Santa Cruz vs. Mares: Sink or Swim for Leo Santa Cruz versus Abner Mares

Lots of leather will be thrown in this featherweight dust-up between Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz. The broadcast will air live in primetime on ESPN/ESPNDeportes from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. The winner will be the King of LA without a crown with only a WBC Diamond trinket on the line. A more fitting label might be the battle to become the “Prince” of Los Angeles. Can Abner get his groove back by digging his way out of the rut he’s been stuck in for two years since suffering a shocking first round defeat to Jhonny Gonzalez? Will Leo sink or swim in his first true test of his career?

Just around two years ago (and 4 days) the stage was being set for a classic west coast matchup between a young slugger named Leo Santa Cruz and a rising star in Abner Mares. Can you hear the song? Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? Fill in Abner Mares’s name for Joe’s in that song and it paints a picture of the current state of Abner’s once promising career.

From 2010 to 2013 only Carl Froch can claim a tougher fight schedule. Mares made a name for himself as an aggressive fighter with fast hands and a liver-killer (or lower) of a body puncher. The string of entertaining victories included names such as Anselmo Moreno, Vic Darchinyan, and Joseph Agbeko twice, plus a slew of contenders that had him on the fast track to celebrity in Los Angeles.

His biggest moment came against hardened-veteran fighter Ponce De Leon, who had given Adrien Broner all he could handle at 130 a few years prior. He shined under the bright lights of a Mayweather PPV co-feature in a back and forth affair that saw Mares scoring a 9th TKO.

Three months and change later 7,686 Southern California fight fans were in attendance at the Stub Hub Center for a Showtime Doubleheader aimed at banging the drums for showdown between two in-their-prime Mexican-American warriors.

Santa Cruz did his part by making quick work of Victor Terrazas with a 3rd round stoppage. In the main event it didn’t take long for Jhonny Gonzalez to land a thumping shot on Mares. It came off of a perfectly timed left faint to the body that turned into a left hand to the head in the very first round. Mares showed heart by getting to his feet but it wasn’t long before he hit the floor again causing the referee stopped the fight.

And that result sent Mares’s once promising career into a tail spin that he has yet to fully recover from. A rematch with Gonzalez stalled from a rib injury, a short term change of trainer’s, time out of the ring, and three lackluster performances, has Mares in an unthinkable crossroads fight this Saturday night.

At least Abner has a reason for his recent dissent, were as Leo Santa Cruz has no excuses as to why his star isn’t brighter and his sword isn’t sharper. Al Haymon placed Leo in a witness protection program seemingly to wait for Mares to regroup so he can justify risking his fragile and now dwindling asset.

In late 2012 Santa Cruz looked very beatable against the relatively unknown in Alberto Guevara. For a time Leo was at least facing known fighters past their primes at the 118/122 divisions like Eric Moral and Cristian Mijares. But in the last 16 months or so, Santa Cruz has taken two full steps and a stumble backwards facing cupcake after cupcake and not always looking good in the process.

Gary Russell comes to mind when wondering just how well Santa Cruz will react when his opponent hits back harder. Russell looked in over his head versus Lomachenko and one can’t help to wonder if Leo freezes up in such a large step up without having already faced some sort of adversity thus far.

Obviously the skill and experience of Abner Mares gives him a decisive edge regardless of what the boxing betting odds tell us. Some media members and fans are lukewarm on this fight because of the long wait. I don’t see it that way for a few reasons.

One, Abner Mares was moved slowly back because of a shocking 1st round KO. Two, he looked stuck between styles and mediocre three fights in a row. Haymon is not the only guy to carefully guide a boxer back to form and most promoters/managers would have done the same thing in those circumstances.

This scribe thinks it’s actually much closer to being a 50-50 outcome now that Mares has seemed tentative in the ring, something that will haunt him in there with a guy like Santa Cruz. No, it’s not the ideal way to hype a potential fight of the year candidate and heading into fight week the Canelo/Cotto frenzy has stolen the news headlines. But come Saturday night the Staples Center will be rocking and the twitter-sphere will be fully attentive.

The jab will be a crucial point of emphasis for both men in this closely contested bout. Mares will use his jab to help slow the attack of combinations coming his way. For Leo that jab will allow him to get on the inside and set up his power punches. Both guys work their opponent’s midsection as good as any in the sport so the potential for a shot to the liver changing momentum of this fight is relatively high.

