Premier Boxing Champions returns to FS1 on Tuesday evening with a cruiserweight-heavyweight doubleheader, including an IBF title eliminator in the main event.
We'll have live coverage on Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, and here's a look at the two matchups coming your way.
Murat Gassiev vs Jordan Shimmell
Record: 22-0 (16 KO) ... Streak: NC1 ... Last 5: 4-0 (1 NC) ... Last 10: 9-0 (1 NC) ... Stance: Orthodox ...Height/Reach: 6'3½" / 76" ...Age: 22
Thoughts: Gassiev is a good-looking cruiserweight prospect, ranking second behind Oleksandr Usyk in our 2015 year-end look at the division. He's fought in Russia, the United States, Georgia, Montenegro, and Germany, so he's gone where the fights have been in his pro career, which began just under five years ago.
You may have gotten a brief look at Gassiev in December, when he faced Isiah Thomas in a PBC on FS1 main event. That fight ended early in a no contest, when Gassiev hit Thomas after the bell to end round three, and Thomas couldn't continue.
Gassiev is a good boxer-puncher, has some power, and figures to have the overall skill advantage here. On paper, he's just a better fighter.
Record: 20-1 (16 KO) ... Streak: W1 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Orthodox ...Height/Reach: 6'3" / 80" ...Age: 27
Thoughts: The fact that Shimmell is in an IBF title eliminator following a clear loss to Isiah Thomas and one win over a guy with a sub-.500 record is preposterous, but boxing is a pretty preposterous sport overall. Connections matter, and Shimmell is a PBC fighter, so here he is.
That's not meant to say that he's incompetent or terrible or anything. He's a decent fighter, has some power, and at worst is just mediocre, but that mediocrity did not serve him well in the step up against Thomas. Of course, Thomas, as mentioned above, is an awkward fighter, whether he's on his game or not. Gassiev is a bit more straightforward, and styles make fights. Given that, Shimmell might actually match up better against Gassiev, a more highly-regarded prospect, than he did against Thomas.
Shimmell's record is very "midwestern," though, with his more notable wins largely coming against faded journeymen -- the likes of Byron Polley, Galen Brown, Damon Reed, Epifanio Mendoza, and Joell Godfrey stand out on his record, plus he beat an ancient, fat version of Damon McCreary, a one-time super middleweight prospect before a prison stint, in 2014.
So there's little to say that Shimmell is a contender. Watching him fight, he is decent, but no more, and the record isn't hiding anything you might not expect. You never totally know until the fight is over, but Shimmell is in really tough here, and his only chance might be his power, and catching Gassiev with something big, and doing it early.
Matchup Grade: C-. Let's call it a C- instead of worse, because there's a perfectly good argument that Gassiev, even with hype and expectations, also hasn't really beaten anyone, that Shimmell would be his best win. The real nonsense here is that this is an IBF eliminator. Gassiev may well soon be ready for that level, but this is a matter of changing what the "level" is -- in a way, the fences have been moved in for Gassiev, the gutter blockers put down on the lane, the hoop made bigger, the goal posts widened, other sports comparisons.
Wes Nofire vs Joey Abell
Record: 19-0 (15 KO) ... Streak: W19 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ...Height/Reach: 6'6" / N/A ...Age: 30
Thoughts: Originally from Oklahoma, "The Cherokee Warrior" Wes Nofire -- full name John Wesley Nofire, which is even more awesome -- is coming off of a win over Yasmany Consuegra last November. Consuegra is Cuban so the immediate thought is to think he's slick, or good, but he's not very slick, and he's not very good. He also had come in on back-to-back stoppage losses to Dominic Breazeale and Artur Szpilka.
Still, for Nofire, that was a decent step up, and he did what he wanted to do, stopping Consuegra in the fourth round in Hialeah, Florida. His previous best win came against Texas club fighter Ty Cobb in 2014.
He moves OK for a big guy, and he's definitely a big guy, at 6'6", though he did shed some weight for the Consuegra fight, coming in at a trim 231¼ pounds, which is about what he weighed when he started his pro career in 2011, before he got up to 245-250 for his fights between April 2014 and June 2015.
Nofire's résumé is what it is, it's 19 fights at largely a club level in Oklahoma and North Carolina, but he's got genuine ambition, and his last three fights have come on bigger shows (the undercards of Chavez-Fonfara, Wade-Soliman, and Lara-Zaveck). If he had no potential at all, he wouldn't have gotten those chances in winnable fights, and wouldn't be on this show.
Record: 31-9 (29 KO) ... Streak: L1 ... Last 5: 2-3 ... Last 10: 6-4 ... Stance: Southpaw ...Height/Reach: 6'4" / 74" ...Age: 34
Thoughts: Joey Abell either knocks someone out or he gets knocked out. He's got 29 knockouts in 31 wins. He's been stopped seven times in nine losses, and one of those other two losses was a DQ-1. In 40 career fights (not counting a pair of no contests), he's gone past the sixth round a grand total of two times: a 10-round decision win against Teke Oruh in 2007, and a TKO-9 loss to Fres Oquendo in 2012.
Abell has been in the ring with the likes of Chris Arreola (L-KO-1), Kubrat Pulev (L-RTD-4), Tyson Fury (L-TKO-4), and most recently, Oscar Rivas (L-KO-2). In his 11-year career, he's been stopped by good fighters and bad fighters alike. And he's never scored what you'd really consider a "good win," the victory over Oruh in Saint Lucia probably the best of his career.
He is a Minnesota club fighter, through and through, a tall but short-armed southpaw, a chinny brawler who can bang, traveling around the world and fighting in the States, Canada, Sweden, Saint Lucia, Germany, and the United Kingdom. He always gives an honest effort, too -- Abell does not show up just to lose and collect a paycheck. It's just that against better fighters, his chances of doing very well are slim, because if nothing else, he just does not take a shot all that well.
Expect him to come at Nofire, expect him to give it his best, and, well, who knows? Nofire isn't exactly Tyson Fury or Kubrat Pulev or Oscar Rivas, either, and Abell is as dangerous an opponent as he's faced to date.
Matchup Grade: C. It's fine. It's not significant, really, but it's fine. At worst, it should be an entertaining club fight, because that's Abell's real level. Whether or not Nofire can be more than that remains to be seen. He will have to be aware of Abell's power, but on paper he should win this fight, and he really cannot afford a loss here.