Sherdog’s Weekend Boxing Preview

By James Kinneen Aug 17, 2018

Sherdog's resident boxing expert, James Kinneen, breaks down an upcoming weekend with plenty of can't-miss fights.

What: Andrew Cancio vs. Dardan Zenunaj, Junior lightweights

When: Aug. 17

How to Watch: ESPN 2, 11 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because Dardan Zenunaj wants to make a “Mickey Ward-Arturo Gatti type of fight” and Andrew Cancio is more than happy to oblige.

Not every fight needs to have hall of fame or even pound-for-pound implications, some fights are just great, because they’re great fights. That may well be the case when it comes to Friday’s matchup between Andrew Cancio (18-4) and Dardan Zenunaj (14-4). Although neither fighter is likely going to be remembered as an all-time great, Cancio has faced the better opposition having lost to guys like Jojo Diaz but beaten guys like Rocky Juarez. But, that likely won’t mean much. See, Zenunaj has shown he can be outboxed, but has vowed he will come forward against Cancio, who is probably not slick enough to keep him away for long. As a result, everyone thinks this will be a brawl. Let’s hope it is.

What: Bryant Jennings vs. Alexander Dimitrenko, Heavyweights

When: Aug. 18

How to Watch: ESPN, 10 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because when fading heavyweights collide, desperation can lead to devastation.

Neither Bryant Jennings nor Alexander Dimitrenko is likely to challenge for heavyweight supremacy again. Jennings was knocked out by Luis Ortiz four fights ago, while Dimitrenko was knocked out by Joseph Parker three bouts ago. Though both have rebounded with a few wins over unheralded opponents, this matchup is the one to decide who no longer matters in the world of heavyweight boxing. For Bryant, losing the fight in Atlantic City, a shot shot from his hometown of Philadelphia, would make the loss sting even more, while for Divitrenko losing a fight where he is so much larger than his opponent would be a missed opportunity in an increasingly large heavyweight division.

In boxing, motivation comes in many forms from national pride to a desperate need for prize money. In this match, both fighter’s motivations are clear; this isn’t just a matchup where two men are fighting each other, it’s a matchup where both are fighting irrelevance.

What: Shakur Stevenson vs. Carlos Ruiz, Featherweights

When: Aug. 18

How to Watch: ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: To see if outside distractions give Shakur Stevenson the challenge he has yet to face in the ring.

As a professional, former Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson has not faced any real adversity in the ring. And, to be totally honest it is unlikely Carlos Ruiz will be able to offer him any adversity on Saturday night. Except, until this fight Stevenson hasn’t had any problems outside of the ring either. But just a few months ago, following claims that he made lewd comments toward women and was involved in a brawl, Stevenson was charged with misdemeanor battery. So, now the likeable young man who had previously been 100 percent focused on boxing, had to deal with some issues outside of the ring. Does that mean a distracted Stevenson will struggle against the Mexican journeyman Ruiz? There’s only one way to find out.

What: Carl Frampton vs. Luke Jackson, Featherweights

When: Aug. 18

How to Watch: Facebook’s Showtime Stream 4 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because Carl Frampton insists he is in better shape than he has been recently, and as of late, he’s been doing very well.

In his last fight, Carl Frampton won the WBO featherweight belt off of Nonito Donaire. That’s a very solid accomplishment, but Frampton doesn’t think he was as mentally prepared for that fight as he is now, declaring “I'm fitter now than I was against Donaire. At the end of that point I felt I was in the shape of my life, because mentally, I'm so happy with boxing.” If Frampton has built up a 24-1 record not being happy with boxing, it will be fascinating to see what he looks like now that he is content with the sport.

Luke Jackson will be the first person to find out. The undefeated Australian will be fighting outside of Australia for the first time, and though he is undefeated (16-0, 7 KO’s) has not faced elite competition. Frampton is happy with boxing, and in Northern Ireland Jackson will likely have to produce greatness if he wants to sow the seeds of discontent.

What: Tyson Fury vs. Francesco Pianeta, Heavyweights

When: Aug. 18

How to Watch: Facebook’s Showtime Stream 4 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because, like I keep telling you, everything Tyson Fury does is entertaining.

Tyson Fury should destroy Fransesco Pianeta. Pianeta has lost to anyone good he has ever fought, and Fury is better than some of the guys he has lost to (like Kevin Johnson). This fight should be one-sided, but don’t let that stop you from watching it because it involves Fury.

With rumors that Deontay Wilder will be ringside for the fight, what will Fury, the self-appointed “heavyweight Sugar Ray Leonard” do to taunt his (likely) future opponent? Will he sing Wilder a song after the fight? Will he say something offensive? With Fury the possibilities are almost endless, just not the possibility of him losing this fight.

What: Cristofer Rosales vs. Paddy Barnes, Flyweights

When: Aug. 18

How to Watch: Facebook’s Showtime Stream 4 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because Paddy Barnes is trying to follow Vasyl Lomachenko’s path to stardom, a road that may only work when you’re Lomachenko.

Patty Barnes is a two-time Olympic bronze medalist. However, as a result of spending so much time in the amateur ranks, he is 31 years-old. Due to his advanced age, he is opting to do as Lomachenko did, and very early in his pro career challenge for a world title by facing WBC flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales in only his 6th professional fight. Barnes is a pressure fighter, but Nicaragua’s Rosales doubts he can march forward against him, and recently asked Barnes not to “run away like a wee chicken” during the match.

Doing the quick transition from amateur champion to world title contender seems to have worked very well for Lomachenko, the question is if someone who isn’t Lomachenko can replicate that success. We’ll see if Barnes can do it on Saturday.


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