HBO PREVIEW: GEALE-BARKER & CLEVERLY-KOVALEV
HBO GETS LESSON FROM SHOWTIME
Los Angeles, CA- Perhaps taking some cues from the recent success of rival network Showtime, HBO will air a whopping FOUR fights instead of their usual one or two this Saturday. In the main event, Daniel Geale (29-1, 15 KOs) of Australia defends his IBF (160 lb.) belt against England’s Darren Barker (25-1, 16 KOs). Geale and Barker both won Gold at the Commonwealth Games, with Geale winning at welterwight (147) and Barker winning at light welterweight (140).
FIGHTS FROM ATLANTIC CITY & THE UNITED KINGDOM
Barker’s claim to fame as a professional is going 11 close rounds with current (but fading?) middleweight king Sergio Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs) before being stopped by the champ. Geale on the other hand has fought in 8 championship bouts, with his only loss coming via a controversial split decision against countryman Anthony Mundine (44-5, 26 KOs). Geale avenged that defeat with a unanimous decision win over Mundine four years later. It is worth noting, however, that Geale chose to face Mundine instead of his mandatory challenger Gennady Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs). Thankfully for Geale, Barker is nowhere near the threat Golovkin is, and the Australian should be able to walk away with his title intact after a fairly competitive affair.
WHO IS THE WBO CHAMP NATHAN CLEVERLY?
Welshman Nathan Cleverly (26-0, 12 KOs) puts his undefeated record and WBO light heavyweight (175) title on the line against Russian knockout artist Sergey Kovalev (21-0-1, 19 KOs). Cleverly has been protected as a champion and has yet to face a fighter of the same caliber as Kovalev. The sole blemish on the Russian’s record came in a fight that was stopped in the second round after an accidental headbutt sent Grover Young (7-10-1, 4 KOs) to the canvas and he was unable to continue. What would have been ruled a no-contest in most states ridiculously went to the scorecards in California, and the fight was declared a technical draw.
RUSSIAN IS TRULY A BEAST!
Kovalev is legitimately undefeated, but Cleverly will be the toughest challenger he has faced. The Welshman will take on a literal “killer” in Kovalev. Roman Simakov, the last fighter to last more than 3 rounds with Sergey, died 3 days after suffering a 7th round TKO at the hands of Kovalev. Neither man has taken on the best competition, as Cleverly has been spoonfed a steady diet of eurobums. “Clev” will run into a euroBEAST on Saturday night, and I do not see him keeping the WBO belt. There are a few obstacles for Kovalev however, and he may not get a fair shake.
QUICK TRIGGER REFEREE IN SPOTLIGHT
The fight will take place in Clev’s native Wales, and UK fighters generally have a significant home field advantage. Controversial referee Terry O’Conner, who is known to award dubious early stoppages to Brits, will be an aspect of the fight worth keeping an eye on. UK boxing judges are rather generous with the home fighters as well, and Cleverly may get a points win he does not deserve. Regardless, this should be an engaging fight between two of the best at 175.
FOURTH SCRAP IS RAZOR CLOSE!
IBF super bantamweight (122) titlist Jhonatan Romero 23 -0, 12 KOs) makes his first defense against Kiko Martinez (28-4, 20 KOs). This is a pick ‘em fight, but I’m going with Romero to take it and likely on points. Martinez was stopped for the first time recently by Carl Frampton (16-0, 11 KO) just a few months ago, and has dropped decisions in the past. He is certainly a solid contender, however, and possesses the power to swing things in his favor. Welterweight prospect Thomas Dulorme (18-1, 13 KOs) faces Francisco Figueroa (20-5-1, 13 KOs). Dulorme should win this one, as Figueroa is just 1-3-1 in his last 5 fights and has only fought twice since 2009. Neither fighter is truly impressive, but Dulorme should be slightly favored. The fight will air after the Boxing After Dark telecast.