Big-time names like Shakur Stevenson and champion Regis Prograis fight Saturday, Oct 26, but finding the action on multiple platforms poses fans with major viewing problems
Next Saturday night, October 26, boxing fans have a variety of options to choose from in terms of the next step they take in their respective journeys with boxing. Moreover, several of the fighters climbing those stairs for their assignment Saturday will get the chance to have their say regarding what the next step in their journey might hold. What’s at stake varies.
Former Olympian and undefeated Featherweight Shakur Stevenson. Win and be crowned.
Super Welterweight contender Erickson Lubin. Win and take a step forward in the waiting line of one of boxing’s most competitive divisions.
Undefeated WBA Super Lightweight champion Regis Prograis. Win and become a unified champion, and the World Boxing Super Series’ 140-pound Ali Trophy winner. Maybe, even a rare undisputed champion bout exists with the reigning WBC and WBO champion Jose Ramirez.
On the undercards of these headlining fighters career-defining moments await fighters like world-ranked Bantamweight Joshua Greer Jr., former Lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr., unbeaten Super Featherweight Albert Bell, and even newcomer Heavyweight Jared Anderson. One-loss Super Featherweight Andy Vences and former Olympian Mikaela Mayer, a rising Featherweight, are also in meaningful bouts.
How does one watch all of this unfold? Well, let’s see.
Match-up: Shakur Stevenson (12-0, 7 KOs) vs Joet Gonzalez (23-0, 14 KOs)
For: vacant WBO Featherweight championship
Where: Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada
How to watch: ESPN+ with the prelims streaming at 6:30 pm ET/3:30 pm PT followed by the main and co-main events at 10:00 pm ET/7 pm ET
As a spectator, the magnitude of this moment is diminished somewhat with an Olympian who has fought his way towards a world title not vying for his first world title versus a reigning champion. But, the previous title holder, Oscar Valdez, vacated the title in part to pursue more favorable business terms at 130 pounds.
Now the highly talented 22-year old, Stevenson, faces an opponent in Gonzalez who shares a mutual motivation in terms of this being his first shot at a world title. Gonzalez is four years older, comes into the fight with eight stoppages in his last nine fights, and the two share an awkward connection due to Gonzalez’ sister being romantically involved with Stevenson.
In just a dozen fights Stevenson’s ceiling has briefly spent time as possibly a ‘military barracks’ to its current trajectory of NYC or Chicago skyscraper. Gonzalez is a 7-year pro, with an exceptional amateur career himself, and in July won the WBO Global and WBA Continental America featherweight titles with a sixth-round stoppage of Manuel Avila. Undoubtedly, Gonzalez will rely on his experience advantage, as well as the fact that at 26 years old he’s either closer or just starting to fight in his prime as a boxer.
Chicago’s Joshua Greer Jr. returns in his second consecutive co-main bout on a Stevenson-headlined card. Greer (21-1-1, 12 KOs) faces Antonio Nieves (19-2-2, 11 KOs), looking to erase any doubts of his push towards a world title in the wake of a controversial 12-round majority decision victory against Nikolai Potapov back in July. Nieves dropped a split decision to Potapov in March 2017, and his corner stopped a rough fight with IBF Bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue after the sixth round, later that year in September. Greer is the IBF No. 2-ranked Bantamweight, and Inoue is rumored to be considering a deal with Top Rank following his showdown versus WBA champion Nonito Donaire in the 118-pound finale of the World Boxing Super Series’ tournament.
Also in action in Reno: Mikaela Mayer (11-0, 4 KOs) vs Alejandra Soledad Zamora (7-3, 1 KO); Albert Bell (15-0, 5 KOs) vs Frank de Alba (23-4-2, 9 KOs), Andy Vences (22-1-1, 12 KOs) vs Mark Bernaldez (19-2, 13 KOs) and Heavyweights Jared Anderson (0-0) vs Daniel Infante (1-2).
Match-up: IBF Super Lightweight champion Josh Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs) vs WBA Super Lightweight champion Regis Prograis (24-0, 20 KOs)
Where: O2 Arena, Greenwich, London, United Kingdom
How to watch: DAZN USA app streaming at 2:00 pm ET/11:00 pm PT & SKY Box Office
Much to the publicized chagrin of Heavyweight Dereck Chisora, ‘little guys’ Josh Taylor and Houston-based/New Orleans-bred Regis Prograis clash to decide the winner of the World Boxing Super Series’ Super Lightweight Ali Trophy.
In short, the winner ceremoniously joins boxing’s small fraternity of other unified champions including:
- Heavyweight Andy Ruiz Jr.
- Light Heavyweight Artur Beterbiev
- Super Welterweight Julian Williams
- Welterweight Errol Spence Jr.
- Super Lightweight Jose Ramirez
- Lightweight Vasiliy Lomachenko
- Super Bantamweight Daniel Roman
Prograis dispatched rugged volume-puncher Kiryl Relikh, the WBA champion, in resounding fashion back in April down in Louisiana. The fight’s optics cemented “Rougarou” as an emerging talent that can walk it and talk it. However, Taylor has moved through his side of the WBSS bracket with similar ease – with both men defending home turf.
