The results are in for the second set of semifinal matchups in the Bad Left Hook March Mania fantasy boxing tournament!
In this group, we have the fighters at cruiserweight, 168, 154, 140, 130, 122, 115, and 108.
Let’s get to the results!
(1) Mairis Briedis def. (4) Ilunga Makabu (271-88)
Briedis is the star in the real life World Boxing Super Series, and despite the fact that he’s barely won his last two bouts over Noel Mikaelian and Krzsyztof Glowacki, the (1) by his name has seen him cruise into the final round of this fantasy tournament. Personally, I think Briedis is plenty vulnerable against either his first round opponent, Lawrence Okolie, or Makabu, for very different reasons, but it’s not hard to say he’d win, either, I suppose.
(2) Yuniel Dorticos def. (3) Krzysztof Glowacki (260-93)
Dorticos washes Glowacki in what I think is another fight that would be closer than the voting, and the long-awaited second season WBSS tournament final between Briedis and Dorticos will take place here before it does in real life. (Right now it’s tentatively scheduled for May 16, but with far from a guarantee it’ll happen, as its original Mar. 21 date was one of the first coronavirus hits we took in boxing.) Dorticos definitely has the power to beat Glowacki, and I picked him, too, but I thought maybe the southpaw style of Glowacki might get him some more votes. Didn’t, though.
(1) Callum Smith def. (5) Billy Joe Saunders (196-188)
Well, something mildly interesting almost happened, and then it did not. Saunders led for the bulk of the voting period, but Smith is another one-seed to advance to his division’s final. This is a 50/50 fight to me; neither of them have exactly sparkled in recent outings, and given that Smith should’ve lost to John Ryder in November, I saw him coming into this as the weakest of the top seeds. But November was a whole four months ago, and that might as well be ancient history with a lot of people. Boxing moves fast. Life moves fast. Ryder is old news and Liam, But Tall is on to the final in the second-closest vote we’ve seen thus far.
(3) Canelo Alvarez def. (2) David Benavidez (305-83)
Benavidez has a lot of real fans among diehard boxing devotees, and Canelo is often criticized by some of those same people, but the voting here was done with head and not heart, it would seem. Alvarez is a proven top-tier fighter; even if he’s done little at 168, it’s clear he can fight at this weight. Benavidez, though extremely promising and with some solid wins on his sheet already, just doesn’t have the track record Canelo does.
Benavidez is a young guy Canelo seems likely to outbox despite Benavidez having some physical advantages; in a way, this might turn out somewhat like Canelo’s fight with Floyd Mayweather back in 2013, with Canelo in the Floyd role this time around. Just in terms of the outcome and overall tone of what goes down, mind you; Canelo is 29, so still right in his prime, which Mayweather was past, amazingly enough considering how great he still was, and I doubt Benavidez would come out trying to box Canelo, but I think the class and experience difference would be sort of the same. Canelo went on to be as great as anticipated despite the L in an ambitious challenge. Benavidez might well do the same if this were real life.
(1) Jermell Charlo def. (4) Jarrett Hurd (235-146)
As we’ve said a fair amount the last couple months, 154 is just a fun division in many ways right now. There’s no clear ruler and a lot of legitimate talent. Few divisions boast as deep a pool of higher-end fighters, even if we lack that dynamic, dominant star. Hurd had his supporters here; I think a lot of people are (quite understandably) assuming that when push comes to shove against someone better than Francisco Santana, Jarrett is going to revert to his pressure style and just come at opponents, make them really fight.
If he were to fight Lara (his first round opponent) or Charlo like he did Santana, he’s just gonna get outclassed over 12, probably. But I would agree with the idea that he’ll “go back to who he is” naturally when actually tested. Fighters at his age kind of are who they are; they can change their spots when the opponent isn’t good enough to make them do any differently, but against a real opponent they’re most likely going to wind up fighting with their natural instincts. Either way, though, Charlo is a more well-rounded fighter, his lone loss highly controversial, and one he seems to have learned from, too; Charlo doesn’t seem content to cruise since the loss to Tony Harrison, having been taught the painful lesson that a whole lot of weird shit can happen if you leave it to the judges.
