After a couple of weeks where there was really nothing worth predicting, we’re back!
We’ve got Jose Zepeda vs Regis Prograis for the vacant WBC title at 140! We’ve got Dillian Whyte coming back against Jermaine Franklin! We’ve got some other stuff!
Jose Zepeda vs Regis Prograis
Scott Christ (82-35)
This is a great matchup I’m excited to watch, and I think it could be a damn good fight. Prograis is faster, more explosive, probably the purely harder puncher, and I think has a dynamic quality to his game that will give him a real edge. But Zepeda can also counter-punch quite well, and he’s far from a light puncher himself. Prograis doesn’t avoid taking risks when he throws his hands, and as much as he may be right that Zepeda — who has good wins and high-level experience — hasn’t seen anyone quite like him, it’s also been three years since Prograis was in the ring with someone who had anything approaching a realistic chance of beating him.
In short, Zepeda’s a lot better than Juan Heraldez, Ivan Redkach, and Tyrone McKenna. Prograis basically wasted his early 30s in a sport that generally starts asking new questions of its combatants in that age period. I’m going with Prograis, and I’m confident in that pick, but Zepeda is a live dog here. Prograis UD-12
Wil Esco (94-23)
In all honesty, I haven’t been the biggest supporter of Jose Zepeda. He’s proven to be plenty solid, but there’s nothing about him that really stands out to me, which is why I’ve wrongly picked against him a few times. Be that as it may, I’m still going to pick against him here against Regis Prograis. Prograis will bring a blend of speed, power, and athleticism that I don’t think Zepeda is going to be able to overcome, and that’s going to be the difference in the fight as far as I see it. I don’t think, however, that Prograis is really going to run away with this fight.
Prograis’ relative inactivity combined with some less than stellar opposition as of late is going to make him vulnerable and I do think we’ll get some tough exchanges that’ll make for fun viewing. I just think once we come down to the second half of the fight Prograis is going to find more of a groove to be able to accumulate more points than Zepeda. Both fighters come out of this one marked up, but I see Prograis having his hand raised when it’s all said and done. Prograis UD-12
John Hansen (93-24)
Yes, I’m picking Regis Prograis. And, yes, I’m 100% serious every month when I count him among the ten best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Ranking Prograis in the back end of a P4P list wasn’t particularly controversial before he lost a majority decision to Josh Taylor. I don’t disagree that Taylor deserved that win, but the margin between the two was vanishingly thin. I’m also not a big advocate for the philosophy of “Who looks like they lost the fight?” But, Taylor is lucky the ringside doctor didn’t hit him with an EpiPen. Prograis may have lost very narrowly, but he battered Taylor’s eye so badly it ended up looking like a diseased anus gone supernova.
Taylor went on to undisputed status and near universal P4P acclaim, until he hung around 140 lbs at least one fight too long. Prograis, on the other hand, has struggled to land high profile fights, and spent the last three years disputing the adage that absence (from the spotlight) makes the boxing fan’s heart grow fonder.
Zepeda is a warrior, and I think he and Prograis are almost ideally matched to bring out the best in each other. We’re almost certainly in for beginning-to-end savvy boxing with frequent outbursts of two-way brutality. If Prograis has lost anything since 2019, Zepeda can and will make him suffer for it.
I obviously think Prograis still has it, though. And, with all love and respect to the editor that’s called me a “performance artist” and the readership that’s called me worse… This Thanksgiving weekend, I encourage everyone to open your hearts and let yourselves fall in love with Rougarou all over again. Prograis UD-12
Patrick Stumberg (96-21)
Watching tape for this pick made the last few years of Prograis’ career all the more frustrating. He is a genuinely gifted fighter, not just in his speed and power but in his awareness of incoming fire and creativity with his combination punching. He should have stayed right in the thick of things after that fight with Taylor, not fought once per year against the likes of Ivan Redkach and Tyrone McKenna.
At least this should rectify things.
