David Lemieux vs Marcos Reyes
The fear here is that Lemieux (37-3, 33 KO) is being groomed to face Canelo Alvarez in September, rather than Alvarez facing Gennady Golovkin. That all depends on Canelo winning, of course, but there’s no doubt that making Canelo-Lemieux would require less effort and compromise than fighting Golovkin.
Lemieux can be flat-out overpowering against the right class of opponent, and Reyes (35-4, 26 KO) is in that class. It was just six months ago that Reyes was stopped by journeyman Elvin Ayala, after all, and he’s probably most famous for a 2015 loss to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Lemieux is coming off of a KO of the Year contender over Curtis Stevens on HBO in March, and has won three in a row since being outclassed by Golovkin in October 2015.
Matchup Grade: D+. Nothing to be excited about here. On paper, Reyes shouldn’t be any big test for Lemieux; nothing in his career suggests Lemieux should have any real worry. I guess there’s the chance of another big KO?
Lucas Matthysse vs Emmanuel Taylor
Lucas Matthysse is a fan favorite, and making his return after a lengthy absence, last seen in October 2015, a stoppage loss to Viktor Postol where he was picked apart and broken down.
Matthysse (37-4, 34 KO) says he never thought about retirement during his absence, and if that’s true, then his head should at least be in the right place. But that’s a long time out of the ring, especially with a fighter as one-dimensional as Matthysse can sometimes be.
Taylor (20-4, 14 KO) is a nice opponent for a return fight. He isn’t a top fighter, but he’s skilled and can be tricky. He pushed both Adrien Broner and Antonio Orozco to the limit in losses back in 2014 and 2015, and has solid wins over Karim Mayfield and Tito Serrano.
Matchup Grade: B-. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong here, but I think this is a tough matchup for Matthysse. He could well overpower Taylor early, but ring rust could be an issue, too. If this goes past the middle rounds, it could be tough going for the Argentine slugger.
Joseph Diaz Jr vs Manuel Avila
A solid matchup of prospects, both unbeaten, both looking for a win that pushes them into the featherweight title picture. Diaz (23-0, 13 KO) is the favored man, and the favored prospect. He’s the one who’s been featured on HBO before, and he’s the one with the Olympic pedigree and the more aggressive press push.
But don’t count out Avila (22-0, 8 KO), either. Their records are right about equal in strength of opposition, and Diaz has shown some flaws even in his better performances. He’s there to be hit, notably, and Avila is a solid boxer who will likely be primed to expose any weaknesses in Diaz’s game.
Matchup Grade: B. I like this one. This is a fight where both men have something to gain and something to lose. The winner gets in the mix at 126. The loser is back to the drawing board. This is basically a great ShoBox main event to open the pay-per-view, which is plenty good.