Undercards are yada yada, there will be a title fight, there will be another fight, there will be a heavyweight fight. This is a long enough post as it is, let’s go.
Sebastian Fundora vs Daniel Lewis
Fundora has never impressed me, apart from the fact that he’s 6’5” and weighs in at 154 pounds or less for fights. That gives him major advantages over weak opponents, but I don’t think it’ll hold against better fighters. I said in the undercard preview that we’ve seen all kinds of weirdly tall-for-their-division fighters over the years, and they all have flaws. Generalizing here, but they often have a lack of the normal fluidity in their boxing because of their dimensions, in part because they’re not often boxing at near even height with opponents. What they do often looks stiff or clumsy, almost unnatural.
Lewis is 5’10”, which next to Fundora looks tiny. Fundora had major issues with 6’2” Jamontay Clark, but I don’t think this fight will look like that one. I do expect Lewis to use his superior skill set to get inside and rip away, and I think he’s going to cut Fundora down pretty hard here. I expect the Aussie to get the tall fella out inside the distance. Lewis TKO-7
God damn, this Sebastian Fundora is a tall fucker for a junior middleweight! Standing 6’5 with an 80 inch reach should give the guy serious physical advantages over almost anyone he faces. Fundora and Jamontay Clark fought to a split draw last time out, but Clark is a lengthy fighter himself. Lewis, however, is ‘only’ 5’10” and will be undersized from a height and length perspective. So while I normally might favor the tall, long guy, I think Fundora is pretty garbage at maintaining distance and that Lewis will be able to get low and inside on him and work. If that’s the case, it’s going to be a tough outing for Fundora as he won’t be able to effectively punch on the inside and his long, slender build will provide Lewis with a lot of target to hit. I’ll take Lewis to wear him out to the body before finishing him late. Lewis TKO-10
Patrick L. Stumberg
For the record, I had Fundora losing his last effort against Jamontay Clark. While his eagerness to press the action is certainly welcome from a fan’s perspective, it also makes him much easier to hit than his ridiculous frame should allow. This matchup figures to be that style’s crucible; Lewis, who represented Australia in Rio, is a switch-hitting menace with a vicious body attack. Fundora needs to play keep-away with his jab, but it’s unclear whether he can maintain that sort of discipline for 10 rounds.
If the answer’s “no,” he’s screwed. He’s hugely outgunned at close range, where he’ll inevitably find himself if he insists on being the aggressor. Fundora’s young enough to have made major strides in the six months since the Clark setback, but a total reinvention of his style might be too much to ask. Lewis tears up his midsection for a decision win. Lewis UD-10
A 6’ 5” southpaw in the 154-pound division makes for interesting viewing, no matter who he’s up against.
The key for Lewis to make a mark on the “Towering Inferno” will be to negate the distance and rally in close quarters. Attacks to the body will be switched up with looping overhands in an attempt to get the stoppage, with Fundora hoping to keep the Australian on the end of a stiff jab.
It’s an intriguing clash of styles, frames and careers with both guys taking this risk as unbeaten prospects. If Fundora can hold Lewis’ work to the body, he should be able to carve out enough rounds peppering Lewis as he advances. It’ll be an exhausting 10-rounder for Lewis. Fundora SD-10
And the staff winner is...
Daniel Lewis (3-1)!
Emanuel Navarrete vs Jeo Santisima
I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but Navarrete fighting a total non-contender every couple of months isn’t lighting my underpants on fire in boxing fan delight. But as long as he doesn’t burn himself out — more in the gym than fight nights — then I get the strategy. Navarrete won a world title when nobody expected him to, defended it in style in a rematch, and he’s a young Mexican fighter with an exciting style. Suddenly, there was money in this guy, or at least there could be if he’s managed right, so you try to manage him right.
Santisima will hopefully at least come out swinging here. He’s got a bit of an inside game from what I can see, which could be fun, but Navarrete is really long for the weight and he uses that effectively; sometimes people think of long guys just peppering jabs to be effective, but Navarrete uses it to set up his power shots.
I like Navarrete. I should say that more often because it might seem like I don’t. And I expect him to get through here, but after this one, maybe give him a few months off and get a real opponent. It doesn’t have to be Rey Vargas or Murodjon Akhmadaliev, but someone like Stephen Fulton Jr (his No. 1 contender), Angelo Leo (his No. 2 contender), or TJ Doheny (his No. 7 contender) would be nice, if everyone can work together and get those fights done. Navarrete TKO-5
Emanuel Navarrete has been a busy, busy bee for a champion, fighting four times last year alone. You’ll get no complaints for me about that, but his last three fights weren’t against compelling opposition. This fight I expect to be more of the same for Navarrete, an opponent to keep him busy but probably not able to seriously push him in a competitive outing. Santisima will be fighting for the first time out of his native Philippines, and against a much better opponent than he’s ever faced before. Apologies if this isn’t an exciting pick or anything, but I’ll take Navarrete to win by stoppage on an accumulation of punches in the first half. Navarrete TKO-4
Patrick L. Stumberg
I’ll say one thing for Santisima: he’s probably going to put up a more entertaining fight than any of Navarrete’s other recent victims. He’s got a solid jab and a genuine mean streak on the inside, tearing at opponents with power hooks and his chopping right. Thing is, engaging Navarrete in a slugfest is the worst possible way to go about it, and I don’t think Santisima is good enough to force Navarrete into a technical battle, much less win one.
