Know Your PPV Undercard: Daniel Santos v. Yuri Foreman

Danielsantospress_medium 450px-yuri_foreman_medium

The final previewed fight on the Cotto-Pacquiao undercard will be contested for the WBA junior middleweight title. We've already taken a look at these two fights:

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. v. Troy Rowland

Jesus Soto Karass v. Alfonso Gomez

Daniel Santos (32-3-1, 23 KO) v. Yuri Foreman (27-0, 8 KO)
Junior Middleweights - 12 Rounds - For Santos' WBA Title

Santos_alcine_celebra_medium This was the fight that let us know that maybe this undercard wouldn't be as "sensational" as Bob Arum was promising. Foreman has been featured on TV plenty; almost forced down our throats, you might say. The trouble with Foreman isn't that his story isn't as interesting as people make it out to be. For stories that make you turn your head and wonder if it's really true, Foreman's is second-to-none in boxing today. (For those unaware, Yuri is studying to become a Rabbi.)

But Foreman is a dull boxer. He's technically sound, doesn't make many mistakes, isn't a puncher, and has no great physical qualities. He's not small; at 5'11" with a 72" reach, Yuri has the same dimensions there as heavyweight Brian Minto, who will fight Cristobal Arreola on December 5. But he lacks power, isn't much for speed, and is a pretty straightforward fighter. Not a lot to figure out. But so far, no one's been able to beat him, and he's routed most opponents.

Santos, who turned 34 in October, is five years older than Foreman and has been out of the ring since July 2008. In fact, he's been terribly inactive since 2004. Since beating Antonio Margarito in September 2004, he's fought just four times. He lost to Sergiy Dzinziruk in December 2005, beat a can in July 2006, and then returned to score back-to-back wins over Jose Antonio Rivera and Joachim Alcine in October 2007 and July 2008. He scored a pretty impressive knockout of Alcine, but keep in mind the last time I really wrote anything about Santos, he was 32.

Will the layoff hurt him? Probably. Sure, Foreman's nothing amazing, but he's been active. He has fought just once in 2009, a fight in June on a Top Rank Latin Fury PPV against Cornelius Bundrage, which had all the earmarks of a contender for Stinker of the Year. Foreman, though, was the victim of a pretty nasty unintentional headbutt and the fight was called a no-contest after three rounds.

To be honest, I think prime-versus-prime, Santos wipes the floor with Foreman. He'd have the southpaw thing going for him, he's a pretty powerful guy, and he was just a lot better. But this isn't prime Santos, and the rust will be a factor. How big of a factor? That's what makes this one a toss-up.

Quick Notes

R_medium Santos' Best Win: Are any of them really relevant at this point? The only one that might be is the knockout of Alcine, which was quite impressive. Alcine was unbeaten at the time, a titleholder, and after that sixth round KO, was out of the sport for a year. The win over Margarito was probably the biggest of his career.

Foreman's Best Win: Take your pick out of a select few, really. Yuri has split decision wins over Anthony Thompson and Andrey Tsurkan back in 2007, and beat Saul Roman in 2008. Roman was at the time riding high off of an upset of Kassim Ouma. I thought James Moore might give him a bit more of a fight last December, but Foreman blew him out of the water without breaking a sweat. He also has an old win over fellow undercard featured fighter Jesus Soto Karass.

Size Matters: Santos (5'11 1/2", 74" reach) will have a half-inch of height and two inches of reach. So basically, no real advantages for either there. They size up evenly, and both are natural at 154.

Prediction: Honestly, it's quite tough. The great Graham Houston likes Santos to pull it out, and he has some very valid points. But like me (and most, I assume), he wonders how much the rust will bother Santos. It's a very real concern on his side. Santos has recently tried to get his name back out there by confronting Kermit Cintron in Puerto Rico. A win here for Santos could set up a Santos-Cintron bout for sure. It'd be a big fight in Puerto Rico and a nice matchup, too. But he also might lay out for another year. Foreman has a lot riding on this fight. One has to wonder how much of his heart is in boxing. He's always spoken of the sweet science with great love and respect, and it's clear he's passionate, but there's a bigger calling for him, it appears, and as he nears 30, would a loss to the first (theoretical) world-class fighter he's faced change his outlook on boxing?

It's too bad that a matchup with such interesting little dilemmas as this one will probably absolutely stink. I'm hoping Mr. Houston is right and it turns into a quick-paced, tactical affair, sort of like Diaz-Malignaggi. But I don't see it happening. I wouldn't advise anyone to take my advice if it means you get your wallet out, because I'm taking a real shot in the dark on this one. I'm going with Foreman in a close, and possibly controversial decision.

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