What: Kubrat Pulev vs. Hughie Fury, HeavyweightsWhen: Oct. 27
How to Watch: ESPN+ 4PM e.t.
Why You Should Care: To see if Hughie Fury knows something all the heavyweights who turned down a Pulev fight in Bulgaria don’t.
Hughie Fury is Tyson Fury’s cousin, and the son of Tyson’s onetime trainer Peter Fury; however, he is far quieter and less bombastic than his more famous family member. And while he is also not as accomplished as his cousin, he is still a very good fighter. Fury is 22-1, with his one loss coming to Joseph Parker in a fight that featured such weirdly lopsided scorecards that his promoter vowed to find out who was behind the conspiracy. Hughie has vowed that he will never fight Tyson but has openly stated that the dream scenario would be him and Tyson simultaneously holding every title in heavyweight boxing.
Kubrat Pulev has lost only one fight in his nine-year professional career; he was knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko back in 2014. But, he has beaten many top tier heavyweights including Tony Thompson and Dereck Chisora. His unwillingness to fight outside of Bulgaria, not a lack of skill or pedigree has been the primary reason he has not gotten fights against the top names in the heavyweight division, as so many of his fights fail in negotiation over this refusal.
What did those guys know that Hughie Fury doesn’t? Hughie Fury is not a huge puncher (he’s knocked out only 11 of 22 opponents) so he would need to presumably win a decision in Bulgaria over Pulev. Having already been the victim of a “boxing conspiracy” he must believe he can so thoroughly outclass Pulev over the course of a twelve-round fight that a decision against him would be absurd. That’s great in theory, but only one man has been able to do that to Pulev over nine years, and that man is a first ballot IBHOF hall of famer. Many top name heavyweights have looked at the idea of fighting Pulev in Bulgaria and said, “thanks but no thanks”, on Saturday, we’ll see if Fury knows something they didn’t.
What: Sergiy Derevyanchenko vs. Daniel Jacobs, MiddleweightsWhen: Oct. 27
How to Watch: HBO 10PM e.t.
Why You Should Care: Because when two guys who’ve been in the ring together for over 300 rounds are both eager to fight, it means the fight is a tossup.
While you likely know Daniel Jacobs, the Brooklyn middleweight who survived bone cancer only to return to boxing and almost beat “GGG,” Sergiy Derevyancheno is far lesser known to the American public. But while you may not know Derevyanchenko, Daniel Jacobs is extremely familiar with the undefeated Ukranian.
See, Jacobs and Derevyanchenko were both trained by Andre Rozier for years and have sparred together for over 300 rounds. For this fight, Rozier has committed to training his “son” Daniel Jacobs, leaving Derevyanchenko to be trained by his longtime co-trainer Gary Stark Jr. Although Derevyanchenko has said that he and Jacobs were more business partners than close buddies, the fact that these men have been in the ring with each other so many times makes this fight very intriguing.
Think of how many times in combat sports it becomes clear that a fighter does not want to fight a sparring partner who has given him trouble in the past. That did not happen here, both fighters were quick to sign on the dotted line for this matchup. That means this fight should be close. As the bigger draw in the sport, if Daniel Jacobs thought Derevyanchenko gave him too much trouble in sparring he would have avoided the fight citing Derevyanchenko’s lack of star power. If Derevyanchenko didn’t think he could beat Jacobs, he would have never signed up to get embarrassed in Madison Square Garden live on HBO. Reading between the lines, it only makes sense that both men have given and taken, hurt and been hurt over the course of their 300 rounds of sparring, and now with round 301 taking place at Madison Square Garden with the IBF middleweight title on the line, we all get to see it just how closely matched the two really are.
What: Alberto Machado vs. Yuandale Evans, Junior LightweightsWhen: Oct. 27
How to Watch: HBO 10PM e.t.
Why You Should Care: To see if Alberto Machado can show you just how mean he is against a guy susceptible to getting hurt.
