This Saturday, boxing fans will have the rare treat, or frustration, depending on how you look at it, of having boxing on multiple stations. HBO Boxing will be showing a Top Rank Promotions event live from the Theater of Madison Square Garden in New York City as Roman “Rocky” Martinez (29-2-3 with 17 KOs) will be defending his WBO Junior lightweight title against Vasyl “Hi-Tech” Lomachenko (5-1 with 3 KOs). Also on the undercard will be the future of Puerto Rican boxing, Felix Verdejo (21-0 with 14 KOs) as he faces Juan Jose Martinez (25-2 with 17 KOs)
However, that’s not all as Showtime will be presenting a card that may not have the start power of HBO’s, but likely will have the better overall fights. Live from Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, NY, Banner Promotions will have 2 very good fights as “The Siberian Rocky” Ruslan Provodnikov (25-4 with 18 KOs) squares off against the hard punching John Molina Junior (28-6 with 23 KOs). The co-main event will be a WBC junior middleweight eliminator as Demetrius Andrade (22-0 with 15 KOs) fights his 2nd fight in almost 2 years against Willie “The Great” Nelson (25-2-1 with 15 KOs).
HBO Boxing After Dark
Roman Martinez is coming off 2 grueling fights with Orlando Salido, with the last one being in September of last year. Lomachenko last fought in November, but he hasn’t faced a legitimate fighter in over 2 years. While Roman Martinez is known as someone who has worked hard and had to fight for everything he has gotten, Lomachenko is known for his 396-1 amateur record and was given a title shot in only his 2nd pro fight against the aforementioned Salido, which was Lomachenko’s only loss.
Despite the pro experience advantage, despite being the champion, and despite it being his division against Lomachenko, who is moving up in weight, Martinez is the underdog in this fight. Martinez has the length advantage and it will be very interesting to see how Lomachenko works around Martinez’s jab. However when it’s all said and done, I’m picking Lomachenko by unanimous decision. His high level of skill plus, his body not going through the recent punishment that Martinez has, will be the difference.
Felix Verdejo has all the skills necessary to be a star, but thus far, he has yet to be pushed in any way. People are starting to wonder when he will finally step up and challenge himself. The last time he fought in NY, despite winning almost every round on every scorecard against William Silva, he was far from impressive. Verdejo is still only 23, and his opponent, John Jose Martinez is considered a slight step up, but Verdejo’s resume eventually has to start matching the hype he gets in the media.
Showtime Championship Boxing
Ruslan Provodnikov is known as 1 of the most feared men in the sport. For the few that have stepped in the ring with this beast, no one ever asks for a rematch. However, he has been in a lot of battles and taken a lot of punishment recently. You have to wonder how much more before he starts going downhill. His opponent, John Molina Jr. is a hard puncher that just doesn’t seem to have enough skill to really matchup with B level or above opponents.
This fight may not match last week’s fight of Francisco Vargas vs. Orlando Salido, but it should be entertaining and possibly gruesome. Neither of these guys are really that good at defense and both want to throw bombs. However, Ruslan has shown that he will not go down and just continue to keep coming, while Molina has been dropped more than a couple times. Because of that, I’m going with The Siberian Rocky, Ruslan Provodnikov to win by 5th round stoppage.
The co-main will highlight Demetrius Andrade as he tries to return to the form that led him to being the WBO junior middleweight champion from 2 years ago. Andrade was asking for fights with all the top fighters after beating Brian Rose, but since, due to issues outside the ring, he was out of the ring for 16 months and stripped of the belt. He is still looked at as a top 5 fighter in the weight class and a win here would set him up to win back the title he never lost.
Willie Nelson is solid step up for Andrade as it is probably the 3rd or 4th best opponent Andrade has ever faced. Nelson will definitely be facing the toughest fight of his career. His only notable fight was a loss against Vanes Martirosyan. That fight was 20 months ago and he has only fought twice since. He is still right around the top 15 at 154 pounds and is probably the bigger and longer guy. However, I think the class of Andrade will show up and he ends up winning this one by unanimous decision.
Saturday night will be a good overall night for boxing. Hopefully the timing works out so that everyone will be able to see all the fights that they want to see. There are hard punchers, highly skilled boxers, young future stars, and vets looking to get to the top. From head to toe, there should be a little bit of everything for what everyone wants. Whether it’s in New York City or Upstate New York, boxing will be the main course for boxing fans. Enjoy the fights.