By Scott Gilfoid: Callum Smith, Joshua Buatsi, Josh Kelly and Chris Algieri will be fighting tonight in separate bouts on the Anthony Joshua vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. card on DAZN and Sky Box Office at Madison Square Garden in New York. The fight action begins at 9:00 p.m. ET tonight.
The criticism that many boxing fans have about the Joshua-Ruiz Jr. undercard is the complete absence of competitive fights. Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn has assembled an undercard of notable guys, but the only true competitive match on the card is the Chris Algieri vs. Tommy Coyle match-up. If 35-year-old Algieri wasn’t past his prime, this would be another one-sided match-up in tonight’s Joshua-Ruiz undercard. It still may be a one-sided match-up, but on paper it has the best chance of being competitive. Unfortunately, promoters nowadays stack their undercards with mismatches involving their fighters against opposition that has no chance of winning. We’ve seeing that tonight with the undercard Hearn has put together.
Callum Smith vs. Hassan N’Dam – preview
In the chief support for the Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr. card, WBA Super World 168-pound champion Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) is defending his title against middleweight Hassan N’Dam (37-3, 21 KOs).
Callum wants to put in a good performance to help him improve his chances of getting a fight against Saul Canelo Alvarez, who holds the WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight title. It might be best if Callum struggles to beat N’Dam tonight. If he looks too good in beating N’Dam, he could ruin what little chance he has of getting a Canelo fight.
Hearn really likes the 35-year-old N’Dam a lot as an opponent for the 29-year-old Smith, but the fact of the matter is he has no chance of winning. The 5’11 1/2″ N’Dam is giving away 3 1/2″ inches in height to the 6’3″ Smith, and a lot more than than in terms of the power. N’Dam recently held the WBA ‘regular’ middleweight title after beating 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ryota Murata by a controversial 12 round split decision in May 2017. In their rematch a year later, Murata stopped N’Dam in the seventh round in October 2017. N’Dam has fought just once since then in beating Martin Murray by a 12 round majority decision a year later last December.
N’Dam is one of the better known middleweights, but he’s come up short when he’s stepped up against Murata, Peter Quillin and David Lemieux. Hearn hasn’t given a good explanation for why he picked out N’Dam for Smith to defend his WBA 168-pound title against. It’s likely that Hearn decided to pick a guy that the U.S fans have heard of. It’s still a bad choice on Hearn’s part. N’Dam doesn’t fight at 168, and he looked horrible against Murata in their rematch. The last fight N’Dam had was against Martin Murray last December, and he’s a shot fighter too. N’Dam won that fight, but he was up against an over-the-hill middleweight, and not a prime fighter. Although Murray has fought at super middleweight in the past, he did poorly in fighting in that weight class.
Callum will likely destroy N’Dam within four rounds tonight. This fight is a terrible mismatch. N’Dam is too small, too weak and too old to have a chance of beating Callum. Of course, that’s precisely why Hearn picked N’Dam out. He wants Smith to look like a world beater tonight. This fight was never meant to be competitive. It was designed to make Smith look like a superstar. Unfortunately, Callum isn’t that type of fighter. He’s good, but he’s very beatable. He would likely lose to David Benavidez and Billy Joe Saunders. Saul Canelo Alvarez would beat Callum in this writer’s opinion if he were motivated to come back up to 168 to face him. That’s the fight that Callum is pining away for.
“It’s a fight that excites me. It’s a fight that I want,” said Callum Smith to DAZN about him fighting Canelo. “I want to be involved in the super fights. He didn’t step up and fight one of the best super middleweights. He stepped up and fought the lower level guy,” said Callum about Canelo fighting former WBA ‘regular’ super middleweight Rocky Fielding last December.
DAZN would like to see Canelo move up to super middleweight to take on Callum in 2020. First things first, DAZN wants Canelo to face former IBF/WBA/WBC middleweight Champion Gennady Golovkin in a rematch in September. After that, a fight between Canelo and Callum would be a great one for May 2020. WBO middleweight champion Demetrius Andrade is also an ideal opponent for Canelo to fight in the first half of next year. However, those fights would hinge on whether Canelo (52-1-2, 35 KOs) beats GGG in their trilogy fight in September.
“There’s giving away size, and there’ giving away size against someone with a lot more ability as well,” said Callum. “I feel that will be the case against myself or against [David] Benavidez and [Gilberto] Ramirez and those type of fighters. So, if he [Canelo] wants to move back up, he’ll have to fight those type of champions, and hopefully it’s me. That’s a fight that I would love. That’s a fight that excites me. I’ve achieved a world champion. That was one of my goals. Now it’s about achieving the personal goals for myself. I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing and keep winning, and show that when he [Canelo] does step back up to super middle, the only fight that makes sense is for him to fight me,” said Smith.
