We’ve got a mildly quiet weekend coming in boxing, but at least louder than last week, and on the whole, louder than the next two — boy, this is not a great stretch for the ol’ sweet science, huh?
Anyway, Derek Chisora and Kubrat Pulev will meet again in a DAZN main event from London, and Mark Magsayo defends his featherweight title against Rey Vargas from San Antonio on Showtime, both fights taking place on Saturday.
We’ve got picks in for those main events plus an undercard fight from each card!
Derek Chisora vs Kubrat Pulev 2
Scott Christ (44-23)
Chisora didn’t earn the judge’s card he got in a split loss to Pulev six years ago, and I actually think he has a harder time with the Bulgarian now. Time may have taken a toll on both, but the 41-year-old Pulev has looked much fresher than the 38-year-old Chisora in recent outings. Personally, I didn’t at all like what I saw of Chisora in his two losses to Joseph Parker; he had some success here and there in the first fight, but Parker had him pretty well worked out, and Chisora was broken down to nothing but laborious flailing in the second bout.
I think Pulev is more spiteful and willing to turn the screw than Parker is, broadly speaking, and that this spells doom for a possibly really ragged Chisora. I like Derek, he’s given us many years of entertainment in and out of the ring, one of his generation’s true wild-eyed weirdos, and I respect that he’s doing this instead of some crummy fight with Kash Ali or Iago Kiladze or somebody. But I really don’t see this one going well for him. The end may be here for his career. Pulev TKO-8
Wil Esco (52-15)
Derek Chisora is sort of a hard luck fighter that I’d love to see win but it’s difficult to pick him with any real certainty. Chisora always pours his heart out in fights which makes him a really easy person to root for, but wearing his heart on his sleeve also makes him a very predictable fighter to prepare for. Everyone who faces Chisora knows he’s coming for war and he’s not so much a tactician as he is a force of will. If you’re able to deal with the ferocity of his come-forward style there’s not much else to deal with.
As for Pulev, well, he’s 41 years old and could end up showing his age in just about any fight at this point, but he does have way less miles on him than Chisora who’s been in many frequent wars. I find Chisora to be the much more compelling personality in this fight, but that’s not going to actually help him win the fight itself. I see this being a pretty decent fight where Chisora has some moments, but I don’t think he’ll be able to sustain his success for long enough to win it on the cards. I’m going to take Pulev to win a decision over the distance. Pulev MD-12
John Hansen (52-15)
If these guys had waited a few more years, maybe this rematch could have gotten them senior circuit “exhibition” money from whoever buys what’s left of Triller someday. Instead, we get the rematch that I don’t recall anyone really asking for.
Chisora is the younger man by three years, but Scott already explained in this week’s podcast that years and mileage aren’t the same thing. Pulev is 41 to Chisora’s 38. But by comparison to Chisora, Pulev’s like a garage-kept 1980 Corvette. Chisora is like a much newer Acura Integra, but one being sold by a scuzzy kid who smells like spray deodorant laid over a foundation of weed vape. And he’s willing to leave in a subwoofer and some neon undercarriage lights as long as you close the deal in cash, today, because there’s really no need for a mechanic to check anything out, bro.
Miles and maintenance matter more than years. Pulev already won convincingly the first time, and Chisora has endured a lot of punishing fights since then. He’s lost three in a row, and he’ll probably make it four on Saturday. Pulev TKO-10
Patrick Stumberg (53-14)
Two of Chisora’s three recent losses look a lot worse on paper than in reality; he gave Oleksandr Usyk all kinds of hell and should have gotten the decision in his first meeting with Joseph Parker, albeit due to the latter’s complete lack of urgency. The same can’t be said about his rematch with Parker, though, as he found himself repeatedly plugged with clean right hands that he only barely had the durability to withstand. Pulev can’t move or punch like Parker, but he still looked plenty sharp against Jerry Forrest just two fights back. The accuracy and crispness are still there, and that right hand still has more bite to it than his finishing rate would suggest.
