Here’s a final preview look at seven of today’s big fights coming your way from Saudi Arabia, Brooklyn, and Mexico.
We’ll start off with the biggest of the lot.
Much is being made of the weights on Friday for these two, with Ruiz coming in 15 pounds heavier than he was six months ago, and Joshua about 10 pounds lighter. I don’t know that it makes any real difference. Joshua may be looking to move around more, which he just might not actually be good enough a boxer to do. He may also be looking to tie up more when Ruiz gets close, and if he does that he’s now got 283 pounds or so in the clinch, so that could be tough.
Stylistically I think this is a fight where the guy who cracks first loses, which is what we saw last time. Ruiz went down first last time, but he didn’t crack; he came back, hard, and he put Joshua down four times en route to the stoppage.
Joshua has hinted that he’s not trying to look spectacular here, he’s trying to win, period. If he wants to stink it out a bit, Ruiz’s bulk and handspeed are still going to make that difficult.
Otherwise, we saw this fight already. We know the dimensions don’t matter as much as you’d think on paper.
The co-feature from Saudi Arabia is an interesting crossroads sort of fight at heavyweight. You look at the rankings various sites have and you see that Povetkin, at 40, is still considered a solid contender in the division, as he should be. You see Hunter not quite in the top 20 at BoxRec and unranked everywhere else, which is also fair enough.
But Hunter’s a guy who appears on the rise at age 31, as ready as he’s probably getting to really get into the heavyweight race, while Povetkin is getting old. Will the age matter? Maybe not. Povetkin hasn’t taken a ton of punishment in his career and he was still plenty sharp enough to outpoint Hughie Fury in his last outing. Hunter, though, might have the fresher legs, and might be ready to make his statement. It’s an interesting matchup; physically, they’re about even, with Hunter having a decent reach advantage and coming in a little heavier than he has in his recent fights, perhaps to be better ready for the power of Povetkin, the first legit heavyweight contender Hunter has faced since his move from cruiserweight.
The Showtime (9 pm ET) main event from Brooklyn is a WBC middleweight title fight where we’ve got a clear favorite, and the physical matchup shows you a lot of the reasons why. Charlo is taller, longer, and younger, he hits harder, and Hogan is just now coming up to 160 for this fight after a close call against Jaime Munguia in a 154-pound title fight earlier this year.
Hogan says he feels good and strong at 160, but Charlo has been here a while and looked good at the weight. He’s got four inches of height and five inches of reach on Hogan, whose best bet is probably to play spoiler and try to nick rounds, which is what he did with Munguia. He almost got the decision there, it’s not the worst strategy. It’s not like he’s going to out-gun Charlo.
Showtime’s co-feature will see Eubank move back down from a stint at super middleweight, where he became a contender but lost his lone true world title fight to George Groves. Korobov had a shot at a vacant 160-pound title in 2014 and got stopped by Andy Lee, and he faced Jermall Charlo for an interim belt a year ago, and came up controversially short in that one.
Eubank has struggled in some of his bigger fights (the losses to Groves and Billy Joe Saunders), but he also battled enough to make both of those competitive bouts, and Korobov has a habit of fading late, which we’ve seen in his last two bouts. The southpaw stance for Korobov shouldn’t be a huge factor, as Eubank has done OK with southpaws, including his February win over James DeGale.
Showtime’s opener is for the interim IBF super bantamweight title, a Philippines vs Japan matchup in Brooklyn. The full IBF belt is currently held by Daniel Roman, who is on the shelf with an injury and set to make a WBA mandatory title defense whenever he returns, so this is an interim belt that has at least some reason to exist.
Tapales is a former bantamweight titleholder and you can see will be giving up some size here — three-and-a-half inches of height, a big six-and-a-half inches in reach. Iwasa is a former titleholder at 122, losing the belt by competitive decision to TJ Dohney in Aug. 2018 after winning it from Yukinori Oguni in Sept. 2017 and making one successful defense in Mar. 2018 against Ernesto Saulong.
Tapales has shown some good power recently, more than his KO% might suggest, as he’s stopped his last seven opponents. But none of them were quite the level of Iwasa, either, and of the two I think you’d have to say Iwasa is the slightly more proven fighter at this level, though he was stopped in six by Lee Haskins back in 2015.
On paper, the clear favorite here is Navarrete, but this does have some minor banana peel worries, I think.
For starters, it’s Navarrete’s fifth fight in a year. People love to crank one over fighter activity like this, and it’s true Navarrete hasn’t taken any real punishment in any of those four fights, but that’s a lot of training camps, too.
The other thing worth pointing out is that Navarrete might not be the hugely bigger guy in the ring in this matchup. Maybe he’ll still rehydrate and be a lot bigger, but in terms of dimensions this is evenly matched.
In his two fights with Isaac Dogboe, Navarrete was enjoying a five-inch height advantage and an eight-inch reach advantage. Against Francisco De Vaca, he had an opponent listed the same height, but with a reach six-and-a-half inches shorter. Juan Miguel Elorde was listed 5’8” with no reach listed on his sheet, but he just got bowled over.
This is not to suggest Horta, who appears as overmatched as Elorde on paper, will win or even has a shot you should take particularly seriously. He may just get trucked like Elorde and De Vaca and Dogboe have; Navarrete may simply be that good. But there are some things in the makeup of this fight that would make it perhaps not an enormous surprise if Navarrete shows some signs of fatigue or has a few more stylistic issues than anticipated.
After two straight unimpressive performances, Ancajas is getting his second straight advantageous matchup. Gonzalez is small even for 115 and when we’ve seen him take on better fighters, Paul Butler beat him soundly over 12 and Andrew Moloney took him out inside of eight.
Ancajas is a good fighter, but it’s clear how he’s being handled right now. If this is more competitive than “pretty damn one-sided,” it’ll be an upset.