Coming off an exciting weekend in boxing, where Gennady Golovkin continued his stake as one of the most dangerous men in the sport, the fall action will only continue to heat up as another pound for pound champion takes the stage this weekend. We’ll preview Terence Crawford’s upcoming bout as well as some other news and notes in this week’s Around the Ring.
Terence Crawford vs. Dierry Jean
Undefeated, two-division world champion Terence Crawford will defend his WBO junior welterweight title against Dierry Jean this Saturday Oct. 24 from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska.
Crawford (26-0, 18 KOs) will be fighting in front of his hometown crowd in Nebraska for the third time in four fights, and is definitely one of boxing’s rising stars. He’s undefeated, has won world titles in two divisions and, at 28, is right in the heart of his athletic prime.
He has a tremendous, lengthy amateur background, that has paved the way for what is an extremely intelligent fighter. He’s got outstanding technical skill, physical gifts and is able to make constant adjustments throughout a fight. All this, combined with fight-ending power, makes it hard to not see that the future is bright for Crawford.
In 2014, he was selected Fighter of the Year by the Boxing Writers Association of America. In March 2014, he travelled to Scotland and won the WBO lightweight title in a one-sided decision over veteran champion Ricky Burns. In June, he turned in probably the most notable performance of his career, stopping undefeated sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa in nine rounds.
Crawford finished the year by pitching a near shutout against Raymundo Beltran. Last April, he moved up to 140 pounds and knocked out the well-regarded Thomas Dulorme in six rounds.
Jean (29-1, 20 KOs), is a very game opponent who possesses great power, particularly in his right hand.
Jean’s only loss came by competitive decision in a junior welterweight world title bout against Lamont Peterson in 2014, in Peterson’s hometown of Washington, D.C.
After the loss to Peterson, Jean dropped down to lightweight, where he has won four fights in a row, including a one-sided decision against Jerry Belmontes on June 20 on the David Lemieux-Hassan N’Dam undercard. He is now returning back to junior welterweight for the opportunity to face Crawford.
I see this being a very tactical fight. Both fighters have incredible conditioning, and I think Jean will really be careful when to take his chances this fight. I think the move back up to 140 pounds will ultimately be too much for the natural lightweight Jean. Crawford will also pick his spots, and dominate the later rounds on his way to a decision.
Prediction: Crawford by unanimous decision
Antonio Tarver Fails Drug Test
For the second time in three years, former champion Antonio Tarver has failed a drug test. This time, prior to his draw with Steve Cunningham on Aug. 14.
Tarver tested positive for synthetic testosterone. Both his “A” and “B” sample came back positive, but Tarver is steadfast in his innocence.
“I have no idea how my urine sample tested positive because I didn’t take anything illegal,” Tarver said in a statement to ESPN. “Either the test was contaminated or mixed up with another sample. We believe in the process, and I will fully comply. Further analysis will prove I’m 100 percent innocent because I’ve done nothing wrong.”
Tarver also tested positive following a cruiserweight fight with Lateef Kayode in June 2012 in Carson, California. He came up positive for the anabolic steroid drostanolone in a urine test conducted by the California State Athletic Commission.
After serving a year-long suspension, Tarver returned to the ring in late 2013 and won two fights in a row, including a knockout of Johnathon Banks in December.
The thought for the Tarver-Cunningham winner was a possible shot at Deontay Wilder’s heavyweight title. Tarver, 46, had set out to become the oldest heavyweight champion in history, but Cunningham now questions his entire career.
“It could have been a clear victory for me,” Cunningham told ESPN.com. “I woke up [Monday] morning to a call that told us he failed on the ‘A’ and ‘B’ sample. Where we are now is that we are sitting back and waiting to see what happens, but it looks bad for him. He looks very guilty.
“His stance is, ‘I’m clean, I’m clean.’ But you already failed a test before, and he has a history. With this happening two times in three years, you have to question all of his big victories. What was Antonio Tarver known for? A powerful left hand. He put Roy Jones out with it. He was stopping guys with his left hand. Banks also. You have to question all of his big knockout victories since he has tested positive.”
WBA, WBO and IBF light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev and former champion Jean Pascal will likely meet in a rematch Jan. 30, although negotiations are still underway.
‘Krusher’ knocked out Pascal, in his own backyard in Montreal, in the eighth round on March 14.
Kovalev (28-0-1, 25 KOs), is coming off a third round knockout of overmatched mandatory challenger Nadjib Mohammedi in July. In the co-feature, Pascal (33-3-1, 17 KOs) struggled against the game Cuban Yunieski Gonzalez (16-1, 12 KOs). Pascal was awarded a disputed unanimous decision (96-94 on all three scorecards).
The next year is shaping up to be a big one for the undefeated Russian. Kovalev promoter Main Events and HBO are working on a three-fight plan that would culminate with Kovalev squaring off in a major pay-per-view fight next fall against super middleweight champion Andre Ward.
The Kovalev-Pascal rematch would be first, a possible bout with WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson could be second, and then Ward would be the third. If the plan goes accordingly, the potential Kovalev-Stevenson and Kovalev-Ward bouts will be huge fights in 2016.