Bold predictions: A KO in Canelo-Charlo? End of Haney’s run?

Boxing

The next few months bring some of the best title fights of the year. A battle between two undisputed champions in Canelo Alvarez and Jermell Charlo. A women’s rematch for all the belts junior welterweight between Chantelle Cameron and Katie Taylor. And Leigh Wood’s anticipated featherweight title defense against Josh Warrington.

Also, Devin Haney is moving up from lightweight to face junior welterweight champ Regis Prograis in a bout that has entertainment written all over it. It could also tell us a few things about the future of both fighters.

Shakur Stevenson faces Edwin De Los Santos in Las Vegas, trying to keep building momentum towards a lightweight title fight. And two of the best fighters in the lower divisions, Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez and Sunny Edwards, meet in a flyweight title unification bout.

Our boxing panel of Mike Coppinger, Michael Rothstein, Ben Baby and Nick Parkinson make bold predictions for all the fights.


Canelo Alvarez reminds everyone he’s still elite with KO win

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Jermell Charlo on risk of facing Canelo Alvarez: ‘I want to be great’

Stephen A. Smith sits down with Jermell Charlo to preview his highly anticipated bout with Canelo Alvarez.

Alvarez remains boxing’s top star, but he hasn’t resembled a wrecking ball since his November 2021 KO of Caleb Plant to capture the undisputed super middleweight championship.

He was routed by Dmitry Bivol at 175 pounds but rebounded with back-to-back decision wins over Gennadiy “GGG” Golovkin and John Ryder. While he inflicted plenty of damage on Ryder — a knockdown along with a broken nose — Alvarez wasn’t able to put him away.

Alvarez dealt with a wrist injury in the fights against Bivol and GGG before he underwent surgery. He told ESPN he wasn’t fully confident in the repaired left hand against Ryder, but that his lead hand is now 100 percent as he prepares for Jermell Charlo on Sept. 30.

Ahead of the Charlo fight, Alvarez traveled away from the comfort of home in San Diego for the altitude and solitude of Lake Tahoe to train in altitude.

With Alvarez motivated to show he’s still one of the best fighters in the sport at age 33, look for Canelo to provide a reminder of his greatness with a dominant victory over Charlo inside the distance. — Coppinger


Regis Prograis will take down Devin Haney

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Why Devin Haney is moving up to 140 pounds

Devin Haney explains to Mark Kriegel why he’s fighting Regis Prograis in an unfamiliar weight class.

Prograis had one of the more impressive losses in recent years — a split decision to Josh Taylor in 2019 in a junior lightweight unification fight in the World Boxing Super Series final. Since then, Prograis has had few notable fights and also hasn’t been incredibly active.

Haney represents the biggest challenge to date for Prograis but Haney is someone who is beatable. Whether it has been small moments in fights, such as being hurt late by Jorge Linares in 2021 or battling down the stretch with Vasiliy Lomachenko last year, Haney has looked vulnerable at times.

And the biggest issue that Haney has is a lack of power. Haney hasn’t scored a knockdown in his last 79 rounds and his last seven victories have come via decision. The last time his opponent touched the canvas was in Nov. 2019, when Alfredo Santiago went down in the fifth round.

On the other end of the spectrum, Prograis had won four straight fights by stoppage until his split-decision win over Danielito Zorrilla in June.

Prograis has lacked the ring partner to show just how good he can be. Beating Haney would be a show of Prograis’ quality as he aims to become a two-division world champion. — Baby


Leigh Wood beats Josh Warrington, then moves up

Wood will stop Warrington in the late rounds to defend his world title… but then declares he is quitting the featherweight division.

The WBA featherweight champion has been busy of late — this is Wood’s third fight in eight months — while Warrington was last in action ten months ago. Come Oct. 7., that difference in activity could be a deciding factor in this all-English encounter.

The fighters’ form in recent bouts may also be a factor. Warrington’s form has not been consistent. The former champion paid for a slow start when he lost a majority decision to Luis Alberto Lopez in December. And in his stoppage win over Kiko Martinez in March last year, Warrington’s defense looked far from watertight, as he suffered a broken jaw.

Wood, however, was impressive in how he controlled a rematch against Mauricio Lara, beating the division’s No. 1 convincingly on points back in May. Wood denied Lara any openings to land his big shots and floored the Mexican in the second round. It was a vast improvement from his seventh round stoppage loss to Lara in February. Previous wins against Michael Conlan and Xu Can also showed how Wood can finish in the later rounds.

But making the 126 pounds limit has been increasingly difficult for the 35-year-old Wood. Rather than stick around for a rematch with Lara, or a title unification fight against the likes of Lopez, don’t be surprised if the Nottingham-based boxer decides to move up to junior lightweight.

Joe Cordina defends his IBF junior lightweight title against Edward Vazquez in Monaco on Nov. 4, and should Cordina win, a fight against Wood is a likely option for 2024. — Parkinson


Shakur Stevenson shows his greatness with another dominant win

Stevenson is no doubt a special talent. He just hasn’t been afforded the opportunity to prove it against worthy competition.

Frank Martin agreed to take on Stevenson on Nov. 16 but withdrew before the contract was signed. Now it’s Edwin De Los Santos who’s tasked with testing the Olympic silver medalist.

De Los Santos, of Dominican Republic, is coming off two impressive victories where he showed his resilience, power and boxing ability, but it will be no match for the ultra-talented Stevenson.

Stevenson, a champion at 126 and 130 pounds, appears to be sitting down on his punches more at 135 pounds and should look to make a statement with a victory over De Los Santos inside the distance.

We already know Stevenson has an excellent jab and defensive ability. If he can string together a few knockout victories, Stevenson could jump to the next level as he pursues supremacy at lightweight with Devin Haney moving up to 140 pounds. — Coppinger


Chantelle Cameron won’t get a favorable decision in Ireland

Cameron will once again outbox Katie Taylor — but won’t get the win in Dublin, Ireland because of questionable scoring, instead having the fight called as a majority draw. This will lead to a third fight, one Cameron will demand take place anywhere other than Ireland and will be for Taylor’s undisputed lightweight title instead of Cameron’s junior welterweight belts. The fight will also push Cameron closer to becoming the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, eventually contending with Claressa Shields for the honor.

Additionally, it will be one of the last women’s megafights — not the last, but one of the last — conducted in the current 10-round, 2-minute format. A month earlier, the success of the Amanda Serrano-Danila Ramos 12-round, 3-minute rounds fight will lead to a stronger push for 10/3 or 12/3 fights — in the future. — Rothstein


Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez and Sunny Edwards will end in a draw

One of the best matchups in boxing this year will end in a disappointing draw — but the anticlimactic decision will not disappoint boxing fans too much with the promise of a rematch likely for 2024.

“Bam” Rodriguez will be heavily fancied as the 23-year-old has defeated better opponents than Edwards on his journey to this point. Beating the likes of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Carlos Cuadras at such a young age, and having a high KO ratio for a flyweight, makes Rodriguez an obvious choice for winning this flyweight world title unification clash.

But he will be left frustrated by the technically accomplished Edwards, whose defensive style is not to everyone’s taste. His last outing (Andres Campos, unanimous decision win in June) might have got the result he needed, but did not score high on the excitement scale. Edwards’ defensive skills and sharp reflexes will see the Londoner slip many of Rodriguez’s big punches and his hand speed will earn him a share of the rounds. He throws shots from a variety of angles, which will slow down “Bam”.

Rodriguez will find Edwards the most evasive target he has faced and there will be many close rounds, making a draw or a majority decision the likely outcome. — Parkinson

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