This fight will feature plenty of good exchanges as both of these boxers thrive in the pocket. Mares will live up to his boxer/puncher style by blending activity with angles. Leo Santa Cruz’s one-dimension is very effective and will win him large portions of the bout. However, Abner’s ability to work on the inside and outside should prove worthy of a victory. In the second half of the fight, look for Mares to land the cleaner shots on Santa Cruz.
My official prediction is Abner Mares by Majority Decision

SideNote: The PBC on ESPN Co-Feature pits Hugo Ruiz against Julio Cesar Ceja. Neither guy is known in the States but that won’t prevent it from being a great fight. Ceja is a very aggressive fighter which should mesh well with Ruiz’s skill set. Both guys have good power so it should be bombs away and possibly the best fight of the night.

Written by Chris Carlson Owner & Host of Rope-A-Dope-Radio

Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio

Santa Cruz vs. Mares Preview-Debate-Predictions!Will Leo Sink or Swim vs. Mares? 08/27 by RopeADopeRadio | Sports Podcasts

This episode begins with a news segment featuring previews for a few recent fights that were finalized on the fall schedule and Recap from the Cotto vs. Canelo Press Conference. Plus, Preview, Debate, & Predict

Source: Santa Cruz vs. Mares Preview-Debate-Predictions!Will Leo Sink or Swim vs. Mares? 08/27 by RopeADopeRadio | Sports Podcasts

Tarver vs. Cunningham: It’s a Sleeper either way

At first glance “Sleepy Hallow” is a fitting title for this Heavyweight main event on tonight on Spike. Theirs a good chance for a sleepy affair but the argument could be made the bout is being slept on.

Does anyone care about Antonio Tarver’s aspirations of topping George Foreman’s record? Not really. Even with a win the goal won’t be accomplished until he gets a likely shot at Deontay Wilder’s strap.

Cunningham isn’t the household name that sparks interests either which is the reason why this fight has been put out to paster(check) and thrown on the pile of meaningless fights by the PBC.

Steve Cunningham may be a journeyman at heavy but his run at cruiserweight had a few high moments. Marco Huck, who fights on the undercard, runs the cruiser division, a fighter that was stopped in the 12th round by USS Cunningham.

Cunningham, like many men in the tragedy of a sport, has come up on the short-end of the stick for many decisions throughout his career. In fact in his last outing versus Glaskov Steve could have gotten the nod. If this Friday’s fight is close odds are the bigger name will get the nod. Cunningham is warrior that won’t be out-hussled by Tarver and that alone could be worth the price of admission.

Tarver has looked sluggish to decent at best since entering the ranks at heavyweight. However, last December he looked much closer to form albeit it came against Jonathan Banks, known more these days as Wladimir Klitschko’s trainer.

From the looks of it both men are in tip-top condition heading into Friday nights tilt. Cunningham a trim 204, and Tarver at 217 with some loose material around the midsection.

Tarver’s mid-section could be a major vulnerability if Cunningham targets the body early and often to go along with a steady jab and overhand rights. My guess is power won’t play a large role with Cunningham or Tarver. Sure either man could stop or hurt the other, just ask Tyson Fury and Jonathan Banks.

Tarver has the advantage as a skillful veteran, whereas Cunningham lack of high level ability is made up for in heart and hustle. Taking consideration of the slow- average workfare, this could be a decent paced fight. Cunningham usually delivers entertainment whether it’s from a steady lead as a front runner or getting of the canvas and back into fights.

The biggest question mark will be location, which I assume will be the middle of the ring. If so who will take the lead to push or force the other man to thrown more effective punches. Ultimately it will be Tarver who controls the ring and it will take Cunningham to come out of his shell to fluster or possibly wear down the older and less physically in-shape boxer.

A slow start will ensue but once each combatant warms up their aging engines we could get a competitive two-way contest. Cunningham tends to get of track gameplan wise and that’s generally when trouble strikes. After an early lead from Cunningham, Tarver will get his timing down and land the cleaner more telling shots to earn a close but clear win. My heart is going for Cunningham but my brain favors experience and skill.

My official predictions is Antonio Tarver by Unanimous Decision.

Side Note: Marco “Captain” Huck sets sail to America marking his first fight in the country when he takes on unbeaten Andreaj Gowski.(check) Huck is a can’t miss TV fighter so don’t. Also, Artur Szpilka sees action in the opening bout.

Written by Chris Carlson Owner & Host of Rope A Dope Radio Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio

Danny Garcia vs. Paulie Malignaggi Preview & Predictions! Can Paulie pull off the upset?

