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Lemieux-Stevens, Gamboa-Alvarado & Culcay-Andrade predictions

Image: Lemieux-Stevens, Gamboa-Alvarado & Culcay-Andrade predictions

By Harry Rowland: This should be an exciting matchup with two come-forward punchers going head to head. This contest is not a title eliminator of any kind but is a crossroads fight. The winner aiming to stay relevant as a middleweight contender. Both fighters are slightly past their best but both still hungry to fulfil their previous potential.

Lemieux’s 36-3 (32) career was off to a fast start, notching up 25 straight wins, with all but one coming via knockout. Then he ran into veteran boxer Marco Antonio Rubio, who looked to be heading the same way as the others until he managed to weather the storm and expose Lemieux as somewhat of an on-top fighter, stopping him in 7 once he had emptied his tank.

The aura of invincibility was broken and again he was beaten by Joachim Alcine in his very next fight, this time on points. Lemieux reemerged just 6 months later with a more cautious energy reserving style, stringing together another 8 wins, before beating Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam for the vacant IBF Middleweight title.

This set up a unification with Gennady Golovkin which Lemieux never looked like winning until he was promptly stopped in the 8th. Both N’Dam and Golovkin are also common opponents of Stevens. Both stopped by Golovkin in the 8th. The N’Dam results are more telling as Stevens was knocked down and out-boxed over 12, whereas Lemieux has his man down 4 times on the way to a clear 12 round win.

Stevens’ 29-5 (21) early career had a similar projection to Lemieux, with 11 of his 13 straight wins coming early, 10 of which within 2 rounds. He then lost concentration in the last round against journeyman Marcos Primera, which he reversed in an immediate rematch.

Stevens’ career is littered with losses to unheralded fighters than he ought to have beaten, but is also littered with stoppage wins over unbeaten prospects Piotr Wilczewski, Tureano Johnson and most recently Patrick Teixeira, whose promotors were taught a hard lesson underestimating Stevens’ ability to find a home for his power when given the opportunity.

The knockout opportunity didn’t present itself in Stevens’ last fight against James De La Rosa, And he looked tired having to settle for a labored points win, in what turned out to be a competitive fight. In contrast Lemieux dealt with a similar level of opponent with relative ease in his most recent outing, Christian Fabian Rios, shutting him out over 10.

Lemieux not only has the edge in power but also has the better boxing ability. Stevens is slightly more flat footed and seems to tire the longer a fight goes on. Stevens’ best chance is to get in close and fight on the inside where he is not on the end of Lemieux’s bombs, and has less risk of being out-boxed. Stevens has the power to end anybody’s night early, but hasn’t been able to administer it at the highest level.

Assuming Lemieux doesn’t get caught with anything silly, he should be able to control the fight from the outside, keeping him on the end of his punches, outworking Stevens as he plods forward behind his high guard with little head movement. I believe Lemieux will start to break his man down in the later rounds, perhaps not quite being able to finish him off and having to settle for a unanimous points victory.

Yuriorkis Gamboa vs Rene Alvarado

Gamboa’s 25-1 (17) illustrious career stagnated somewhat after his first professional loss to Terrence Crawford, for the WBO Lightweight title in 2014. A fight in which he was out boxing the bigger man, only to throw the game plan out of the window and the fight with it, opting to slug it out in an irrational demonstration of bravado.

Former unified Featherweight champion Gamboa has only fought twice since the Crawford defeat, winning against tune up type opponents, and this Saturday’s bout looks to be no different. Alvarado 24-7 (16) has landed this bout off a career best win over Jayson Velez, but it must be stated he has lost on every other occasion he has stepped up, and losing 3 of his last 5.

Gamboa will have too much for Alvarado in every department. Due to Gamboa’s recent inactivity you can forgive another soft touch, but following this bout we want to see him step up the level of opponent and his fight schedule. At 35 time is running out, and it’s already clear that he has massively underachieved given the talent he possesses. Despite this I believe he still has enough left to raise a belt at Lightweight.

Assuming Gamboa is fit and motivated, this should be a routine stoppage win around the midway mark of the fight.

Demetrius Andrade vs Jack Culcay

Such is Andrade’s 23-0 (16) talent, he would probably be the favorite over any super welterweight, barring Saul Alvarez, the Charlo brothers and Erislandy Lara. Even then it would be 50/50. This is a strong statement considering this WBA title bout is his first for world honours and his resume is somewhat thin.

Culcay 22-1 (11) is a solid fighter, only losing the once in a split decision to decent but limited Guido Nicholas Pitto, which was avenged immediately. Despite 8 wins in a row over respectable opposition, the typically orthodox upright European style of Culcay is going to struggle against Andrade’s unorthodox mobility and awkward punching angles.

Andrade has the edge in speed, power, athleticism, talent, footwork, stamina and height. The only thing in Culcay’s favor is the fight being in the Germans backyard. This won’t be enough however as I expect Andrade to put on another dynamic performance, coasting to a unanimous points win. Only Culcay’s strength, grit and determination will allow him to keep going to the final bell.

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