What: Shane Mosley Jr. vs. Brandon Adams, MiddleweightsWhen: Nov. 9
How to Watch: Epix, 10 p.m. ET
Why You Should Care: Because a fight between two boxers desperate for a win is far more compelling than a reality show could ever be.
Premium cable channel Epix brought back “The Contender” for a season, featuring middleweight fighters facing off in five-round bouts akin to “The Ultimate Fighter.” On Friday night, Epix will air the finale of the show, a live ten-round boxing match from Inglewood California between Shane Mosley Jr. and Brandon Adams to determine who wins the season, the “Contender Belt” and $250,000. Those may not seem like huge stakes but considering the status of both men’s careers it may mean a ton. Shane Mosley Jr. is 11-2 as a professional, despite having only fought five fighters with records above .500. To say that he’s not on pace to match his father’s career would be an understatement. To say he desperately needs to win this fight, isn’t.
Brandon Adams is 20-2, with his two losses coming to very respectable opponents like Willie Monroe Jr. and John Thompson. While these are pretty good losses, the fact is he’s 6-2 in his last eight fights and nobody is going to be knocking down his door with wads of cash for him to face the middleweight elite. Shane Mosley, Jr. will always have the name recognition to get fans interested in him but needs to win now if he wants to prove he can compete with good fighters, never mind great ones. Brandon Adams on the other hand has shown himself to be a good fighter but needs a big win on TV to get people to care about him. Even though the show’s finale won’t have dramatic music, contrived plotlines or manipulative editing, both men’s need for a victory make this fight extremely compelling television.
What: Oleksandr Usyk vs. Tony Bellew, CruiserweightsWhen: Nov. 10
How to Watch: DAZN
Why You Should Care: Because Oleksandr Usyk needs to test himself against a puncher like Bellew before he can be considered a legitimate future opponent of guys like Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder.
Oleksandr Usyk is already being considered one of the biggest threats to guys like Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, despite never having fought in the heavyweight division. Such is the hype of the current, undefeated, undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world. A slick Southpaw, the Ukraine’s Usyk won gold in the 2012 Olympics and has trained with Anatoly Lomachenko prompting some to compare him to the pound for pound king. He should easily beat Tony Bellew, but Bellew does have one thing going for him.
Tony Bellew can punch. At 30-2-1 with 20 knockouts including stoppages in his last four fights (including two at heavyweight), Bellew has shown he has a puncher’s chance anytime he enters the ring. While that may not be a compelling reason to watch this match, it does say something about Usyk’s future. If Tony Bellew can stun or even knock down Oleksandr Usyk then there’s no telling what guys with chloroform-dipped hands like Joshua and Wilder could do to him.
Tony Bellew is a pretty big star in the UK due to both his boxing career and his role as the antagonist in “Creed.” By all accounts, Usyk is looking to use him as a stepping stone before he moves up in weight and fights the best heavyweights the world has to offer. But if he thinks he’s going to outduel punchers like Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder, he has to first prove he can dismantle a puncher like Bellew.
What: Anthony Crolla vs. Daud Yordan, LightweightsWhen: Nov. 10
How to Watch: DAZN
Why You Should Care: Because Anthony Crolla thinks with a win he gets a shot at Vasyl Lomachenko, but also knows that to win he’ll need to survive a brutal battle.
Anthony Crolla told Skysports that when it comes to this fight, his trainer believes it will be a “long, hard and brutal fight” because Crolla acknowledges “I know I'm not the most talented fighter out there, I never have been and I never will be, but I know I have to make up for it with hard work.” Acknowledging that you’re not the most talented fighter in the world and that to win this fight you’re going to have to walk through some brutal punishment is a tough sell, so what does Anthony Crolla think he’s going to get that would make facing a dangerous guy like Daud Yordan worth it? A shot at Vasyl Lomachenko.
Yes, with a win in this fight he will become the mandatory challenger for Lomachenko’s lightweight title. Both financially and in terms of prestige, a fight with Lomachenko is a huge opportunity, and one that warrants taking a tough fight against Daud Yordan.
Because, make no mistake, Yordan is a tough guy who’s going to be a tough fight for Crolla. A veteran of 41 professional prizefights, Yordan is 38-3 with 26 knockouts. Riding a five-year, eight-fight win streak, the Indonesian who trains in the tropical paradise of Bali is going to pressure Crolla in hopes of wearing him down and stopping him. Anthony Crolla knows he’s not the most talented man in the world, and that he’ll have to go through Hell to earn a shot at the man who might be.
What: Krzysztof Glowacki vs. Maksim Vlasov, CruiserweightsWhen: Nov. 10
How to Watch: DAZN
Why You Should Care: Because Krzystof Glowacki and Maksim Vlasov have only three losses between them, and they’re all to household names. Yet, you’ve never heard of them.
Krzystof Glowacki has fought 31 times, knocked out 19 opponents, and only lost a decision to Oleksandr Usyk. Maksim Vlasov has fought 44 times, knocked out 25 opponents, and has only lost twice; decisions to Isaac Chilemba and Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez. That means in a combined 75 fights they’ve only been beaten by three guys, two undefeated champions and a former IBO champion who lost a title bid to Sergey Kovalev at light heavyweight. That’s pretty impressive for two guys you’ve likely never heard of.
So, Poland’s Glowacki and Russia’s Vlasov will fight each other in hopes of advancing in the World Boxing Super Series Tournament to face the winner of the Briedis- Mikaelian fight, but also to make sure you know the winner.
What: Mairis Briedis vs. Noel Mikaelian, CruiserweightsWhen: Nov. 10
How to Watch: DAZN
Why You Should Care: Because Mairis Briedis is motivated to win the title he couldn’t just a year ago, while Noel Mikaelian is trying to get his career back on track.
Last year, Mairis Briedis made it all the way to the finals of the World Boxing Super Series Tournament and was being talked about as a fighter who could give Oleksadr Usyk a serious fight. Then, he got dominated, Usyk became boxing’s next superstar and the world forgot about Mairis Briedis. So, void of any better opportunities Briedis entered the second WBSS Cruiserweight tournament as the number one seed, motivated to take home the Muhammed Ali Trophy on his second attempt.
Noel Mikaelian needs to get his career back on track. The German fighter rocketed to a 21-0 record and captured the WBO International Cruiserweight title, then dropped a decision to Poland’s Kryzstof Wlodarczyk which cost him his title. Although he bounced back with a split decision to the third most famous guy named Isiah Thomas, after looking so great at the beginning of his career before dropping a decision to a veteran fighter there are many questions about how good Mikaelian is outside of the German opponents he’s been feasting on.
On Saturday night, either Mairis Briedis will continue his odyssey of finishing the job he couldn’t just a year ago, or Noel Mikaelian will once again have the boxing world looking at him as a future contender.
And finally, this weekend “Integrated Sports PPV” will bring us Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez. But in case you’re thinking about how it’s a shame this matchup didn’t happen when it mattered, don’t worry, it’s still not happening. See. Juanma and Gamboa will inexplicably be fighting different opponents on the same card. Lopez and Gamboa should have fought each other in 2011, and boxing promoters don’t even have the decency to give boxing fans the fight in 2018. It’s a disgrace. Please don’t buy it.
« Previous Sherdog Boxing: The Weekly Wrap Next Everything You Need to Know About the Weekend in Boxing »