Sunday, June 22, 2008

Diaz - Pacquiao Prediction

By JE Grant

Saturday in Las Vegas boxing megastar Manny Pacquiao attempts to gain a belt in a fourth weight division when he meets David Diaz at lightweight. 

Pacquiao’s most recent outing, a tough split decision over Juan Manuel Marquez. The bout gained revenge for a previous draw but did little to indicate Manny’s prospective success at lightweight.

When Pacquiao, 29, gained his first belt, in 1999 against Chatchai Sasakul, he weighed-in at a sharp and ready 112 pounds.  In his 51 bout career “Pac Man,” 46-3-2 (35 KOs), has in fact never exceeded the junior lightweight limit of 130 pounds and as recently as 2005 had not weighed-in above the featherweight limit of 126 pounds.

No one can question why he wants to climb yet another mountain. His victories over Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera (twice), Erik Morales (twice), Oscar Larios, represents a virtual sweep of every south of 135. 

Yet in his recent victories over Barrera and Marquez went limit, perhaps suggesting his punching power may have peaked at the lower weight classes.

His bona fides as a fighter are not in question. His ability to handle a career-long lightweight may prove another matter.

In Diaz, 34-1 (17 KOs), he faces a fighter who has never fought below the lightweight limit. His only loss, a stoppage at the hands of junior welterweight Kendall Holt, has been followed by a 9-fight unbeaten streak. A fellow southpaw, Diaz, 32, is not an especially hard hitter (perhaps the reason Pacquiao is targeting him). He is a well-rounded tactician with a proven ability to fight well late into a fight.

Diaz’ record isn’t populated by names as recognizable as the stars on Pacquiao’s, and his 12-round decision win over Morales came on the heels of a Morales’ 3-fight losing streak.  After the bout Morales retired.


Undoubtedly Pacquiao’s trainer Freddy Roach is fully aware of the pitfalls that may haunt his fighter. Pacquiao will start fast and seek to outwork Diaz from angles. Despite their careers being at different weight classes, both are about the same height (about 5’6”) and have similar reach. Diaz will press the attack and will try to establish that he is the physically stronger fighter. Manny is sometimes given to reckless attacks but is often able to avoid trouble because of his overwhelming speed and high-volume attack. In this bout Pacquiao will jump in often and Diaz will be there with an answer more often than not. Diaz will learn early that he can take whatever Pac Man brings and he will stay close to take advantage of Manny’s mistakes. It won’t be easy, but Diaz will counter-punch his way to a lop-sided decision win.

Diaz by 12-round decision.


Editor's Post-Fight Note: Couldn't have been more wrong on this one. Pacquiao dominated throughout and destroyed a very solid fighter in David Diaz. I'm note sure I've seen Pacquiao as sharp --- at any weight.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Abraham - Miranda Prediction

By JE Grant

Highly ranked middleweight Arthur Abraham revisits his toughest challenge to date in an over-the-limit bout with power-punching Edison Miranda June 21st in Florida. 

In amassing a 26-0 (21 KOs) record, Abraham proved his worth in the middleweight division in his 2006 meeting with Miranda, 30-2 (26 KOs), regardless of the controversial nature of the outcome. While outworking Miranda for much of the bout, he also suffered a broken jaw and was fouled on multiple occasions. 

The five points deducted from Miranda (headbutts, low blows), made the scoring appear one-sided when the bout was anything but.  Abraham controlled the early action but as the fight progressed Miranda gained momentum and landed hard with both hands. 

If Abraham-Miranda I proved anything it was that Abraham has as much determination and grit as anyone in the division and his work-rate is brutal. “King” Arthur’s big knockout total is, however, somewhat misleading in determining his power. In fights with Ian Gardner, Howard Eastman, and Miranda --- the only recognizable names on his record --- he was unable to put away the competition. 

Miranda also proved his mettle in his losing effort. No one, perhaps especially Abraham, will question “Pantera’s” considerable power. His lapses in technical skill are more than overshadowed by a knockout reel that excites crowds and makes prospective opponents wince.

Both fighters seem to bring out the best and worst in each other. Miranda landed on Abraham to some effect but did not sustain a mixed attack. Abraham turned up the heat on Miranda with a high-volume effort but received the slugger’s big shots while standing directly in front of him on too many occasions.

Much has transpired since their first meeting. Abraham is 4-0 (4 KOs) all in defense of a meaningless belt. He seems to have recovered from broken jaw and appears as determined as ever.

