I’ve complained before about some pretty underwhelming undercards in boxing, and here we are with yet another pretty underwhelming undercard. It consists of two showcase bouts where amateur stars will beat boxers who shouldn’t be in the ring with them, one heavyweight bout that should on paper be fairly exciting but doesn’t really mean much in the division and a world title rematch between two boxers no-one really likes or wants to see.
Can you tell my excitement? Predicted winners in bold with analysis under the cut…
Gradovich vs Dib
Billy Dib was the sort of title holder you sometimes have in boxing, one who pick up a belt and then just sort of hangs around without really impressing anyone or having any contests anyone pays attention to. He’d faced and beaten some reasonable boxers (Eduardo Escobedo… ok, that’s about it) and looked solid enough but there was always something… here’s the word again… underwhelming about the Australian. He had some athleticism and he had some talent but there was never anything particularly exciting or inspiring about him and he appeared content to generally do enough to comfortably win bouts without ever really making a statement.
Despite his trainer Robert Garcia making a lot of noise, few knew much about Gradovich. An experienced amateur, albeit not a particularly great one, he was still very much a prospect who hadn’t really faced anyone when he was brought in on short notice to face Dib. The bout itself wasn’t that bad to watch but neither was it particularly inspiring.
In essence, Gradovich simply outworked Dib, outlanding and outpunching the Australian title holder on the way to a decision that was narrower then it probaly should have been.
And now the two are having a rematch, largely I suspect because no-one else really cares about facing them.
I’m not exactly sure what’s going to be different this time compared to the last. Dib may only be a year older than his opponent but he’s been boxing for so long that it’s hard to see a change in his mentality or style while Gradovich is still at the stage of his pro career where he tends to improve between each bout. Dib always struggles against boxers with a high workrate and Gradovich’s workrate is the most impressive thing about him. Expect Dib to start boxing well, albeit in spurts, but as the rounds go on expect him to be overwhelmed by Gradovich’s relentless pressure with Gradovich taking rounds on the basis of being busy, even if there’s a slight lack of quality to his work.
Ruiz Jr vs Hamer.
Let’s get this out the way. Ruiz Jr is fat. It’s not just his natural physicque and yes, he’s not as fat as he once was but he’s still 20 or 30lbs heavier than he really should be. But let’s also add that Ruiz Jr has some of the quickest hands at heavyweight and throws some of the best combinations. In many ways he’s a frustrating sight in the same way watching Chris Arreola flop around the ring is; even when undefeated there was always the sense that Arreola would never get the best out of his career because of his greed and lack of dedication to training and I have the same suspicioun about Ruiz. That said, having fast hands and good combination punching will get you a long way in the heavyweight division, especially the pretty anaemic American domestic scene, whatever your condition. Ruiz Jr is only 24… young for a heavyweight… has had 20 bouts and in the past year has really stepped up his competition, notably stopping fellow prospect Joe Hanks in four one-sided rounds.
Hamer’s a guy who’s been around for a while but never really broken free of the “well, he might be pretty good” tag. He ran up an undefeated record against the sort of boxers prospects run up undefeated records against before losing a close decision to the limited Kelvin Price in his first real test. He rebuilt himself and picked up some more hype by winning a three-round, single night Prizefighter tournament, with the most notable win being a decision over a lethargic Kevin Johnson. He never really got the chance to build on this however… after a keep busy bout he was matched up against Olympic bronze medallist Vyacheslav Glazkov, outclassed for four rounds and then quit on his stool. Since then he’s had a pair of bouts against boxers you’d expect him to beat and now has another step-up bout against Ruiz Jr.
Both men hit relatively hard both in terms of single shot power and the ability to wear people down, but Ruiz Jr, despite his appearance, has the edge in skills. He’s got a solid jab, is accurate with his punching, a lighting left hook and as already mentioned, throws well in combination. Hamer in contrast is sort of ok at everything but not good at anything. He’s fairly busy, fairly accurate, fairly powerful and fairly solid in general but there’s nothing that leaps out an inspires real confidence in him and at 30 it’s hard to see him really improving now. The way he quit against Glazkov is also worrying; while he was being soundly beaten he wasn’t taken a beating and it looked like he just didn’t want it any more.
I expect a couple of close early rounds before Ruiz’s pressure starts to tell. He’ll catch a back pedalling Hamer during an exchange and then pounce for the finish in the second half of the bout.
Shiming vs Tozcano
For obvious reasons some people will try to compare Shiming with Vasyl Lomachenko. Both are stand-out amateurs and multiple time gold medalists at the Olympics, World Championships and regional amateur tournaments, both are taking their first few steps into the pro ranks and Top Rank have high hopes for both of them. I just don’t think the comparison does Shiming any favours. To me, the reason Top Rank have high hopes for Lomachenko is because he’s an incredibly talented boxer at age 25 with a style already well suited for the proffessional game. In contrast I suspect Top Rank have high hopes for Shiming not for who he is, but for what he represents; a popular figure who offers them a way into the Chinese market.
Shiming hasn’t exactly set the world alight as a pro in his two bouts. He’s comfortably won but shown little power and did nothing against pretty awful opposition that you wouldn’t expect a good amateur with far less pedigree to do just as well. At 32 he’s not a young man, especially for someone at the lighter weights and frankly I’m simply not that impressed with him and think he’ll struggle when asked to step up against a real test.
Juan Tozcano is not the man to test him however. Being 4-0 sounds half-decent, but a deeper look reveals his opponents had a combined record of 2-21-3, three of them had never won a bout and the one who had was 2-11-1. It’s not even as if he’d been smashing them out… only one stoppage win and the fighter with the 2-11-1 record had been stopped in 10 of his 11 losses. Put simply he’s here to lose.
Expect Shiming to be quick, somewhat slick and just far too good for the overmatched Tozcano, crusing his way to an easy decision.
Verdejo vs Duanaaymukdahan
(P.S. I hate typing Duanaaymukdahan’s name)
I may not be that impressed by Shiming, but I do rather like Verdejo. The 20 year old Puerto Rican prospect had a good amateur career, the highlight being reaching the quarter finals of the 2012 Olympics where he had a valient but losing performance to the previously mentioned Lomachenko. As a pro he hasn’t faced anyone to make us sit up and take note but he’s shown a good combination of power, athleticism and skill. He’s accurate and quick, throws well in combination, has a nice left hook to the body and has shown a good level of stamina the times he has been made to go rounds. You can see all of his skills on display in his quick and onesided victory over Gary Eyer.
As for Petchsamuthr Duanaaymukdahan, I can’t say I know anything about him other than his record and searching through google reveals nothing. He’s 8-1 and actually has some wins against boxers with pretty records but nothing that leaps out. Many Thai boxers (as in boxers from Thailand) are also Thai boxers (as in Nak Muays) and so have far more experience then their boxing records indicate but in general boxers with thay background tend to have a lot of stoppages in their victories… Duanaaymukdahan doesn’t, having only a single win within the distance. Verdejao is a boxer Top Rank are invested in and I can’t see them risking him against a boxer who’s little known but highly dangerous. Expect Verdejao to look great and finish Duanaaymukdahan relatively early.