We’ve got TWO (2) undisputed championship fights on DAZN this Saturday, as Hulu Theater in New York will see Amanda Serrano and Erika Cruz vie for undisputed at featherweight, and Alycia Baumgardner face Elhem Mekhaled for undisputed at junior lightweight.
Who wins the fights? We’ve got our picks in!
Amanda Serrano vs Erika Cruz
Scott Christ (5-5)
Erika Cruz’s chance here is nicking six or more rounds — 10 rounds, two-minute rounds, things can snowball fairly quickly. If Serrano isn’t in top form — she looked sort of indifferent last September against Sarah Mahfoud, who is a solid fighter — then Cruz’s activity levels might sway some judges.
But I think that should also betray Cruz, and frankly, I expect Serrano to come in here looking to impress. She’s not just trying to win, to go undisputed at featherweight, but she is also trying to sell the Katie Taylor rematch this spring in Dublin. It won’t need much “selling,” but she wants to go in there with momentum for every possible reason — for the fight to be as big as possible, for Taylor at ringside to see Serrano firing on all cylinders, and for her own confidence. Cruz will come to fight, and I think this is gonna be fun, but I also believe we see Serrano’s first stoppage in a bit (her last four fights have all gone the distance). It’ll come late, and nobody is going to be impressed with Cruz’s boxing technique, but I think people will come around to what a tough, awkward fighter she can be. Serrano TKO-9
Wil Esco (6-4)
If I’m being quite honest, I’m not sure there’s a fight I really want to see Amanda Serrano in other than Katie Taylor. I’m not convinced there are many female fighters on the level of Serrano, and so she should be able to handle most other opposition rather handily. Serrano has been angling for a Taylor sequel and that’ll be hard pressed to come by should she lose a fight like this one. I don’t think Serrano slips up here, as she’s not really the type to completely lose focus, and I think she cruises through the distance on wide scorecards. Serrano UD-10
John Hansen (9-1)
There’s a Sherlock Holmes story where Watson is shocked and delighted to teach the great detective something he didn’t already know: That Copernicus had determined the earth revolves around the sun. Watson is then horrified to find out that Holmes intends to forget that fact as quickly as his mind will allow, because Holmes refuses to let anything clutter his thought process and potentially compromise his deductive gifts.
I generally make it a point not to check odds in advance of submitting my fight picks. But, this week on the podcast, Scott mentioned that the wagering lines were much tighter for this fight than either of us expected. That’s stuck with me all week, and it made me start second-guessing my initial read on this fight: That Serrano was a walkaway favorite, that she’d just fought above her ideal weight and given a brilliant show against arguably the best female boxer of all time, and that Serrano would win this cleanly and clearly.
I’m sticking with my instincts, and making it a point to cast aside the Vegas noise. My colleagues can filter that information in their own process to whatever extent they desire. Just like watching a dimwitted puppy chase its own tail, I don’t need to comprehend their motivations, or worry myself with their results. I can just enjoy their charms and company, and carry on with the flawless process that’s led me to a gentleman’s perfect record so far in 2023. Clearly, what I’m doing will continue bearing fruit forever, and there’s no reason to worry this whole section will come back to haunt me at the BLH Christmas party. Serrano UD-10
Patrick Stumberg (7-3)
The wheels are going to fall off for Serrano at some point, just like they do for everyone else who sticks around the game this long. No matter how underwhelming she was against Sarah Mahfoud, though, I can’t see her losing here. Cruz offers a similar sort of “big left to the body and right hook up top” offense, but with much less technique and firepower. If Serrano’s still got the motor to go full-tilt for 10 rounds, she should bludgeon Cruz without too much issue.
It really is just a matter of activity. Cruz has an outside chance of eking out a decision if Serrano once again takes her foot off the gas, but she’s not going to keep up in a full-on collision. Serrano outclasses her for the last belt. Serrano UD-10
Alycia Baumgardner vs Elhem Mekhaled
Scott Christ (5-5)
Mekhaled is no bum and she’ll scrap here, but I just don’t think she does anything that’s going to be a huge challenge for Baumgardner, unless Baumgardner has gotten a little too full of herself or isn’t taking this as seriously as she should. I know that Baumgardner says constantly that she is focused on this fight — and she should be! — and that she’s as hungry as ever and so on, but she wouldn’t be the first fighter to get a big upset win and then just not follow up.
But I think she’ll be fine. Everything I’ve seen of Baumgardner in the last couple years has been a serious, focused, determined professional boxer. It would be a major gamble to expect her to be anything but in this one. And while Mekhaled did give Delfine Persoon a pretty solid fight last May, I’m not sure Persoon is now what she was when she fought Katie Taylor, either; a couple years can make all the difference once an athlete gets into their late 30s. Anyway, a bunch of words to say I think Alycia Baumgardner wins clean and clear here. Baumgardner UD-10
Wil Esco (6-4)
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a fighter smile as much as Alycia Baumgardner since beating Mikaela Mayer. Baumgardner always walked around with a bit of a swagger and confidence to her, but I think it’s only been bolstered after taking the win over Mayer and really solidifying herself as a unified champion. As far as her style is concerned, I think Baumgardner can play it a little more cautiously than necessary at times, but I don’t think she’ll really need to be on the defense much in this particular fight. I suspect Baumgardner gets her victory lap here, dominating on the scorecards over the distance. Baumgardner UD-10
John Hansen (9-1)
I’ve spent a lot of time slandering my coworkers and surreptitiously praising my own hairstyle this week, so I’ll keep this last one short and sweet. I was the only one who put his word-money on Baumgardner the last time we picked one of her fights, and I’m letting it ride. Baumgardner TKO-8
Patrick Stumberg (7-3)
Mekhaled can fight. Just, you know, not nearly as well as Baumgardner. “The Diamond’s” genuinely solid combination punching isn’t a match for Baumgardner’s jab, speed, and sheer punching power. Delfine Persoon rumbled her way past Mekhaled with sheer aggression, and while Baumgardner isn’t quite as devil-may-care in her approach, her technique is more than enough to make up for it.
It’s hard to see Mekhaled beating Baumgardner the boxer or Baumgardner the slugger, though it won’t be through lack of effort. I fully expect her to fight her ass off and make Baumgardner work for every round, but eventually, she’ll eat one right hand too many. Baumgardner TKO-8
Richardson Hitchins vs John Bauza
- Scott: Hitchins TKO-8
- Wil: Hitchins UD-10
- John: Hitchins UD-10
- Patrick: Hitchins UD-10