What to Watch: June 8-10

By Caryn A. Tate on June 7, 2018
What to Watch: June 8-10
Santa Cruz and Mares are excellent fighters with contrasting styles and temperaments.

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

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

Friday, June 8
9:30pm PT/12:30am ET - ESPN2
Diego De La Hoya (20-0, 9 KOs) vs. Jose Salgado (36-4-2, 29 KOs) - 10 rounds, super bantamweight

Saturday, June 9
1:30pm PT/4:30pm ET - Showtime Sports YouTube stream (https://www.youtube.com/user/shosports )
Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) vs. Sefer Seferi (23-1, 21 KOs) - 10 rounds, heavyweight; Terry Flanagan (33-0, 13 KOs) vs. Maurice Hooker (23-0-3, 16 KOs) - 12 rounds, WBO super lightweight world title

6:30pm PT/9:30pm ET - ESPN+
Terence Crawford vs. Jeff Horn

This is one of my picks this week, though again, I’m dismayed that it’s only accessible through a paid subscription. The last thing boxing needs is more paywalls.

But this fight is an exciting one. Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) is fighting for the first time at welterweight, challenging Horn (18-0-1, 12 KOs) for his WBO world title.

Crawford is an exceptional fighter. He’s multi-faceted: he displays superb timing, intelligence, footwork, punch selection, accuracy, and power. He reminds me of a younger Andre Ward in that—while not exactly flashy—he seems to be able to do everything well, and makes very good or excellent fighters look like they don’t belong in the same ring. When he defeated Olympic gold medalist Yuriorkis Gamboa, it was a great showing by Crawford, but many of us attributed part of his success to his size advantage as Gamboa won the first few rounds and visibly hurt Crawford.

But “Bud” has just continued growing and improving. He learned from the Gamboa experience, and when he demolished impressive Felix Diaz (also an Olympic gold medalist) last year, it was simply a stunning achievement by Crawford.

Horn has gotten a bad rap due to his extremely dubious decision win over Manny Pacquiao last July in Horn’s native Australia. But the judging in that bout wasn’t Horn’s fault. He became the WBO world champion in that match, rightfully or not, and while one must have some talent to have competitive rounds against a legend like Pacquiao, Horn relies mostly on his physicality to win bouts. He’s a big welterweight. He bragged that he weighed 158 on fight night versus Pacquiao—though, frankly, he looked heavier than that to the eye. He leads with his head, and if it’s not intentional, he doesn’t seem to try to avoid doing it, either. Unlike some fighters who like to mix it up, Horn often actually aims his head towards his opponent’s head as he comes in. Most boxers can be seen trying to aim their head towards the side of their opponent in an effort to avoid head clashes.

Horn does apply a lot of pressure, and he uses an awkward style. But his execution is sloppy and it’s clear watching him that he’s gotten used to being larger and stronger than his opponents, which has so far gotten him the wins necessary to remain undefeated.

I believe Horn’s come forward, head first, reckless style will play right into Crawford’s hands. While Crawford is fighting at 147 for the first time, he still has a two-inch reach advantage over the taller Horn—who does not use his height—and Crawford has shown he has all the tools necessary to fight a dog fight on the inside or box Horn from the outside. Whatever needs doing, Crawford has shown he is able to do that. It seems to me this fight won’t go the distance, and I suspect Crawford will stop Horn earlier than people may expect.

7:00pm PT/10:00pm ET - Showtime
Leo Santa Cruz vs. Abner Mares 2; Jermell Charlo vs. Austin Trout

This card is my other pick of the week. In the co-feature, WBC super welterweight world champion Charlo (30-0, 15 KOs) defends his title versus former world title holder Trout (31-4, 17 KOs). It’s a great match-up; Charlo has been showing tremendous improvement in his last few fights, revealing not just more power than we may have known he had, but better ring generalship and ability to adjust. Trout consistently fights the best boxers in his division, and always gives it his all and puts forth excellent performances, win or lose.

To make matters more intriguing, Trout has more facets to his game than some give him credit for. He’s broadly considered a pure boxer; but when pressed, he displays some dog and can handle a dog fight well. In his only stoppage loss, a surprising turn of events against the enormous Jarrett Hurd late last year, Trout was clearly winning by out-boxing and out-maneuvering the less skilled Hurd. As the rounds progressed, though, Hurd’s size and ability to take a lot of punishment enabled him to ride the storm and come back to deliver more punishment to the tiring Trout than we’ve seen him take. Because of that fight, some are saying Trout is done. Don’t believe it. He’d had more than a year layoff before the Hurd fight, and he revealed over the phone last week that he’d been dehydrated—hospitalized for it for the first time after the Hurd fight. I suspect the layoff is what affected his performance more than anything, though his mindset heading into this fight with someone as good as Charlo will definitely matter.

Bottom line: this will be an exciting bout with lots of back and forth, and it could go either way.

Santa Cruz (34-1-1, 19 KOs), who is the WBA featherweight “super” champion (which is the more recognized title) and Mares (31-2-1, 15 KOs), the WBA “regular” champion (not the more recognized world title) first fought three years ago in a very close and thrilling contest. Since then, Santa Cruz has fought Carl Frampton twice—the first time was a clear but close loss, and the second time the Californian out-boxed Frampton handily, surprising most by changing his approach entirely. It secured him the clear victory.

Mares hasn’t fought as much as his foe, but in 2016 he faced Jesus Cuellar in a wonderful match. Mares seems to just keep improving under the tutelage of Robert Garcia, and in that bout, he dominated the very good Cuellar.

The rematch is intriguing not just because the first fight was so close (and fun). Santa Cruz and Mares are excellent fighters with contrasting styles and temperaments and it should be another lively match-up. It’s a 50-50 fight to call in my view—which, as I often state, should be the norm in boxing.

Sunday, June 10
5:30pm PT/8:30pm ET - FS1
Travis Kauffman vs. Scott Alexander; Gerald Washington vs. Wes Nofire; Michael Hunter vs. Iago Kiladze; Joey Spencer vs. Tom Howard

The supporting bouts on this card feature some intriguing fighters, including 18-year-old junior middleweight Spencer (2-0, 2 KOs), who has really looked impressive with his exceptional form in the ring. Now fighting at heavyweight, Hunter (13-1, 8 KOs) impressed in his decision loss to cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk last year—particularly in light of the caliber of Usyk. Hunter was a 2012 U.S. Olympian and lost to Artur Beterbiev (now a light heavyweight world champion) —but it was a very closely contested fight. Washington (18-2-1, 12 KOs) is a former world title challenger, having put up a spirited effort versus WBC world champ Deontay Wilder in a loss from early 2017.

In the main event, Kauffman (31-2, 23 KOs) faces Alexander (14-2-2, 8 KOs) in a 10-rounder. Kauffman last fought over a year ago versus the talented and tricky Amir Mansour, and it was a close loss for him. In late 2015, he faced Chris Arreola in a fight most thought Kauffman had won, but two of the three judges awarded the decision to Arreola (though the decision was later overturned to a No Decision when Arreola failed his drug test). Alexander is not a known name yet, but he may feel that facing Kauffman after a year-plus layoff is good timing—he can compete on TV and try to get an impressive win that could catapult him to the next level.

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

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  1. Kid Blast 07:12am, 06/08/2018

    Have some grapes, figs, olives, almonds and sweet tea, Caryn, I’m on the way.

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