Title fights and “The Take-Over” highlight Top Rank Texas card
By Bill Tibbs
On February 2nd, live from The Star, in Frisco, Texas, Top Rank Boxing will bring a very interesting card to fight fans, and an ESPN audience, that will feature 3 world title fights.
The card will also feature one of boxing’s hottest prospects in rising lightweight contender, Teofimo Lopez.
Lets take a quick look at 4 of the evening’s bouts.
Sergey Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KO’s) vs. Eleider Alvarez (24-0, 12 KO’s)
12 rounds, WBO world light heavyweight title
Alvarez (24-0, 12 KO’s) surprised a few people when he stopped rugged champion Kovalev (32-3-1, 28 KO’s) who was in his 2nd run as a world champion at 175-pounds. Kovalev was dominant from 2014 through 2016 until he ran into Andre Ward who beat him in back to back fights in 2016 and 2017. However, at the end of 2017 Kovalev was again a champion and was making the 3rd defense of his title when he was stopped by the undefeated, underdog Alvarez. New WBO boss Alvarez will be more confident now that he knows he can hurt Kovalev. At 35, Kovalev knows he might be running out of title tries and will be primed to reclaim his crown. A good fight. Tough call - but I like Alvarez in a rematch that goes the distance.
Richard Commey (27-2, 24 KO’s) vs Isa Chaniev (13-1, 6 KO’s)
12 rounds, IBF world lightweight title
With only 14 fights under his belt Chaniev will be looking to beat the much more experienced Commey who lost a split decision in a world title fight to Robert Easter Jr. back in 2016. Commey has stopped 24 of 29 opponents while Chaniev only has 6 KO’s to his credit. You gotta like Commey in this one.
Oscar Valdez (24-0 19 KO’s) vs. Carmine Tommasone (19-0, 5 KO’s)
12 rounds, WBO world featherweight title.
Champion Valdez comes into the bout off a ‘fight of the year’ candidate slug-fest against Scott Quigg last March. While the 2 fighters lit up the Stub Hub Centre in Carson, California, it came at a cost to Valdez who broke his jaw in the fight. Now healed up and ready to go Valdez is looking to make the 5th defense of his world title that he won back in 2016. Valdez has a new coach in (Saul “Canelo” Alvarez trainer) Eddie Reynoso who has been looking to tighten up Valdez’s defense and get him to use his boxing skills a little more. Traditionally a brawler, Valdez is without a doubt one of the most exciting fighters in boxing. However, manager Frank Espinoza realized it was time to shake things up with his training and look towards improving on the defensive aspect of his game. So, the change was made from former trainer Manny Robles to Reynoso. Look for a somewhat more cautious Valdez to show he can box and work on slipping a few punches along with landing them. But, a warrior at heart, if he needs to throw down he’ll welcome that action and it’ll be bombs away!
Italy’s little known Tommasone isn’t a puncher with only 5 stoppages in19 fights and has never fought out of Italy. He’ll need all of his boxing skills to keep the aggressive Valdez off of him. But, I think the key difference between the two will be experience in big fights. I like Valdez by middle rounds stoppage in an impressive comeback performance.
Teofimo Lopez (11-0, 9 KO’s) vs. Diego Magdaleno (31-2, 13 KO’s)
10 rounds, lightweight
While this will be undefeated, rising star Lopez’s most experienced opponent to date, one has to ask if it will make a difference in the outcome? Lopez is about as hot as they come right now and Magdaleno, a two-time world title challenger, might be in for a rough night.
Magdaleno came up short in a world title shot in 2013 against then super featherweight champion Roman Martinez. He worked his way back to a title shot against Terry Flannigan in 2015 but got blasted out in one round. He fought once in 2016, took 2017 off and picked up 2 wins last year against non-descript opposition. So, he has been given a shot at revitalizing his career with a win over an up and coming prospect but I just don’t think he has the firepower to do it. Magdaleno isn’t a puncher but can be awkward and slick from the southpaw stance. However, once Lopez realizes he doesn’t have to worry about getting hurt, even if he does get caught, look for him to step on the gas and go for the KO. There is already talk of Lopez fighting again in April so he won’t mind a short night and that is what I am predicting. These are two guys at completely different places in their career and I like Lopez by stoppage and I see it coming early in the fight.