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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Boxing Picks 2017- Vasyl Lomachenko vs Jason Sosa (April 8th)

Any time a potential Pound for Pound Number 1 gets in the ring it is going to be the headline event for me and that is why I have named this thread after Vasyl Lomachenko who headlines the big fight in the United States in the early hours of Sunday morning for those of us in the United Kingdom.

Take nothing away from the card that Frank Warren has put together at the Manchester Arena though with a couple of really big fights there. The best fight of the entire night could be between the two Liams, Smith and Williams, while Terry Flanagan will not want to see Manchester lose a second World Champion in the Lightweight Division after Anthony Crolla was dethroned and then beaten again by Jorge Linares.

It should be a good night of boxing for the fans settling in and my picks are below.

Liam Smith vs Liam Williams
The potential show stealers at the Manchester Arena, and perhaps even the whole night, comes from what many are labelling a 50-50 fight between Liam Smith and Liam Williams. The two fighter should be challenging for the WBO Super Welterweight Title, but Smith is not in a position to win back the belt he lost to Saul Alvarez having failed to reach the limit in the weigh in.

That is a big blow for Smith who has openly stated that he wants to win back the belt he lost to Alvarez in Texas, that being the only defeat either man has suffered. Liam Smith has been really disappointed that so many are giving his opponent a chance in this one as he feels he has been in much better company than Liam Williams, but I do wonder if failing to make the weight says his camp has not been as good as he would have liked.

It is a reason that I can't back Smith to win this one because missing the weight can sometimes be because of reasons that affect the ability in the ring. I tend to agree with him that he has had the bigger and tougher tests than Williams and I would have been interested in backing him if he had come onto the scales and hit his mark.

Williams is unbeaten and that does count for something, while he does hold some power with 11 of his 16 wins coming by stoppage. The Smith Knock Out ratio is not as strong as Williams' but he had won eight in a row by stoppage prior to the defeat to Alvarez and this has all the needle and hallmarks of a fight that will ignite a few times during the course of the time they spend in the ring.

Both men have shown they do possess some power and I will be surprised if the judges are needed in this one. I am leaning towards Smith to show his superior experience to perhaps get this done, but I will keep things simple by looking for this fight to not go the distance at a decent looking price.

Terry Flanagan vs Petr Petrov
A few months ago there were plenty in Manchester perhaps anticipating a huge unification Lightweight fight between two men from their city. Anthony Crolla decided to take on Jorge Linares instead and Manchester now only has the one World Champion at this weight level with Terry Flanagan hoping to avoid the same fate that befell Crolla.

In all honesty, Petr Petrov is not the same level as Jorge Linares and he has losses to the likes of Marcos Maidana and Dejan Zlaticanin on his resume.

The veteran has won six in a row since losing to Zlaticanin, who was most recently seen being wiped out by Mikey Garcia, and Petrov has only been stopped once in his 4 previous losses.

Terry Flanagan might not be as known to the casual fan as someone like Crolla, who had a very good backstory as well as the power of fighting on Sky Sports behind him. However it is Flanagan who has the unbeaten record and he has a couple of solid wins on his resume that have to be respected.

A win here will really open some big doors for Flanagan in this Division with the chance to perhaps entice the winner of the Mikey Garcia-Jorge Linares fight for a huge unification. There is no guarantee that the two stand out names in this Division take that fight next, so a win here will give Flanagan a chance to offer a unification to either which would be a huge step for him.

Flanagan does have his feet on the ground so I would be surprised if he overlooks Petrov knowing a loss would really put him in a tough position to earn the big money fights. There are options outside of the other World Champions to build his name with Crolla and Luke Campbell also in the Division, and I expect a focused Flanagan to be too good for Petrov.

Only 13 of his 32 wins have come by stoppage though and Petrov has shown some durability particularly in going the distance against Zlaticanin who is considered a big puncher. Maidana did stop Petrov, but Flanagan may just put on a solid boxing display and win this one by a wide margin on the cards and keep himself in a position to earn the big fights in the summer and beyond.

Oleksandr Usyk vs Michael Hunter
Some may already consider Oleksandr Usyk the best Cruiserweight in the world (probably not those in the Sky Sports studio and the machine fully behind Tony Bellew) and he has made it clear he wants to unify the Division before moving on to bigger fights at Heavyweight. It took Usyk just 10 fights to win the WBO Cruiserweight Title which surpassed the number of fights it took legendary Evander Holyfield to do the same, and Usyk is making his second defence this weekend.

He has plenty of amateur success to build upon as the 2012 Gold Medal winner at Heavyweight (Anthony Joshua won at Super-Heavyweight) and ultimately Usyk does feel his Division is going to be fighting alongside the big boys.

Usyk won't be taking anything for granted when defending against Michael Hunter who is going to receive the home support and is yet to suffer a loss in the professional ranks. Hunter has the reach advantage, but his CV does not really inspire and we are going to learn a lot about Hunter and what he is capable of at the end of this fight.

I do think the gap he needs to bridge is going to be too much and Usyk has stopped 10 of his 11 professional opponents. Usyk has shown he can box and fight and he will likely need a little time to work out what Hunter is bringing to the table.

I believe Usyk is the superior fighter with a bigger future in the pro ranks and I expect he will show that by wearing down the American over the course of the fight. It might take a couple of Rounds to simply see what Hunter is bringing, but Usyk can start sharp shooting from the southpaw chance and just grind down his opponent.

Usyk has won 10 fights by stoppage and 7 of those have come in the 'second half' of the scheduled Round those fights were set to go. I think Hunter will hold his own for a while, but Usyk can stop him between 7-12 Rounds after working things out through the first half of this World Title fight.

Vasyl Lomachenko vs Jason Sosa
There is so much to admire about Vasyl Lomachenko who would top the list of many fans Pound for Pound Rankings. A stellar amateur career has to be respected, and you could be forgiven for forgetting that Lomachenko is having just his ninth professional fight on Saturday as he is already a two weight World Champion.

One thing nagging at Lomachenko has to be the sole loss to Orlando Salido when beaten on a Split Decision in just his second fight. Some have suggested that Salido will be his next opponent if Lomachenko can defend his title on Saturday and then the Ukrainian would likely move up weight to join a Division featuring Mikey Garcia and Jorge Linares.

First things first, Lomachenko needs to defend his title against the tough Jason Sosa who has shown he can produce plenty of power and has upset favoured opponents in the past. However this might be another step up for Sosa especially if Lomachenko is as sharp as he was in dismissing the challenge of previously unbeaten Nicolas Walters last time out.

Walters is a common opponent for both as his previous fight had been a Decision Draw with Sosa. Boxing isn't a sport where you can make judgements solely on how a fighter has performed against common opponents, but Lomachenko's complete and utter domination of Walters will have raised eyebrows of even his biggest supporters.

Lomachenko has the sharp shooting to wear down fighters and I think that is the likely situation for Sosa. The latter is really tough and getting him out of there early would be a surprise, but I can see Sosa taking more and more punishment as the fight wears on which will leave the referee or his corner in the position to make a decision for him.

That will likely happen some time in the latter half of the fight and I will back Lomachenko to earn another stoppage win with this one coming some time between 7-12 Rounds.

MY PICKS: Liam Smith-Liam Williams Fight to Go the Distance- NO @ 2.50 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Terry Flanagan by Decision/Technical Decision @ 2.50 Paddy Power (2 Units)
Oleksandr Usyk Win Between 7-12 @ 3.10 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Vasyl Lomachenko Win Between 7-12 @ 2.88 Paddy Power (2 Units)

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