The boxing schedule is going to ramp up considerably starting on April 9th, but the offerings on March 26th are not too shabby. There’s a major title fight over in Leeds, England, a great Showtime Boxing tripleheader in Minneapolis, and the return of Miguel Berchelt down in Las Vegas.
Here’s a preview of Saturday’s action.
The best card: Tim Tszyu (20-0, 15 KOs) vs. Terrell Gausha (22-2-1, 11 KOs), 9 PM ET on Showtime
If you want to feel old, Tim Tszyu is the son of the great former undisputed junior welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu. He’s bigger than his dad but is the 27-year-old better? That’s a lofty standard and the answer remains to be seen. At the moment we know he’s damn good. The Australian is heading to the United States for the first time in his career for a massive opportunity against 2012 US Olympian Terrell Gausha.
So far we’ve seen Tszyu run through former welterweight champion Jeff Horn, as well as conquer former title challengers (and Jaime Munguia opponents) Dennis Hogan and Takeshi Inoue. His overall resume is not deep but his offensive skills looks promising — power, a committed body attack, strength, and relentless pressure have been his main traits. There are clear defensive flaws in his game and he’s not faced enough punchers to get a real test of his chin, and Gausha unfortunately is more of a technician than he is a puncher. We did see him spark out Jamontay Clark in his last outing, so he’s not featherfisted. His only losses to date are against Erickson Lubin and Erislandy Lara.
While Tszyu has an impressive KO rate he may find it hard to deal with Gausha’s counterpunching style and his ability to take a shot; he’s never been knocked out and has only been down twice in his career. Gausha is more of a gatekeeper than an upper-end talent and is hardly the most exciting guy to watch, but he’s a compelling opponent for Tim at this stage in his career and we’ll get a lot of questions about Tszyu’s ceiling answered here. Most likely Tszyu will win by being the more effective offensive fighter against the 34-year-old, but don’t be surprised if an upset occurs down at The Armory in Minneapolis.
The winner of Tszyu vs. Gausha is expected to be the mandatory challenger for the winner of the undisputed title fight between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano, which is scheduled for May.
The undercard is also worth your time, which I can often say for non-PPV boxing shows. Dominican lightweight Michel Rivera faces off against Joseph Adorno (14-0-2, 12 KOs) in what should be an action-heavy fight between two young prospects — Adorno even bothered to make weight this time! Dominican junior welterweight Elvis Rodriguez (12-1-1, 11 KOs) has his second fight under the PBC banner following his surprising Top Rank release after his defeat to Kenneth Sims Jr. His opponent will be Argentina’s Juan Jose Velasco (23-2, 14 KOs), a decent fighter best known for being bludgeoned by Regis Prograis and Mario Barrios.
The title fight: Kiko Martinez (43-10-2, 30 KOs) vs. Josh Warrington (30-1-1, 7 KOs) – IBF featherweight championship, 3 PM ET on DAZN
This is a very odd way for a rematch to materialize. Few gave Kiko Martinez a chance to defeat Kid Galahad given he was 36 years old and not too far removed from losing to Zelfa Barrett. It’d also been a good while since Martinez had won a major fight of consequence and he’d been stopped a few times by the likes of Gary Russell Jr, Scott Quigg, and Carl Frampton. A dramatic KO of Galahad while down on the cards put the Spaniard back among the ranks of world champions for the first time since 2014.
Warrington won the IBF featherweight title back in 2018 over Lee Selby and defended it successfully against Carl Frampton, Kid Galahad, and Sofiane Takoucht before vacating the title in early 2021. His tune-up fight against unheralded Mexican Mauricio Lara saw him get tuned up and stopped in a massive upset, and then the rematch ended in an unfortunate technical draw after a clash of heads cut up Lara.
In their first meeting in 2017, Warrington won a majority decision over Martinez. The Leeds native will be favored to go 2-0 against Kiko but as we saw against Galahad, Martinez’s power is worth respecting and we’ve now seen Warrington’s chin compromised (albeit against a heavier puncher in Lara). Josh normally fights at a fast pace and works in volume to make up for his lack of power. Martinez is a quality boxer who’s (obviously) very experienced and showed he’s still got something left in the tank. It should be a fun scrap and the Leeds atmosphere will make it feel like a real massive bout.
The “get right” fight: Miguel Berchelt (38-2, 34 KOs) vs. Jeremiah Nakathila (22-2, 18 KOs) – 10 PM ET, ESPN
Mexico’s Miguel Berchelt built himself a deserved reputation for being one of the most exciting world champions in boxing. He won the WBC super featherweight title by beating down fellow Mexican Francisco Vargas in 2017, and he racked up six successful defenses while engaging in thrillers against Takashi Miura and Miguel Roman. When he took on Oscar Valdez last February, it was on the radar of boxing fans as one of the must-see main events of 2021. Berchelt looked weight drained, sluggish, and Valdez put on a boxing clinic en route to a wicked 10th round KO to take the title away from Berchelt.
Namibia’s Nakathila has competed almost exclusively in his home country against largely nondescript option, but he usually knocked people out violently. He got the opportunity to headline a Top Rank card against Shakur Stevenson and not only lost a decision but stunk out the joint by throwing and missing wild punches because he’s just not fast at all. His status at the time as the #2 ranked WBO contender seemed… suspect even for boxing.
I’m honestly surprised Nakathila got another call-up after that stinker against Stevenson. In his semi-defense, if Shakur can have a habit of not kicking into another gear against a way overmatched opponent, Berchelt is usually not going to let up so it could create more action. This matchup is more of a litmus test to see Berchelt up a weight class at 135 lbs and if there were any ill effects from the brutal KO against Valdez.
That’s a lot of boxing for one day! Like I said earlier, the schedule really ramps up next month and there are plenty of elite-level fights you will want to tune in and see.
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