Danny Garcia & Paulie Malignaggi do battle in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center this Saturday night live on ESPN. Daniel Jacobs faces Sergio Mora which represents his toughest test since being stopped by Dmitry Pirog in 2010. The card faces the normal scrutiny that many Al Haymon events get but this scribe won’t be surprised if one of these match ups test the favorite more than fans think. Will the move to welterweight help or hurt Danny Garcia? Can Jacobs look impressive against a defensive fighter?

If we rewound the clock to just under two years ago we would find Danny Garcia at the top of the junior welterweight division. The Philadelphian’s victory over Lucas “The Machine” Matthysse placed him on the doorstep of the elite level and the exposure of being the co-feature to Mayweather/Canelo Showtime PPV raised his profile immensely.

Garcia’s next challenge was billed as a homecoming of sorts in a fight against an unheralded contender Mauricio Herrera in Puerto Rico were Danny’s family’s blood line is rooted. The media brushed the matchup aside by underestimating the quality of fighter and style matchup that Mauricio Herrera posed. Herrera’s craftiness from the outside and at times on inside troubled Garcia all night long. Since that point on it’s been all downhill for Danny after a horrible mismatch against Rod Salka and an unimpressive point’s win over Lamont Peterson in April.

In the lead up to Saturday’s bout with Paulie Malignaggi, the Garcia camp has stressed the importance of Danny’s health at the welterweight division. Angel Garcia’s plan of moving his son slowly to welterweight via catchweight seemed to of backfired amongst fans and in the ring possible due to his son’s struggles to make weight. Judging by the looks of Danny’s body and overall demeanor from a health standpoint the move to 147 was long overdue. However, Garcia’s effectiveness at 147 may not be known until he gets in the ring with a bigger puncher.

Stylistically speaking Paulie Malignaggi is a throwback defensive boxer who deplores a solid jab and steady punch output. If it wasn’t for Malignaggi’s last outing ending in brutal fashion by the fists of Shawn Porter, anticipation would be much higher surrounding this fight outside of the borough of Brooklyn. The powers that be at the PBC and ESPN found enough interest in the matchup because of the name recognition of both men.

If Paulie is fully healed from the 2014 concussive beating he took it could be a tough fight for Danny. Boxing, as in life, isn’t fair and no matter the result Danny Garcia will not get any credit should he be victorious. If he loses it will only increase the hate towards the both Danny and Angel Garcia.

Both fighters are very active and a few experts have compared this fight to Paulie’s two fights with Juan Diaz. The biggest differences is Diaz being more active but with far less power than Garcia. Can Danny cut the ring off on “The Magic Man” or will he ineffectively follow him similar to his last fight with Lamont Peterson?

Look for Paulie to land his jab mixed with movement and some spurts of combination punching. How long will it take for Garcia to close distance so he can land his bread and butter, the left hook to the head and body? Another key to look for will be Garcia’s overhand right over the top of Malignaggi’s jab. If Paulie is sharp there’s a chance this fight will be close late instead of a just a showcase bout most perceive it to be.

The pace will be entertaining and competitive up until Garcia finds his rhythm. Garcia’s jab is underrated and it will come in handy to contain Paulie’s activity. The fact that Malignaggi has been out of the ring for 17 months and coming off such a devastating loss makes me favor Danny by close but clear victory. If Danny hasn’t made the correct adjustments that plagued him in the Herrera and Peterson fights we could be in for a big upset.

My official prediction is Danny Garcia by unanimous decision

The co-feature pits Daniel Jacobs against Sergio Mora. If victorious it will be his best win to date. Mora is a crafty vet who can be difficult to hit clean and might be willing to test Danny’s chin, which has been vulnerable at times throughout his career. Mora knows he won’t win many rounds by running in his opponent’s back yard so expect an uptick in activity. The “Latin Snake” will have his moments but Jacobs will win going the distance.

Also, don’t miss an interesting UK fight this weekend involving Luke Campbell and Tommy Coyle from Hull, Yorkshire at the Craven Park Stadium. This is a great step up bout for Campbell and I see him coming out on the winning end possibly by late KO or TKO. Brian Rose vs. Carson Jones 2 could be a tightly contest on the undercard.

Written by Chris Carlson Owner & Host of Rope A Dope Radio
Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio

#GarciaMalignaggi #JacobsMora Preview & Predictions!Recap & News by RopeADopeRadio | Sports Podcasts

Garcia vs. Malignaggi-Jacobs vs Mora-Campbell vs. Coyle Preview & Predictions! 07/31 by RopeADopeRadio | Sports Podcasts.

Keith Thurman vs. Luis Collazo: One Time For The Money

Keith Thurman steps back in the ring for a second time this year in a stay busy fight against Luis Collazo. The undercard fight matches unbeaten prospect Tony Harrison versus Willie Nelson and it may end up stealing the show. Most think Thurman will win so how will he do it may be the more fitting question. Can Keith accomplish what no one has been able to do Collazo and that is a win by knockout?

