Sherdog’s Weekend Boxing Preview

By James Kinneen Sep 13, 2019

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What: Devin Haney vs. Zaur Abdullaev, Lightweights

When: Sept. 13

How to Watch: Dazn 7 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Haney is the other young brash American that’s dying for a chance to fight Vasiliy Lomachenko. But to have any chance at that, he needs to get by a hard-punching Russian making his debut on the big stage.

If I was to tell you there’s a brash, cocky young American that is desperately trying to get a fight with Lomachenko, you would likely assume I’m talking about the Fortnite dancing knockout artist from Brooklyn, Teofimo Lopez. But if I told you there’s a cocky young American that’s desperate to get a fight with, and many experts think would actually beat Lomachenko, you’d realize I’m talking about Haney.

Yes, at only 20 years of age Haney has amassed a record of 22-0 with 14 knockouts and has looked so good that some people think Lomachenko will move to 130 to avoid him. See, on Friday, Haney is fighting for the WBC interim belt, while Lomachenko just won the vacant WBC title. The reason the WBC wants Haney to fight for the interim belt this weekend, is because Lomachenko isn’t fighting until 2020, when he’ll face the Richard Commey-Teofimo Lopez winner. If Lomachenko wins that fight, he will own every belt at 135 and the “ducking Haney” theory says he will return to 130 (where he looked a lot better than he has at 135) as the undisputed lightweight champion of the world.

If he doesn’t, Haney will be waiting. And, by the time Lomachenko fights the winner of Commey-Lopez (which could be seven months from now) Haney could have rattled off a few more impressive victories and become an unavoidable star (watch for his connection to BALCO founder Victor Conte to be looked at more suspiciously though, as Haney gets bigger and bigger).

But this weekend could put an end to any of those plans. On Friday, Haney fights undefeated 25-year-old Russian Abdullaev. Not much is known about Abdullaev, except that he’s undefeated at 11-0 with seven knockouts, this fight (which is at Madison Square Garden) will be his first outside of Russia, and his best win is over former title challenger/Terence Crawford TKO victim Hank Lundy. With the fights you can find on YouTube, it looks like he likes to come forward and work the body, which is, at least on paper, a solid plan against Haney.

Outside of Lopez and his dad, not many people in boxing are sure he’d stand a chance at beating Lomachenko, if he can even get by Richard Commey. But there’s another young American everyone has their eye on that might be so good, its Lomachenko that doesn’t want to fight him. We’ll see if on Friday night, he can send a message to the Ukrainian pound-for-pound king, or if on Friday the 13th he’ll see all his future plans slashed.

What: Tyson Fury vs. Otto Wallin, Heavyweights

When: Sept. 14

How to Watch: ESPN Plus 11 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because Fury needs to entertain the crowd to make up for taking on another unknown European opponent.

Who is Wallin? On the positive side of things, he’s undefeated at 20-0 with 13 knockouts, the only time he’s been knocked down was as an amateur, he’s a Southpaw, and he’s at least sparred with guys like Anthony Joshua and Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller. On the negative side of things, he was Top Rank’s fourth choice of opponent, his only fight in the U.S. ended as a no contest in the first round due to an accidental headbutt, and almost everyone trying to promote him is making the stretch of an argument that Ingemarr Johannson was Swedish, too, so a Swede can become heavyweight champion. Johannson won a silver medal in the 1953 Olympics, so it’s disingenuous to pretend he was a complete unknown going into his fight with Floyd Patterson. Wallin is more Gutzon from “The Quick and the Dead” than he is Johannsen.

But, the worst sign of all for Wallin is that up next for Fury is a Deontay Wilder rematch. There is zero chance anyone associated with Fury is letting him get in the ring with someone that could beat him, with that kind of money lying in wait. Still, it’s a heavyweight fight and anything can happen. But if we’re being honest, tuning into this fight is all about watching Fury.

This week, Fury ran into some trouble when he started wearing traditional Mexican headbands and lucha libre masks. While we’ve seen the “white guy pretends to be Mexican” gimmick many times before, this time Andy Ruiz was quick to call him out for it on social media. While Ruiz likely isn’t hip enough to politically correct terms to accuse Fury of “cultural appropriation”, he did say “A British f******, he ain’t even Mexican, wearing the f****** Mexican flag, messed up man. Stay in your lane, represent your country, Tyson Fury, represent your country, represent what you represent.”

Fury responded by wishing Ruiz a happy birthday but telling him not to eat too much cake. Still, there’s no way (especially now that he’s been called out about it) Fury isn’t going to do something grandiose based around the Mexican holiday considering how much of a letdown his choice of opponent was. I mean, he’s been secretly sending Wallin pictures of himself eating Swedish fish for goodness sake.

Fury is a born entertainer. Against Tom Schwarz, he came out dressed as Apollo Creed, played around by switching to Southpaw and scored an easy KO win. Against another overmatched European opponent, you should tune in to see what Fury comes up with to keep the crowd entertained.

What: Emanuel Navarrete vs. Juan Miguel Elorde, Junior Featherweights

When: Sept. 14

How to Watch: ESPN Plus 11 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because Navarrete is doing Top Rank a favor and fighting on a card that needed a Mexican. But, having fought barely over a month ago he may have made a huge mistake.