(2) Jeison Rosario def. (3) Julian Williams (219-151)
It was going to be tough for Williams to win a vote over a guy who just pummeled him in January, and he didn’t, but he got some solid support. Again, I think there’s some real suspicion that Rosario is a flash in the pan at this level. Personally I think that’s still up in the air, I don’t have a firm stance on it either way, but I can understand that suspicion. For what it’s worth, Williams turned down his right for an immediate rematch in real life, so there’s that.
Before Jan. 18, so about two months ago, Rosario wouldn’t even have been in this tournament. Now he’s in the final round, where I suspect he’s a big underdog, but he’s there all the same. Again, boxing moves fast.
(1) Josh Taylor def. (4) Maurice Hooker (332-31)
(3) Regis Prograis def. (2) Jose Ramirez (224-136)
Gonna pop these comments together, since there’s little to say about Taylor beating Hooker. Taylor would be hugely favored to beat Hooker, and while I believe Maurice would give it a good go, if Josh hasn’t gotten a big head now or lost something without Shane McGuigan in his corner anymore, I do think Taylor would beat him convincingly.
On the other side, you have Prograis getting a solid if not complete wipeout voting win over Ramirez. Ramirez deserves the No. 2 seed and No. 2 spot in the rankings; he’s got the two belts Taylor doesn’t, and he hasn’t lost a fight. But Prograis has only lost to Taylor, and it was a great, competitive fight. It seems most believe Regis is still, at worst, the second-best fighter in this division.
So our final at 140 is a rematch of last October’s WBSS title unification final bout. I’d love to see it again, and this will have to do for now.
(1) Miguel Berchelt def. (5) Oscar Valdez (292-57)
This is a fight that has been expected since Valdez’s last win, and Berchelt has just said the deal is nearly done. It’s a good matchup, but at this point, Berchelt will be a real solid favorite, and it seems most truly expect him to win. It’s understandable, as he’s been on a tear, he’ll have some advantages physically, and Valdez has not looked like the Valdez of old since Scott Quigg broke his jaw. He’s come back trying to box more, which he’s not terrible at, but it’s not his natural style. And even if he reverts to his warrior self, as we suspect Hurd would when really challenged, Berchelt can really bang and might dice him up anyway.
(2) Leo Santa Cruz def. (3) Jamel Herring (260-94)
Herring with a decent enough showing considering less than a year ago he wasn’t even considered a real contender. Santa Cruz would be giving away some height and reach, but he’s no doubt a tougher task for Jamel than Masayuki Ito, who is good but limited, or Lamont Roach Jr, who was unproven at a high level and was kind of a middling prospect in the first place.
I think this would be a good fight. I could see Herring using his length and Brian McIntyre coming up with a good plan against Leo, on whom there is plenty of film to study. But Santa Cruz might wind up simply outworking the American. That seems the most likely outcome to me. We’re going 12 here, and Leo’s gonna throw and land more punches, in all likelihood.
(1) Rey Vargas def. (4) Daniel Roman (218-104)
We mentioned in the first round at junior lightweight that it seems some people believe the clock has struck 12 on Tevin Farmer’s run of success. I think there may be some folks who believe the same about Roman. Roman and Farmer are very different fighters in terms of what they do in the ring, but have the similarity that both clawed their way to the top without much help from the industry, and have made the most of their skills.
Vargas is not someone that gets much of anyone truly excited, but he’s a really good boxer-puncher who has solid wins over the type of fighter that Roman is, if not guys quite as successful as Roman has been. I think Danny would make this really competitive at worst, but Vargas getting the duke isn’t a surprise.
