Saturday, June 26 serves as the 2021 return date of multiple boxing world champions across multiple networks. Streaming service DAZN will show Julio Cesar Martinez vs. Joel Cordova, ESPN will host Vasyl Lomachenko vs Masayoshi Nakatani, and Showtime PPV will Gervonta Davis take on Mario Barrios. It should be an action-packed night filled with competitive fights. Here’s what to watch for…
DAZN’s Saturday card is promoted by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the top pound-for-pound boxer in the world today. In the main event, WBC flyweight (112lbs) champion Julio Cesar Martinez (17-1, 13 KOs) will face veteran Joel Cordova (12-4-2, 3 KOs) in an all-Mexican battle that promises to be a war for as long as it lasts.
How Martinez can win
At 5’2 with a 66-inch reach, Julio Cesar Martinez fights like a flyweight Roberto Duran. He never takes a backward step and is hoping for a war against Cordova. Martinez will look to close the distance and fire off combinations to the head and body of Cordova with his trademark viciousness. In the past, Martinez has looked almost unbeatable when he imposes his will. What he needs to do is keep his chin down and come forward, forcing the fight to occur at a blistering pace, breaking down Cordova as the rounds go on.
How Cordova can win
Admittedly, this is a tall task for Cordova, but it is not undoable. Cordova is not a massive puncher, scoring only 3 kos in 12 wins, himself being stopped twice. It is in his nature as a fighter to stand in the center of the ring and trade punches, but he has to avoid this type of fight at all costs. Cordova must slow down the fight, using movement and a stiff jab to keep Martinez off-balance and at-bay. He should look to get past the early rounds, hoping to slow down and discourage his opponent as much as he can. Cordova’s path to victory lies in the scorecards, however, if he feels he can score the knockout, he will go for it in a move that may be as risky as it is entertaining.
Former pound-for-pound king Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2, 10 KOs) will face off against Masayoshi Nakatani (19-1, 13 KOs). In the co-main event, former WBA middleweight (160 lbs) champion Rob Brant (26-2, 18 KOs) will battle Kazakhstani prospect Zhanibek Alimkhanuly (9-0, 5 KOs).
How Alimkhanuly can beat Brant
Alimkhanuly may be relatively untested as a pro, but he does have extensive amateur experience. As a result, he is very solid fundamentally with a good jab from his southpaw stance. He has had a tendency to push his jab instead of snapping it, leaving the hand out longer than it should be. He has to remember to bring his gloves back to his face after he punches, otherwise, he will pay the price.
If he can apply steady and sophisticated pressure at a measured pace, he will find success. Alimkhanuly has shown in previous fights an ability to punch between his opponents’ punches, landing while they least expect it. If he can do this against Brant, he can get the knockout.
How Brant can beat Alimkhanuly
Rob Brant has the definitive edge in experience, facing and beating some high-level boxers in the past. His most impressive win came in out-boxing the ever-dangerous Ryota Murata (16-2, 13 KOs) over 12 rounds. However, in their rematch, Brant found himself on the wrong side of a second-round knockout. In that second fight, he neglected defense and chose to slug it out, and for that, he paid the price.
If he can stay disciplined while forcing a fast pace, shooting his jab with authority while remembering to go to the body, he can win a decision against Alimkhanuly, or even stop him late.
What Lomachenko needs to do
Lomachenko is coming off his second career loss, a unanimous decision against Teofimo Lopez (16-0, 12 KOs). The fight was closer than the lop-sided scorecards would suggest, but Loma lost nonetheless. He started too cautiously, waiting until the 7th round to really engage Lopez. Once he did, he found success. He is such a skilled fighter with speed, footwork, power, and intelligence that all he needs to do is be a little more aggressive against Nakatani. He has to walk forward and land to the body against the taller opponent.
Nakatani gave Lopez his stiffest test before he faced Lomachenko, and if Loma can stop him – something Lopez couldn’t do – it will send a message to the entire lightweight(135lbs) division that he is still there to fight.
What Nakatani needs to do
Nakatani and Lomachenko both faced Lopez, both gave him trouble, but both ultimately lost. As the bigger and longer man, Nakatani surely believes he can impose his will physically on Lomachenko. This is easier said than done, as Loma’s toughness and elusiveness make him hard to bully. What Nakatani needs to do is take a page from Teofimo’s book and fight a disciplined fight.
In the past, Nakatani has elected to get reckless, which opens him to counters. He cannot throw flurries or predictable combinations, as Loma will find his openings and score when he pleases. Nakatani needs to think “tight”, keeping his guard, his feet, his jab, and everything else tight around himself, punching only when he needs to. This will not give Lomachenko the same openings he would have with reckless aggression and is Nakatani’s best hope for victory.
Finally, Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (24-0, 23 KOs) will move up to super-lightweight (140lbs) to challenge Mario Barrios(26-0, 17 KOs) for the WBA regular world championship. In the co-main event, super-welterweights (154lbs) Erickson Lubin (23-1, 16 KOs), and Jeison Rosario (20-2-1, 14 KOs) will battle for relevancy in the increasingly competitive super-welterweight division.
Rosario and Lubin both need to be cautious
Erickson Lubin and Jesion Rosario are both power punchers who have been knocked out by Jermell Charlo. They are similar in their approach to fighting, using their jab to set up big punches and a knockout. Additionally, they both tend to have a leaky defense. The path to victory is the same for both men. They need to remain responsible and try to be the first to land. Most likely, this will result in a knockout for the man who is better able to implement this plan.
Barrios can stave off Davis
Mario Barrios is a solid jack of all trades type fighter. He lacks in no area, but he does not excel either. He may think he can use his size against Davis, who is coming up from 135, but he would be unwise to rely on that. Davis does well in firefights, especially when he is the harder hitter, and he is always the harder hitter. Even at 140, Davis will likely punch harder. Davis has shown lapses in concentration against guys who can frustrate him. Barrios will have to be tricky, awkward, and elusive to make Davis look slow and flat-footed. If he can do this, which will not be easy, he can win.
Davis wants war
Gervonta Davis is a devastating puncher, putting away 23 of his 24 opponents. He needs to force Barrios to trade with him. To do this, he will have to be more efficient with his footwork, moving forward at angles that will cut off Barrios, forcing him into the pocket. Even though he may be the stronger puncher, Davis needs to respect Barrios’ power, patiently setting up the punch that will put him away. He did this against Leo Santa-Cruz, and if he fights the right fight, can do this against Mario Barrios as well.