing skills to create puzzles for the champion but Spence has shown that he adapts quickly to his opponents and with a stong boxing skill set of his own will overcome anything that Peterson provides. The difference is that Spence has shown the ability to hurt his opponents be it over the course of the fight or at any given time. It is the speed and movement of Spence that masks his power. Peterson may have some slight success with the jab but Spence will attack him to the body forcing him to deviate from his plan.

Spence has shown that he does not rush his attack and is perfectly content admiring his body of work over several rounds before he makes the decision to turn things up. It is at these moments that you see Spence starting to land with bad intentions. He’s like a shark that smells blood, he will walk his opponent down, work them to the body on the ropes, and land blistering combinations to the head.

Spence will respect Peterson but will drop him early forcing Peterson to fight mostly defensively the rest of the way. That said, Peterson is a game warrior and will try to change the course of the fight but his power output will be negated by Spence’s power input.

Spence by 8th round stoppage.

The Case For Conor McGregor

On a brisk foggy evening in Dublin, Ireland, the sounds of a rambunctious crowd empties out from a local pub into the night air. A sharply dressed man walks by and entertains the thought of joining the crowd; however, his mind drifts towards the octagon, it is a thought that dissipates quickly. That is not my direction at the current time he thinks, but what is?  

At that same moment in the late morning hours of Las Vegas, Nevada under a blinding sun, a man, a year and a half into retirement contemplates a return to the ring. There are plenty of young lions in the game but there were young lions before retirement, it will take more to lure him back. What challenge will I need he thinks, what will make financial sense? 

At that moment, the fog begins to clear in Dublin as a cloud covers the sun in Las Vegas. It suddenly becomes clear to both men. The Irishman says “Floyd Mayweather” as the American says “Conor McGregor”

And so it began. Boxing vs. MMA, Money vs. The Notorious One, TBE vs. GOAT, USA vs. Ireland, Grand Rapids vs. Dublin, Champ vs. Champ, and so on and so on….

The easier path and non journalistic suicide route would be to feature Mayweather and talk about the beauty of his work. Get granular on how he’ll control all aspects of the fight through his counter punching, his movement, his jab, his feints, and the impenetrable trademark shoulder roll but hey, where’s the fun in that? Scour the internet, that’s all you will find.

In a “normal” boxing match, all these things would be the case; however this is not a normal boxing match, McGregor will not allow it to be. In journalism, impartiality is expected. That has not been the case for this event and as such, I’ll go down the road less traveled…….

Mental Issues-

A few signs leading up to the fight may suggest that number fifty may be different.

Mayweather has always been the undisputed champ of the pre-fight trash talk and head games. That is not the case this time around. McGregor has equaled him and at times has surpassed him. Maybe nothing, but as we’ve come to know Mayweather over the years and that would have never been the case.

Can you ever remember Mayweather stating that he is disadvantaged in a fight as he did in this interview with ESPN?

“He’s a lot younger. When you look at myself and Conor McGregor on paper, he’s taller, has a longer reach, he’s a bigger man from top to bottom. He’s a lot younger, so youth is on his side,” “And I’ve been off a couple of years. And I’m in my 40s. So, if you look at everything on paper, it leans toward Conor McGregor.”

Understood that all of this is to sell the fight but so was the majority of all other 49 pre-fight interviews & buildup, but never any statements quite like that.

Getting Physical- 

The tale of the tape favors McGregor; however, two or less inches in height and reach is not significant here unless it is used correctly, more specifically the jab. If McGregor is able to use his two inch reach advantage effectively, he can make Mayweather reset his attack which is something he is not used to doing. Mayweather wants to dictate the terms and will be uncomfortable if he is unable to do so.

The angles by McGregor will be key and may provide a bit of confusion for Mayweather. They are unorthodox in a boxing ring due to the way they are used in the octagon. Using angles for striking only is different than using angles to protect against takedowns and kicks. As such, McGregor will have success in masking his attack through distance.