This Saturday night marks the debut of Al Haymon’s Premier Boxing Champions on ESPN in primetime for what will amount to two-plus year’s worth of monthly installments. With the Friday Night Fights series on ESPN2 gone will ESPN’s stronghold in sports trickle down to help the visibility of boxing? The lack of visibility in the sport has hurt boxing greatly and the only time it’s mentioned on Sportscenter is an event involving Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquaio. Or it makes headlines from current or former fighters getting in trouble.

And of course a chorus of “boxing is dead” theme can be heard throughout the networks vast array of TV and radio shows. Instead of a simple scroll for boxing news on the bottom line fighters and their stories will get some much needed attention in the lead-up to PBC fights on ESPN. In the last week alone I’ve seen a Keith Thurman interview and a 3-4 minute special with him and Teddy Atlas talking about his first trainer whom past in May 2009.

ESPN does a great job telling athletes stories which creates interest and a reason to care or watch. A 3 minute-clip during Sportscenter may not seem like much but that combined with more pre and post fight coverage could make a difference.

Now, let’s move on to the fights for this Saturday night with Thurman vs. Collazo topping the bill for the #PBConESPN. Fresh off a dismantling of the normally durable Robert Guerrero, Keith Thurman eyes a chance to send a clear message to the welterweight division. The problem is Luis Collazo won’t just be along the ride and surely the grizzled vet will have a few tricks up his sleeve. Collazo may be over the hill but he still represents a threat to Thurman with his crafty southpaw stance.

It’s no easy task to look “great” against Collazo just ask Amir Khan and Andre Berto. Luis may set a slow pace and smother Thurman in an attempt to take away his power and increase the possibilities of Thurman making a mistake. It’s been a few fights since Thurman has been chin-checked and fighting in front of a home crowd may distract him enough for Collazo to capitalize.

Keith Thurman seems to be more comfortable on the move or in the center of the ring rather than coming forward. If Collazo can bring the heat early on in the fight he could catch Thurman with something big while still trying to warm up. If the action is slow, the boo-birds might influence the hometown kid to push forward which could be a big mistake.

Beyond that Keith should win the majority of rounds and the fact that he has shown patience in recent fights tells me his head will be on straight and focused on victory instead of searching for a KO. The southpaw stance can take a few rounds to adjust to but once that time comes expect smart pressure by Thurman. The body will be a key for Keith to help breakdown Collazo who has been thru the ringer a few times but never stopped.

Many boxing fans and some scribes have dogged this fight but I don’t mind it one bit. As long as the year ends with Keith Thurman in another top level matchup it is good that he is staying busy against a quality gate keeper type guy like Collazo.

This fight should have some two-way moments in the first 4 rounds or so as Thurman feels out Luis. At that point the action will pick up but my guess is that it will be all Thurman and it wouldn’t be shocking if this fight ends in TKO. A full-on butt whipping from the start that ends in a KO would surprise me. I see Collazo hitting the canvas at least “One Time” and ultimately coming up short.

My official prediction is Keith Thurman by Unanimous Decision.

Side Note: Don’t miss the Co-Feature on ESPN between Tony Harrison and Willie Nelson which is sure to feature plenty of bombs! Harrison looks the part of a hard-hitting junior middleweight but hasn’t been tested just yet. We should get a good measurement on where he stands facing a guy in Willie Nelson who has the skills and length to keep Tony at bay. The problem is Nelson doesn’t normally use his natural reach and tends to mix it up which should equate to a fun fight! Harrison UD or Late TKO

Also, after the ESPN card checkout an equally matched fight between Mauricio Herrera and Hank Lundy on HBO Latino. There will no doubt be some slow spots with two counterpunching type guys who like to establish themselves on the outside first. With that said both guys are somewhat busy for their styles anyway, so I do expect a competitive bout. Herrera MD

2 more fights to keep your eye on will be Terry Flanagan and Jose Zepeda from the UK and Donnie Nietes vs. Francisco Rodriguez!

Written by Chris Carlson Owner & Host of Rope-A-Dope-Radio
Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio

Thurman vs. Collazo Herrera vs. Lundy Harrison vs. Nelson Preview & Predictions! by RopeADopeRadio | Sports Podcasts

Thurman vs. Collazo-Herrera vs. Lundy-Harrison vs. Nelson Preview & Predictions! 07/09 by RopeADopeRadio | Sports Podcasts.