Saturday night at the Staples Centre sees a main event pitting two men together taking part in their first professional contests against each other.
These are no decorated amateurs though, these are two men whose fame come from video blogging on YouTube, and they have taken their August 2018 White Collar Boxing match to the next level. Not only that, UK fans are expected to stump up £9.95 for the privelidge of watching the card.
KSI and Logan Paul will headline a card that has two World Title fights as it’s undercard.
I will focus on these two fights before concentrating on the bizarre headliner.
Top of that undercard, and surely bewildered by this status given he is a new acquisition for Matchroom is Billy Joe Saunders (28-0, KO13). The Hatfield man is forced to settle being part of the side show in Los Angeles, as he makes a first defence of the WBO Super Middleweight Title that he won back in May in Stevenage. 30 year old Saunders has endured a frustrating time of things in recent years due to injury, inactivity, and a failed drug test, and will look to put on a show this weekend under his new paymasters.
His maiden defence of his belt comes against Argentine unknown quantity, Marcelo Esteban Coceres (28-0-1, KO15), who shares an almost identical record to the champion. Coceres fights outside of his native Argentina for the first time, and has amassed a big unbeaten record on a diet of inferior opposition. The only career setback to date was in his second paid contest, a split draw over four against Cesar Hernan Reynoso back in March 2012, with Coceres decked in the opener. Coceres has had two bouts in 2019 thus far, with a seventh round stoppage of Carmelito de Jesus in April followed by a wide unanimous win over ten against German Ignacio Peralta in September. Coceres is coming up from Middleweight, where he has campaigned since May 2018.
After winning British, Commonwealth and European Middleweight Title from turning professional in 2008, Billy Joe Saunders then captured the big one in December 2015 in an up and down affair with Andy Lee, winning the WBO Title via majority decision. In what was expected to be Saunders’ launchpad he then only made to lacklustre defences in two years with points wins against Artur Akavov and Willie Monroe Junior. He again had lift off in December 2017, with a dazzling, near punch perfect display in diffusing Canadian banger, David Lemieux, embarrassing him in his own country with a dominant points win. There would be further inactivity, and then a high profile defence against Demetrius Andrade in the USA bit the dust as Saunders failed a drug test due to a banned nasal spray. Saunders returned after being forced to vacate his belt, moving up a weight back in May, gaining the vacant WBO Super Middleweight crown with a wide points win against the limited Shefat Isufi.
Prediction: Saunders will be desperate to steal the show here, and will look to put in a display reminiscent of his famous win against Lemieux. Coceres though is not likely to strike fear into Saunders’ heart, and I imagine he will feel underwhelmed by choice of opponent here. Big fights are on the horizon for Sanders if he comes through here, and I expect him to use his flashy combinations and footwork for a landslide points victory.
A hastily arranged second World Title fight on the bill sees recently crowned WBC Lightweight Champion. Devin Haney (23-0, KO15) make a first defence. Las Vegas based Haney is now full WBC Champion following the organisation’s ludicrous decision to upgrade Vasyl Lomachenko to be their “Franchise” Champion last week.
20 year old Haney has impressed so far in his short career, and his last couple of contests have seen him really break out. May saw him brutally knock out Antonio Moran in seven rounds, and in his last outing, he battered the previously unbeaten Zaur Adullaev to a retirement defeat in four rounds to pick up the interim WBC belt.
Haney puts the full fat Title on the line against Alfredo Santiago (12-0, KO4) a Domenican based in Puerto Rico. Santiago fights outside of Puerto Rico for the first time, and the 24 year old has been a professional since May 2015. He gets his shot as the WBC FECARBOX Champion, a belt he won in August 2018 against Cristian Mino in a fourth round stoppage, and defended against former World Title challenger, Jonathan Victor Barrios, in a wide points win last December. His most recent appearance was a first round stoppage of Diego Contreras in June.
Prediction: I don’t foresee Santiago causing Haney too many problems, despite being unbeaten. Haney is a devastating counter puncher, and he could possibly score an early knockdown here, before finishing the job after halfway.
The main event sees KSI against Logan Paul, and to be honest, the only preview that can be offered here is that they faced each other under white collar rules last August, and fought to a six round draw at the Manchester Arena. The fight though was a sell out, with millions of buys of the event making it a complete success.
Eddie Hearn has now tapped into this success by promoting the rematch under professional rules.
I can’t also really offer a prediction, as both can’t be considered professional athletes. The best notion I have is that it will probably be a tight affair, with the possibility of a money spinning trilogy fight in the offing as a result.