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Flanagan battles Petrov; Smith faces Williams tonight

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By Scott Gilfoid: WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan (32-0, 13 KOs) and his loyal fans are hoping he doesn’t get tripped up tonight against the talented Russian Petr Petrov (38-5-2, 19 KOs) at the Manchester Arena in Manchester, England. The fight will be shown on BT Sport and BoxNation in the UK.

Flanagan is supposed to win, but you can’t really assume anything in boxing, especially when you lack the punching power to take the judges out of the equation.

Flanagan is a decent fighter. I think he’s got this one in the bag because of his size. Petrov hasn’t done much with his career since his loss to Dejan Zlaticanin 4 years ago. Petrov won his last 6 fights, but he hasn’t beaten anyone good. He defeated Michael Perez, Marvin Quintero, Gamalliel Diaz, Fernando Carcamo, Chris Rudd and Fedor Parzov. Those are all pretty much lower level fighters. Perez and Quintero are decent fighters, but neither of them are world class.

The 5’9” Flanagan will use his reach and height advantage to pound out a decision over the 5’6” Petrov tonight. The height won’t be the real story in the fight. It’ll be the weight advantage for Flanagan. I think he’ll outweigh Petrov by at least 15 pounds, and he’ll use that weight to dominate the smaller guy.

Also on tonight’s Flanagan-Petrov card is former WBO junior middleweight title holder Liam Smith (24-1-1, 13 KOs) fighting contender Liam Williams (16-0-1, 11 KOs) in a fight for the vacant interim World Boxing Organization 154lb title. Smith has NO CHANCE of winning the WBO interim strap due to him coming in 1 ½ pounds over the junior middleweight weight limit during Friday’s weigh-in. Smith weighed in at 155 ½ lbs. at the weigh-in.

What on earth was Smith doing coming in that heavy? The guy should know by now how to make weight because he’s been a pro for 9 years now. Smith will not be able to win the interim WBO title because of him coming in over the weight limit for the fight. Williams can win it though. I’m not sure that he will. Williams looks pretty average to me I can’t see him beating Smith. I don’t see any fights on Williams’ meager resume that would indicate that he’ll be able to compete with Smith.

Smith won his last fight against little known Roman journeyman Marian Cazacu (2-38-1) by a 4 round points decision on March 18. This was a confidence booster/stay busy type of fight for the 28-year-old Smith following his 9th round knockout loss to former 2 division world champion Saul “Canelo” Alvarez on September 17 last year in the U.S. I can understand a little Smith wanting to take a stay busy fight against a weaker opponent, but I do not agree with him being matched up against a fighter with a 2-38 record. That does not make sense to me. I don’t think it’s good for any fighter as far as long as Smith is to be fed an opponent with a record like that. I know Smith lost the fight to Canelo, but come on, man. He should be fighting better opposition than this in tune-up fights at this stage in his career. To be honest, why Smith even need a tune-up? It looks like a time-wasting fight for Smith. He’s got a padded record with a lot of fluff fights as it is.

Smith has the better boxing skills of the two, and the slightly better resume. However, Smith looked awful in losing to Canelo last year. It looked to me like Canelo was taking it easy on Smith for the first 6 rounds of the contest. When Canelo started to unload on Smith with power shots in the 7th, he began dropping him left and right.

Smith pretty much put up the white flag from that point, because he was totally useless from that point. Smith lost his aggression completely, and began to retreat from the power of Canelo. I mean, Smith wasn’t running from Canelo from the 7th round on, but he sure as heck wasn’t fighting him competitively. Canelo showed his dominance, and Smith just buckled under the pressure. Smith needed to use his boxing brain to beat Canelo, but he didn’t seem to be thinking with a clear head inside the ring on the night. It didn’t take a genius to figure out before the fight that Canelo can be beaten with a jab due to his short, stubby arms. But instead of Smith using his jab to pick Canelo off from the outside the way Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Erislandy Lara did, Smith fought him in close most of the fight. It was an insane way of fighting Canelo. I could have come up with a better plan on the back of a matchbook. I don’t know what Smith was doing, but it was a dumb, dumb plan to try and beat Canelo with. The only way that Smith could beat Canelo with such a dumb plan would be for him to throw a massive amount of shots. That was never going to happen because Smith isn’t capable of throwing a lot of shots.

The boxing fans will be on Liverpool native Liam Smith tonight. I don’t think that’s the reason why Smith will win the fight tonight. He looks like the all-around better fighter of the two. The only thing that Williams has over Smith is a superior work rate. Williams can throw more punches and make it awfully hard for Smith if he can deal with his power and body punching. However, I was not impressed at all with Liam Williams’ performance in beating Gary Corcoran last July. Williams won the fight by an 11th round knockout, but that was a really hard fight for him. Corcoran gave Williams boatloads of trouble before the fight was eventually halted in the 11th.

When I saw that fight, I knew that Williams lacked the talent to win a world title. Williams might be able to outwork Smith tonight due to his incredibly low work rate, but he’s not going to beat any of the actually good contenders in the WBO’s rankings that are willing to fight for the full WBO title. Let me get this out there. I think the World Boxing Organization’s top 15 rankings are pathetic. They’ve got a lot of weak contenders in their rankings in my opinion.

If Liam Williams can win the interim WBO 154lb title, it’s anyone’s guess who he’ll fight for the full WBO strap after the current champion Saul Canelo Alvarez vacates the title. Miguel Cotto is ranked No.1, but no way is he going to fight for the vacant WBO title against Liam Williams. It’s not that Cotto wouldn’t win. It’s that he’s not use one of his last fights of his career to fight Williams, because it’s not a fight that can be sold on PPV in the U.S.

The next highest ranked guy once you get past Liam Williams is Dennis Hogan (25-1-1, 7 KOs). If Williams gets to fight the 32-year-old Hogan for the vacant WBO title, he would have a great chance of winning, but it would very sad if that’s who Williams fights for the title, because there are arguably far better fighters in the WBO’s rankings than this guy. Hogan is from Australia, and he mainly fights over there. 2 years ago, Hogan was easily beaten by Jack Culcay by a 12 round unanimous decision in 2015 in a fight that took place in Germany.

Hogan has won his last 3 fights since then against weak opposition. I have no idea why the WBO has Hogan ranked No.3 in their ratings at junior middleweight. Just based on his loss to Culcay, I don’t think Hogan should be ranked in the top 15, period. But at any rate, Williams will probably beat Hogan if that’s who he faces for the vacant WBO 154lb title if he gets past Liam Smith tonight.


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