Picks for This Weekend’s Mega Card: Hopkins-Joppy, Mayorga-Spinks, Ruiz-Rahman
11.12.03 - By Carl M. Rice, Jr. - Fight time has finally arrived. It has been hard for me to keep my head together waiting for this weekend to arrive. After seeing the heavyweight dust clear from last week’s fights, this weekend will help to determine the direction of next year’s fights. I was correct about Joe Mesi being taken the distance by Monty Barrett and was a little off in my pick of when Kirk Johnson would be KOed by Vitali Klitschko, but the KO came regardless. This has put me in the mood to pick winners for this weekend’s fights that will be shown on HBO Pay-Per-View. Now, I do not recommend using these picks to make any bets, but if you do win some cash, feel free to submit some of that loot to the Carl Rice foundation. Without further delay, let’s get to the fights...
Article posted on 11.12.2003
* Because of receiving differing information in regards to the opening bout, both fights will be evaluated.
Rosendo Alvarez (32-2-1, 20 KO) v Jose Victor Burgos (35-13-2, 20 KO)
Pre-Fight Introduction: This fight is a unification bout; Alvarez is the WBA lt. Fly champ and Burgos is the IBF lt. Fly champ. Alvarez has held this belt since defeating Bebis Mendoza in March of 2001, which was a rematch of a fight that took place in August of 2000. His only 2 losses were in the first fight with Mendoza (DQ7 for low blows) and the legendary Ricardo Lopez, which was a close decision. Burgos, though he has 13 losses, has been in with and lost to some stiff oppositions, such as Eric Morel and Roberto Leyva and has only lost once since 2000, a 8th round KO loss to Leyva.
Alvarez is a very good puncher who comes right at his opponents. Although Burgos has faced some tough guys, Alvarez has faced a higher level of competition than Burgos. Alvarez has most of the physical advantages in this fight with the exception of age, but with that experience he has won titles at minimumweight and lt. flyweight. Burgos has lost his share of fights, but only a few have come by KO. Burgos is a decent boxer, but with Alvarez being so aggressive, Burgos may have to fight, so this fight should provide fireworks. The main issue is if Alzarez and make weight, as he has had weight issues in the past. In fact, weight problems was the reason he moved up to lt. fly in the first place.
Alvarez has scored KOs early and late in fights, whereas most of Burgos’ KOs have come early. This leads me to believe that this fight will not go the distance. Whenever Burgos has stepped in with better opponents, he loses, and this fight will be no different. Alvarez is the bigger man, so expect him to come forward in an attempt to KO his man. Since Alvarez has not fought since March, expect a little ring rust, but he will work this out on his way to a TKO victory.
Result: Alvarez KO7 Burgos
Alejandro Garcia (27-0, 27 KO) v Travis Simms (22-0, 17KO)
Pre-fight Introduction: This fight is for the bogus WBA belt that became available when Shane Mosely defeated Oscar De La Hoya and was elevated to “super champion” status. Garcia comes into his third fight this year, which is the least number of fights he has had in 1 year in his career thus far. His last two fights have both been victories over stiff opposition; in March he defeated Santiago Samaniego by 3rd round KO, then stopped then undefeated Rohshii Wells in the 10th round in October. Simms has yet to fight this year; his last fight was a KO7 victory over the tough Antoine Robinson in November of 2002.
There are several factors weighing against Simms: His inactivity, his age, and his level of opposition work against him. Garcia is a young buck looking to continue his streak of 27 straight KOs, which is astounding considering he has 27 fights. He also has the experience advantage at 24 years old. However, his KO record looks suspicious; although Garcia has faced tougher guys, his first 7 fights were against guys having their pro debut and only 3 opponents in his first 20 had even won a fight.
On paper, this looks like an easy KO for Garcia, but this is a step up for both men. Inactivity will hurt Simms in the beginning, but expect him to get his footing in the 3rd round. Garcia will catch Simms on occasion, but Simms southpaw style will give Garcia some looks he’s not used to, and this will assist Simms in not being KOed early. This is by far the biggest fight for both men and both will be looking to take advantage of being on the PPV stage, but Simms will make it the distance and will tarnish Garcia’s KO streak but not his string of victories.
