SATURDAY, AUGUST 1ST – ESPN2
For Garcia to win he must force Malignaggi to retreat faster than he wishes and use his vastly superior power to inflict big-time damage physically and especially psychologically since “The Magic Man” is coming off a long layoff and a smashing KO defeat in his last fight. Cutting off the ring and slamming the flanks also will be vital to Garcia’s success, as will sloughing off Malignaggi’s pre-fight (and in-fight) trash-talking. For Malignaggi to win he must use his gift of gab to plant doubts in Garcia’s mind before the fight, then use his excellent jab to pile up points like Mauricio Herrera did in losing a hotly disputed decision. He must also look to land stinging rights, especially at the end of exchanges. Paulie’s smart enough to know that a TKO win is highly unlikely, so a long-game fight plan that results in a points win will give him his best chance to pull the upset — something he’s done more than once.
Our suggestion: While Garcia remains undefeated, Herrera and Lamont Peterson showed that the man nicknamed “Swift” is troubled by speed. Garcia’s recent history also suggests that his performance level suffers when he’s perceived to be the overwhelming favorite and peaks when he’s thought to be a huge underdog. He’ll definitely be the betting choice here, but because Garcia will be comfortable at the weight and because Malignaggi, not a physically dominating fighter, is coming off a long break from the ring expect Garcia to perform well.
SATURDAY, JULY 25TH – NBC SPORTS
For Shumenov to win he must land well-timed jabs to unsettle Flores, cut off the ring to limit escape routes and pound the body to slow Flores’ movement if the fight goes into the later rounds. For Flores to win he must use his legs to create the space he needs to land his quick jabs and to force the slower Shumenov to pick up his feet and reset his target. Although both men are highly intelligent outside the ring, a thinking-man’s fight will benefit Flores more because he’s endured many long layoffs and will need time and space to regain his ring sense amidst live action. That, and Hopkins showed that ring smarts can more than trump Shumenov’s assets. Our suggestion: Flores is priced cheaply because, at 36, he’s facing the best opponent of his career while also having had many long stretches out of the ring. There’s also a shroud of mystery around Flores because none of his last seven fights are widely available on video and thus no one has a bead on his recent form. Could the TV commentator step from behind the desk and apply the lessons he learned ringside against a world-class fighter who’s stepping up in weight or will Shumenov’s superior experience on the world stage prove decisive? Although Shumenov will be heavily favored (and should be), Flores might be worth a try if one is already loaded up with higher-priced favorites.
SATURDAY, AUGUST 1ST – ESPN2
For Jacobs to win he must swarm the “Latin Snake” early and try for the early KO. If he doesn’t get it, he should take advantage of Mora’s tendency to retreat to the ropes, where he rests his aging legs, by hammering him with power shots under and over. For Mora to win he must hypnotize Jacobs with his unorthodox movement and punch sequences, then use his experience to frustrate over the long haul. He’s never been a huge puncher, so doing everything he can to win a decision will be vital to his cause, especially since Jacobs averaged just 37.7 punches per round in his last fight against Caleb Truax.Our suggestion: Jacobs has a prohibitive advantage in one-punch power and if anyone’s going to score big points it’s going to be him. Mora must pick his spots and use his wiles to win, so it’s unlikely that he’ll light up the stat sheet — win or lose.
July 25th At Las Vegas (HBO)
For Kovalev to win he must combine his superior power with his slight height and reach advantages as well as his improving boxing skills to keep Mohammedi’s chaos at bay and exploit the chin that has failed him on two occasions. Kovalev also must fire straight punches down the middle to counteract Mohammedi’s wide and unpredictable blows. For Mohammedi to win he must fearlessly unleash his array of weird up-and-down combinations to keep Kovalev focused on defending himself and make sure this is a high-volume, points-scoring affair instead of an orthodox punching contest. Who knows?: Flooding the zone with blows could take advantage of the chin that was struck often by Jean Pascal and briefly exposed by the light-hitting Blake Caparello. Stranger things have happened. Our recommendation: Kovalev is a heavy favorite to win but Mohammedi’s unique style can really pose problems, especially since Kovalev’s once prolific fusion of volume and accuracy have eroded in his last several fights. The fighter who was reliably in the 80s and 90s in terms of per-round volume is now hanging around the 50s and 60s, which, with his power, has been more than enough. If Mohammedi gets into his funky rhythm he has the capacity to give Kovalev headaches but the most likely result is that the “Krusher” ultimately will live up to his nickname.
