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Who wins Romero vs Barroso? Predictions and preview, plus Janibek-Butler, Moloney-Astrolabio, more

Rolando Romero faces Ismael Barroso for the vacant WBA 140 lb title on Saturday plus more this weekend!

Rolando Romero faces Ismael Barroso for the vacant WBA 140 lb title on Saturday
Rolando Romero faces Ismael Barroso for the vacant WBA 140 lb title on Saturday
Esther Lin/Showtime

It’s not the biggest weekend, but it is a fairly busy one, with some good fights and some weird fights and some other fights.

Showtime and ESPN are both live with championship action on Saturday. Who wins? The fights? Let’s make some picks.

Rolando Romero vs Ismael Barroso

Scott Christ (40-18)

Man, I don’t care. Give me the comedy. Give me the chaos. “Rolly Privileges.” Barroso KO-5

Wil Esco (44-14)

I’ve been doing my best to ignore the antagonizing antics of Rolly Romero ever since he got his head rattled by Gervonta Davis. He talked the talk, talked himself into a fight he arguably didn’t really deserve, and failed to deliver. I don’t mind trash talk whatsoever, but it just doesn’t hit the same once you’ve been exposed and don’t humble yourself a bit. Luckily for Romero, he still has some influential handlers who matched him up pretty well against Alberto Puello. That fell through, obviously, and now he’ll take on Barroso who might even seem a bit more dangerous to some because of his KO record, but I think that’s mostly a mirage for 40-year-old Venezuelan. Romero stops him around the halfway point, and clamors for a Tank rematch. Romero TKO-6

John Hansen (42-16)

It says a lot about how deeply unlikable Rolly Romero has made himself out to be that serious observers of the sport, and also Scott, have emphasized that Ismael Barroso has a very real shot at a victory.

If not for the Yves Ulysse win, the hater’s take on Barroso would claim he was fork-ready seven years ago. A more generous observer might set the mark a mere five years back instead. The man is 40, with a face that looks old enough to have christened Luis Ortiz. Barroso has been in line for this shot for a very long time. And, while I’ve already said I think undercarder Batyr Akhmedov should have gotten this main event fill-in opportunity instead, at least we’ll get the mandatory situation resolved.

Does Rolly get The Gas Face? Does Rolly HAVE The Gas Face? Yes, and yes. But, he’s not as awful in the ring as most people seem to wish. I expect him to stop things late. Romero TKO-10

Patrick Stumberg (45-13)

I’ve said it before: unless I have an emotional attachment to at least one fighter, I root for the funniest outcome. An ancient Barroso splattering Romero on a month’s notice after getting yanked around by the WBA for three years would be genuinely hilarious. Just an absolutely perfect end to the idiotic saga that began with Josh Taylor squatting on the belt and the WBA holding student council elections to decide who’d get to fight for it.

Would that probability and comedic potential were intertwined. Romero’s not going to have a hard time finding Barroso, and for all of Rolly’s many faults, the dude can crack. He’s younger, faster, and a hell of a lot stronger than Barroso, not to mention experienced with fighting southpaws at this point. If Barroso puts any amount of effort towards imposing his game and doesn’t just show up for a paycheck, he’ll find himself in the firing line before long. Romero TKO-4

Janibek Alimkhanuly vs Steven Butler

Scott Christ (40-18)

There’s nothing Steven Butler does better than Janibek. I don’t know what else I can say than that. Janibek TKO-5

Wil Esco (44-14)

It’s sort of difficult for me to see this fight going any other way than Janibek Alimkhanuly systematically breaking Steven Butler down. I think Butler will offer up some resistance but I think the difference in ability will be telling once things heat up a bit. I do think Butler has something about him in that he’s not strictly going to fight to survive once the going gets tough, and I think that creates the opening for Alimkhanuly to force a late stoppage. Janibek TKO-10

John Hansen (42-16)

My assumption is that Janibek is the best middleweight in the sport right now. I wish we knew if he’s actually good or not. There aren’t many middleweights right now that could legitimize Janibek to a mass audience. And most of that tiny few have already had their chance to fight him, but ran in the other direction instead.

