This Saturday night on ESPN (9 p.m. ET), Premier Boxing Champions returns with another doubleheader, this time from Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, New Jersey, with a couple of good prospects in action in the 130 and 140 pound divisions.
Here’s a look at the two matchups.
Mario Barrios vs Devis Boschiero
Record: 15-0 (8 KO) ... Streak: W15 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 6'0" / 74" ... Age: 21
Thoughts: The obvious eye-popper is that Barrios is a six-foot tall super featherweight with a 74-inch reach. Without going through an entire list of comparisons, let’s put it this way: Alexander Povetkin is 6’2" with a 75-inch reach, and he’s a top contender who weighs in 100 pounds heavier.
This sort height can cause a certain clumsiness on a rail thin frame, of course. Celestino Caballero, who was in recent years a top bantamweight and super bantamweight at 5’11", always had a true awkwardness about his movement, stemming in part because he so often had to be ready to punch down at his opponents. Barrios doesn’t seem to struggle quite so much with that, though. He moves pretty nimbly, in fact.
Of course, there are obvious advantages to the frame. He towers over most opponents, and his significant reach allows him an ability to keep fights where he wants them. Like many recent fighters with these type advantages, though -- Caballero, Paul Williams, Willie Nelson — he’s not afraid to mix it up inside, and indeed is a pretty good fighter in close, at least against the opposition he’s faced to date, which to be fair is quite limited.
Last year, Barrios went 7-0, staying very busy, but now that he’s being seen as a real potential player, that pace has slowed. He’s fought once this year, beating club fighter Edgar Gabejan on April 16, but this fight figures to be his first real test as a professional. Devis Boschiero isn’t an elite fighter by any means, not even a contender, but he’s a lot more experienced and competent than the fighters that Barrios has seen thus far. In that sense alone, this is a dangerous fight. What we’ve seen of Barrios looks good, and just on his size he’s a really intriguing prospect. But we haven’t been able to gather a real sense of how good he is or isn’t just yet.
Record: 39-4-1 (21 KO) ... Streak: W2 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 7-3 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'5½" / 68" ... Age: 34
Thoughts: Italy’s Boschiero is a former European super featherweight champion, holding that title from 2012-14, making three successful defenses before losing to Romain Jacob, then losing a rematch in his next bout, too. He also challenged for a world title in 2011, going to Japan to face Takahiro Ao for the WBC title, losing a split decision.
He’s a solid fighter. Nothing special about his game, nothing that’s going to wow you, nothing that can’t be handled by a true contender or top fighter, but a solid fighter, and that makes for something that Barrios has not yet encountered in the pro ranks.
Boschiero will obviously be giving up height and reach, and quite a bit of both, and the last time we saw him against a decent fighter, Stephen Smith stopped him in the sixth round. Boschiero may just be a bit long in the tooth, certainly past his prime years, and the wins he’s scored since 2014 aren’t any better than what Barrios has done, either, a bunch of novices and club veterans around the beating he took from Smith last September.
Matchup Grade: C+. Not really anything to complain about, nor anything to leap in joy over. It’s a sensible next step for Barrios. If he can look good here, then maybe there really is something to him. If he struggles, then maybe he’s not quite ready to be moving forward so quickly. It’s a nice dip of the toes for Barrios -- not a big risk, but certainly his best opponent. It’s not so much whether he wins or not, but how he does it.
Eddie Ramirez vs Jessie Roman
Record: 13-0 (9 KO) ... Streak: W13 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'8" / 68" ... Age: 24
Thoughts: Ramirez was originally supposed to face Kevin Watts, a fellow unbeaten prospect, but that was canceled, and now he takes on what may or may not be a lesser challenge. Either way, Ramirez’s approach isn’t likely to change. It’s not like it’s some big marquee fight canceled and now he faces a replacement on a lower level whom he may not take seriously. Ramirez is going to go at this the same way he would have gone at Watts.
A junior welterweight from the Chicagoland area, Ramirez turned pro in 2013, after winning the Chicago Golden Gloves. He’s shown good promise as a professional, beating trial horses Cristobal Cruz and Hevinson Herrera last year, and topping Osumanu Akaba (not to be confused with Osumanu Adama) by second round TKO on April 29, his only fight this year. In all reality, Ramirez has already been tested more than main eventer Mario Barrios, and he’s passed the tests to date. Of course, he’s also a few years older.
Record: 20-2 (9 KO) ... Streak: W3 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 8-2 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5’10" / 70" ... Age: 25
Thoughts: Roman is coming off of a career best win last August over Hector Serrano, which is not a huge win, but, well, it’s his career best win, at any rate. His two losses were by majority and split decision, but they were also against fighters that a real prospect would have beaten. Which is to say, Roman is not a real prospect.
That said, and considering he’s taking the fight on short notice as a replacement, he’s likely to be outclassed here. Roman turned pro back in 2009 and his career hasn’t really gone anywhere. But this is a big chance for him against a notable prospect on national television.
Matchup Grade: D+. It’s what it is. If it were still Kevin Watts, I’d give it a C or C+, but Roman would have to pull out something unexpected to make this competitive, let alone actually win.