What to Watch: July 13-14

By Caryn A. Tate on July 12, 2018
What to Watch: July 13-14
Join me as I break down which of the week's televised fights are most interesting and why.

Matthysse is a powerhouse who moved up to 147 only two fights ago, in May 2017. He’s a bit small for the weight but so is Pacquiao…

Join me as I break down which of the week’s televised fights are most interesting and why.

Friday, July 13
4:00pm PT/7:00pm ET - ESPN/ESPN Deportes
Joet Gonzalez (19-0, 11 KOs) vs. Rafael Rivera (25-1-2, 16 KOs) - 10 rounds, featherweight

Saturday, July 14
2:00pm PT/5:00pm ET - SkySports (UK)
Tyron Zeuge (22-0-1, 12 KOs) vs. Rocky Fielding (26-1, 14 KOs)

This bout is for the WBA “regular” super middleweight title, which means it’s the minor belt, not the official world title. The “super” title, which is the acknowledged official championship, is held by George Groves. Since there can’t be two world champions in the same division in the same sanctioning body, I consider this “regular” title more of an interim belt.

Zeuge has held this interim belt since 2016, yet the WBA hasn’t ordered a fight for him to face either a top-rated contender (when the “super” belt was vacant) or the “super” champion in order to finally establish a single title holder in the division. They frequently do this in all weight classes, but it’s something to note.

Zeuge is a pretty good boxer, with good feet and athleticism, but he hasn’t faced tremendous opposition and has never boxed outside his home country of Germany.

Fielding is a decent fighter who clearly has no problem taking risks. He faced top-rated Callum Smith in November 2015 for the British title, and though he was stopped in the first round, it was a gutsy performance by Fielding. At that time he was trained by Oliver Harrison. Then, Fielding reached when throwing and often left himself open as he came in, which is how he got caught. Now he’s been training with Jamie Moore, a top British trainer. It will be interesting to see if Fielding has improved significantly under Moore’s tutelage.

4:00pm PT/7:00pm ET - ESPN
Regis Prograis (21-0, 18 KOs) vs. Juan Jose Velasco (20-0, 12 KOs)

Prograis has been getting a lot of shine lately, and with good reason. He seems to be a very good fighter, with solid fundamentals and impressive power. But we’ve yet to see him against great opposition—his best foes so far have been Julius Indongo (he knocked Indongo out in two rounds) and Abel Ramos (he stopped Ramos in eight). Those were very good wins, particularly Indongo, who is a former world champion. But I’m not rushing to say he’s the best fighter at 140 pounds yet. He may be, but we’ll soon find out a lot more in the World Boxing Super Series tournament coming up in September.

Velasco, while being undefeated, has also not faced great opposition. His fundamentals are a bit flawed, so while I’m sure he’s coming to win, this will likely be a great showcase fight for Prograis on ESPN.

6:00pm PT/9:00pm ET - ESPN+
Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) vs. Lucas Matthysse (39-4, 36 KOs)

Here is my pick for this week.

Again, this is for the “regular” (or interim) WBA welterweight title, currently held by Matthysse. The super WBA world title in this division is held by Keith Thurman.

Pacquiao is an all-time great who has overcome a lot of adversity throughout his career. Over the past few years, it’s become clear the 39-year-old is on the decline. He’s slower, not so explosive, and doesn’t seem as hungry in the ring. He’s still an excellent fighter who could beat many if not most top younger boxers, but he’s not what he once was. Add to that the fact that he’s no longer training with longtime coach Freddie Roach, after decades together.

Matthysse is a powerhouse who moved up to 147 only two fights ago, in May 2017. He’s a bit small for the weight but so is Pacquiao.

This fight largely comes down to feet. Pacquiao has always had tremendous movement, and while he isn’t always positioned perfectly, his fast feet and explosiveness have usually mitigated his positioning. Matthysse, while carrying exceptional power in both hands and boxing better than given credit for at times (see the Provodnikov and Peterson fights), doesn’t have great feet and sometimes has difficulty cutting off the ring or getting off on faster, more fleet-footed opponents.

If Manny still has much of his speed and footwork left, he should be able to outbox Lucas and keep him turning to prevent him from letting loose with those knockout punches of his. If Manny has been adversely affected by the year layoff, the change of trainer, or the fact that he’s a full-time senator in his home country of the Philippines, it could be an unpleasant night for Pacquiao fans.

Check out more of Caryn’s work at http://www.CarynATate.com and follow her on Twitter@carynatate

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  1. nicolas 04:12pm, 07/13/2018

    Both pac and Lucas are certainly not at the best years. But don’t be surprised if Lucas wins, or if Pac wins a controversial deciision. Pac win or lose should really retire. He would not beat the best of the welterweights right now, Look how long ago his last knockout was.

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