by Caryn A. Tate
Join me as I break down which of the week’s televised fights are most interesting and why.
Thursday, December 5
6:00pm PT/9:00pm ET – DAZN & Golden Boy Fight Night Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/GoldenBoyFN ]
Yves Ulysse Jr. (18-1, 9 KOs) vs. Ismael Barroso (21-3-2, 20 KOs) – 12 rounds, super lightweight
Ulysse is a promising young boxer who has educated footwork and good instincts. He’s one to keep an eye on; as he gains more experience I expect him to become a champion.
Friday, December 6
12:00am PT/3:00am ET – ESPN+
Tim Tszyu (14-0, 10 KOs) vs. Jack Brubaker (16-2-2, 8 KOs) – 12 rounds, super welterweight
Saturday, December 7
8:00am/11:00am PT – DAZN
Andy Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) vs. Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) – 12 rounds, WBA/IBF/WBO world heavyweight titles; Michael Hunter (18-1, 12 KOs) vs. Alexander Povetkin (35-2, 24 KOs) – 12 rounds, heavyweight
Of course the Ruiz-Joshua rematch is a big draw this weekend. In their first match in June, Ruiz took the fight on relatively short notice to replace Jarrell Miller, who tested positive for three separate steroids. Most people were fooled by Ruiz’s build and gave him no shot to defeat Joshua. As I detailed in my prediction earlier this week, I wasn’t sure Ruiz would win but I did give him a shot based on his style and skillset and their potential to trouble the very good but also straight up and down Joshua.
Both men hurt and dropped each other in the first fight. Both got up. But for my money, it was the dog in Ruiz that won him that fight. He not only got up, he fought nastier. He seemed to take it personally that Joshua had hurt and dropped him. He knew this was his big chance and he wanted that win. He was willing to do whatever it took to win.
Some accused Joshua of “quitting” in the first bout. I don’t agree with that; he did get up, and he did keep trying. But I do think that deep down, Joshua did mentally submit to the idea of losing the fight. He was willing to do what it took to win–up to a point. Ruiz brought Joshua past that point.
Joshua made several critical mistakes in the first fight. For some reason he chose to box with his lead hand low, an enormous mistake when facing a shorter, faster, and more athletic fighter. He also didn’t commit to the jab to ensure Ruiz couldn’t work his way inside AJ’s reach. Ruiz’s pressure also troubled Joshua greatly; it seemed to me that the pressure helped wear Joshua down more quickly. He’s never had good stamina past the first few rounds (thanks to his heavy muscles, which require more oxygen than leaner muscles or even fat); but the mental and physical pressure Ruiz put on him seemed to only add to his fatigue.
Joshua also didn’t utilize basic footwork to help keep Ruiz at bay. He moved a bit but mostly stood in front of Ruiz and tried to keep his jab out there, but it wasn’t enough. He also did a lot of headhunting, and with a fighter so much shorter than himself, it was that much easier for Ruiz to slip the jab and get inside Joshua’s reach to land his own shots.
I think it’s likely this fight plays out very similarly to the first one. Ruiz’s hand speed and ring intelligence are bad news for Joshua’s style; it is very possible Joshua hurts or even drops Ruiz again in the early rounds. They’re heavyweights! Every clean shot does damage. But I think that, again, Ruiz flips his “dog” switch and goes after Joshua, and I suspect he wins again, by stoppage in the middle to late rounds.
Charlo vs. Hogan prelims
6:00pm PT/9:00pm ET – Showtime
Jermall Charlo (29-0, 21 KOs) vs. Dennis Hogan (28-2-1, 7 KOs) – 12 rounds, WBC world middleweight title; Chris Eubank Jr. (28-2, 21 KOs) vs. Matvey Korobov (28-2-1, 14 KOs) – 12 rounds, middleweight
I’m genuinely excited to see the co-main event on this card: Eubank Jr. vs. Korobov. Eubank is a good boxer who has been campaigning at super middleweight most recently; prior to that he was a middleweight. He’s coming back down to 160 because, he says, he was so much smaller than the other fighters at 168 and he feels he’ll have better advantages at the lighter weight.
The southpaw Korobov fought Jermall Charlo (the headliner on this card) a year ago in a very good–and close–fight that could have gone either way. The Russian native is a phenomenal boxer, with fluid footwork and superb ring intelligence. With hundreds of amateur fights under his belt, his experience is a big hurdle for most fighters to clear. Even against Charlo last year, Korobov boxed beautifully but his energy faded down the stretch. This may have to do with his age: he’s now 36, and will turn 37 in another month. For a boxer, particularly one with a reported 300-12 record in the amateurs. Those are a lot of miles on the body.
The fight promises to be a fantastic match-up–a treat for any boxing fan.
6:00pm PT/9:00pm ET – ESPN+
Emanuel Navarrete (29-1, 25KOs) vs. Francisco Horta (20-3-1, 10KOs) – 12 rounds, WBO world junior featherweight title