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Flanagan vs. Magdaleno & Soro vs. Smith on Lee-Saunders card

Andy Lee Billy Joe SaundersBy Scott Gilfoid: WBO 135lb champion Terry Flanagan (28-0, 11 KOs) will be making his first defense of his WBO lightweight strap on October 10th against #1 WBO Diego Magdaleno (28-1, 12 KOs) on the undercard of the Andy Lee vs. Billy Joe Saunders card at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, UK. The fight card will be televised on BoxNation in the UK.

The hulking 5’9 ½” southpaw Flanagan is coming off of a 2nd round injury stoppage of knockout artist Jose Zepeda last July. Rather than give the injured Zepeda a badly needed rematch, Flanagan is moving on and will be facing American Magdaleno in his next fight.

Magdaleno was beaten by Roman Martinez by a 12 round split decision two years ago in 2013 in his only loss of his career.

Flanagan looked huge earlier today at the press conference. I thought he looked like he was in the low 150s. I would have liked to have put him on a scale on the spot to see how much he weighed because I thought he looked like a junior middleweight.

The thing of it is Flanagan didn’t look soft at all. He looked in shape, and that tells me that he must have to dehydrate a great deal to get down to the 135lb limit. As such, I think the guy should be fighting in the welterweight division rather than fighting at 135 against lightweights. But I can certainly understand why Flanagan might want to be fighting in the lightweight division.

By fighting against smaller lightweights, Flanagan is able to use his size to squash them basically. If he was fighting at welterweight at 147, he wouldn’t be able to do the same thing because those guys would be the same size as him and would have much better punching power. I mean, could you imagine Flanagan going up against monsters like Keith Thurman, Marcos Maidana or Shawn Porter? Somehow, I think their shoulders would hold up against him and we wouldn’t see a repeat of the Flanagan vs. Zepeda outcome that we recently saw last July.

Magdaleno doesn’t have much in the way of punching power, so it’s hard to say how he’ll do in this fight against Flanagan. I don’t rate Magdaleno as being a particularly talented fighter at lightweight. If he had a little bit of power, I could see him as being a talented guy, but he just can’t punch at all.

I rate No.7 WBO Felix Verdejo as a much, much better fighter than Magdaleno, which brings the question why in the heck is Magdaleno ranked above a talent like Verdejo in the WBO’s rankings? I don’t understand that at all, and it just makes me not believe in the WBO’s rankings. Magdaleno would likely be obliterated by Verdejo, as would Flanagan.

We’re talking about a far superior fighter in Verdejo than the likes of Flanagan and Magdaleno. It’s a good thing for Flanagan that the WBO has their rankings upside down like this because if Verdejo was ranked correctly at No.1 by the WBO, Flanagan would be marching forward towards a sure thing loss.

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There’s n’ way on earth that the light hitting Flanagan would ever be able to beat a talent like Verdejo. That’s a knockout waiting to happen. I’m wondering how long it’ll take for the WBO to sort out there rankings and have Verdejo ranked in the correct spot at No.1 with their organization. It just looks really silly with a guy like Magdaleno ranked No.1 by the WBO when you have a talent like Verdejo ranked well below him at No.7.

Also on the card, #3 WBO Michel Soro (27-1-1, 17 KOs) will be facing No.3 IBF Liam Smith (20-0-1, 10 KOs) in a 12 round bout for the vacant WBO junior middleweight title that was recently stripped from champion Demetrius Andrade for him failing to defend the title in over a year. The World Boxing Organization made that move recently.

Smith, 27, has a draw on his record from 2010 when he fought to a 4 round draw against Terry Carruthers. Since then, Smith has won all of his fights against largely obscure opposition. Liam Smith’s last six wins have come against these little known fighters: David Ezequiel Romero, Robert Talarek, Zoltan Sera, Jason Welborn, Mark Thompson and Erick Ochieng.

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As you can see, Smith hasn’t exactly been setting the world on fire by facing top caliber 154lb competition in the last two years. Based on the type of opposition that Smith has fought, I don’t rate him as a top 15 contender. I mean, I couldn’t even rank Smith as a bottom feeder in the junior middleweight division because he has too many fodder opponents and no real quality opposition.

Soro comes from France and has a previous defeat at the hands of former WBO 154lb champion Zaurbek Baysangurov from three years ago in 2012. Soro also has a 10 round draw against American Antoine Douglas from July of 2014. I saw that fight and had Douglas as the winner. However, Soro bounced back from that controversial draw to defeat Glen Tapia and Emanuele Blandamura in his last two fights. Other than those wins, Soro is plagued by the same problems as Liam Smith is in terms of not having faced good opposition during his career, but at least he’s faced three recognizable opponents in Baysangurov, Douglass and Bladamura.

I have to go with Soro as my pick in the Smith fight. Sora has the superior hand speed, punching power, athleticism, boxing skills and experience. Sora has the advantage over Smith in every department you can imagine. It’s too bad though that these fighters aren’t fully vetted beforehand by having to fight some of the high quality contenders in the division to get to where they are now about to fight for the vacant WBO 154lb title.

I mean, Soro and Smith should have at least had to fight the likes of Vanes Martirosyan, Austin Trout and Joshua Clottey in order to fight for the vacant WBO junior middleweight title. The WBO has a lot of fluff though in their top 15 at this time, and I’m kind of a loss when I look at the weak opposition they have currently ranked in their top 15. I don’t know what the WBO was thinking about when they ranked these guys in their top 15: Oleksandr Spyrko, John Thompson, Jan Zaveck, Patrick Teixeira, Sinimongkol Singwancha, Predrag Radosevic, Ramon Alvarez, Yuki Nonaka, Anthony Yigit and Daniel Sandoval. I’m sorry, but I don’t rate any of those guys as 1st tier contenders. The WBO can do what they want, but I see all of those fighters as middle of the pack 2nd tier guys, and nowhere near being top 15 contenders at 154.

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