by Cliff Rold
Counter programming is nothing new in boxing but it’s always hardest when there are two genuinely interesting main events.
DAZN and Fox will have overlapping broadcasts on Saturday night and while start times indicate Fox could be off the air before the DAZN main event, fans should know by now not to take that for granted.
Anyone who sets a DVR for less than a 90 minute overrun for boxing these days plays with chances for disappointment.
Both main events feature legitimate top ten fighters, with an alphabet title on the line, in contests where the underdogs are far from prohibitive. If we’re going to have two shows to watch on a Saturday night, that’s plenty to look forward to
Let’s get into it, starting on Fox (8 PM EST).
Stats and Stakes
Title: WBC welterweight (2018-Present, 1stAttempted Defense)
Previous Titles: IBF welterweight (2013-14, 1 Defense)
Weight: 146 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Las Vegas, Nevada
Record: 29-2-1, 17 KO
Press Rankings: #2 (TBRB), #3 (BoxRec), #4 (Ring), #5 (ESPN, Boxing Monthly)
Record in Major Title Fights: 3-2, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: 139-11-2 (.921)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Julio Diaz D10, UD10; Devon Alexander UD12; Paulie Malignaggi TKO4; Kell Brook L12; Adrien Broner UD12; Keith Thurman L12; Andre Berto TKO9; Danny Garcia UD12
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 146 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Miami, Florida (Born in Cuba)
Record: 23-3, 11 KO
Press Rankings: #7 (ESPN), #8 (TBRB, Ring), #9 (BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 1stTitle Opportunity
Last Five Opponents: 117-27-6 (.800)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: None
The Pick: Porter struggled on the scale Friday, ultimately cutting his hair to inch across to the line and have a title to defend. Has the one-time amateur middleweight reached a point where welterweight is too much to ask of his body? For Porter, he’d better hope the answer is no because Porter is a fighter who relies on steady, smart aggression. While Ugas is taller, Porter’s arms are just as long and if he can crowd Ugas he might take away the counter body shots the Cuban has made a trademark weapon. For Ugas, the question is if he can establish his jab, catch Porter coming forward, and freeze the often-wild assaults of the titlist. The last time Porter faced someone with a real height edge, good jab, and the patience to box him, he struggled to establish his offense in a loss against Kell Brook. While Ugas doesn’t have the professional experience of Brook coming in, his amateur foundation is impeccable. Porter can make it hard to score against him through sheer will but, factoring in a tough time at the scales, and the new confidence of Ugas on an eight-fight win streak, the pick is an upset by narrow margins. A draw is not out of the question.
A draw would see to be far less likely on the DAZN card (9 PM EST).
Title: WBA light heavyweight (2017-Present, 6 Defenses)
Previous Titles: None
Weight: 173 ½ lbs.
Hails from: Saint Petersburg, Russia
Record: 15-0, 11 KO
Press Rankings: #1 (TBRB), #3 (Ring, ESPN, Boxing Monthly, BoxRec)
Record in Major Title Fights: 4-0, 2 KO (7-0, 4 KO including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 128-14-3 (.893)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Jean Pascal UD12
Joe Smith Jr.
Title/Previous Titles: None
Weight: 173 lbs.
Hails from: Long Island, New York
Record: 24-2, 20 KO, 1 KOBY
Press Rankings: #8 (TBRB), #9 (Ring, ESPN, Boxing Monthly)
Record in Major Title Fights:1stTitle Opportunity
Last Five Opponents: 123-19-5 (.854)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Bernard Hopkins KO8
The Pick: Smith has good size, works the body well, thuds with a solid jab and follows with heavy hands. All of those things give him a chance to make this an interesting scrap. Ultimately, it feels at most like a puncher’s chance and that’s often slim. Bivol has a better amateur foundation, movement, and offensive variety. If Smith can drag him into a brawl, his hopes improve but Bivol is more likely to control the space, counter Smith, and outbox him with an opening eventually to hand Smith his second stoppage defeat.
Rold Picks 2019: 12-6
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]