DMV boxing fans rejoice! This weekend, we are going to be treated to a competitive match-up (on paper) between one of our area’s top prospects, Demond Nicholson (17-1-1 16KO) and Canada’s undefeated Steve Rolls (15-0 9KO). The fight will take place at the Verona Casino and Resort in New York on Friday, June 9th, and is set to be televised on Showtime as part of the Diaz Jr. vs. Prograis under-card. Let’s dive in and take a closer look at this fight!
For the 24-year old Nicholson, who fights out of Laurel, Maryland, this will be his second contest at the super-middleweight limit of 168 pounds. Based off of his previous performances, this move up in weight should serve him well, as it was quite obvious in his July 2016 bout against Immanuwel Aleem (17-0-1 10KO) that making the 160 pound limit was taxing his body too much to perform well. He has the punching power to compete at super-middleweight, and the extra weight should help him carry stamina through the late rounds in a fight. Stamina was the greatest weakness I could identify in his otherwise solid boxing game. Nicholson tends to use his reach to his advantage, fighting behind a solid jab until an opening presents itself for his powerful straight right. He turned a loss early in his career into a learning experience, and now shows a lot of improvement in his defense compared to then.
Across the ring will stand undefeated, 33-year old Steve Rolls. I will be honest, I haven’t seen too much of Rolls, but what I have seen has been solid. He fights with a repertoire of punches to both the head and body, he has relatively fast hands and deceptive power. Moreover, when he has an opponent hurt, he can finish the job without overextending too much into the opponent’s favor. The flaw that I’ve identified across the film that I have watched is his left. As Rolls gets an advantage over his opponent, his left hand tends to become a solely offensive weapon (without employing a shoulder-roll defense), as he lowers it to throw jabs that are hard to see coming, and left hooks to the body that are equally hidden. However, the increase in offense is a double edged sword, leaving his chin exposed.
I see the fight playing out like this: the first round or two will see the fighters testing the waters, with neither willing to get reckless. The next few rounds will be a back and forth with Rolls’ hand speed stealing the close rounds. As the fight wears on, his left will start to drop to his hip, opening his chin to Nicholson’s right hand. If that right lands flush, Rolls won’t recover in time. My pick is Nicholson by KO mid-late fight, he has the experience against sharper competition which should serve him well. Rolls has fast hands, but nowhere near as fast as Aleem.
How does my prediction strike you? Do you think Rolls’ team is adept enough to foresee this and correct it in training? Let me know on Twitter @TheGreatToddman or email me at PugilistsParadise@columnist.com .