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

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Adrien Broner vs. Shawn Porter: To Catch A Predator

Adrien “The Problem” Broner faces “Showtime” Shawn Porter for Ohio bragging rights not to mention a large step forward on the ladder to stardom. The fight takes place at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas and will be broadcasted live on NBC. A catchweight has been implored by Broner in efforts to reduce Porter’s strength and stamina. Can Broner effectively play matador to Porter’s bull rush in a game of catch the predator?

The boxing public has gotta be punch drunk from all the yellow tape that continues to surround their sport. Similar to the recent Cotto/Geale HBO fight, the weight in which this bout will take place has robbed many followers from being ecstatic for Saturday night. Instead of a main event that fans can sink their teeth in to, the catchweight chatter is major sticking point.

Shawn Porter is considered a large welterweight and surely the odds are sizable it will affect him in the ring. However, Porter is a true professional during breaks in between fights never going above 10 pounds of the welterweight limit. That combined with Porter’s camp believing they would fight in May has them feeling prepared and ready to make the 144 pound mark.

With the recent reports of Broner possible coming in overweight the sheer spectacle on social media will only increase this bouts presents on NBC. From the sounds of it Broner’s team have now ditched the 2nd day rehydration clause that would have prevented either fighter to be above 154 pounds. Which was a smart move for two reasons: One Broner is known for putting excess weight on come fight night and Porter is use to the 10 pound-rule having been in several IBF bouts were that’s common place. Only on the night of the fight will we know how much Shawn Porter struggled.

Many in the boxing world have pointed to a few fights in an attempt to pick the winner of this #PBConNBC primetime event. Names such as Marcos Maidana, Paulie Malignaggi, and Kell Brook are mentioned as to why Broner shouldn’t be the underdog or the reason Porter will come away with victory. Each fighter has just one loss so the crossroads label fits the bill for this matchup. It’s very dangerous to play the triangle game in the sport of boxing but there’s some information that can be put into the equation for the “Battle of Ohio”.

Last August Shawn Porter lost to Kell Brook by a close decision on the cards after Porter had manhandled Paulie Malignaggi. The same Malignaggi that gave Adrien Broner all he could handle almost two years to the date. Porter started well in his bout with Brook but in the 2nd half he was limited by Kells’s movement, clean punching, and holding. A gameplan that many think Broner can emulate or improve on this Saturday night.

On the flip side Marcos Maidana bum-rushed Adrien Broner in late 2013 giving “The Problem” just that. From jump-street, Maidana closed the gap and pressure Broner from ding-to-dong rarely allowing him space to operate and use his highly-touted skills. Broner showed plenty of heart fighting back from two knockdowns but one wonders if he will make those same mistakes versus Porter. The classic boxer vs. puncher does somewhat apply but with a little more complexity.

For all the talent on offense and defense Broner posses his mental game doesn’t always enter the ring with him. He tends to let his heart do most of the fighting while standing directly in the line of fire. Inch by inch he finds comfort in walking down his opponents something he couldn’t do against Maidana and didn’t try in his last fight with John Molina. His jab was a key weapon to keep Molina at bay and he mixed that with subtle movement. While he did outbox Molina it seemed that Molina’s war with Lucas Matthysse had taken some of his aggression and willingness to take excess punishment.

Molina was the first fighter Broner had faced with power since the Maindana loss. Adrien will get a chance to prove that he has more boxing ability than he has shown thus far as a pro. In the amateurs is where Broner use more of his tool belt but that was in small dosages. It will be very interesting to see if he can move consistently without letting a big punch by Porter take him off his plan. Back in 2009 Broner fought Fernando Quintero closely and at times didn’t look that good when trying to box.

Kell Brook is a bigger welterweight with hand speed and nice footwork that gave Porter problems on the way inside. The clinch by Brook was crucial and my guess is that the Broner camp will abuse the clinch until warned by the referee. Will Adrien be strong enough in the clinch for Porter? Team Porter says their ready for that scenario but they should have been ready in the Brook fight truth be told. Both guys have power but that trait at 144 is difficult to judge now. Porter should be the stronger man with Broner’s power punch not having the same effect as it did at 130 and 135.

Hand speed will go to Broner but foot speed could be a draw from Porter’s quick footwork to close the gap. Porter has a bad habit of smothering his own work and will have to be mindful of that fact if he wants to land clean. The jab will play a huge role for both fighters as will their left hook. Porter could use his jab and later faint with it to set up a left hook. For Broner look for him to use more jabs as he pivots away from danger as well as a check-hook to help turn Porter. Marcos Maidana’s chopping right is just what the doctor ordered for Shawn to penetrate Broner’s poor man’s impression of the shoulder-roll defense.

I expect both boxers to be fairly active and a bit dirty from the baggage that exits having grown up together. It could be a wrestling match for large portions after seeing a sparring session and the words traded by both camps at the press conference. Once we get to see these fighters step on the scale it will give us a clearly picture. You have to figure a close fight will go to the bigger name in this case Adrien Broner. Who by the way is a slight underdog at the sportsbook. This scribe is honestly stuck on the fence as a result of the 144 pound catchweight.