What may be a telling sign early in the fight is the energy and explosiveness that McGregor brings. In the octagon, you kick, knee, grapple, strike, go to the ground, get up, grapple again, strike again and all this for five minutes straight. Arguably, the exertion that that exudes is more taxing in comparison to the three minutes in the ring, not to mention there are probably more lulls as well in the squared circle comparatively.

Seems McGregor would have exuberant amounts of energy in the tank for this one. Three minutes of only striking and movement may seem like a holiday for McGregor compared to the energy exerted through all disciplines of the octagon.

Again, the key will be the effectiveness in what he does with this energy. It must be, dare I say it….effective aggression. Different sport, different rules.  It’s no secret that McGregor will not out-box Mayweather and will have to make it a back alley brawl. He’ll need to cut off the ring and again, make Mayweather uncomfortable. In the few fights that Mayweather has shown vulnerability it has been those times when his opponents have made it dirty and rough.

But……..beware of the counter punch. If McGregor’s aggression is uncontrolled, he will fall into one of Mayweather’s greatest strengths which is his counter punching.

Eight hundred and seventy-four words in, we have finally arrived to the key of the fight. If McGregor’s defense and movement is such that he can avoid Mayweather’s counter punching, he will be able to land his power which will change the tide of the fight. If he is able to stun Mayweather and sustain his attack, all those that bet the house on Mayweather may need to be rushed to the emergency room.

Mayweather has vowed to come forward in this one, doubtful but we’ll see. With that ring I.Q., it seems unlikely that he would not use his advantages and rather enter into McGregor’s one true advantage. The gloves have been changed to eight ounces so closer to McGregor’s comfort level but also will be different for Mayweather in that he’s wearing a lighter glove which most likely will be conducive to his speed.

And what of the Mayweather layoff? It will be the longest of his career at a few weeks short of two years. His previous long was about a year and ten months when he was thirty-two. Mayweather is a gym rat and is always in shape, combine that with the fact that he always knew he would return for number 50 in an attempt to break the late great Rocky Marcianos’ record and the ring rust should be minimal, but… he is forty now. Is this the night he gets old? If so, he’ll be in deep against a young lion.

The Final Bell-

If you’re into dates, keep in mind that Marciano started his career on March 17, a holiday that celebrates the patron saint of Ireland and also National Muay Thai Day. McGregor will start his career in a match where Mayweather will try and best Marciano.

Can The Notorious One channel his inner Robert Langdon and crack The Mayvinci Code? Forty-Nine have tried, will fifty prevail?

One thing’s for sure, this fight is not as one-sided as it may appear. McGregor is a combat athlete of the highest of levels and is here to win for more than just money.

The kid from Crumlin who survived the mean streets to build his brand internationally has been doubted before. It’s what feeds his inner demons. No more dangerous a man than one who does not give a fuck.

It’s early morning in Dublin, Ireland, the sounds of a rambunctious crowd empties out from a local pub into the morning air. The native son has shocked the world.

At that same moment in Las Vegas, Nevada, the house has won again. (Assuming of course that most of the money was on Mayweather, if not, well, let’s just say what happens in Vegas…)

Was it only a dream? We’ll find out on August 26.

Intriguing Matchups, Rising Stars, Debuts and Returns, All On Tap This Weekend

I am intrigued………

Mikey Garcia v. Adrien Broner

This will be Garcia’s (36-0 30 KO) first fight at 140 but I’m more intrigued by the matchup than his debut. Broner is a four-time world champion in four different weight classes, Garcia a three-time world champion in three weight classes.

Garcia and Broner (33-2 24 KO) should be boxing at its best. Two highly skilled warriors in a chess match, one looking for the other to make a mistake. I favor Broner’s speed and boxing here; however, he can be countered and that is the one area that Garcia will look to exploit.

In their last fights, Garcia dispatched the highly regarded Dejan Zlaticanin in three rounds, while an injured Broner (Hand injury in Round 1) won a split decision over the tough as nails Adrian Granados.

Broner had issues at 147 and has never lost at 140. Both men have good chins and can box or punch. If Broner comes in “About Boxing” and not “About Billions”, he can do the things that he does to control the fight. If not, Garcia will exploit his weaknesses to capture the win.

Prediction  I’ve liked what I have seen from Broner in his training and the build up, thus a very slight edge to Broner in this one.