When Freddie Roach was asked about how Alberto Machado conducts himself in the ring, the onetime trainer of ear biter/attempted arm breaker Mike Tyson said simply “He’s mean. He’s f*cking mean.” And with 16 knockouts in 20 fights over guys with fight day records like 31-0, 22-1 and 16-1, the undefeated Puerto Rican has proven he’s not just mean in the ring, he’s very good in there too. With Puerto Rico still looking for its next boxing superstar, the mean man from San Juan may very well fit the bill.
Yuandale “Money Shot” Evans needs a new nickname. But in the ring, he’s a solid 20-1 fighter with his only loss coming to Javier Fortuna. Representing Cleveland Ohio, like Machado Evans is a southpaw but he doesn’t have anywhere near the power of the Puerto Rican (14 KOs of 21 opponents, mostly lesser fighters).
The issue for Evans is that one loss. See, like Machado Fortuna was a hard hitting undefeated Southpaw, and he not only beat Evans, he starched him in the first round. Evans didn’t look great when touched by even grazing shots from a power puncher, so if a puncher like Machado can land on Evans like Fortuna did, then putting him out of his misery with one clean shot would be the nice thing for the mean guy to do.
What: Regis Prograis vs. Terry Flanagan, Junior WelterweightsWhen: Oct. 27
How to Watch: DAZN 10PM e.t.
Why You Should Care: To see if Terry Flanagan can slow down the Regis Prograis hype train, never mind stop it completely.
Regis Prograis is getting a lot of hype these days, and he deserves every bit of it. The undefeated 29-year-old who calls himself “Rougarou” after a mythological Louisiana werewolf, is 22-0 with 19 knockouts, including stoppage wins in his last seven wins (no opponent made it to the ninth round) and has already started thinking about moving to 147 and facing guys like Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford. For his first-round fight in the WBSS junior welterweight tournament, he picked the UK’s Terry Flanagan as his opponent, saying “He’s a former world champion and I wanted to fight the toughest among those available for me to choose. I wanted to pick the harder fight and that’s why I went with Flanagan. I wasn’t looking for an easy opponent.”
Those kind words are well deserved for Terry Flanagan, who was the WBO lightweight champion for three years until he lost the title to Maurice Hooker this June (a split decision which Flanagan’s trainer said he lost due to Hooker’s headbutts giving Flanagan a concussion). Terry Flanagan is a good fighter, a slick boxer who has beaten guys like Orlando Cruz and Nate Campbell, but consistently failed to get a fight against the biggest named fighters in the world. Now, Flanagan will get his chance.
Regis Prograis is supposed to be the future and Terry Flanagan is supposed to be the past. Fighting in his home city of New Orleans, Regis Prograis is supposed to run over Terry Flanagan on his way to winning the WBSS trophy and moving on to bigger and better things. On Saturday, we’ll see if Terry Flanagan can at least slow down the Regis Prograis hype train, if not derail it completely.
What: John Ryder vs. Andrey Sirotkin, Super MiddleweightsWhen: Oct. 27
How to Watch: DAZN 5PM e.t.
Why You Should Care: Because Andrey Sirotkin is fighting a legitimate, skilled boxer in his prime, and we don’t know how he will handle that.
Andrey Sirotkin beat Ricardo Mayorga last year, making the famed overly-macho cigarette smoking Nicaraguan one of only four stoppages in Sirotkin’s undefeated fifteen fight career. In his last fight, he beat Ryan Ford, the former MMA fighter out of Tristar Gym that turned to boxing after losing to Jake Shields in World Series of Fighting. Lately, Andrey Sirotkin has made a bit of a career out of fighting “whatever happened to that guys” but on Saturday he will head to the UK to face a legitimate English opponent, not an MMA convert or a washed up has been.
John Ryder has a video game name and a 26-4 record. But, while four losses in thirty fights isn’t great, the 30-year-old from London has lost to some marquee names like Billy Joe Saunders and Rocky Fielding. He’ll also be fighting in the UK, this being Sirotkin’s first fight outside of Russia since 2014, so he should have the support of an adoring crowd.
Andrey Sirotkin has a fight on his hands against a true British contender in the UK, rather than the who’s who of combat sport’s version of “where are they now.” On Saturday, we’ll see if he can handle it.
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