Miranda is 4-1 (3 KOs) following the Abraham bout. That one loss, a devastating knockout at the hands of Kelly Pavlik, caused Miranda to abandon the middleweight division and move up to super-middleweight.  


Abraham has likely learned more from the first meeting. While not a defensive master, he does slip punches and finds angles to land his numerous punches. He knows that simply trading with Miranda does not give him his best opportunity to win. Miranda is a pure two-fisted puncher. He expects to win by knockout not only in every bout but with every punch. Unlike many big hitters, Miranda can go deep into a bout and remain dangerous. If he selected a jab more often he could breakup the game plan of Abraham but that is not indicated by his record to date. Abraham will punch in flurries and move his head to consistently frustrate Miranda. Round after round will go to Abraham as Miranda’s desperation increases. Although this bout represents Abraham’s first venture outside Europe, he is a proven veteran who won’t be rankled.

Abraham by a lopsided 12 round decision.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Pavlik - Lockett Prediction

By JE Grant

Budding superstar, Ohio’s Kelly Pavlik, is putting more than his Ring Magazine World Middleweight Championship on the line when he faces number one alphabet contender "Rocket" Gary Lockett Saturday in Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall. He knows that ultra-lucrative dates with boxing’s elite abound with a victory over the untested and likely overrated Lockett.

Despite having beaten no middleweight fighter resembling top-ten status, Lockett has "rocketed" to the top of one of the organizations whose belt Pavlik owns. 

Thus, another in the latest series of “mandatories” in boxing that have to be taken care of while a champion awaits bouts with fighters actually deserving of a title opportunity. Interestingly, while one of the alphabet sanctioning bodies sees Lockett as "number one" the other organization that recognizes Pavlik as champion lists Lockett at number fifteen.   Fortunately, the Ring is not hindered by the influences of any of the numerous (and clearly illegitimate) so-called "world" sanctioning organizations.

That’s not to say that Lockett is without some talent. He sports record of 31-1 with 21 knockouts which suggests he possesses some power. 

The operative word is “suggests” because many of Lockett’s knockouts have come against the likes of his most recent opponent, Kai Kauramaki.  The 40-year old traveler left his 4th round knockout loss to Lockett with a record of 13-14 including 8 knockout losses.

Conversely, in his most recent outings, Pavlik knocked out and decisioned Jermain Taylor, and stopped big punching Edison Miranda. The collective upshot of those wins, in addition to the Ring world title, has been to push Pavlik to the front for American boxing fans looking for an exciting hitter with genuine skills.

Pavlik proved in his rematch with Taylor that he is not wed to blasting out opponents early. He showed a disciplined attack working behind a sharp jab that did not allow Taylor to threaten a repeat of his early knockdown of Pavlik in their first meeting. It’s apparent the 26-year old champion continues to improve.

The confidence gained in those bouts spells trouble for Lockett at every turn. Pavlik, 33-0 with 29 knockouts has seen power greater than Lockett’s (see Miranda and Taylor) and not only survived but thrived.

The 31-year old Lockett has moved his career along slowly to this point, moving between 154 and 160 pounds and never fighting outside of Europe. 

He will find some solace in the recent major win by fellow Welshman Joe Calzaghe who for years was dogged by criticism for being matched with questionable competition and never fighting in America. Calzaghe answered critics by smacking around Jeff Lacy and Mikkel Kessler before storming to the U.S. and defeating the legendary Bernard Hopkins.

Of course the major difference is that Calzaghe had more than 20 title defenses against a distinctly higher grade of opponent than has Lockett. Their shared Welsh heritage, and common trainer Enzo Calzaghe, notwithstanding, the comparison is not fitting.


Lockett is out to prove two things: 1. His power is real, and 2. He can absorb the power of Pavlik. While his power is likely real, it is not nearly at the Miranda or Taylor level. He is also unlikely to comprehend the volume and pacing Pavlik has so ruthlessly used against the best his division has to offer. Lockett will land early and for his trouble he will find wicked shots in return. He has no history of hotly contested bouts and that fact will not serve him well when Pavlik comes pounding away. 

Pavlik will lead patiently with his jab and allow the one-trick Lockett to blow off some steam before scoring big shots. The pace will increase steadily and Lockett will find himself left behind as Pavlik turns on the jets.

The right hands will rain on Lockett after round 5 and he won’t have a sufficient answer to keep Pavlik away.

Pavlik by KO in 7.

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