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Berchelt vs Miura: Fight preview and analysis

HBO’s Boxing After Dark tripleheader looks good on paper.

Miguel Berchelt

Miguel Berchelt v Carlos Claudio Photo by Josh Hedges/Getty Images

Record: 31-1 (28 KO) ... Streak: W10 ... Last 5: 5-0 ... Last 10: 10-0 ... Stance: Orthodox ... Height/Reach: 5'7" / 71" ... Age: 25

Thoughts: I was really impressed by the way Berchelt handled himself in his January win over Francisco Vargas, where he captured the WBC super featherweight title. He’s young, but he was steady and controlled in that fight, picking Vargas apart and piling up damage until the fight simply had to be stopped late in the 11th round.

After knowing the scores (96-94, 96-94, and 95-95) at the time of stoppage, Berchelt’s stoppage win seems almost a relief. I thought Berchelt deserved to be up big (I had it 98-92 in his favor), as he had basically dissected Vargas over the course of the fight. Not without effort and a good plan, mind you, but what he was doing was working. What Vargas was doing wasn’t.

Going into that fight, there wasn’t a lot to know about Berchelt. His opposition hadn’t been much to write home about, and he had a fluky TKO-1 loss on his record back in 2014. But he proved out against Vargas.

Now, my question is this: was Berchelt that much better than Vargas, or had back-to-back brutal fights with Takashi Miura and Orlando Salido taken too much out of Vargas for him to put in yet another great effort? That’s part of what we’ll find out in this one: how good Berchelt really is. Or maybe he’ll win and we’ll question whether Miura, at 33, was “old,” too, because nothing is ever good enough, really.

Takashi Miura

Takashi Miura v Francisco Vargas Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Record: 31-3-2 (24 KO) ... Streak: W2 ... Last 5: 4-1 ... Last 10: 9-1 ... Stance: Southpaw ... Height/Reach: 5'6½" / 70" ... Age: 33

Thoughts: Since dropping his 2015 epic against Francisco Vargas, Miura has come back with a pair of wins, one a tune-up in May 2016 at home in Japan (KO-1 over Jimmy Borbon), and the other a more substantial win back in the States on HBO (KO-12 over Mickey Roman).

The win over Roman set Miura up for a shot again at the WBC title. That same night, Berchelt beat Vargas, and we were denied a Vargas-Miura rematch. Instead, the veteran southpaw from Tokyo will have to face a younger, perhaps more dynamic opponent.

Miura is crafty himself, but his best wins have come against limited fighters — Roman, Dante “Crazy” Jardon, Billy Dib, Sergio Thompson, Gamaliel Diaz. Not bad fighters, mind you, but a level or two below the cream of the crop. His two best opponents — Vargas and Takashi Uchiyama — have both stopped Miura. (His other loss came way back in 2007 against Yusuke Kobori.)

On paper, I think Miura’s back is against the wall here. Berchelt showed a patience beyond his years against Vargas, not allowing himself to get drawn into a reckless brawl, and a reckless brawl might be the best chance Miura has to win, too. If Miura can’t win at distance and can’t bait Berchelt into a blood-and-guts battle, he could be in for a long night. He’s not getting any younger, and Berchelt seems closer to Vargas and Uchiyama, for obvious reasons, than he does Roman or Dib.

Matchup Grade: B. Should be a good fight, and it’s a legitimate titleholder against a legitimate contender. I can’t ask much more than that, really.


  • Jezreel Corrales vs Robinson Castellanos: Another 130-pound title fight, with Corrales (21-1, 8 KO) putting his WBA title on the line against veteran battler Castellanos (24-12, 14 KO). This is also an interesting matchup. Corrales has made his mark in Japan, knocking off Takashi Uchiyama two times in 2016, but this will be his first fight on American soil, and first under the Golden Boy banner. Castellanos is better than his record might lead you to believe, but I don’t put too much stock into the ass kicking he gave a shot Yuriorkis Gamboa in May, either. I like Corrales clearly here. If Rene Alvarado and Oscar Escandon can do the business with Castellanos, Corrales certainly can. Grade: C+
  • Joe Smith Jr vs Sullivan Barrera: It’s wild that Smith has gone from a headline fight on NBC, where he shocked Andrzej Fonfara in 2:32, to a headline fight on HBO, where he finished off the withering bones of Bernard Hopkins, to an opening fight on an HBO tripleheader. And here’s the thing: this is a really good matchup. Smith (23-1, 19 KO) has legit power and can fight, and Barrera (19-1, 14 KO) is nothing to mess with, either. He beat Karo Murat in 2015, lost to Andre Ward like everyone does, and then came back to knock off Golden Boy prospect Vyacheslav Shabranskyy (KO-7) and Paul Parker (TKO-5). I think this is the best fight on the card, and could go either way. Grade: B+

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