Taylor overwhelmed American Ryan Martin in seven rounds in his first WBSS action, and then in May he outclassed undefeated former IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk, dropping the U.S.-based Russian twice in the sixth round, on the way to a unanimous decision.
Prograis migrated to Houston from New Orleans in search of safety from the inherent dangers of hurricane Katrina in 2005. He took advantage of a new beginning and found his purpose. He left U.S. soil several days ago, making landfall in the UK to chase down a fighter nicknamed ‘The Tartan Tornado’, and the meeting will surely present Prograis with a new beginning, professionally, as well as a chance to further define his legacy.
Taylor is two years younger at 28, possesses advantages in both height (2 inches) and reach (2 1/2 inches), enters the fight with a higher KO ratio, and has a credible pre-WBSS win on his record in former world champion Viktor Postol. Both fight from the southpaw stance, so there are many factors at play to hinder a great tournament finale, and the division’s second unified champion should be crowned in an exciting manner.
Prograis is a highly-driven fighter, and he has embraced the challenge of this road-trip, as he has spent time ingratiating himself with UK fight fans by appearing at a host of events the past 7-10 days. He likely handles his role as the foreigner well, he’s mindful of showing improvement with each fight, so look for him to box with Taylor early while seeing how the Scot responds to his quirky movement. If Taylor doesn’t jab well through the opening rounds and mix in some solid power punches, Prograis will gradually begin to empty his arsenal and increase his pressure. Taylor appears to possess a good enough all-around game to compete well into the early second half of the fight, so somewhere in rounds seven to nine the fight should shed its tactical flow to clear the way for bigger exchanges.
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Prograis must remain cognizant that the O2 crowd will erupt with enegy in response to minimal activity from Taylor. And for as long as the fight goes. He will need to do his best to minimize the number of swing rounds, and accepting the risk to go for a knockdown if he ever has Taylor hurt badly – to capitalize on the UK’s penchant for awkward stoppages – could be crucial if the fight does go the distance.
In the event Prograis loses, he will be free to move on with his career now that he’s fulfilled his commitment to the WBSS.
Match-up: Erickson Lubin (21-0, 16 KOs) vs Nathaniel Gallimore (23-3-1, 17 KOs)
Where: Santander Arena, Reading, Pennsylvania
How to watch: Showtime Boxing: Special Edition starting at 9:00 pm ET/6:00 pm PT
Erickson Lubin, then 22, may have been a bit too audacious for his own good in October 2017, and he paid for it when he sustained a brutal first-round KO at the hands of Jermell Charlo at the Barclays Center.
Nathaniel Gallimore derailed the rise of Justin DeLoach a few months earlier in five punishing one-sided rounds, and emerged as a darkhorse contender before being soundly defeated in a ‘make or break’ IBF eliminator versus current unified Super Welterweight champion Julian Williams.
While Lubin’s rebounded with three stoppage wins – including the only KO of former world champion Ishe Smith – since his disappointing loss, Gallimore has split a pair of fights against lesser competition, but gets this shot after an injury forced Terrell Gausha to withdraw from the fight.
Can Lubin catapult himself into title discussion, similar to Williams, with a victory over Gallimore? Can Gallimore upset another young, one-loss 154-pound contender and position himself for another crack at a mandatory spot? Expect a shootout to erupt early.
Former IBF Lightweight champion Robert Easter Jr. (21-1-1, 14 KOs) realized stardom at Santander Arena in September 2016. He outlasted current IBF Lightweight champion Richard Commey in a highly entertaining fight. Just under two years later in 2018 he finally secured a unification bout with P4P four-division champion Mikey Garcia at Staples Center. Easter got up from the canvas in the third, but found himself outgunned on the way to a unanimous decision loss – his first. In a subsequent bout, Easter failed to capture the vacant WBA Lightweight title after fighting to a lackluster split decision draw versus Rances Barthelemy back in April. His return marks a debut at Super Lightweight versus gritty Chicago native Adrian Granados. Granados (20-7-2, 14 KOs) is returning to 140-pounds after a couple of rough outings, both losses, versus former Welterweight champions Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia.
Easter has to show and prove in a higher division laden with world-class talent. Garcia could be softened up after his three-knockdown seventh-round KO loss to Garcia, but he will fight spiritedly knowing that another bad loss could push his career into jeopardy. Granados has fought bigger opponents, pushed Adrien Broner to a split decision in Broner’s hometown in February 2017, and upset an undefeated Amir Imam in 2015 via eighth-round TKO.
The Showtime telecast is also scheduled to include unbeaten Heavyweight sensation Efe Ajagba in action against once-beaten Jack Mulowayi in a 10-round bout.
Header photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Lubin photo by Dave Mandel/Premier Boxing Champions