Especially not when that solid jab has to get past almost five inches of reach.
Santisima’s choices are to either go out on his shield or buy himself a couple extra rounds of life by cosplaying an outboxer. Either way, it’ll end poorly for him. “Vaquero” runs him over in predictable fashion. Navarrete KO-4
I’ve made no apology for my love of Navarrete. He’s an active champion, loves to go to war, gets hit, continues to swing and tends to get his guy out of there. He’s probably got a ceiling, but I don’t expect us to find it against Jeo Santisima. The challenger has never fought outside of the Phillippines and will struggle in the deep waters of the MGM Grand on a pay-per-view show.
He’s got a punchers chance down at 122 pounds which will probably lead to an exciting first few rounds, but Navarrete’s tenacity in the pocket should lead to Santisima being stopped for the first time as a pro. Navarrete TKO-4
And the staff winner is...
Emanuel Navarrete (4-0)!
Charles Martin vs Gerald Washington
I’m relatively OK with the existence of this fight; what I hate is the winner will eventually be lined up for a title fight nobody wants or needs. Neither of these two are serious challenges for Anthony Joshua, who holds the IBF belt, for which this fight will determine an eventual mandatory challenger. Joshua will be facing current IBF mandatory Kubrat Pulev, probably in June, so it’ll be a while before the IBF enforces another mandatory, but it’ll still just be sitting out there as something that has to happen. Nobody has once asked for Joshua-Martin 2 or Joshua-Washington, and they won’t start with whatever happens here.
These two are evenly-matched on paper, but I like Washington’s style and approach more. I think he’s much more of a battler than Martin and is more likely to overcome any resilience in this fight. Washington’s defense has never been great and Martin has power in his record, but against whomst has he ever really dropped this thunder? His best win was a guy blowing his knee out. He didn’t get Kownacki out, and lost a decision. Even “Nutshot” Greg Corbin last year was never in any danger, and that guy reeks. Washington’s been stopped three times, but all of them against very hard hitters (Wilder) or guys who can bring effective pressure (Kownacki, Miller), and Washington stood in with Robert Helenius last July and stopped him in the eighth round. So I’m going with the former football player to come out of this with a second world title fight lined up. Washington TKO-10
I’m just not a fan of Charles Martin. I don’t like his style, his boxing, or his ridiculous gloating about his power following the Glazkov fight (when it was clear Glazkov was stopped because his knee literally crumbled before our eyes). Does that make me a hater? Whatever. Since the Glazkov fight Martin would get summarily executed by Anthony Joshua and then take on a few low level fights, losing to one true contender in Adam Kownacki along the way. Not particularly impressive.
Now Washington obviously isn’t all that great himself, is getting up there in age, and has taken some punishment over the past few years, albeit against much better opposition than Martin has been facing. Accumulated punishment in boxing is a real thing but I don’t think Martin is a real pressure fighter which works Washington’s favor, and Martin is not fleet afoot. That should actually give Washington some real chances in this fight. I’m not crazy about Washington or anything, but I’ll take him to win a decision over Martin because I’m just a hater like that. Washington UD-12
Patrick L. Stumberg
Every underwhelming heavyweight is underwhelming in his own way. Martin is a run-of-the-mill defense-free bruiser, while Washington’s quality jab, defense, and combination work dissolve into thin air the moment he’s pressured. I see Martin as more apt to exploit Washington’s flaws than vice-versa; beyond being a fair bit more physically and mentally durable, as evidenced by their respective run-ins with Adam Kownacki, he’ll keep throwing power shots no matter what Washington sends his way, which is more than I can say for “El Gallo Negro.”
Martin’s got the grit and the power, and in a clash between two sorely limited heavyweights, that’s enough to earn him my vote. He lands one too many straight lefts on Washington’s stationary chin for the ref to allow. Martin TKO-6
I guess this one could be a fairly fun heavyweight appetizer. Neither guy can afford another loss if they are to get another crack at a heavyweight title, with desperation amongst the big guys usually leading to big bombs and wild misses.
Washington is physically strong and imposing and will probably try and walk Martin down before “Prince” can start working some rangy angles from the southpaw stance. Washington’s chin has let him down throughout his career, so needs to land some leather early in the fight to get the respect of Martin.
At 37 with three stoppages under his belt, I can see Washington walking onto another one here. Martin isn’t exactly a bomber, but he should have enough to get the TKO.
I’ll be bleary-eyed and impatient while this fight is going on at ≈ 4 am, so the sooner the better. Martin TKO-5