What to Watch: May 17-19

By Caryn A. Tate on May 16, 2018
What to Watch: May 17-19
On top of being a top shelf fighter, Badou Jack truly believes he can beat the best.

Saturday night on Showtime, WBC light heavyweight world champion Adonis Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) defends his title against Badou Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs)…

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

Thursday, May 17
7:00pm PT/10:00pm ET - ESPN2
Romero Duno (16-1, 14 KOs) vs. Gilberto Gonzalez (26-4, 22 KOs) - 10 rounds, lightweight

Saturday, May 19
2:00pm PT/5:00pm ET - Showtime live stream (YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7Y1DV2hK9g /Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ShoBoxing/)
Lee Selby vs. Josh Warrington

Selby (26-1, 9 KOs) is the IBF featherweight world champion, defending his title against the undefeated Warrington (26-0, 6 KOs) from the United Kingdom via live stream to American fans. It should be a treat of a fight: both Selby and Warrington are skilled boxers with a lot on the line.

10:00pm PT/10:00pm ET - Showtime
Gary Russell Jr. vs. Joseph Diaz; Adonis Stevenson vs. Badou Jack

My picks this week are the two bouts that make up the stellar double-header being broadcast on Showtime from two different physical locations. From Oxon Hill, Maryland, WBC featherweight world champion Russell (28-1, 17 KOs) faces his mandatory challenger, Diaz (26-0, 14 KOs).

Russell is a fantastic, multi-dimensional boxer. The 2008 U.S. Olympian’s footwork and handspeed are exceptional, and he displays intelligence that is on another level from most fighters: he sets traps artfully and typically seems well ahead of his opponent mentally. His lone deficit was against Vasyl Lomachenko. Russell has stated that he didn’t perform well that night due to he and his team trying some new tactics for cutting weight that didn’t end up working; regardless, Russell kept the rounds competitive even in a loss. Since then, Russell has displayed incredible versatility in the ring, including very good inside skills against Oscar Escandon in his last bout a year ago.

Diaz, a 2012 U.S. Olympian, has steadily progressed during the past six years of his pro career. He has solid fundamentals—he’s a good all-around fighter. He has climbed the levels a young contender should to get to this point. His level of opposition has been decent, but as a professional he hasn’t yet faced anyone of Russell’s caliber.

The match will tell us a lot about Diaz, and most importantly, the 25-year-old earned this shot at the champion. Boxing fans have been watching “JoJo” grow over the years to get to this step. It’s satisfying to see a challenger who earned his shot facing a legitimate world champion. The bonus is that the winner here could face the victor of either the Selby-Warrington bout or the Santa Cruz-Mares 2 fight on June 9.

Later, from Toronto, WBC light heavyweight world champion Stevenson (29-1, 24 KOs) defends his title against Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs). This will only be Jack’s second fight at 175—he moved up in August 2017 to face former champion Nathan Cleverly, winning by 5th round TKO. The 34-year-old has fought some of the best opposition throughout his career and shows no sign of changing his ways now. In fact, Jack won the WBA world title when he defeated Cleverly last summer, but relinquished it afterward so he could secure this shot with WBC champ Stevenson. On top of being a top shelf fighter, Jack truly believes he can beat the best—and he proves that because he consistently takes the risk to face the best.

Stevenson last fought in June of last year, when he stopped Andrzej Fonfara in two rounds in an unnecessary rematch. The champion is now 40 years old, and while that’s no small thing, he got his start late in the sport so he doesn’t have the wear and tear on his body that most fighters near his age do. He’s been relatively inactive, fighting once a year since 2015. It hasn’t been clear why he’s only fought once a year, and that’s my concern more than his actual age: if he’s been fighting less often because of injuries, that (combined with his age) is likely going to play into the outcome of this fight. There’s no indication he’s had injuries, but one has to wonder about it when an older fighter isn’t as active.

Many people call Stevenson a one-handed fighter, and while it’s true the southpaw gets his best results (particularly his impressive knockouts) with his power hand, he uses his jab to good effect and has several different looks on it—like most Kronk fighters. On top of that, in his fight in 2016 versus Thomas Williams Jr., Stevenson displayed some very good inside work, revealing another wrinkle to his game that perhaps wasn’t apparent before.

This is a great fight because there are so many questions. Is Stevenson too old? Too inactive? Does Jack stay on the line too much against a sharpshooter like Stevenson, and could the title holder make him pay for that? Their styles and temperaments should meld well into an exciting match-up, and it’s my bet there will be a good amount of back-and-forth moments where we’ll really get to see the fighters shine at what they do best. Regardless of the outcome, it’s not a fight to miss.

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

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  1. nonprophet 05:23am, 05/18/2018

    Jack is a fairly slick boxer and I can’t see him getting careless enough to expose himself to Adonis’ left hand.  But he will need to take some chances that could get him knocked out. 

    I can see a narrow points win for Jack in a neutral environment.  But unfortunately, it would probably take a ko for jack to win up in Canada.

    But I’d love to see a spectacular ko for both Adonis and for Crybaby Krusher against Alvarez later this year.  That should set up the fight that many of us are waiting for.

  2. Koolz 05:23am, 05/17/2018

    Stevenson by KO.
    Jack is great boxer but he is going to be trying to box Stevenson and will get careless doing that. 
    Stevenson has one punch KO and it will just take one punch to end the fight.
    It’s strange how Stevenson fights are rare.  This guy fights what one time a year now? 
    I think Jack could win on points but Stevenson could KO him early.
    Age has nothing to do with it.

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