Result: Garcia UD Simms
John Ruiz (38-5-1, 27 KO) v Hasim Rahman (35-4-1, 29 KO)
Pre -Fight Introduction: This is a fight to determine who will be the “interim” WBA champion, and the winner will be slated to fight Roy Jones, should he decide to defend the title he now holds. Ruiz was last seen getting beat to the punch repeatedly against Jones this past March, but the only two men that have beaten him since David Tua’s 19 second beatdown was Jones and Evander Holyfield in the first of their 3-fight borefest. Rahman’s last fight was a disputed draw against Tua. However, he has not won a fight since he delivered that right hook from hell to Lennox Lewis’ jaw in April of 2001.
Rahman has most of the advantages here; skills and speed all work in his favor. Ruiz, on the other hand, is rather clumsy and uses a herky-jerky type movement to frustrate his opponents. Reach is just about equal for both men; Ruiz has an 80-inch reach, while Rahman has a reach of 82 inches. Rock has been stopped early 3 times in his KO losses. Ruiz has some power, as he shook Roy Jones before Jones speed took over, unofficially dropped Kirk Johnson twice, and put Holyfield down in their 2nd fight. Furthermore, all those came via the right hand, which Rahman is a sucker for at times. Only 1 of Ruiz’s 5 losses has come by KO, and Rahman does not have the power of David Tua’s left hook, but who does? It must be noted that Ruiz’s performance against Jones should not be weighed heavily upon. Ruiz was shamefully intimidated by the quickness of Jones; even Johnson is faster and a better boxer than Rahman.
This is going to be an ugly fight. Ruiz will have to get inside to be effective so he will have to come right at Rahman. This means going through Rahman’s stiff jab, but Ruiz has a pretty good jab himself. When he gets inside, Ruiz will maul Rahman, meaning there will be numerous clutches. I feel that Rahman’s boxing skills are overrated by his performances against Tua. Moreover, having Roger Mayweather in his corner may be a plus, but having his 4th trainer in 4 fights can’t be good. Although Mayweather said he wants Rahman to fight like a little man, when the going gets tough Rahman will revert to what he does best, launching that right hand. This works in Ruiz’s favor, and I feel weird saying this, but I think that Ruiz will win this fight. And I’m serious.
Result: Ruiz MD Rahman
Zab Judah (29-1, 21 KO) v Jamie Rangel (29-4-1, 25 KO)
Pre-fight Introduction: Judah is the WBO titleholder and is looking to battle his way into a rematch with the man who handed him his head in two rounds, Undisputed lt. Welterweight champion Kostya Tzsyu. His last fight was an uninspired performance against DeMarcus Corely, whom he lifted the title from. Since Tzsyu’s dismantling, Judah has only fought once a year following the Tzsyu disaster due to promotional issues. Now he is with Don King and is working his way back to prominence. Rangel is a career lightweight, making his debut in the 140 lb. Division. Though he has only lost twice since 1993, the opponents were nondescript.
Judah has not been that active as of late, in the ring or out of it. He seems to have grown over cautious since losing to Tzsyu, but he has stated that he is looking to end this fight early. Since this fight features two southpaws, the styles may clash a little bit, but with Judah being more skilled, he should have less trouble adjusting. Plus, his last opponent was a southpaw, so this will also work in his favor. Rangel is a power-punching lightweight, as he has 25 KOs in his 25 victories. But this is certainly a step up in class for him. He has been more active than Judah has, but not by much; he has fought twice a year for the last two years.
This looks to be a gimme type fight for Judah, but it is to be seen if he can take a good punch from the hard punching lighty. I suspect that he can, but he will look to stay out of harm’s way, even though he has stated that Rangel will be lucky to make it out of the first round. The fight will go beyond the 1st stanza, but will not go much longer. Judah’s southpaw stance will give Rangel problems as long as it lasts, which will not be very long. I feel that this fight will not go the distance as the ref will have to step in and save Rangel from taking too much punishment.
Result: Judah KO4 Rangel
Ricardo Mayorga (26-3-1, 23 KO) v Cory Spinks (31-2, 10 KO)
Pre-fight Introduction: This is a unification bout in the welterweight division. Although Mayorga is looked upon as the undisputed champion of the division after beating Vernon Forrest twice, a victory against Spinks will officially give him all three belts. Mayorga has been on a tear as of late, crushing two champions in a row. Spinks is a cutie with not much pop in his punches. He is a good boxer, and he dominated Michele Piccirillo in their rematch (the first fight was a decision with Piccirillo getting the controversial nod in Italy. His only other loss came against Antonio Diaz, which is another decision that could have went his way.