I have no idea how Scott does regular rankings for this division. Just checking the top 5 of every sanctioning body and taking out the guys that have passed on a mandatory shot at Janibek (and also taking out GGG), who is there even left to imagine him fighting? Liam Smith? Ammo Williams? A Carlos Adames unification could show something, if anyone ever bothers to strip Jermall Charlo.

But, what about Canada’s No. 2 middleweight? Will he challenge Janibek in the sort of performance that might finally put the champion over? No. Janibek KO-4

Patrick Stumberg (45-13)

For the record, I don’t entirely blame Alimkhanuly for his awful competition. Dignum was the highest-ranked fighter who’d take the interim title fight, his mandatory challenger is tied up with Chris Eubank Jr, Jaime Munguia’s handlers aren’t going to let their charge be in the same zip code as “Qazaq Style,” and Demetrius Andrade booked it to 168 rather than fight him. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck, doesn’t mean it’s not yet another example of how middleweight became a dumpster fire with Canelo’s and Golovkin’s exits, just that I’m not going to crucify him for fighting Bentley and Butler back-to-back.

Anyway, he’s going to punch a hole though Butler’s crappy defense. Four rounds max, probably less. Janibek KO-2

Jason Moloney vs Vincent Astrolabio

Scott Christ (40-18)

Think this one might end up tough to score. I’m going to lean to Astrolabio getting questionable cards, with J. Moloney once again just not quite getting over the hump, though this time he’ll have a better argument than before. Astrolabio UD-12

Wil Esco (44-14)

I think Vincent Astrolabio has a pretty fun pressure style that makes for decent viewing because he forces the action. I do think, however, the pace Jason Moloney will start with in the beginning of the fight will bank him some rounds, and this will come down to the second half and whether or not he can stand up to the mounting pressure without wilting too quickly. I don’t have any real strong convictions here, but I do have a sneaking suspicion that Astrolabio might get to him and have Moloney reeling a bit, but will ultimately survive to hold onto a decision. Moloney UD-12

John Hansen (42-16)

Jason Moloney is a damn good fighter, and his only losses have come against championship level guys. While Astrolabio isn’t a champion yet, a win in this fight would make him one. He has some blemishes on his record, but he hasn’t lost a fight since he was 21 years old. A boxer can learn a lot between 21 and 26, and Astrolabio certainly seems to have unlocked a few new levels.

It always feels a little disrespectful to pick against a more proven guy when you believe in the younger underdog. But, I do think Astrolabio could be something special. So, I’m not rooting against Moloney, but I am picking against him in what I expect will be a very good, very close fight. Astrolabio MD-12

Patrick Stumberg (45-13)

I kind of want to send Moloney a cake with “Sorry You Had to Share a Generation with Naoya Inoue” on it. He’s everything you want out of a bantamweight; aggressive, powerful, skilled, and fan-friendly to the core. I genuinely want him to succeed, and now that the division’s 800-pound gorilla left to devastate the super bantamweight ecosystem instead, he’s got his chance.

Not that Astrolabio is anything resembling a walk in the park. He’s a scary little dude, but just strikes me as a little less sharp than Moloney. Even if the warheads are similar, Moloney’s delivery systems are more sophisticated. Plus, Astrolabio hasn’t been through the fire like Moloney has; while beating Rigondeaux remains an accomplishment, it’s not going to prepare you for a proper firefight. Moloney steals the show this weekend with a hard-fought but triumphant finish. Moloney TKO-8

Quick Picks!

Rances Barthelemy vs Omar Juarez

Scott: Barthelemy MD-10
Wil: Barthelemy UD-10
John: Barthelemy UD-10
Patrick:Barthelemy UD-10

Batyr Akhmedov vs Kenneth Sims Jr

Scott: Sims SD-12
Wil: Sims UD-12
John: Akhmedov KO-7
Patrick: Akhmedov UD-12

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