This Saturday night Deontay Wilder and the World Boxing Super Series returns on Showtime and DAZN. Wilder defends his WBC heavyweight strap versus mandatory challenger Dominic Breazeale. The WBSS semifinals matchups feature Josh Taylor vs. Ivan Baranchyk at 140 and Naoya Inoue vs. Emmanuel Rodriguez at 118.
Let’s begin with the heavyweight bout in Brooklyn which fans and media members think the outcome is already written in stone. Most of the attention surrounding Saturday’s scrap is Wilder not signing on with DAZN to fight Anthony Joshua and Deontay’s comments about wanting a dead body his record. Will Wilder’s short term gamble by not taking the 40 million dollars DAZN promised payoff in the long run or will Breazeale steal the limelight by shocking the world?
Breazeale’s only loss was Anthony Joshua in the summer of 2016. Dominic has three victories since the loss and is poised to shake up the heavyweight division. Breazeale was never really in the fight against A.J. and will need a better effort offensively. He has shown resiliency on a number of occasions, fighting through adversity. Breazeale’s heart shined through after trips to the canvas and being hurt by Amir Mansour and Izuagbe Ufonoh.
Including the Joshua fight, the former college quarterback is battle tested, but it all starts with the jab. A jab is needed but without movement it’s not as effective. His flat-footed stance doesn’t necessarily bode well facing a mega puncher like Wilder. As was the case in Wilder’s fights with Artur Szpilka, Luis Ortiz, and Gerald Washington, a jab and use of the fundamentals comes at a premium. Breazeale’s defense is virtually non-existent, so it’s really about using distance to steer clear of the man with the big right hand. Tyson Fury was able to stick and move but also did a good job of smothering Wilder on the inside until the ref broke the action.
Beyond calling for a body bag Wilder did claim to have gone back to the basics for this training camp. Once his man is hurt and the smell of blood is in the air, it’s safe to assume Wilder will continue to wing shots only looking for the knockout. Before he detonates a bomb on Breazeale we may get to see a more patient fighter that actual uses a consistent jab and tries to set up his power shots. There is a decent possibility we get a glimpse of Wilder using more skill and foot movement, as he did back in 2015 challenging for his WBC title.
We can almost expect for Breazeale to be in the fight early, if not ahead on the scorecards based off his jab landing. Anything after the first half will come down to how well Dominic can defend from getting tethered by Wilder’s right hand show-stopper. It may take a few rounds, or come in the later rounds, but Wilder will throw his jab and rights straight down the pipe, which will be preceded by Breazeale crashing to the canvas.
On to the World Boxing Super Series, as Josh Taylor and Ivan Baranchyk meet in the semifinals, with winner advancing to the finals and a date with Regis Prograis. Taylor comes off the heels of two impressive victories over quality opposition. He built a lead on Viktor Postol and managed to hold off the Ukrainian’s late push. He then took out unbeaten Ryan Martin with a technical stoppage in the 7th round.
Taylor is a skillful operator with an active punch output, essential when dealing with a bruiser like Baranchyk. If Taylor can use his height and reach advantage along with lateral movement, he should be able to contain Ivan. Taylor likes to work on the inside at times but shouldn’t spend much time at close range.
Ivan Baranchyk definitely looks the part of a hard punching brawler wanting to inflict damage. He throws most everything into each punch and has a tendency to wear down as the rounds go on. Attacking the body and hips of Taylor is a must for Ivan to continue to apply constant pressure. The biggest flaw that could ultimately cost Baranchyk is lack of offensive fluidity. He’s stance is a bit stiff and he gets too wide with his punches, creating gaps in his defense. Gaps that Taylor will exploit by say the mid rounds as he runs away from Ivan on the judge’s scorecard.
The monster from Japan, Naoya Inoue, invades Glasgow, Scotland in a semifinal bout versus undefeated Emmanuel Rodriguez. Due to injuries on opposite side of the bracket, many assume Saturday night will crown the true champion with in the World Boxing Super Series. Nonito Donaire proved he can still throttle guys with a nasty left hand but beyond that has look out of sorts when matched up at a higher tier.
Inoue has been nothing short of spectacular in his last two outings, destroying Jamie McDonnell and Juan Carlos Payano in the very first round. Rodriguez has a few experienced fighters on his resume like Paul Butler, Alberto Guevara, and most recently Jason Moloney. Every time Inoue takes a step up in competition he makes a statement. It’s not easy to improve upon his last two fights but it won’t be out of the ordinary if he scores a devastating knockout. We will find out how good Rodriguez’s shiny record is and see if he’s got the goods to compete with Inoue.