Television: HBO (USA), SAT1 (Germany), PPV (Australia)
Time: 2:00AM GMT / 10:00PM ET / 7:00PM PT
WBA World middleweight title
IBO middleweight title
Gennady Golovkin 27(24)-0 vs. Curtis Stevens 25(18)-3
This will be a fun action fight — for however long it lasts. Even so, it’s not particularly meaningful.
If Golovkin is even an ounce as good as everyone thinks, he should definitively win this fight. He already fought — and beat definitively — a higher calibre of opponent in Matthew Macklin. I therefore see no reason why Golovkin can’t win decisively against Stevens too.
Golovkin hasn’t won a fight by decision since 2008. He has an 88% KO ratio with 15 of his last 16 fights won inside the distance. In fact, Golovkin hasn’t had a fight past Round 8 since 2011 — when he won by TKO10 against Kassim Ouma.
(By the way, Ouma hasn’t fought since that loss — Golovkin essentially retired Ouma!)
This isn’t to disrespect Stevens. Like Golovkin, Stevens is a puncher. He has a 64% KO ratio with 3 of his last 4 fights won by KO — with those KOs ending in Round 1! On top of that, Stevens has decent wins too. He has victories over Saul Roman, Derrick Findley, Elvin Ayala, Romaro Johnson, and the previously undefeated Piotr Wilczewski. Of these wins, only Findley lasted the distance.
Even so, Stevens losses were definitive. He lost by wide decision to Jesse Brinkley and Andre Dirrell, and lost by TKO8 to Marcos Primera (although he won the rematch). This indicates that Golovkin is in a higher class than Stevens.
Prediction: Golovkin by KO6.
Magomed Abdusalamov 18(18)-0 vs. Mike Perez 19(12)-0
This is a great match-up between two heavyweight prospects. What’s on the line? The right to be taken seriously as contenders.
Abdusalamov is like a Russian Deontay Wilder. He has a 100% KO ratio but has shown clear defensive flaws. Even though Abdulsalamov is there to be hit, it’s his power that’s the equalizer. If he touches his opponent, they will go down. Despite fighting five 10 Rounders, Abdulsalamov has never been past Round 5. Everything ends decisively.
On his ledger is some good names too. Abdusalamov has wins over Sebastian Ceballos, Victor Bisbal, Jameel McCline, Maurice Byarm, and Jason Pettaway. In addition, Abdusalamov two undefeated fighters their first loss.
Perez seems to me like the more complete fighter. Certainly, he doesn’t have the same power as Abdusalamov but with a 63% KO ratio, he can still end things early. What makes Perez seem like the better fighter to me is his defense. As a decorated Cuban amateur, Perez has solid fundamentals. If Perez can’t win by KO, he wins by wide UD — often by shutout.
His resume includes wins over Travis Walker, Friday Ahunanya, Tye Fields, Gregory Tony, and Kertson Manswell.
Because Europe is the new home of the heavyweight division, Perez resides in Ireland. However, should he win against Abdusalamov, I expect him to make more appearances Stateside.
Prediction: Perez by UD.
Vacant IBO cruiserweight title
Ola Afolabi 19(9)-3-4 vs. Lukasz Janik 26(14)-1
This fight will not make it on HBO which is too bad since Afolabi has been in some legendary fights. Indeed, his trilogy against Marco Huck is must see — even if Afolabi did not win a single fight. Each of those fights went down to the wire with Afolabo having an argument for a win each time.
Other than his losses to Huck, only Allan Green can claim a win over Afolabi — and that was a points decision way back in 2003.
Beyond that, Afolabi has very good wins under his belt. He has victories over Valery Brudov, Terry Dunstan, Lubos Suda, Sandro Siproshvili, and Enzo Macarinelli. Afolabi has also handed three previously undefeated fighters their first loss.
Janik obviously has not faced the same level of opposition as Afolabi, but he’s a legitimate contender — even if he’s slightly fringe. He has wins against Lars Buchholz, Roman Kracik, Cristian Dolzanelli, Michele De Meo, and Silvio Meinel. Certainly these are not elite opponents, but they’re continental grade. Janik’s consistent success over them shows he’s ready for world level.
The only loss on Janik’s record is against Mateusz Masternak — who is still a highly regarded prospect even if he has a recent loss against Grigory Drozd.
Still, if you were to ask me which fighter deserves to stay at world level, I would say Afolabi.
Prediction: Afolabi by UD.