Not to say that Zepeda doesn’t have a chance, of course; his technique, mettle, and power are beyond reproach at this point. Between Prograis’ physical advantages, track record against southpaws, and far superior consistency, though, I have to lean his way. Superior defense and power shots carry him to victory in a nip-and-tuck skirmish. Prograis UD-12
Dillian Whyte vs Jermaine Franklin
Scott Christ (82-35)
Dillian seems focused and relaxed in the lead-up to this fight. That’s bad news for Franklin, who will need to either score the sort of fight-altering shot we haven’t seen him land in prior outings — which were all disappointments compared to the hype put behind him coming in, even if it was just ShoBox-level hype that anyone who pays attention could see through ahead of time.
I think Franklin is a solid, skilled boxer who just lacks the plus qualities. His longer-term future in boxing might be as a globetrotting gatekeeper or, more cynically, rounds-giver; look, Kingpin Johnson is 43, he can’t keep doing that job forever. This is Franklin’s Big Chance, and I expect he’ll be there to win. I also think he’ll win some rounds, perhaps early. But once Whyte gets settled and aggressive, I just don’t think Franklin will handle him well. Whyte TKO-8
Wil Esco (94-23)
Dillian Whyte was never good enough to beat Tyson Fury, but he should be plenty good enough to take care of Jermaine Franklin. In fact, I think these are exactly the kind of fights where Whyte tends to shine. Add in the fact that I don’t really think Whyte has had his confidence shattered from this past loss, his power combined with an unorthodox style should be more than Franklin can handle - at least over the full course of a fight. Whyte still packs a wallop, and I think he finds a way to detonate on Franklin before the final bell rings. Whyte TKO-7
John Hansen (93-24)
Dillian Whyte isn’t a world champion, but he’s a world class heavyweight. He’s fought the best, earned their respect, and beaten at least a half a dozen men at least one level above anything Jermaine Franklin has demonstrated so far in his career.
Franklin’s best “win” was a misdemeanor theft against Jerry Forrest in July of 2019. ShoBox decided he didn’t meet their standards, he disappeared completely for two and a half years, and his only win since then was against a guy in his mid 40s, both in age and in total career fights, with a sub .500 record. I’d tell you more about that opponent, but he shares a name with a much more famous 72 year old hall of fame porn star nicknamed “The King of Cream.” And that’s about as far as I was willing to push any attempts at research.
Dillian Whyte’s last fight was against Tyson Fury in front of a packed house at Wembley Stadium. Jermaine Franklin’s last fight was against Mr. No, Not The Elderly Porn Star at a Steelworkers Union Hall in the 11th largest city in Indiana. Weird things happen in boxing, and they happen most often at heavyweight, where everyone is big enough to change a fight with one punch. But… C’mon. Let’s be reasonable here. Whyte TKO-7
Patrick Stumberg (96-21)
Franklin strikes me as a physically gifted fighter who excels in one specific sort of engagement: a mid- to long-range battle where he can work behind his jab, explode in with big swings, or fire a counter. When people get inside on him, he runs out of options quickly. When the very limited Pavel Sour marched his way in and got past the initial counter flurry, Franklin couldn’t do much besides cede ground, duck his head, or clinch. Being bully-able is a very bad downside to have against Whyte, who’s no stranger to physically overwhelming people in slugfests.
I can’t find footage of his most recent fight, so maybe he smoothed some rough edges during his three years on the sidelines, but the fact that he was 46 pounds heavier than when he faced Sour doesn’t give me much hope. So long as Whyte’s confidence is still intact, he trucks Franklin without much issue. Whyte TKO-8
Zach Parker vs John Ryder
- Scott: Parker SD-12
- Wil: Parker MD-12
- John: Parker UD-12
- Patrick: Parker UD-12
Craig Richards vs Ricards Bolotniks
- Scott: Richards UD-10
- Wil: Richards UD-10
- John: Richards TKO-9
- Patrick: Richards UD-10
Fabio Wardley vs Nathan Gorman
- Scott: Gorman TKO-7
- Wil: Wardley TKO-6
- John: Wardley KO-10
- Patrick: Gorman TKO-5