This isn’t the 1940s. Nobody listens to fights on the radio, referees don’t judge matches, microphones don’t descend from the rafters and champions don’t fight every month. Yet, barely a month after beating Francisco De Vaca, WBO 122 pound champion Navarrete is returning to the ring to face 28-1 Filipino Elorde.

See, while Fury is a huge name in boxing, on Mexican Independence Day weekend Top Rank really wanted a Mexican fighter on Saturday’s card. So, after the De Vaca bout, Navarrete announced he would be defending his title on the undercard of the Fury-Wallin matchup.

Elorde has only fought once (and has only lost once), both in the same fight. In 2011, Elorde travelled to Las Vegas and lost a unanimous decision to Jerry Guevara. Since then, he hasn’t lost, but he’s been facing atrocious competition in his home nation. How bad has it been? Since the 2011 loss, only half of his 18 opponents had winning records in a country where it’s not hard to find a guy willing to take a fall for a couple of bucks.

Still, this matchup isn’t about Elorde, so much as it’s about the timing. Before the De Vaca fight, Navarrete was already talking about how he was outgrowing the 122-pound division and didn’t have many fights left at the weight class. How is he going to look after having had to stay at that weight for so long? Did he train with the same intensity he would have, had he gotten some time off? Is this really a good idea?

Champions don’t fight every month anymore, but Navarrete decided he would. Will that decision cost him his title, or is this a cameo appearance from a quickly becoming beloved Mexican fighter on a celebratory weekend? We’ll find out.

What: Jaime Munguia vs. Patrick Allotey, Junior Middleweights

When: Sept. 14

How to Watch: Dazn 7 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: To see if Erik Morales has done enough to salvage Jaime Munguia’s potential.

At 22, Jaime Munguia is the four-time defending WBO 154-pound champion, undefeated at 33-0 with 26 knockouts, and it feels like his career is unravelling. That may sound crazy, but the man who put the boxing world on notice by walking through Sadam Ali on HBO both hasn’t shown the improvements people needed to see from him as his career has progressed, and may have begun regressing.

See, Munguia was believed to be a monster puncher that could overcome obvious defensive deficiencies by punishing opponents to the body, walking through their shots and eventually stopping them. People said he needed to improve his defense to compete with guys like Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez (he’s been talking about moving to 160 after this fight), but to this point despite numerous promises, he really hasn’t. Worse, since the Ali beatdown the man known for his bludgeoning power has only stopped one of four opponents. All of these problems culminated in a highly controversial decision win over Dennis Hogan in April, that many thought Munguia deserved to lose. While he has blamed the poor performance on a bad weight cut, that fight was terrible for a guy who thinks he can jump to middleweight and compete with the elite in that marquee division.

In search of a solution, Munguia’s team has turned to Mexican legend Erik “El Terible” Morales for help. It’s an interesting decision considering Morales hasn’t trained any notable fighters, and as a fighter Morales’ heart was almost unmatched. It will be fascinating to see what he can do with Munguia.

Their first opponent together is Allotey, a 40-3 Ghanan whose losses have come in three of the four bouts he’s fought outside of his home country. His best opponent so far has been undefeated Kazakh Kanat Islam, to whom he lost a unanimous decision. He has 30 knockouts, so you’d assume he’s got power.

It seems crazy to say that a 22-year-old undefeated champion needs someone to come along and save his career. But, with Munguia that is the situation we find ourselves in. On Saturday, in his last fight at 154, we’ll see if the Morales partnership can get him back on track to becoming who we once thought he could become.

What: Ryan Garcia vs. Avery Sparrow, Lightweights

When: Sept. 14

How to Watch: Dazn 7 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: To see if Garcia can use his social media fame to become the new star of Mexican Independence Day weekend, or if Sparrow isn’t lying about being on “another level.”

When Canelo bailed on his preferred boxing weekend to wait for a fight against Sergey Kovalev, a void emerged as suddenly, one of boxing’s premier weekends needed a star. Among the contenders, Fury is the biggest name, but he has no Mexican background. Navarrete is a Mexican champion, but he’s not that well known yet. Enter Garcia.

Garcia is already a superstar, known for his vast social media following and throngs of female fans. So, if anyone has the chance to emerge as the new king of Mexican Independence Day weekend, it should be him.

This weekend, his opponent is the Usher (yes, the singer) promoted Sparrow. Philadelphia’s Sparrow is 10-1 with 3 knockouts, with his sole loss coming via disqualification in his fifth professional bout. His biggest win came in his last fight, when he beat the apparently going through a down period in his career, Hank Lundy. It should also be noted that in 2017, he beat Jose Lopez, who was Garcia’s last opponent. Sparrow won a decision, Garcia stopped him in two rounds.

This week, far from being intimidated, Sparrow told anyone who would listen that he’s been chasing a Garcia fight for years because Sparrow thinks he’s on another level from Ryan. Sparrow will be fighting with a three-inch height disadvantage, which puts him in the unenviable position of having to close the distance against a guy both taller and with more power than himself. Still, he is a good opponent, and one Garcia can’t take lightly.

But Garcia is a star, and on Saturday he’ll be a star with a huge stage. We’ll see if he can take advantage of the limelight, or if he chokes under the pressure.


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