My feeling is it will be a two-way fight that features a little bit of everything. We will see Porter start fast and Broner on the move and clinching to the point of booing from the live audience. Beyond those slower pockets this fight should produce a fair amount of action and drama. Broner will win more rounds on the scorecards. Porter will hurt and drop Broner but can he deliver clean punching from 1 to 12? That’s where the catchweight comes into play. Broner may get the nod and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put something on the dog in this spot. I just don’t see Broner being able to stick and move the whole fight. At some point Broner’s mental game will get thrown out the window and that’s when Porter will take advantage. We could get Broner by a controversial decision and I almost expect it.

My Official Prediction is Shawn Porter by Split-Decision

Side Note: Don’t Miss the Lemieux vs. N’Dam FS-2 fight that will be live after the NBC Broadcast. Also, Andre Ward makes his return versus Paul Smith and Errol Spence makes his PBC debut on the Co-Feature to Broner vs. Porter.

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

Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio

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Miguel Cotto vs. Daniel Geale: Catch Me If You Can

Live on HBO from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, Miguel Cotto and Daniel Geale meet for the lineal middleweight title. Instead of breaking down the X’s and O’s of the matchup the pugilist masses are mainly fixated on the number 157. That is the number Geale must hit to prevent a possible cancellation. Cotto’s image has taken a big hit of late and even if he does make a big statement this Saturday night the damage is deep. They might as well of called this fight Cotto vs. Geale: To Catch A Mockingbird.

Barring a minor roadblock the only major obstacle that stands in the way of an HBO PPV fight between Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez is Daniel Geale. The Aussie has middleweight contender pedigree it’s just too bad that this bout won’t be contested at 160. Instead, this bout will be fought at a catchweight of 157 pounds. Judging by the comments made by both camps in the lead-up it sounds as though sticking to their guns is the plan.

Cotto was clear in his intent for setting the weight at 157 and seems stuck in the mindset of make the weight or the fight is off. Funny thing is there’s no language in the contract that pertains to an overweight penalty according to Gary Show via Steve Kim’s Twitter account. Of course if Daniel Geale misses the weight he will be subjected to a fine but it may not matter based on the way Cotto adamantly pleaded his case if that should occur. I find it hard to believe that Miguel would deny his loyal followers on the eve of the fight but this is boxing so your guess is as good as mine.

Reports have swirled in the last few days that Geale was well over the goal weight and has struggled in recent times making the 160 pound limit let alone 157. Add to the fact that he will need plenty of energy to use constant movement and activity in order to produce a victory. A fight at 160 versus a quality guy like Geale would probably have caused some form of issue for Miguel. After all it’s not like Cotto has been campaigning as a middleweight for long and has only one fight against a smallish 160 pounder in Sergio Martinez. Geale has the skill to make this bout interesting but will he have the stamina to match that skill is the true question.

It may be risky but wise for Geale to take a hefty fine instead of whittling down every ounce on his body. It’s a risk for sure but a calculated risk that this scribe sees as a smart move in this instance. Then again maybe Cotto does back up his bark and bites down hard to cancel the event as promised.

Geale has a blend of that straight-up euro stance mixed with an awkward bouncy style. Being on the move for the majority of a fight puts a lot of work on a boxers legs, if you combine that with health and a nervous bounce it may result in a flat performance for Geale. Boxing like life is all about timing. For Miguel Cotto at middleweight timing has played a key role. Even to this day Sergio Martinez is still trying to heal his injured knee. A gracious and humble champ like Martinez wouldn’t blame his loss on injury but surely it played a major part in his last 2 fights.

Daniel Geale was KO’d by Gololvkin in his second to last outing which mentally could be a disadvantage to go along with being weight drained. This scribe, like many other media members and boxing fans isn’t crazy about catchweight fights. They are very prevalent in today’s game but a case by case judgment should be applied. At times if it’s fair and the only way a fight gets made it works. But too often it’s used as a weapon to feed on the “A” side’s prey which rips the soul of a fighter’s spirit under the bright lights on fight night.

Theirs an outside chance we still get a quality fight with numerous momentum swings but it’s doubtful as this fight enters the mid to late rounds. My hunch is Geale will be able to get his punches off in the opening rounds giving fans a taste of what could have been. Punch resistance and fatigue go hand and hand with excessive weight-loss. Not to mention Cotto probably beats a healthy Geale anyway. That said, once this bout enters the 2nd half of the fight it will be all Miguel Cotto.

Daniel Geale will get an “A” for effort and may still be able to land future title shots at 160, but after Saturday night there will be only the back-room suits preventing another installment of the best current rivalry in boxing, Mexico vs. Puerto Rico.

My official prediction is Miguel Cotto by late TKO Stoppage or Unanimous Decision.

Side Note: The PBC returns this Saturday afternoon on what should be a very busy sports day for NBC. It’s a real downer that the main event is subpar with an interesting undercard matchup between heavyweight prospects plus the Jesus Cuellar vs. Vic Darchinyan fight that could steal the show. No disrespect to Aron Martinez, who is no scrub and has been tested in the ring. Robert Guerrero’s string of tough fights puts him in line for a get well fight of sorts but a possible push-over in the main event on NBC is inexcusable. One can only hope that the underdog Martinez will rise to the occasion to make it a somewhat competitive TV fight.

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