Mayorga has one way to box: come forward and sling shots with murderous intentions. His fights are not artistic, but he gets the job done with hard punching, hunger, a rock solid chin, and forcing his will on opponents. Spinks appears to hold all the cards; he’s a southpaw, has the longer reach, is younger, and is a proficient boxer. He will be looking to control the ring, even if he cannot control Mayorga, who will be the obviously stronger man. Cory has fought guys who are straight forward type fighters and has had mixed success, even if he has won most of those fights. Furthermore, with only 10 KOs on his resume, he will not be getting the KO in this fight.
The possibility of an upset exists here. Spinks is a very crafty boxer and is a southpaw. This can and will create major problems for Mayorga. However, Spinks’ main problem is that he will not have the power to fend Mayorga off for 12 rounds. He will box to the best of his ability for the first few rounds, but eventually he will slow down and this is when it will get ugly for Spinks. Mayorga has shown against Forrest that he has the stamina to go 12 tough rounds and that he can take some tremendous shots (that 4th round was stunning), but Forrest is much stronger than Spinks and he will be KOed because of it.
Result: Mayorga KO9 Spinks
Bernard Hopkins (42-2-1, 31 KO) v William Joppy (43-2-1, 25 KO)
Pre-fight Introduction: Bernard Hopkins became the Undisputed champion by beating Keith Holmes via a 12 lopsided decision, then going on to KO Felix Trinidad in 12 rounds. After the biggest win of his career, he fought and KOed two no-name opponents in Carl Danials (2002) and Morade Hakkar (2003). This fight schedule is not good for a man that is 38 years of age and soon to be 39. Joppy was KOed in 5 by the same Trinidad that Hopkins KOed. Since then he was awarded the decision over Britain’s Howard Eastman in November 2001, after which he was given the bogus WBA middle title (Bernard was elevated to “Super Champion of the WBA). He went on to KO Naotaka Hozumi in November 2002 in the 10th round and has not fought since.
Bernard Hopkins’ greatest asset, beyond his obvious skills, is the way he forces his will on his opponents. Even in letting them fight the way they want to, Bernard still uses his experience to make their style work against them. He can box, fight, or brawl, and his infighting skills are tremendous. Joppy, style is to come straight at an opponent, and he throws a high volume of punches, which also works as his defense. However, Hopkins can throw the leather in the early and late rounds, as he did against Trinidad and many of his other opponents. Hopkins’ chin is one of the best in boxing, whereas Joppy’s is not as sturdy; when Joppy has been in with top level competition, he goes down. Both men have been rather inactive. Joppy fought once in 2001 and 2002 and has not fought this year; Hopkins has fought once in 2002 and 2003. Early ring rust will be evident, but more so for Joppy.
As the old adage goes, “styles make fights”; this will apply to this fight. Don’t expect Hopkins to dismantle Joppy the way Tito did, as Hopkins is more of a wear-you-down type fighter than a straight up banger. Joppy is a tough customer with fast hands and is not afraid to let them go. However, Hopkins will have the longer reach and will use that to his best advantage. Joppy will look good in spots, but Hopkins will give Joppy a beating. This fight can go two ways: Hopkins looks to KO Joppy quicker than Trinidad, or he will let Joppy make it to the later rounds just to batter him and then will put him out of his misery late in the fight. I suspect that Hopkins will be looking to make a point and put Joppy out sooner than Trinidad, which won’t happen, but he’ll do it in the same round as Trinidad, winning $25,000 from Joppy's purse in the process (due to the bet that Hopkins made, putting up $50,000 against Joppy’s $25,000 that Joppy gets KOed).
Result: Hopkins KO5 Joppy
I know that I may cause a stir with picking Ruiz over Rahman, but it’s hard to believe that with 5 high profile fight that everyone will come out unscathed At first I thought Rock would roll over Ruiz, but after watch many, many fights of both men, this fight seems the most likely that an upset will happen. The only other fight that I see with a possible upset is Spinks beating Mayorga, but I just don’t see Spinks outboxing Mayorga for 12 full rounds. This is by far the best card of the year, so if you are a real boxing fan, these fights are not to be missed.
Comments? Questions? Think I should take a dirt nap? Please send e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org
previous article: "Back-To-Back-To-Back": Wednesday's Press Quotes
next article: Hatton vs Tackie, Lacy-Wiggens on Saturday