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Uzcategui vs. Maderna & Ancajas vs. Barrios on Sept.28 on ESPN+


By Chris Williams: Jose Uzcategui battles Ezequiel Osvaldo Maderna, and International Boxing Federation super flyweight champion Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-1, 20 KOs) will be facing Alejandro Santiago Barrios on September 28 on ESPN+ at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California. The start time for the card is at 10:30 p.m. ET/7:30 p.m. PT.

In the main event, IBF super middleweight champion Uzcategui will be fighting Maderna in a 10 round non-title fight. It’s interesting that Top Rank Boxing has Uzcategui in the main event instead of Ancajas given that the Uzcategui-Maderna is a non-title fight it’s an absolute mismatch. Artur Beterbiev destroyed Maderna in a 4h round knockout two years ago in 2016. Maderna was later beaten by journeyman Martin Fidel Rios (23-17-4, 13 KOs) by a 10 round split decision last year in February. As bad as Maderna’s career is going, it would have been better for Uzcategui’s management to find a better opponent for him to face.

Ancajas, 26, will be making his 6th defense of his IBF 115 pound title that he won in September 2016 in beating McJoe Arroyo. The 22-year-old Barrios (16-2-4, 7 KOs) earned the fight against Ancajas by fighting to a 10 round draw in his last contest against Jose Gonzalez last March. Barrios was beaten by Johnny Michel Garcia and Hector Gabriel Flores in 2014 and 2013. Those were both decision losses. Matching Ancajas against a lower level fighter like Barrios increases his chances of doing well and looking good.

“I am very excited to defend my title in Oakland in front of the great fans there, and I look forward to a great challenge from Santiago,” Ancajas said to “There is a large Filipino community in Northern California, so I expect an incredible atmosphere inside the Oracle Arena.”

Top Rank putting Ancajas in Northern California area will help grow his fan base, as there are a lot of Filipino boxing fans in the Bay Area. That’s where former four division world champion Nonito Donaire comes from and Top Rank did a good job of building his fan base over there during the early part of his career. Ancajas is also promoted by Manny Pacquiao Promotions. In Ancajas’ last fight, he defeated Jonas Sultan by a 12 round unanimous decision on May 26 in Fresno, California. That fight was supposed to have been a competitive one, but it turned out to be a mismatch like Ancajas’ other fights since Top Rank started promoting him. The problem is, Ancajas hasn’t been matched against good opposition. Top Rank and Manny Pacquiao Promotions have opted not to put him in with the better fighters in the super flyweight division like Sriskaket Sor Rungvisai, Roman Gonzalez, Khalid Yafai, Juan Francisco Estrada, Carlos Cuadras, McWilliams Arroyo and Donnie Nietes. It’s unfortunate though, because the only way Ancajas is going to become popular like Donaire and Pacquiao is if Top Rank starts matching him against the better fighters in the super flyweight and bantamweight division. He’s not going to see his career go to the next level facing poor opposition.

Uzcategui (27-2, 23 KOs) was supposed to be defending against his IBF ordered mandatory challenger Caleb Plant, but he suffered an injury and was forced to pull out of the fight. Rather than sit and wait, Uzcategui’s management chose to put him in a stay busy fight the 31-year-old Maderna (26-4, 16 KOs) in a 10 round fight. As bad as Uzcategui’s opponent is, it might have been better to have him sit and wait until Plant is healthy enough to face him rather than taking a non-title fight against Maderna, who has lost two out of his last five fights. Uzcategui picked up the interim IBF 168 pound title with an eighth round stoppage win over Andre Dirrell last March. Uzcategui was supposed to challenge James DeGale for his IBF 168 pound title, but the British fighter vacated the title. The IBF then elevated Uzcategui to full IBF super middleweight title.

It was a good win for Uzcategui against the past his prime Dirrell, but the fight didn’t prove that he can beat the better fighters. Uzcategui didn’t look nearly as good in his first fight with Dirrell las year in May when he Flint, Michigan native seemed to be trying a lot harder to win. In that fight, Uzcatgui was barely ahead in the fight when he fouled Dirrell by continuing to punch him after the 8th round ended. The referee had little choice but to disqualify Uzcategui after Dirrell was hurt and unable to get back up to continue fighting. Twice earlier, Uzcategui had hit Dirrell after the bell had sounded to end rounds. It’s unclear why Uzcategui was unable to stop throwing punches at the end of the rounds. Perhaps it was frustration on his part, because Dirrell was doing a good job of making Uzcategui miss with his shots and this in turn made him look bad. Whatever the case, Uzcategui was disqualified and he blew his chance of winning the fight. The good news is Uzcategui didn’t hit Dirrell after the bell in his rematch with him. We’ll have to see in Uzcategui’s fight with Maderna if he can control his punching after the bell. It would be disappointing if this is going to be a problem that hampers Uzcategui’s career.

Uzcategui feels he’s the best fighter in the super middleweight, but he’s not going to prove it facing fighters like Maderna. Uzcategui needs to be put in with the better fighters in the division like David Benavidez, George Groves, Callum Smith, Rocky Fielding, Jesse Hart and Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez. The good news is Uzcategui is young at 27, so he should eventually get matched up with some of those guys. You never know though. If Uzcategui’s promoters decide to have him milk his IBF title against the contenders in the IBF’s top 15, then his career will be stunted. Thus far, Uzcategui hasn’t faced the top dogs. When he did step it up against past his prime Andre Dirrell, he looked good. But when he fought Matt Korobov four years ago, he lost a one-sided 10 round unanimous. You can attribute that loss for Uzcategui to him being too young to be fighting a guy of Korobov’s talent level at that point in his career.

Also on the September 28 card is former WBO super bantamweight champion Jessie Magdaleno (25-1, 18 KOs) will be fighting Rico Ramos (29-5, 14 KOs) in a 10 round bout. Magdaleno lost his WBO 122 pound title in losing to Isaac Dogboe by an 11th round knockout last April in Philadelphia. Magdaleno is being matched against the 31-year-old former WBA super bantamweight champion Ramos in a confidence booster. Ramos held the WBA super bantamweight title from 2011 to 2012. He lost his title to Guillermo Rigondeaux by a 6th round knockout in January 2012. Ramos would later lose to Ronny Rios, Oscar Gonzalez, Jesus Marcelo Andres Cuellar and Claudio Marrero. Ramos has done well recently in winning his last five fights in defeating Christian Esquivel, Juan Antonio Lopez, Erick Ruiz, Prosper Ankrah and Justin Savi. Ramos has looked good in beating solid B-level opposition. He’s not been beating the best, but he’s shown that he still has enough talent to defeat good fighters. Ramos will likely be over his head in facing Magdaleno. The only hope for Ramos to win this fight is if he can wear Magdaleno by getting him to the second half of the fight and hope he wears down like he did in his loss to Dogboe last April. Magdaleno needs to move up in weight to fight in a weight class that is more suited to his body, but I’s likely he’s going to continue to melt down to super bantamweight in order to gain an advantage against the lighter fighters than himself.

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