Chisora should have an easier time getting in on Pulev than he did Parker, at least in the early going. Once Pulev gets dialed in and Chisora once again starts to flag, though, he’s going to spend the rest of the fight getting absolutely peppered with jabs and crosses. Not even UK judges will be able to bail Chisora out of this one. Pulev UD-12
Mark Magsayo vs Rey Vargas
Scott Christ (44-23)
Think it’s kind of a rough break for Magsayo that he has a mandatory due with someone as tricky as Vargas for his first defense, but then I also didn’t think Magsayo had any clear claim to his January win over Gary Russell Jr. I also think Vargas would have been tricky for Russell, when Gary got around to taking the fight in April 2023.
I’m rooting for Magsayo to do well here; I don’t care who wins fights generally, and don’t here, but if he has success it will be a much more watchable fight. If he can’t get into range and can’t put some heat on Vargas, it’s going to be a long night of Vargas winning the vast majority of 12 rounds. Due respect to his ability and discipline and all that, but it’s not fun to watch, really.
John has accused me of picking for “entertainment purposes” but that’s a lot more rare than you might think. In all sincerity, I just follow my heart, and if it amuses someone, great. But I am a stupid gambler and I carry that real aspect of myself over here. Anyway, I’m itching to pick Magsayo, but I’m going with Vargas. My wild pick is that Magsayo will drop Vargas at some point but still lose on the cards, and clearly. Vargas UD-12
Wil Esco (52-15)
While I’m not a huge believer in Rey Vargas and think his time is soon coming, I do think he can fight a disciplined enough boxing match to take advantage of Mark Magsayo’s aggression. Both fighters have readily admitted they’re going to fight in usual styles, and I think the taller Vargas laying back and picking countering opportunities is going to serve him well by way of eye catching punches.
If Magsayo had more fight changing power and a demonstrably better way of landing that kind of shot I think he’d have better success here. Maybe his pressure will get to Vargas and he can accumulate enough damage to break him down, but that seems less likely to me than Vargas pulling out a decision on the cards, so that’s what I’m going with. Vargas UD-12
John Hansen (52-15)
Rey Vargas is the sort of fighter who frustrates quality opponents and makes them look less than they really are. Tough guys, brawlers, tacticians — we’ve seen Vargas work his rangy, lanky style against all types.
Mark Magsayo has never lost as a pro, but he’s come damn close. Rigoberto Hermosillo gave him trouble, as did a one-armed Gary Russell Jr. Magsayo is quick, but so was Tomoki Kameda, and Rey Vargas handled him clearly and convincingly.
I just don’t see what Magsayo is going to throw at Vargas that Vargas hasn’t handled before from superior fighters. Maybe the jump to 126 is more significant than I’m assuming. Maybe Vargas gets hurt like Russell did, or maybe Magsayo had himself a moment, and Rey Vargas is about to bring that moment to an end. Vargas UD-12
Patrick Stumberg (53-14)
Whatever asterisks you want to slap onto Magsayo’s win over Gary Russell Jr, you can’t argue that he can’t punch or that he doesn’t have heart for days. I’m just not convinced that’s anywhere near enough to carry him past someone as seasoned and versatile as Vargas. Vargas’ height, reach, and sharp jab make him the clear superior at a distance, and the issues Magsayo had with Julio Ceja’s infighting suggests that Vargas’ high-speed body attack can find some real success in the pocket.
Vargas just has too many weapons in his arsenal and too much experience dealing with sluggers to lose this. So long as his chin can handle punches from genuine 126-pounders, he has the edge wherever the fight goes. Vargas UD-12
Israil Madrimov vs Michel Soro 2
- Scott: Madrimov TKO-7
- Wil: Madrimov TKO-10
- John: Madrimov KO-8
- Patrick: Madrimov TKO-8
Brandon Figueroa vs Carlos Castro
- Scott: Figueroa UD-12
- Wil: Figueroa TKO-8
- John: Figueroa UD-12
- Patrick: Figueroa TKO-9