While boxing fans were treated with a hectic and mind-numbing schedule this past weekend due to an overload of high-level boxing, this upcoming week’s events are more of a hardcore’s delight. With many notable fights being overseas, U.S. boxing fans will have to find creative ways to watch high-level guys. The “big card” of the week is HBO’s Saturday event at The Forum in Los Angeles, California, which features the alleged last bout of first ballot Hall of Famer Bernard Hopkins taking on the undefeated highly touted prospect, Joe Smith.

Sullivan Barrera
Sullivan Barrera

Vyacheslay Shabranskyy (17-0, 14 KO’s) vs. Sullivan Barrera (17-1, 12 KO’s)-HBO Latino December 16th

A possible fight of the week between two highly touted prospects in the Light Heavyweight division that desperately needs young blood, Shabranskyy vs. Barrera most likely will end in devastating fashion. Both men have power and undervalued boxing skill.

Shabranskyy likes to come forward and throw combinations. He’s a typical blue-collar type of boxer, and he has an iron chin. That allows him to walk through heavy punishment to deliver his straight shots and hooks to the body. However he often backs straight up and leaves his hands down, so if an opponent was able to walk him down and throw close to the volume of Shabranskyy they would find success.

Barrera may have the style to truly frustrate Shabranskyy’s rhythm. Barrera has a similar stance and throws shots from a similar angle as a Yunieski Gonzalez; however, Barrera tends to be more of a swarming style at times and throws at a higher volume. As stated earlier than may be the way to fluster Shabranskyy and lead to either Barrera stealing enough rounds to win or to hurt Shabranskyy enough to score a late-fight TKO finish.

Other notable bouts on the card: Eddie Gomez vs. Rashidi Ellis and Ronny Rios vs. Roy Tapia. Felix Diaz Jr. vs. Levis Morales is also on this day in the Dominican Republic. All the A-sides should win with relative ease.

Bernard Hopkins (right) Karo Murat (left)
Bernard Hopkins (right) Karo Murat (left)

Bernard Hopkins (55-7-2, 32 KO’s) vs. Joe Smith Jr. (22-1, 18 KO’s)-HBO Boxing After Dark December 17th

Hopkins, a first-ballot Hall of Famer, has had a career most in boxing would dream of; he was sentenced 18 years in prison, got out in 5, and even lost his first pro fight. Now he is a part owner of Golden Boy Promotions, one of the biggest boxing promotions in the world, and has had a legendary career, facing fellow Hall of Famers across numerous generations. Wins over Jean Pascal, Roy Jones Jr., Kelly Pavlik, Antonio Tarver, Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, Glen Johnson, John David Jackson, William Joppy, Howard Eastman, and Tavoris Cloud show his longevity and prowess as a boxer.

Smith is coming off a career-best win via first round knockout over Andrzej Fonfara, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean he has the boxing ability to land clean shots, enough times to win enough rounds, to beat Hopkins. Smith wants to get up close and bully his opponents. To do that against someone who has mastered the inside and clinching, like Hopkins, it will be extremely hard for Smith to achieve the type of success in-fight that he is used to.

Hopkins will pick Smith apart on the outside with his superior jab and footwork, and if Smith bully’s his way inside, Hopkins will tie him up, negate his offense, and dig to his body with some dirty boxing.

Other notable bouts on the card: Joseph Diaz vs. Horacio Garcia and Oleksandr Usyk vs. Thabiso Mchunu. All the A-sides should win with relative ease.

Alexander Povetkin
Alexander Povetkin

Alexander Povetkin (30-1, 22 KO’s) vs. Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21 KO’s)

On at 11:00 am ET on Saturday, two top heavyweights will fight with title implications on the line. Both men have faced their own banned substance and PED issues recently, but hopefully, none of that will matter come Saturday.

Povetkin was supposed to face WBC heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder, a while ago, however, due to a PED issue the fight was scrapped. He is on four-fight win streak since his loss to Wladimir Klitschko, and he beat Carlos Takam and Mike Perez in that span. Stiverne has had one fight, a unanimous decision win over Derric Rossy.

Style wise these men have similar paths to success. Each wants to use the jab to set up hard hooks and combinations while swarming inside. Stiverne most likely has the faster hands, but his shots are usually wider than Povetkin’s. Povetkin also has better footwork as Stiverne tends to plod forward or backward with his hands down.

Povetkin should be able to land clean shots throughout the bout as he has the tighter angles and cleaner footwork. Stiverne in the later rounds will be exhausted and labored; with his hands down coming in, Povetkin should be able to land a hard shot then follow up with a combination to finish the bout.

Other notable bouts on Saturday: On beIN Sports Espanol- Ramon Alvarez vs. Matthew Strode and Luis Nery vs. Raymond Tabugon. CBS Sports Net-Oscar Cantu vs. Aston Palicte. In Saint-Denis, France-Alfonso Blanco vs. Hassan N’Dam and Yuriorkis Gamboa vs. Frank De Alba. Alvarez, Nery, Palicte, Blanco, and Gamboa should pick up showcase wins.