By Alex Beard (@alex_beard17)
Saturday night hosts a variety of fights across the globe that could conceivably steal the show. Add in Joseph Parker’s WBO heavyweight title win over Andy Ruiz on Saturday morning and you find yourself with one of the best boxing weekends of the year.
The fight nights in Manchester, Los Angeles and Omaha possess some scintillating contests with plenty of title implications. With that said, let’s look ahead at the bouts which could end up being the best fight of this packed boxing night.
Terence Crawford vs. John Molina
Arguably America’s best boxer (alongside Andre Ward) laces up his gloves again Saturday night in his hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Crawford (29-0-KO20) was supposed to be defending his WBO and WBC light-welterweight titles against tough veteran Molina, but the one-time lightweight world title challenger twice failed to make weight for the contest. The fight goes ahead, albeit as a non-title bout.
Both men are coming off career-best victories, with Molina (29-6-KO23) posting a surprise decision win over Ruslan Provodnikov in June and Crawford snaring his second title in the division with a dominant win over the previously unbeaten Viktor Postol a month later.
The fight is expected to be yet another showcase for the magnificent skillset of Terence Crawford. Molina is gritty and not without talent, but Crawford is a different beast altogether. He is the perfect mix of superb boxing fundamentals and serious punch power, while he owns a surprising mean streak. He hasn’t ever come close to losing in the professional ranks and likely won’t do until he moves up a weightclass, where he’d still be the favourite in plenty of match-up’s.
Expect another Crawford stoppage, and enjoy watching him work until that happens.
Dillian Whyte vs. Dereck Chisora
Sometimes there’s nothing better than putting two guys who don’t like each other in a ring together and letting them slug it out.
The bad blood between these two has been building for months, reaching its nadir at a press conference earlier this week in which Chisora threw a table at his opponent. They have since been kept apart and will only meet again once they’re facing each other on fight night.
Chisora (26-6-KO18) is no stranger to heated build-ups, and is the far more experienced fighter in this contest. His losses have generally been to elite competition (Vitali Klitschko, David Haye etc.) and we don’t yet know whether Whyte is that. Whyte (19-1-KO15) has rebounded from his loss to Anthony Joshua a year ago with a trio of wins over limited opposition. He hasn’t looked great, but the technical aspects of his game have improved since pairing with Mark Tibbs.
This is the classic old dog against young lion. We’ll find out how much Chisora has left and how good Whyte really is, while the winner will go on to face WBC champion Deontay Wilder next year.
Jermall Charlo vs. Julian Williams
If you’re looking for a fight between two elite, young, unbeaten fighters then make sure you don’t miss this one. 26-year-old Charlo (24-0-KO18) has proven himself to be the real deal in a packed light-middleweight division, claiming the IBF title in September 2015 with a three round destruction of Cornelius Bundrage and defending it twice against Wilky Campfort and Austin Trout.
‘J Rock’ Williams (22-0-1-KO14) has enjoyed a similarly serene path to the top of the division, winning his last three bouts by stoppage to move into the mandatory position for Charlo’s belt. He certainly doesn’t have the names on his resume that his opponent does, but he’s shown a nice mix of power and skill thus far.
The winner of what is expected to be a highly-technical encounter will separate themselves at the top of the division and can move on to future fights with the likes of Demetrius Andrade and Erislandy Lara in one of the deepest weightclasses in the sport.
Luis Concepcion vs. Kal Yafai
Britain’s Kal Yafai will attempt to become Birmingham’s first world champion when he faces Luis Concepcion for the now vacant WBA super flyweight title on the undercard of Joshua vs. Molina. Concepcion lost his title on the scales and the belt will only be on the line for Yafai.
Yafai (20-0-KO14) has real power at the weight, while also being extremely hard to hit. His footwork is impressive and he moves in and out of range exceptionally well. His opponent (35-4-KO24), though, is battle worn and has been in the game for a long time. He’s faced much higher competition than Yafai and will be ready for whatever is thrown at him.
It will be interesting to see whether Yafai can raise his game in what is the biggest fight of his career. This is one of the most evenly-matched contests on the undercard and was a great bit of matchmaking. Yafai has been on the cusp of title contention for some time, and now it’s time for him to step up.
Anthony Joshua vs. Eric Molina
Whatever people may think of this fight, they’re going to watch it. Joshua has developed into a can’t-miss fighter and is already the biggest star in British boxing. He makes the second defence of the IBF heavyweight title he won from Charles Martin in April, having bested Dominic Breazeale in his first defence in June.
One of the heaviest hitters in the sport, Joshua (17-0-KO17) will attempt to continue his 100% stoppage run against the durable Molina (25-3-KO19). By now we all know that Molina’s claim to fame is that he wobbled Wilder when they fought last year, but he rebounded from that loss with two knockouts including a career-best win over Tomasz Adamek in April.
Like Crawford’s fight against a different Molina, this one is likely to be a one-sided beatdown. Of course Molina has a chance, this is boxing after all, but Joshua has made light work of everybody he’s faced and it’s unlikely ‘The Drummer Boy’ will be any different.
Joshua possesses unrivalled physicality and power at heavyweight, while he’s learning on the job and developing into a special fighter. He’s done a good job so far of using his jab to set up his power punches, and he showed excellent patience against Breazeale. Don’t expect Molina to last as long as his countryman did, though.by