It would be better for Callum not to get his hopes up too much for the Canelo fight. Canelo has so many other options available to him, and he likely was only mentioning Callum’s name to throw GGG off. Callum should stay focused on trying to setup fights against guys from the super middleweight division like David Benavidez. Caleb Plant and Billy Joe Saunders would be good options for Callum to fight after he deals with N’Dam tonight.
“I think he’s a special fighter. I think he’s a very, very good fighter,” said Smith about Canelo. “I’m a big Canelo fan. I think he’s a special fighter at middleweight, and a lot of his advantages, he uses them when he steps up to super middleweight. He’s still the same fighter. He’s still very skillful, but is he the same fighter at super middleweight? I don’t believe he is against a good solid super middleweight like myself. If I’m asked to make a fight with Canelo Alvarez, it won’t take long for me to say, ‘yeah,'” said Smith.
For Smith to defeat Canelo, he would need to jump on him, make him work hard, tire him out and destroy him with power shots. Smith stands no chance of beating Canelo if he boxes him. That’s what most guys do, and it doesn’t work.
Josh Kelly vs. Ray Robinson
Welterweight contender Josh Kelly (9-0, 6 KOs) will be fighting fringe contender Ray Robinson (24-3-1, 12 KOs. This is a so-so fight. Hearn is calling it a major step up for Kelly, but it’s really not a huge step up from his last fight against Przemyslaw Runowski. Robinson, 33, is better than that guy, but not a lot better. We’re not talking about Robinson being an elite level guy. He’s more of a B minus, C plus type of welterweight. You cant call Robinson a B-level welterweight, because that would put him in the same class as guys like Yordenis Ugas, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia. Those guys would absolutely destroy Robinson. As such, he’s not a big step for Kelly. He’s a small step up. The troubling thing about this fight is it’s not going to prove anything for Kelly if he wins.
“I just do what I do best, and try to get the win,” said Kelly to DAZN. “Once I start feeling comfortable in a fight, then I start doing my thing,” said Kelly about showboating. If you’ve got a flashy style, people like it.”
Hopefully, Kelly doesn’t do too much showboating tonight, because he looked silly in his last fight trying to showboat against Runowski. Kelly kept getting nailed by shots each time he attempted to showboat. If anything, Kelly’s hot-dogging motivated Runowski to fight harder. It’ll be the same thing with Robinson. Kelly should focus on fighting in a technical manner, and leave the showboating to more talented fighters like Vasiliy Lomachenko.
Kelly wins by a 12 round unanimous decision.
Joshua Buatsi vs. Marco Antonio Periban
Marco Antonio Periban (25-4-1, 16 KOs) will be fighting Matchroom fighter Joshua Buatsi (10-0, 8 KOs) in a 10 round fight tonight at light heavyweight. The 25-year-old Buatsi is a 2016 Olympian, and he’s being groomed to fight for a world title at 175 in 2020.
Buatsi will knockout Periban within three rounds. Periban hasn’t fought in two years since his one-sided 12 round unanimous decision defeat to Avni Yildirim in May 2017. Hearn picked Periban out of his hat, and sees him as being a credible opponent for Buatsi. Periban has been out of the ring for so long. Not even the hardcore boxing fans remember him. The ones that do remember him weren’t impressed with him. Periban lost to Yildirim, James DeGale and Sakio Bika. Periban fought Badou Jack to a controversial 10 round draw in 2013.
Chris Algieri vs. Tommy Coyle
Chris Algieri (23-3, 8 KOs) has a great shot at beating the brakes off of British domestic level fighter Tommy Coyle (25-4, 12 KOs) in their 12 round fight tonight, but we could see an upset in this fight. Algieri is old at 35, and not the same fighter he was once. He ran out of gas after just two rounds in his last fight against Daniel Gonzalez on January 18. Algieri was given a 10 round unanimous decision, but it was close. Boxing News 24 hard Algieri winning by a six rounds to four score. He made Gonzalez look like a knockout artist with the way he was giving ground to him from the third round on.
“It’s a huge opportunity to do something that I never thought would happen,” Coyle said to Sky Sports. “Without pressure you don’t get diamonds. I will shine like a diamond. Chris Algieri is a fantastic fighter and a better dresser! But this is a fight in which I can look good.”
Coyle has a great engine, and he could outwork Algieri. That’s his best chance of pulling off an upset. However, looking at the two standing next to each other, it doesn’t look like the tiny 5’7″ Coyle is going to have the size to handle the height and reach of the 5’10” Algieri. Coyle has fought much of his career at lightweight against domestic level fighters. Algieri has fought at 140 and 147, and he’s fought world class opposition. Algieri has mixed it with Errol Spence Jr., Manny Pacquiao, Ruslan Provodnikov, and Amir Khan. In comparison, Coyle’s best opposition are these guys: Derry Mathews, Gary Sykes, Luke Campbell, Daniel Eduardo Brizuela, Tyrone Nurse, Sean Dodd, Ryan Kielczweski and Michael Katisidis. You get the picture.
Algieri wins by a one-sided 12 round unanimous decision.