I imagine many combat sports fans are a tad disappointed that the summer of Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones turned into Fury vs. Deontay Wilder 3 and Derrick Lewis vs. Ciryl Gane, but c’est la vie.
Anyway, Fury vs. Wilder 3 is less than a month away and the whole PPV undercard has been announced. For anyone who remembers UFC 146 back in 2012, this will be the boxing version of it: all heavyweights, all the time.
The co-main event is a rare prospect vs. prospect matchup, as Nigeria’s Efe Ajagba (15-0, 12 KOs) takes on Cuba’s Frank Sanchez (18-0, 13 KOs) in a scheduled 10-rounder. Ajagba is 6’6” and packs a serious punch, as Brian Howard found out earlier this year. Top Rank signed him after Ajagba was initially on PBC broadcasts. Sanchez’s most notable win came against Joey Dawejko by decision last year. He had a weird win over Nagy Aguilera on the Canelo vs. Saunders undercard in May, as Aguilera seemingly tried to get Sanchez DQed for punches that weren’t exactly flush on the back of the head, but it ended in a technical decision win for Aguilera instead.
Both men can be entertaining and in Ajagba’s case he had an absolute war with Razvan Cojanu that certainly halted his hype train a bit.
Also lined up for the July 24th event is a 12-round rematch between Finland’s Robert Helenius (30-3, 19 KOs) and popular Polish-American Adam Kownacki (20-1, 15 KOs). Last year right before the COVID-19 shutdown, Helenius scored a big upset over Kownacki in his adopted hometown of Brooklyn. Kownacki was TKO’d in round four and his aspirations to be in serious title contention fell by the wayside. Neither man has fought since then, so this is technically an immediate rematch. Kownacki is a high-paced banger and Helenius has been a longtime fringe contender/European-level heavy who does hold victories over Dereck Chisora, Sam Peter, and Lamon Brewster.
Opening the PPV broadcast is American heavyweight prospect Jared Anderson (9-0, 9 KOs) and Russian veteran Vladimir Tereshkin (22-0-1, 12 KOs) in an 8-rounder. Anderson is considered one of, if not the best up-and-coming American heavyweight boxer and so far he’s looked the part. He has only come close to going the distance once in his brief career, knocking out Kingsley Ibeh in the final of six rounds. Tereshkin really doesn’t have any notable wins despite his impressive looking record, but it’s not as if Anderson is ready for top competition just yet.
There may not be any big supporting cast type of fights on the undercard but Helenius-Kownacki 2 and Ajagba-Sanchez is good matchmaking. Boxing rarely has undercards as deep as your typical UFC PPV but it’s a breath of fresh air when there’s actually interest in all of the matchups besides the main event.
The PPV price has yet to be determined but we do know it’ll be a shared telecast between FOX and ESPN as was the case the last time.
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