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Michael Conlan vs. Sofiane Takoucht on August 15 in Belfast

Image: Michael Conlan vs. Sofiane Takoucht on August 15 in Belfast

By Charles Brun: Michael Conlan will be facing Sofiane Takoucht on August 15 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. According to Irish Boxing News. Carl Frampton will be fighting on the same card against an opponent still to be determined.

#1 WBO Conlan (13-0, 7 KOs) will be taking another tune-up fight until his belt to get him primed to fight for the WBO featherweight title in early 2021 on St Patrick’s Day in March.

By the time Conlan, 28, does fight for the WBO 126-lb belt, it’ll have been snatched up by former WBO super bantamweight champion Emanuel Navarrete.

For some reason, Top Rank isn’t going to make the Conlan vs. Navarrete fight now. Top Rank could give Conlan as many tune-ups as they want, but it’s not going to help him against a fighter like Navarrete. The powder-puff punches Conlan throws using his amateur style won’t work when he gets in there with Navarrete.

Image: Michael Conlan vs. Sofiane Takoucht on August 15 in Belfast

Conlan needs to improve his power or else

It’s not as if the 28-year-old Conlan is going to improve enough for him to beat the hard-hitting Navarrete. The two-time Irish Olympian Conlan is as good as he’s ever going to get, and it doesn’t help him for Top Rank to delay having him fight for a world title.

Before Conlan faces Navarrete, he’s going to need to get a lot more powerful, or else he’s going to get smashed to bits in a round or two. It’s nice that Top Rank is feeding Conlan another easy mark in Takoucht, but they’re not doing him any favors. All they’re doing is delaying the inevitable.

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Navarrete is like an asteroid that is heading in the direction of Conlan, and there’s nothing on earth that he can do to avoid it. If Top Rank has been looking to feed Conlan weak opponents for the last three years to make him a money-maker, you can respect that.

But it’s not going to change anything because Conlan isn’t fighting good enough opposition to improve his game to any great extent. As a result, when Conlan finally gets put in with a quality operator in Navarrete, it’s going to end badly for him.

Takoucht coming off a loss to Warrington

The 34-year-old Frenchmen Takoucht (35-4-1, 13 KOs) is coming off of a second-round knockout loss to IBF 126-pound champion Josh Warrington last October in Leeds, UK. Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs) isn’t a big puncher by any means with his 23.3% KO rate, and yet he was able to dispatch Takoucht in a lightning-quick fashion.

That tells you a little something about Takoucht’s punch resistance that Warrington was able to obliterate him.

In Conlan’s last fight, he defeated his 2016 Olympic final foe Vladimir Nikitin (3-1) by a 10 round unanimous decision on December 14 at Madison Square Garden in New York. The scores were 100-90, 98-92, and 99-91.

It made Conlan happy to avenge his loss to the Russian fighter Nikitin, but the victory doesn’t mean anything. Nikitin isn’t a major player at 126, and he’s not going to be. Conlan shouldn’t get too happy about beating the light-hitting Nikitan because he’s not his main worry at featherweight.

The guys that are going to be Conlan’s worst nightmare are fighters that can punch and have hand speed. With Conlan’s amateur style of fighting, he’s doomed unless he can develop his punching power to compete at the pro level.

The fact that Conlan is already 28 suggests that he’s already as powerful as he’s ever going to be, and he’s not going to get any better in that department.

Ultimately, Conlan could be stuck as a contender for the remainder of his career. That might explain why Top Rank isn’t in a hurry to throw him in with the talented Mexican fighter Navarrete and watch him get shredded to pieces.

What happens with Conlan when he fights the best?

Conlan needs to be able to beat the talented guys at featherweights like Gary Russell Jr, Navarrete, Josh Warrington, Jessie Magdaleno, and Can Xu. Right now, Conlan would be a significant underdog against all of those fighters.

Image: Michael Conlan vs. Sofiane Takoucht on August 15 in Belfast

Paddy Donovan will be fighting on the undercard of Conlan vs. Takoucht.  There will be two other undercard fights that still need to be filled by Top Rank.

Frampton, 33, will be taking a stay busy tune-up level fight as well to help him get ready for a title shot against WBO super featherweight champion Jamel Herring in the fall of 2020.

“We can’t bring them over here to fight because of the travel ban so MTK is putting their fights on in Belfast,” said Top Rank promoter Bob Arum to IFL TV about Conlan and Frampton.

The former two-division world champion Frampton (27-2, 15 KOs) will be fighting a weaker opponent as well for the August 15 card. He hasn’t fought since beating Tyler McCreary by a 10 round unanimous decision last November.

Top Rank wants to get Frampton ready to challenge the 34-year-old WBO 130-lb champion Jamel Herring, who just tested positive for the virus this past week. Herring is a winnable fight for Frampton, but that doesn’t mean he’ll hold onto the belt for long.

Shakur Stevenson has moved up to 130, and he’s going to go after the WBO title as well. That’s terrible news for Frampton because Stevenson is on another level right now.


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