Jarrell Miller v. Gerald Washington


Jarrell Miller- Photo Credit-Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

An interesting one here in the bigs. Miller (18-0-1 16 KO) is a tank but will give up the height and reach to the gargantuan Washington (18-1-1 12 KO). I favor Miller’s skill set and believe he can chop down the tree but he can be hit as evident in his matchup with the undersized Donovan Dennis.

The question is, can Washington, who was stopped by Deontay Wilder in February, exploit his advantages? Against Wilder, Washington won a few rounds and did some good work before being stopped but couldn’t sustain his effort. If he can stay committed to popping his jab in Miller’s face to set up some power, he can be successful. If he continues to make Miller reset his attack, he can decrease the chances of being caught by the charging Miller.

We know what we will get from the pugilist with the oxymoronic nickname (Big Baby). Miller will look to move forward at all times and knock Washington’s block off. He’ll need to navigate Washington’s length to be successful.

Prediction As the adage goes, a good big man beats a good little man; however, in this instance, Miller isn’t exactly little. I’ve not seen enough from Washington in his fights to be convinced here. Miller by stoppage.

Rising Stars- 

Katie Taylor  v. Jasmine Clarkson 


Katie Taylor- Photo Credit- Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Taylor (5-0 3 KO) has plenty of intrigue surrounding her, will be fighting for the first time as a professional across the pond thus making her US debut, but we like her best as a rising star.

Taylor will face Clarkson (4-8) as she continues her rise in the sport. Taylor’s skill set is exceptional. She is a relentless come forward fighter who throws tight combinations, works the body, and has power in both hands.

We’re excited for women’s boxing and Taylor is a big reason why.

Prediction- Taylor by UD



Jermall Charlo v. Jorge Sebastian Heiland 


Jermall Charlo- Photo Credit-Amanda Westcott/SHOWTIME

Charlo (25-0 19 KO) moves up and makes his debut at 160 against Heiland (29-4-2 16 KO). Heiland does have a KO over Matthew Macklin on his resume and has stopped seven of eight opponents since 2013 but Charlo is unlike any opponent he has faced.

The Texas native is a relentless fighter with bad intentions. A junk yard dog that will hurt you if you make a mistake. If you chose to stay away from his assault, he will out box you while still looking for the fight ending blow.

Prediction- Charlo by stoppage.


Carl Frampton v. Andres Gutierrez

The Jackal is back and this time he is facing a Jaguar. After splitting fights with Leo Santa Cruz, Frampton (23-1 14 KO) is back to face Gutierrez (35-1-1 25 KO).

Gutierrez is no gimme, this kid can box and he can punch. Frampton excels when working on the inside which will be key here if Frampton looks to offset Gutierrez’s 5″ reach.

It will be interesting to see how Frampton will respond entering the ring his first time coming off of a loss. He will surely be energized by fighting again in his beloved Ireland, his first time fighting there since 2015.

Prediction- Gutierrez is going to give Frampton hell and may even drop him but the battle tested warrior will win a hard-fought decision. Frampton by MD.

Victor Ortiz v. Saul Corral 


Victor Ortiz- Photo Credit Andre Turner II/Ringstar Sports

We’ve been here before with Oritz. He says all the right things, he’s learned, he’s back, he’s committed this time, etc… Again for this fight he has done the same. We’ll find out on Sunday.

Corral (25-9 16 KO) has been very active in 2017 as he was in 2016. This will be Corral’s tenth fight since the begining of 2016. He is 6-3 in those fights, losing to very good competition in Josesito Lopez, Sadam Ali, and Mike Alvarado.

On the other end of the spectrum is Ortiz. Issues outside of the ring and a desire to continue in the sport have seen Ortiz only fight seven times in six years. His was stopped in his last fight by Andre Berto in April of 2016.

Prediction-  There is a lot to be said about activity and inactivity in the ring. All the signs point to Ortiz here but we’ll go with the upset . Although Corral has lost when he steps up in competition, time looks to be different.


Is Andre Ward All In?  

