Tonight has all of the ingredients for an exciting night in the ring! We have a couple of World Championship bouts and an eliminator bout to become the mandatory for the winner of Jarrett Hurd vs. Erislandy Lara fight. All of the fights look competitive on paper, let’s delve into my prediction shall we?
Julian Williams (24-1-1 15KO) vs. Nathaniel Gallimore (20-1-1 17KO) – This fight pits the bull against the matador. For Williams, this fight can set him up to get another crack at a World Title after his first attempt in 2016 against Jermall Charlo. For Gallimore, this would put him in position for his first attempt at a Title. Williams is a true student of the game and a hard worker in the gym. He employs a disciplined approach to all of his fights, throwing when the opportunity is there without overcommitting to his offense and sacrificing defense. Gallimore is on the other end of the scope, preferring to let his power equalize the playing field, taking two hits to land his Sunday punch. My prediction lays on J Rock’s preparation. He’s a hard, smart worker and has a very knowledgeable team (Stephen Edwards gives phenomenal analysis) in his corner. Gallimore can be defensively irresponsible, at times opening his guard wide open to throw his heavy shots. If I can spot this, there’s no doubt Williams and Edwards have also seen it and are prepared. I look for Williams to pick apart Gallimore’s defense, mixing body shots until the chin is open and going for a knockout if his stamina appears to be running low.
Prediction: This should be a smooth win IF Williams can avoid getting clipped, Gallimore can hurt anyone in the division with a clean shot. If Williams shows up in prime form, I see him landing telling blows in between defensive lapses. Williams by Knockout.
Caleb Truax (29-3-2 18KO) vs. James DeGale (23-2-1 14KO) – This is perhaps the most intriguing fight of the weekend. Caleb Truax is the current IBF Super Middleweight Champion. He claimed this belt in December in (what most boxing pundits agree) the upset of the year against James DeGale. A rematch was issued, and here we are! Truax is a workhorse in the ring. He’s earned his stripes the old fashioned way, grinding his entire career as the opponent. Most boxers who come through the ranks this way never get their chance to shine. Truax did, and he took full advantage, beating DeGale with an onslaught that he was unable to defend against. DeGale, on the other hand, entered the professional ranks on the back of an Olympic Gold Medal. He claimed the Title in 2015, beating Andre Dirrell by unanimous decision. His style is awkward at times, confusing his opponents from his southpaw stance. Truax was able to nullify DeGale’s style last time, so the question is, has DeGale done anything to improve his faults. Truax was able to spot them before, and if DeGale shows up again assuming he’s the superior fighter, I see the same result repeating.
Prediction: Truax has grinded his entire career for this opportunity, and I don’t see him letting off the gas now that he’s here. I think DeGale shows up improved, but without enough grit in him to pull the win off. Truax by Decision.
Erislandy Lara (25-2-2 14KO) vs. Jarrett Hurd (21-0 15KO) – Another bull versus matador match-up. Lara is no stranger to the big stage, having been a Junior Middleweight Champion for since 2014. The Cuban amateur standout’s style is a beautiful one if you’re a fan of boxing, and a dull affair if you are more of brawler. Defense is Lara’s top priority, often moving away from his opponents until they overcommit, then landing a sharp 1-2 or a bolo to the temple. He can rinse and repeat this process for 12 rounds without blinking. It’s up to the young steamroller, Jarrett Hurd, to disrupt Lara’s game plan. Luckily, disruption is what Hurd is good at. He has a huge frame for the weight division, and isn’t easily deterred from his offense. Look for Hurd to try to stay on top of Lara, preventing his movement and crowding his defense. This fight comes down to whether Father Time has caught up to the 34 year old Lara. He’s dealt with fighters taller than Hurd, stronger the Hurd and with a higher boxing IQ than Hurd. What he hasn’t done is dealt with Hurd in a 34 year old body.
Prediction: Lara is getting older, but I don’t think he’s done yet. His conservative style seems to have preserved his body and he’s had no major injuries that I’m aware of. Hurd will make the fight interesting, but I see Lara putting too much of a lead on the scorecards early. Lara by Decision.
I hope everyone gets a chance to watch the excitement tonight. How do my predications strike you? Let me know in the comments, via email (PugilistsParadise@columnist.com) or on Twitter @TheGreatToddMan