Another full slate on the boxing schedule is upon us this Saturday night and even on a holiday weekend. Three separate US-based broadcast events compete against one another. Austin Trout vs. Terrell Gausha on FS1, Masayuki Ito defends his WBO 130-pound strap against Jamel Herring on ESPN, and rounding out the night will be Devin Haney vs. Antonio Moran as a replacement headliner due to Oleksandr Usyk’s injury. Sure, these fights don’t scream must-see television and aren’t all that meaningful within their divisions. As far as mid-level matchups go they definitely fit the bill.
Let’s begin this preview and prediction piece on the prospect level, or should I say contender. Devin Haney recently made the leap to a full-fledged contender chomping at the bit for a title opportunity. At 21-0 and plenty of room to improve, Haney looks ready and willing to not only to climb the ladder at lightweight, but to also enter the pound for pound sphere should he take out a good chunk of fighters at 135.
Before Haney can set his sights on Vasiliy Lomachenko or Teofimo Lopez among others, his focus will have to be centered on an overwhelming underdog in Antonio Moran. Moran has three losses all in a span of the last five years, most recently dropping a 10-round unanimous decision to former 130-pound titleholder Jose Pedraza. Haney should be very motivated after being skipped over for a WBC title fight with Luke Campbell. As well as making his debut as a Matchroom USA fighter on DAZN. This fight will be a one-sided affair after a round or two, so look for Devin to make a statement.
Let’s turn are focus to the crossroads main event on FS1 between Austin Trout and Terrell Gausha. In the fall of 2017, Gausha gave a valiant effort but came up short in a fight with Erislandy Lara. Prior to that loss, Gausha had fought a couple of decent veteran opponents, none of them prepared him for a style nightmare like Lara. Although, Trout is a different problem all together, he won’t have anywhere close to the elusiveness Erislandy brings to the table. Trout will be way more available to be hit but that doesn’t automatically equate to success offensively for Gausha.
Trout as an aging boxer who has seen better days, no doubt, but his craftiness and wealth of experience demands respect. Austin Trout’s resume includes the likes of Lara, Canelo Alvarez, Miguel Cotto, Jarrett Hurd and both of the Charlo brothers. Can Trout rebound off of three losses in his last four fights? Unless he’s completely shopworn, this podcaster believes he can and will get back to his winning ways. Trout moved his camp inside the Mayweather gym and does seem to have a little more spunk in his demeanor. As we know, talk is cheap and getting pointers from Floyd Mayweather Sr. doesn’t mean he wins going away on Saturday.
Gausha is a competent guy with some good but not great boxing skills. Trout claims he will up his work rate and be more aggressive, and based off Gausha’a fighting style Austin will likely be the one applying pressure, to an extent anyways. Even with all the emphasis on offense by Trout it’s not like will see him rage forward looking for an early knockout. In fact this fight could take quite awhile to heat up. It may be really awkward and fought at a snail’s pace.
Don’t be surprised if we’re sitting at a score of 2-2 or 3-3, sooner or later though Trout will force the issue. That’s when will find out two major items, one is gauging just how much Trout has left in the tank and two is just how skilled Gausha really is. If Trout wants to shine bright in order to get back in the mix at 154 it could leave him defensively vulnerable. The more-antsy a fighter gets on offense, the more he can be exploited on defense and with counter punching, Gausha must take advantage.
Trout could be just blowing a bunch of hot air at us and midway through the bout might start to run on empty. Maybe this hack-of-a-scribe is drinking the Trout Kool-Aid unable to see his forthcoming demise. When all the dust clears, Trout will win cleanly and look pretty dang good doing it.
And lastly on the docket for this steady weekend of fights, Masayuki Ito defends his WBO junior lightweight title against Jamel Herring as the main attraction on ESPN. Just about a month and change short of 3 years ago, Herring was featured as a headliner taking on Denis Shafikov, which funny enough, was broadcasted by ESPN. After the opening round that saw Herring control the action, Shafikov pushed the pace to the point of no return. Round after round Herring got overwhelmed and eventually stopped in the 10th round, two fights later, the ex-marine lost a ten round decision to Ladarius Miller.
Jamel departed Al Haymon’s PBC venture in search of a fresh start, which is exactly what he got in 2018 signing up with Bob Arum’s Top Rank. The opposition was mediocre at best but fighting three times, the last coming in December puts Herring in the best mode possible challenging for a WBO belt. Herring will be sharing the ring with Masayuki Ito, a Japanese pugilist by way of Tokyo.
Ito hasn’t tasted defeat since 2015 and most recently beat undefeated boxers in back to back fights. Masayuki can and assumingly will bring the fight to Herring. However, Ito is more responsible on defense then Shafikov by imploring upper body/head movement on the inside as he punches in accurate combination. We will find out if Ito is as hardcore as a come forward guy as Shafikov. If so, it could be another long night for Herring.
Going back to Herring’s losses, especially Shafikov, it didn’t appear that Jamel had any answers for that mauling attack. Many speculated that Al didn’t move him properly as a prospect and therefore threw him to the wolves. That may be the case, but the question as it pertains to this fight, did the 3 fights in 2018 do anything beyond tuning him up as he was clearly being groomed by Top Rank. Personally I really appreciate a boxer like Herring for his background story but with that said, the pressure will be too much at some point. The first half of this fight will be very competitive until Ito lands a difference maker and takes over the action down the stretch.
Side Note: Keep your eyes peeled for the live streaming event available by the WBA from China. Can Xu vs. Shun Kubo and Carlos Canizales vs. Sho Kimura could make for the best card of the weekend.