We all know that 2014 was a disappointing year for boxing but as the old saying goes “our eyes are placed in the front because it is more important to look ahead then to look back,” so let’s do exactly that and take a look at some of the fights coming up in the first month of the New Year.
Venue – MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nevada
TV – Showtime
Deontay Wilder vs. Bermane Stiverne
After many years of insignificance, the heavyweight division has seen something of a revival of late. Wladimir Klitschko looked more exciting than ever his last time out and there are a handful of Brits, led by Tyson Fury, who deserve our attention too.
The one thing lacking is an elite American, enter “The Bronze Bomber” Deontay Wilder (32-0, 32 KOs) who with a perfect knock-out ratio of 100%, holds the hopes of not only a nation but of many boxing fans like myself that really want to believe he is as good as his record suggests. There are however, a lot of experts who believe that this is a serious step-up in class when he challenges for the WBC strap against Canadian-based Haitian, Bermane Stiverne (24-1-1, 21 KOs).
The Don King promoted Stiverne looked tremendous in his last fight (W TKO 6) against Chris Arreola and has been undefeated since his 2009 draw with Charles Davis but despite it being over-seven-years-ago, it also shouldn’t be overlooked that he was once knocked-out by Demetrice King.
If Wilder can’t blast him out of there early, it will be interesting to see if he can use his height and reach advantages to outbox Stiverne and not get gassed out in the process. One thing’s for sure, this is one hell of a fight to kick-off the New Year.
Pick – I’m going with Deontay Wilder to win by a middle round stoppage, putting the heavyweight division well and truly back on the map and setting up a mouth-watering fight with Wladimir Klitschko in the summer.
Venue – 1st Bank Center, Bloomfield, Colorado
TV – HBO
Mike Alvarado vs. Brandon Rios
Billed as World War III, this is another 50-50 fight. Their previous, no-nonsense, old school-like wars, entertained us to no end, leaving this rubber-match very nicely poised at one win-a-piece.
It’s clear that the amount of punishment they suffered in the previous bouts has significantly declined both fighters, yet, the saving grace is that it appears as if they have both have fallen at the same rate, so expect the third to be equally exciting and brutal.
Mike Alvarado’s last win was actually in the second Rios fight nearly two years ago. He has since lost badly to both Ruslan Provodnikov and Juan Manuel Marquez and having lost three of his last four fights, this is a must-win for him but it’s also a must-win for Brandon Rios who looked bad in winning via a DQ the last time out against Diego Chaves and prior to that, lost every single round against Manny Pacquiao.
Pick – This one is so difficult to choose but something in me says that “Bam Bam” wins via a stoppage.
Venue – Cowboys Dance Hall, San Antonio, Texas
TV – Fox Sports 1
Rocky Juarez vs. Robinson Castellanos
A rare Monday-night-fight on Fox Sports 1 sees Houston native Rocky Juarez (30-10-1, 21 KOs) take on little-known Mexican, Robinson Castellanos (20-10, 13 KOs) in his home state of Texas, in a featherweight clash over 10 rounds for the WBC Silver belt.
At one point, early in his career, Juarez showed a lot of promise, giving the legendary Marco Antonio Barrera two very tough fights (losing both) but after going on a horrid run, losing six fights in-a-row between 2009 and 2012, his discipline and commitment to the sport were understandably seriously questioned. He has however won his last two at a similar level (and both in Texas) to this fight, so I expect him to make it three in a row.
Pick – If he comes to the ring in decent shape then I expect Juarez to win via a large point’s margin.
Venue – 02 Arena, Greenwich, London, UK
TV – Sky Sports (UK)
Anthony Joshua vs. Kevin Johnson
Britain’s brightest heavyweight prospect Anthony Joshua (10-0, 10 KOs) will be stepping up a few levels when he goes up against American Kevin Johnson (29-6-1, 14 KOs) on the under-card of the Kevin Mitchell vs. Daniel Estrada clash.
Having had arguably too-many pointless, stay busy fights, this is seemingly the perfect level for Joshua at this stage in his young career. Despite clearly lacking power, Johnson at least has a reputation of being durable. All six of his losses have been on points and he even went the distance with Vitali Klitschko. Two other fighters that have beaten him are potential, future Joshua opponents Derek Chisora and Tyson Fury.
As “AJ” hasn’t yet gone passed three, it’s important for him to get some rounds in but he will also look to make a statement and will want to be the first to stop “The Kingpin.” Let’s just hope that whoever the referee is on the night, he doesn’t jump in too quickly, as is so often the case in England (eight of Joshua’s ten wins have been TKO’s).
It’s strongly believed, that If Joshua does win then promoter Eddie Hearn will be looking to match him with hard-hitting, David Price later in the year.
Pick – I truly expect Joshua to win inside the distance, becoming the first to stop Johnson.