(2) Emanuel Navarrete def. (3) Murodjon Akhmadaliev (170-155)
I rather vehemently disagree with the result here, but hey, maybe I should’ve ranked Murodjon No. 2 and not Navarrete, and the outcome would’ve been different. And also maybe I’m just wrong. MJ has the one really good win over Roman, and it was competitive. Navarrete’s best wins were over Isaac Dogboe, and they weren’t very competitive. And while Navarrete has faced a series of chum buckets since the two wins over Dogboe, let’s not forget that Dogboe was pounding on the door of a Fighter of the Year award when Navarrete upset him in 2018, and he beat him even worse the second time.
So I get it, I guess. I think MJ is a bad style matchup for the still-learning Navarrete, while Dogboe was a great style matchup for him, but I really might just be wrong. It would not be the first time. And the voting here was quite close, obviously, with Navarrete edging it by a grand total of 15 votes.
(1) Juan Francisco Estrada def. (4) Kazuto Ioka (292-35)
Ioka’s a good fighter and I think would give Estrada a good fight. While Estrada deserves the No. 1 spot, he really hasn’t dominated at 115 or anything. He edged a win over Carlos Cuadras by one point on all three cards in 2017, lost a majority decision to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in 2018, got two stay-busy wins over Felipe Orucuta and Victor Mendez, survived Srisaket in their 2019 rematch (a closer fight than some remember), and then picked up a victory lap title defense win over Dewayne Beamon. He hasn’t dominated at this weight.
But then again neither has Ioka, who returned in 2018 as a junior bantamweight and has gone 3-1, though maybe it should be 4-0 in your mind depending on how you score his split decision loss to Donnie Nietes in 2018, and his last fight with the promising Jeyvier Cintron was anything but one-sided, albeit a deserved win for Ioka, sort of like Estrada’s rematch win over Srisaket. I’m rambling here to have something to do, mind you; these are both good fighters, and again, I think would make for a really good fight.
(2) Srisaket Sor Rungvisai def. (3) Roman Gonzalez (246-102)
Gonzalez is 0-2 in real life against Srisaket, but as I mentioned in a comment on the voting post:
- Srisaket did not smash Gonzalez both fights. He won a very controversial decision over him in 2017. He did smash him in the rematch six months later, in all fairness, and that one left the more lasting impression.
- The last time people saw Gonzalez, who is popular with fans, he looked very sharp against Kal Yafai, winning another world title. The last time people saw Srisaket, he spent too much time fighting like a dumbo and all but gave the WBC title to Estrada.
That explains, I think, why Gonzalez got the level of support he did here. This was a way closer outcome than the fictional Warrington-Galahad rematch we had in the featherweight semifinals, for instance, and Warrington-Galahad was legitimately really close when we actually saw it, could’ve gone either way.
But in the end way more people saw Srisaket winning over Chocolatito again, and I picked the same. I love Gonzalez, but I think Srisaket is just an awful style matchup for him, a big, hard-hitting banger at 115 who can and will walk through fire to get his own shots in. On the exact right night, Gonzalez can beat him (I scored the first fight for Roman, if not by much), but the odds are not in his favor. So we’ll have another meeting between Estrada and Srisaket in the final.
(1) Kenshiro Teraji def. (4) Felix Alvarado (221-37)
(2) Hiroto Kyoguchi def. (3) Carlos Canizales (175-74)
Like the 105 final being predictably and easily Wanheng Menayothin vs Knockout CP Freshmart, a fight a lot of people would like to see happen to settle things in that division, the 108 final winds up easily being Teraji vs Kyoguchi, another fight a lot of people would like to see to settle things in this division. The two Japanese standouts are clearly seen as the top guys in this division, and there’s no unanimous No. 1 out there, either. I have Teraji just barely No. 1 over Kyoguchi; Kyoguchi being No. 1 to someone else wouldn’t bother me at all. It’s not even something I’d really strongly debate.
So the final at junior flyweight is what it should be, the way most figure it. Alvarado and Canizales are both really good fighters, but the Japanese pair are seen as the best, and that’s what it’s come down to in the end.