SATURDAY, JULY 25TH – HBO
For Pascal to win he should use his superior foot speed to maneuver around Gonzalez’s straight-ahead attack and his marksmanship to take advantage of Gonzalez’s aggression as well as his bursts of wide-swinging punches. For Gonzalez to win he must fight as if he has nothing to lose because he doesn’t. This is his shot at the big time and a victory could earn him at least one big payday. He needs to force Pascal out of his low-output comfort zone and make him go toe-to-toe for as long as possible. Chaos is Gonzalez’s friend and if he nails him with a big shot all sorts of well-laid plans could go up in smoke. Our suggestion: Pascal is an extremely selective puncher against high-level opponents like Sergey Kovalev, Bernard Hopkins and Lucian Bute, but against fighters who are below him in terms of talent he is more eager to let his hands go. His performance against 39-year-old George Blades saw him throw far more punches per round while still landing a high percentage of his blows and the result was a fifth-round TKO that was extremely pleasing in terms of aesthetics. Gonzalez’s crudeness may offer Pascal the canvas by which to pile up big points, so he could be worth the expense.
SATURDAY, JULY 25TH – HBO
For Barrera to win he must establish and maintain the blend of high work rate and accuracy that served him so well in stopping the badly faded Jeff Lacy as well as Rowland Bryant, Eric Watkins and Lee Campbell. He does have enough height and reach to box from the outside if he chooses, and that strategy did allow Isaac Chilemba to decisively out-point Lepikhin in March. But will straying from his usual game be prudent? For Lepikhin to win he needs to “fight tall,” step to the side to avoid Barrera’s rushes and pick his spots with the right hand. Our Recommendation: Barrera is the man on the upswing and it helps his cause that he’s a volume puncher (72.3 per round in four CompuBox-tracked fights) going up against a low-output guy (39.5 per round in his last three fights). The quicker trigger also is similarly accurate so over the long haul that’ll mean points. Also, Barrera is the heavier puncher, so he’d be a solid choice.
FRIDAY, JULY 24TH – INT’L TV
For Chudinov to win he must back up Buglioni with his thumping jab and engage him in a trench war because while they both throw a high number of punches, he lands at a higher rate. Plus, Buglioni is particularly vulnerable to rights to the side of the head, which Sergey Khomitsky used to great effect in stopping Buglioni for his only loss and Andrew Robinson and Lee Markham used to create highly competitive fights, the latter of which ended in a draw. For Buglioni to win he must throw hard, meaningful jabs to break up Chudinov’s rhythm and to set up his own volume game. He also needs to use subtle side-to-side movement to force Chudinov to reset and reload while maintaining his punch rate. Finally, this prodigious ticket seller must give the home country crowd in Wembley tons of reasons to unleash their sonic explosions and he must do so early to give him a wave of momentum that could lift his level of performance and persuade the judges to tip the scale in his favor in particularly close rounds. Our suggestion: Chudinov-Buglioni has the potential of being not only the highest scoring fight in this game but also the points generator of 2015 thus far. Chudinov averaged 106.7 punches per round and landed 375 total punches on Felix Sturm in his last fight while Buglioni threw a combined 104.8 punches per round against Robinson and Markham. That’s why this underdog carries a higher value than usual, and because he’s fighting at home he may well be worth a roll of the dice. Chudinov, however, has fought the better competition and he proved against Sturm he can perform well in hostile territory. That, combined with Buglioni’s defensive issues, makes Chudinov a better buy.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 2ND – NBC SPORTS
For Payano to win he must do what he did in winning the title from Anselmo Moreno, a slick southpaw like Warren: Swarm continuously behind fast blows thrown from unusual angles and create as much chaos as humanly possible from bell to bell. For Warren to win he must nail the onrushing Payano with sharp counters to the head and body and force Payano off-balance by stepping to the side instead of backing up straight. Anything Warren can do to promote a controlled pace has to be utilized. For him the slower, the better. Our recommendation: If you’re looking for big plus-minus points Warren is the guy because against his level of competition thus far he has created big margins, especially in power percentage. Will that translate against Payano, who is the best opponent he has faced so far? If you think it will, then Warren would be a good underdog choice. On the other hand, Payano is not a strong plus/minus fighter but his work rate is exceptional and he showed against Payano that he has the perfect style to combat Warren’s southpaw science. He’s not about raw numbers; he just beats you up and lets his hands fly. Another important factor, Warren was 0-for-3 in Olympic fights; does he have the mental fortitude to produce his best stuff in the biggest moments? No one on his pro resume so far matches Payano in terms of quality and the Dominican’s wild-man style would be tough for anyone to handle. Is Warren in over his head, or will his dreams finally come true? He certainly has the ability, but will nerves sink him again? That’s why this is a pick-em fight.
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