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Predictions: Zurdo vs Smith, Wood vs Warrington, more!

We’ve got a DAZN doubleheader of solid quality on Saturday! Who wins the headline fights?

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Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez faces Joe Smith Jr in a cruiserweight clash on DAZN
Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez faces Joe Smith Jr in a cruiserweight clash on DAZN
Golden Boy Promotions/Cris Esqueda

DAZN are hitting us with the rare day/night doubleheader of decent quality this Saturday, as we’ll have a featherweight title fight between Leigh Wood and Josh Warrington from Sheffield, England, in the afternoon, followed by Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez vs Joe Smith Jr in a cruiserweight clash in the evening.

Who wins Wood vs Warrington and Zurdo vs Smith?

We’ve got our picks in, give us yours!

Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez vs Joe Smith Jr

DAZN, Saturday, 8 pm ET

Scott Christ (82-31)

Zurdo’s going to look massive in the ring and I think he’ll overpower Smith, whose chin has been pretty well dented, though he’s still a tough man.

Smith is one of the sport’s easier fighters to root for, a hard-working guy who was never really supposed to graduate past the Paramount Theater in Huntington, NY, except that he did, blasting a heavily-favored Andrzej Fonfara in 2016 and then retiring Bernard Hopkins quite emphatically six months later.

Zurdo, though, is the better fighter, more well-rounded, and Smith’s best shot once again is the puncher’s chance. Being totally honest, as a fan, I hope I’m wrong, but I think we’ll see the Mexican adjust to the cruiserweight limit much more naturally and just have too much activity, wearing Smith down and eventually out. Zurdo TKO-9

Wil Esco (90-23)

Gilberto Ramirez may not have reached all the promise you might have expected of him if you’ve ever heard promoter Oscar De La Hoya talk about him, but in this particular matchup I think Ramirez should be favored. Joe Smith Jr’s workmanlike approach to boxing made him a fan favorite, but I do truly think he maxed out several fights ago and just doesn’t have the talent to win at this level at this stage of his career.

I expect Smith to come in like he always does, but he’s stiff and lacks movement, and the fluidity of Ramirez should give him real problems. It also works in Ramirez’s favor that he’s a big guy himself, so should be able to avoid just getting plowed through by Smith. I’ll take Ramirez by decision. Zurdo UD-12

John Hansen (79-34)

Zurdo Ramirez could be so easy to love, if only he didn’t spend so much of his career shooting himself in the foot. He gets a pretty good thing going until he lets some Grima Wormtongue/Lady MacBeth types whisper into his ear about how much more money he deserves, then winds up in the wilderness at the worst possible time and ends up making nothing at all. Costs himself a lot of money and a lot of opportunities.

Gets a new promoter, works to get back on track, fights his way to a title shot at 175 lbs, then takes an absolute joke of a get-well fight after losing that title shot to Dmitry Bivol. And, to make matters worse, can’t even come through with his joke fight! Because, apparently on the way to the weigh-in, he drove past one of those restaurants that offer a free 72 oz steak if you can finish the whole thing, and decided he needed to take three or four attempts at the challenge. Fight off, light heavyweight career over. Hello, cruiserweight! The star-studded division that North American boxing fans go absolutely crazy for — now, then, and forever!

For a guy that seems to have all the tools and a lot of marketing advantages, he’s taken a shocking number of self-imposed defeats beyond his one official loss in-ring. But that one loss came to a very slick tactical fighter, and Joe Smith Jr is nowhere near that level of skill. Smith can hit damn hard, and it has been a pretty good win streak for organized labor lately. But the union man can’t win them all. Unless we see Zurdo ringwalk in with a fresh bullet hole in his boot, he should be at least a half-step beyond Smith. Zurdo TKO-8

Patrick Stumberg (86-27)

Joe Smith Jr is unquestionably the protagonist of this matchup, the rough-and-tumble slugger taking on the weight bully who ate his way out of a squash match against a middleweight. Not sure he’s got the plot armor to win it, though; Ramirez seems to have just as much horsepower and superior craft to back it up. “Zurdo” is hittable, sure, but defense has never been among Smith’s virtues, either.

While it’s definitely not going to be a Beterbiev-level mugging, this feels a lot like Smith’s loss to Sullivan Barrera, where he struggled against someone just as mean but better-schooled. Expect Smith to put Ramirez in a few scary spots early on before ultimately succumbing to the latter’s more polished offense down the stretch. Zurdo TKO-10

Leigh Wood vs Josh Warrington

Leigh Wood v Josh Warrington Press Conference Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images
DAZN, Saturday, 2 pm ET

Scott Christ (82-31)

Everything on the table says that this should be the time The Haters will be “rid of” 32-year-old Josh Warrington in featherweight title fights. Wood is in career-best form, is a superior actual boxer, a better puncher, Warrington will not have full home-field advantage in Leeds as they’re meeting in the middle in Sheffield, and honestly, when’s the last time you saw Josh Warrington fight that you thought, “He looks good”? A half-cooked Carl Frampton in 2018?

But life and boxing have away of just sort of laughing at you in these situations. He’s gonna keep it close enough and get two cards you’re mad at. Warrington vs Wood 2, coming to Headingley! Warrington SD-12

Wil Esco (90-23)

Warrington is a tough veteran but I think he’s accumulated too much wear and tear over his career to pull out this one. I do fully expect Warrington to hang tough for as long as he can because he is a proud man, and considering Wood isn’t the biggest puncher that paves a path for him to at least make it to the final bell.

I think there will be some back-and-forth action early, but by the fifth or sixth round Wood will have found his groove to outpoint Warrington down the stretch. Wood UD-12

John Hansen (79-34)

I thought about making some comparisons between Josh Warrington and the old video game character, “Bonk,” a caveman who looks like the love child of Warrington and Charlie Brown, and does damage to his enemies by smashing them with his forehead. But, nobody in the UK would get it because apparently Bonk was called “PC Kid” over there, since the word “bonk” is a saucy slang term for the physical act of baby-making love.

Wood already navigated a superior puncher (and capable headbutt warrior) in his rematch with Mauricio Lara, so I suspect he’ll outpoint Warrington, too. I think he’s the superior boxer, and even if he does get cut from a clash of heads, he’ll likely have an early lead on the cards and claim a technical decision. Wood UD-12

Patrick Stumberg (86-27)

From where I’m sitting, the deck seems pretty stacked against Warrington. Wood’s got the heavier hands, showed off the ability to keep an aggressive slugger out of the pocket in his fights with Mauricio Lara, and has more than enough dog in him to keep up should things get ugly. Worse, the fact that it’s in Sheffield and not Leeds means Warrington won’t have free rein to use his head, which was instrumental in his knockout of Kiko Martinez and in keeping things close against Luis Alberto Lopez.

Things might be different if Warrington had power; Wood’s right hand is far more potent on offense than defense and Warrington can uncork a not-good left hook. With how much it takes to throw Wood off his game, much less put him down for good, I just don’t think Warrington can slop it up enough to offset Wood’s advantages. Comfy win for Wood, then it’s Otabek’s turn with the belt. Wood UD-12

Quick Pick!

Terri Harper vs Cecilia Braekhus

  • Scott: Harper UD-10
  • Wil: Harper UD-10
  • John: Harper UD-10
  • Patrick: Harper UD-10

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