PREDICTIONS FOR TONIGHT
By Rob Soucy
As a hardcore sports fan, I always find it interesting to read game/fight predictions from anyone who has a forum to make them. Every week, numerous print and electronic media make NFL and college football predictions. But to my knowledge Boxingtalk.com is the only boxing web site to have provided on and off pre-fight predictions for it's readers. I will be writing and posting a column prior to each and every HBO and Showtime card, PPV or otherwise. Occasionally, I will include an ESPN Friday Night Fight or Sho-Box prediction as well.
Patrick Hyland (27-0) vs. Javier Fortuna (20-0) Sometimes we assume that the fighter we know much more about should win a given fight. And in this case that fighter is Javier Fortuna, the dynamic 23 year old undefeated puncher. One would figure that this is a showcase allowing Fortuna to display his explosive power on the big stage. Patrick Hyland also comes in undefeated but highly untested. The bout is for the interim WBA world featherweight title, but to be honest, neither of the two fighters have resumes deserving of world title shot. Hyland is managed by Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, which may be the reason that he is getting this opportunity. Javier Fortuna's upside is huge as he has demonstrated explosive power in both hands but his most significant KO was against Cristobal Cruz, a fighter who had not won a fight in almost three years. I have a feeling that this fight will be better than expected and provide some fireworks. The two fighters very nearly came to blows at yesterday's weigh-in which adds intrigue to any fight. Unfortunately, it is the first fight of the PPV telecast which almost guarantees that it will be in front of an empty arena. For however long this fight lasts, Fortuna will always be just one punch away from ending it, Hyland not so much. The Irish born fighter needs to be able to get Fortuna's respect early and I'm not sure that he has the firepower to do it. However, Hyland is the better boxer and if he can take Fortuna's power this fight could go either way. The official prediction is Fortuna to win and I'll go with an early KO.
Mercito Gesta (26-0-1) vs. Miguel Vazquez (32-3) If the Vegas odds for this fight were based solely on the resumes of the two fighters, Vazquez would be an overwhelming favorite. He is the IBF Lightweight Champion and his only losses were decisions to Timothy Bradley and Canelo Alvarez (twice). He has a fairly significant height and reach advantage and has 60 World title rounds under his belt compared to none for Gesta. It all adds up to an easy Vazquez victory right? Well, to borrow a line from ESPN College Football analyst Lee Corso, Not So Fast! The 25 year old Gesta reminds me of a young Manny Pacquiao. The Fillipino southpaw isn't nearly as talented but he certainly brings a similar exciting style. Although both fighters are just 25 years old, I look at Gesta as the much fresher fighter. Gesta won't show Vazquez anything he hasn't already seen but I look for the challenger to be the busier fighter especially in the later rounds. I can't see either fighter stopping the other so I look for a close fight that will be decided late in the bout. The offical pick is Gesta to win and I'll say by close but unanimous decision. 115-112.
Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0) vs. Michael Farenas (34-3-4) Ahhhhh, now that the debate is over as to who the more talented fighter is between Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez is, the Cuban can go on with his career. Unfortunately for Gamboa, a 15 month layoff has stalled that career as well as the momentum he had back in mid-2011. However, no one can deny that the former Olympic gold medalist is a supreme talent. He has recently signed with 50 Cent's SMS Promotions and the controversial rapper promises that Gamboa's ring entrance will be phenomenal. However, I don't expect the fight to follow suit which means that this bout is nothing more than a showcase for Gamboa. The fight will be for an interim junior lightweight belt as Gamboa moves up in weight. Oh by the way, Gamboa is fighting little known Michael Farenas in what is a horrible mismatch in talent, especially as the chief support bout to Pacquiao-Marquez. The fact that Gamboa is in the co-feature bout probably just means that Bob Arum is still trying to stick it to Floyd Mayweather in any way that he can. As for the actual bout, despite the fact that he is moving up in weight look for Gamboa to win in style, probably by mid to late round stoppage.
Juan Manuel Marquez (54-6-1) vs. Manny Pacquiao (54-2-2) I'm predicting that this fight won't go very far in solving the debate as to who the better fighter is. If either fighter is to win by close decision it will only further frustrate fans. The only way that Pacquiao or Marquez will be able to claim superiority will be with a knockout victory. The most intriguing thing about this fight is that they both know it and will be looking to hurt each other. We can only hope for a Berto-Ortiz type slugfest but without the without the judges becoming a factor in the outcome. If the fight does go the distance and we are left debating the result these two may as well fight for a fifth and maybe even sixth time. Seriously though, I think most members of the boxing media dread another close decision. I don't have a rooting interest in the outcome other than that one of these two finish the fight on his back. Freddie Roach may have said it best stating that Pacquiao may be down three round to none heading into the fight but I have no clue who wins, it's a toss-up. Give me scores of 115-113 Pacquiao, 117-111 Marquez, and 114-114... the fight ends in a draw!