Saturday was packed with fights of all credibility and weirdness, from world champions to social media celebrities. So what’s next for some of the notables we saw in action yesterday?
The guy who’s calling him out right now is Joe Fournier, the billionaire (reported (by himself), I don’t know or care really) entrepreneur who has had nine pro fights sort of at the same level Jake Paul has three pro fights. Fournier fought on Saturday, too, beating reggaeton artist Reykon via TKO after two rounds. Reykon had no clue what he was doing, but that about equals the guys Paul has fought.
Fournier is 38, he’s 9-0 (9 KO), and he wasn’t on Jake Paul’s card by accident. That’s not to say it will be next, but it’s at least an idea with some logic behind it. Paul is naturally bigger, he’s younger, and frankly I think he looks like the better boxer of the two. But Fournier is not totally clueless like AnEsonGib and Nate Robinson were, and he’s not a checked out guy cashing a check like Ben Askren pretty clearly at least kinda was. (I’m not saying Askren took a dive, I’m just saying I think he didn’t give a shit to try any harder than giving what he had when he showed up on the night in whatever shape he was going to be in.)
You may think Jake Paul vs Joe Fournier doesn’t move the needle enough, but I do know this: There was huge, huge, huge internet buzz on Saturday for Jake Paul vs Ben Askren, and it’s not like Ben Askren is some star celebrity. What Triller might be able to sell with Fournier is, “OK, here’s a guy with a 9-0 record.” You might think people care that his 9-0 record is empty as hell. They don’t. The target audience for this stuff is not plugged into boxing and examining BoxRec pages.
Jake Paul is a legitimate draw. How long that lasts remains to be seen. Stuff on this level will grow tired sooner than later. If he really, truly wants boxing respect, then he has to at some point fight a real, true boxer. Even someone like, I don’t know, Michael Seals would show people something, one way or the other.
But does Paul actually care about that? Good chance he does not. This is a money-making venture. He’s been playing a public character for years now. He knows the acts.
There is another eventual option if this starts to play itself out, and it’s really simple: He can just stop doing it and move on to something else in the entertainment world before he gets to a point people really are demanding of him to fight a real boxer if he’s going to call himself a boxer. That won’t be next, but it might be closer than some think.
Andrade retained his WBO middleweight title with a solid win over Liam Williams, going the distance and eating some shots, dealing with a game, very gritty opponent, and winning pretty impressively on the whole.
Andrade (30-0, 18 KO) wants a big fight. He’s called for it for a while. Promoter Eddie Hearn has generally put his “duck” talk focus on WBC titlist Jermall Charlo, but he did mention in the post-fight interviews that IBF titleholder Gennadiy Golovkin and WBA titleholder Ryota Murata also aren’t rushing to fight Andrade. And forget Canelo, he’s in another division with a couple more fights pretty much set as his path, Andrade is not in a “next” discussion for Canelo Alvarez.
We can also forget Jermall Charlo. Whatever it is, however you slice it, they’re not fighting. It doesn’t matter if any media members weirdly keep hyping it as some kind of dream fight or blockbuster (it’s a good fight, but it’s neither of those things), it’s just not happening. Charlo is going to fight Juan Macias Montiel on June 19. Hearn called that a terrible title matchup, which is big talk from the promoter of Demetrius Andrade vs Luke Keeler.
So again, put Charlo out of it. Not happening. Whatever, it’s just not. And let’s acknowledge, too, that Ryota Murata is co-promoted by Top Rank and that maybe that’s a little bit of a pain to get done. So let’s even just take him out for a minute.
There is no good reason for Gennadiy Golovkin to not fight Andrade. They both have DAZN deals, they’re both affiliated with Matchroom, and Golovkin has nothing on his plate at the moment. In a way, I feel like the 39-year-old Golovkin (41-1-1, 36 KO) is getting a weird pass on this. We all love GGG, he’s brought us years of entertainment, but this is a fight that should be on his radar.
Andrade is a serious opponent for Golovkin. If there’s a good offer, then it should be brought to Golovkin. Hearn should do come up with an offer and present it. If Golovkin passes, then people can make up their minds on that. And it’s not like Golovkin is beating off big fight offers with a stick, either; his last three opponents have been Steve Rolls, Sergiy Derevyanchenko (a very good fighter, but no more a “star” than Andrade), and Kamil Szeremeta.
- Former 140 lb titlist Regis Prograis (26-1, 21 KO) got a goofy technical decision win (that was the ruling on site anyway) over Ivan Redkach on the Triller card. Right now, the belts at 140 are tied up with Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez, who will fight for the undisputed crown on May 22. The winner could well vacate all four straps and move up. But Prograis recently indicated he, too, may have to move up. He missed weight for his fight with Juan Heraldez last October, and he came in at 143 for the Redkach fight, which was not a missed weight but it’s not 140. He’s said it’s getting hard to make 140. He’s talked about fighting Adrien Broner, but Broner doesn’t actually seem interested in fighting unless he needs a payday. Prograis is still in the mix at 140 if he stays there, and he’d be a good opponent for anyone at 140 or 147 right now. He also isn’t tied to anyone at the moment.
- Another former titlist, Tony Harrison, did not win on Saturday. But he also didn’t lose, as Harrison went to a draw with Bryant Perrella on FOX. Harrison (28-3-1, 21 KO) has always been sort of an inconsistent fighter, and he wasn’t at his best with Perrella (17-3-1, 14 KO). But who knows? He could rematch Perrella, or he could move on to something else. If Jermell Charlo beats Brian Castano for all four 154 lb belts in July, a third fight between Charlo and Harrison — a rubber match — could be appealing to Charlo if he doesn’t want to go up to 160. As for Bryant Perrella, he got a bit of a kickstart from the draw. He’s a guy who busted a bit as a prospect, but this is a bit of a boost for him. He’ll be there for relevant fights at 154 now.
- Carlos Gongora more firmly established himself as a guy to watch in the super middleweight division, stopping Christopher Pearson and pretty much dominating that fight. The 31-year-old Ecuadorian southpaw has a pretty fun style to watch, he’s a big guy at 168 even though his team think he could still fight at 160, and he’s said he wants to fight the best. Canelo won’t be next for him, but man, keep winning and who knows what comes in 2022? Wins over Ali Akhmedov and Pearson are good enough to make you back end of the top 10 at 168 right now, and there are some good potential opponents for him. A guy like Steven Nelson would love a good fight, he’s 32 and unbeaten but needs a breakthrough if he’s going to become more, and that clock is ticking a bit. Matchroom could put Gongora in with someone like Fedor Chudinov or Rocky Fielding, Isaac Chilemba or Gabriel Rosado. A fight with Daniel Jacobs would be interesting, and would be a risk for Jacobs, I think, but also a chance for Jacobs to prove he’s not past it.