Last November, Andre Ward (31-0 15 KO) defeated Sergey Kovalev (30-1-1 26 KO) in a very close fight. All three judges scored the fight 114-113. Standing-8 didn’t score the fight initially and had thought Kovalev had done enough to win especially with the 2nd round knockdown.

After scoring the fight I uncharacteristically had the same score as the judges, 114-113 Ward, giving him rounds 1,4,5,7,8,9, and 11.

There were cries of robbery and most boxing writers and media personnel had Kovalev as the winner, some by a wide margin. Again, the fight was close but it was far from a robbery.

Kovalev took to social media to vent his displeasure and got downright nasty with his posts on several occasions calling out Ward for a rematch and questioning his victory.

On the other end of the spectrum was Ward. About a month after the first fight with Kovalev, Ward stated this to

“The rematch with Kovalev is definitely something I’m interested in, it’s definitely something we’re entertaining, but I’m the champion now,” said Ward. “If it’s not right and it doesn’t make sense, you know, absolutely, that may be a sign that it’s time to leave the sport and walk away and do some other things in my life. “I have to be fair to myself. I’ve put in a lot of hours, a lot of time, not just in these fights, but in this gym, my whole life, so it would be unfair to me to get into a ring at any point in time in my career moving forward if I’m not happy with the terms.”

Wow, really? Retirement? This is not the first time Ward has not been happy with the sport. Prior to the November fight with Kovalev, Ward had only fought three times in three years, a direct result of a promotional squabble. It has been suggested that Ward had wasted some of his peak years in the sport during the layoff but he returned to do what he always That said, at times in his career he has had an attitude that when it comes to boxing, he can take it or leave it.

You can never question his heart in the ring but you can question it when it comes to his desire to continue in the sport. To talk retirement after posting such a big win with statements that there could be signs that it’s time to walk away from the sport is enough to question his desire going forward.

Is Andre Ward all in? If he is, he wins the rematch. Ward has more tools in his tool belt and one of the best Ring I.Q.’s in the game. Give him seven months to review tape of the first fight and the execution of his game plan this time around is most likely to be much easier.

Ward will utilize his jab more in the rematch and will look to work the body early and often as he did in the first fight, while building upon the changes that he made in the second half. He’ll keep Kovalev at distance and look to counter him while tying Kovalev up when he rushes in with power shots. It also would not be a surprise to see Ward have to surivive an early onslaught by Kovalev. He has tasted Kovalev’s power so unless he gets careless he should be able to handle the big shots from the Russian.

Yes, Kovalev is a destroyer, wants redemption, and will look to knock Ward’s block off but his aggressiveness may be his downfall. Ward is the quicker fighter and the better counter puncher, sleep on his speed which is power and learn a rude lesson. It is not entirely out of the question that Kovalev tastes the canvas this time around on a flash knockdown due to his overaggressiveness.

There are reasons Kovalev did not move in for the kill throughout the first fight after having Ward down in the second. He tasted Ward’s underrated power, had to respect his quickness, and found the defense to be different from what he expected. Ward was able to adapt and find ways to change his strategy and steal rounds.

Kovalev has stated that he gave Ward too much respect the first time around and that he overtrained which affected the power of his punches. He has vowed to not make the same mistakes again but maybe we’ve seen signs of decline on some level from him in the past.

Before the first fight with Ward, Issac Chilemba gave him hell. That was the best damn Chilemba that we’ve seen in some time, or was it? And remember the first fight with Jean Pascal? Although he stopped the game Canadian, Kovalev was hit more than a pinata. Against a 49-year-old Hopkins? Kovalev rattled him early but couldn’t stop the legend while eating counter rights and lefts from the beaten future Hall of Famer the rest of the fight.

Ward is at his best when he is the underdog and when he feels disrespected. He proved it in the Super-Six Tournament and time and time again after coming back from long layoffs in the sport. There are many who do not believe he won the last fight and although he will enter the ring as a slight favorite, it doesnt feel that way in boxing circles.

 Kovalev is hungry after the loss and retirement is not in his vocabulary, Kovalev is all in.

On Saturday night from the Mandalay Bay In Las Vegas, we’ll find out if Ward is.