Summer 2020 Boxing Preview

Before I get to the fights, let me first make a plea to the boxing promotions out there:

For a couple of weeks now, and for weeks going forward, Top Rank has been able to put up Tuesday and Thursday shows on ESPN. UFC has been able to put up high-level shows every weekend.

So what's stopping the rest of you? Maybe you don't have as much cash on hand as Top Rank, but the difference can't be that stark, can it? Premier Boxing Champions will be back in July, but I haven't heard a peep out of Golden Boy, Matchroom Boxing, or Sauerland Promotions.

Small promoters, I would think, could put up some fights too. Small promotions are mostly regional, so if they operate in a state that is allowing some limited, no-spectator events, then they should be able to get in some boxers that do not have to travel from out of state, right?

Anyway, on to this weekend's (if Thursday counts as part of the weekend) action:

Jose Pedraza (26-3-0) vs. Mikkel LesPierre 22-1-1

This super lightweight bout is the headliner for ESPN's Thursday night card. Pedraza is a former world champ at super featherweight and lightweight, and is looking to restart a path towards a third weight class world championship. In his way is the Trinidad-born LesPierre, who has a gaudy record but not much else.

Pedraza didn't look great his last time out, losing to Jose Zepeda, but other than that, he's only lost to household names Vasyl Lomachenko and Gervonta Davis. Even at -1000, I think there is money to be made on Pedraza. Maybe don't break the bank on him in case the Zepeda loss was a harbinger of sudden suckitude, but I doubt it.

Gabriel Flores, Jr. (17-0-0) vs. Josec Ruiz (21-2-3)

Flores is not only undefeated but has put away every step-up fighter they have put in front of him. That said, I think there is some value for Ruiz at +1400.

Ruiz is from Honduras and his first 22 fights occurred there, Columbia, Venezuela, or the Dominican Republic. If a guy has built his record on fights that have occurred outside of the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, and perhaps the Far East, you generally want to stay away.

But Ruiz seems to potentially be the exception to that rule. His last four fights have occurred in the United States, and he's won them all. Three were again opponents with records no worse than 11-5 and three did not go the distance. Ruiz seems to have more power than Flores, which bring the lucky punch knockout into play.

I'm not expecting Ruiz to win. But I think the odds of him winning are better than 14-to-1. I'd put it more at 10-to-1. That means there is value on Ruiz.

Emanuel Navarrete (31-1-0) vs. Uriel Lopez (13-13-1)

Here we have a special Saturday ESPN card from Mexico City. Unfortunately, it's in question and while I am not finding additional sources, the fight has been removed from Boxrec.

Let's assume it happens. Since I've been following boxing, I've noticed that a lot of fights on Mexican TV (this fight is going to be on Azteca, as well as ESPN) tend to be showcases for Mexican champions rather than a fight that anyone expects to be competitive, even more so than the American ESPN fights I broke down above. We'll get better fights when we have a Covid vaccine or cases drop markedly and stay dropped.

But even given that, this is one hell of a mismatch. Navarrete is the WBO super bantamweight title fighter (this is a non-title fight) and is ranked No. 1 in his weight class by Boxrec. Lopez has lost three in a row, including to a fighter with a 5-14 record. There is no number feasible to make betting on Lopez worth it. I am going to wait to see what the odds are closer to the fight for Navarrete to win by stoppage, because I would be shocked if this goes the distance.

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