Hard Rock will host WBA Lightweight Title bout

Feb 26, 2013 3:07 AM

This Saturday, The Joint inside Hard Rock Hotel & Casino will host the WBA Lightweight Title bout between Sharif Bogere (23-0, 15 KO’s) and Richard Abril (17-3-1, 8 KO’s).

The venue for this “Special Edition” of ShowBox was initially Harlem’s Apollo Theatre in New York City, but when the main event featuring WBC Featherweight champion Daniel Ponce De Leon and Jayson Velez was cancelled due to an injury suffered by the challenger, the powers that be concluded a change in location would be best.

The reason is obvious. The bout between De Leon and Velez was declared as another fight between Mexico vs. Puerto Rico, which almost assures promoters a successful gate in NYC. When the co-main event for the vacant WBA strap was elevated to headline, moving the event to Las Vegas became instantly attractive.

Ironically this lightweight title fight had been originally scheduled as the co-main event for the Nov. 24, 2012 card in Ontario, California, which featured Andre Berto challenging Robert Guerrero’s for his Interim WBC Welterweight gold. A partial tear of Bogere’s left Achilles tendon forced the fighter to withdraw.

So here we are as Abril and Bogere will finally have the chance to get it on.

At the moment, I’ve yet to see a betting line on this fight and though the unblemished Bogere may be better recognized by the casual boxing fan, make no mistake – Abril is considerably more battle tested.

In fact, if creating a betting line without the need to limit exposure by factoring in such things as perception or bettor’s bias, I would undoubtedly list Abril as the favorite.

Bogere, 24, is from Uganda and currently fights under the Golden Boy banner. He has yet to face top level opposition even after 23 pro bouts. Instead, he’s been fed a long list of “confidence fights,” which are simply intended to add wins to a boxer’s record, improve fortitude, and keep one out of harm’s way.

Bogere’s last two opponents, Manuel Leyva and Sergio Rivera, who were both disposed of within 3 rounds, can’t even be found on Wikipedia.

On the flip side of that coin, the Cuban born Abril had over 200 amateur bouts and has already squared off against some A-list opponents in his 21 fights as a professional.

Unlike most Cuban boxers who are forced to defect in order to pursue a pro career, Abril now 30, won a lottery that afforded him the opportunity to come and go freely. He opted to come to the U.S. and turn pro at the age of 23. He has since fought the likes of Breidis Prescott, Miguel Acosta, and in his latest clash, battled to a tough split decision defeat against Brandon Rios.

Abril had even attempted to land a bout with his countryman, the Cuban sensation Yuriorkis Gamboa, who’s been avoided by most boxers at any cost.

For this fight, Bogere enters the ring with a considerable power advantage, which is evident by looking at the knock-out ratio for both men.

Though the level of competition may favor Abril, I still give the smaller man the edge. I say smaller because Abril will have a sizable 5-inch reach advantage over Bogere and that may be his greatest asset heading into this bout because of the styles for both.

Look for Bogere to try and box his way in, and though he’s known more for throwing what appear to be wild punches from all angles, he’ll need to work behind his jab in this fight. For Abril, as expected based on his impressive amateur background, as is the case with most Cuban pugilists, he’s the much more efficient boxer and he’ll aim to use this advantage to keep the fight at a distance.

In a 12 round bout it’s very difficult to keep an opponent away the entire fight and these two will eventually stand and trade. But unless Bogere is able to put Abril away before the final bell sounds, something no opponent’s been able to do thus far, he should find it very difficult to win by way of the judges’ scorecards.

The overused cliché in the fight game is that “styles make fights,” but in this case I believe it to be well deserved because stylistically Abril has all the tools to outbox his way to a win over Bogere.

Finally, my only concern if the price is right when the books hang a line up on this title fight is that all three of Abril’s losses as a pro have come via “split decision.” So either he’s just as unlucky as they come, or judges don’t seem to favor his brand of fighting as much as I do. Regardless, that’s the only reason that gives me some pause.

Pick: Abril.

The co-main event will now feature the undefeated featherweight Gary Russell Jr. (21-0, 13 KO’s) against Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2, 5 KO’s). The former U.S. Olympian is currently one of the sport’s rising prospects and this may simply be another “confidence fight,” but his accuracy, speed, and power will be on display for fans who may not have seen him yet, in what will ultimately be another dominant performance.


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Vegas-Runner, a pro sports bettor in Las Vegas, has been featured on CNBC/ESPN. Follow him on Twitter@vegasrunner, at Pregame.com and on AM 1100 ESPN (also FM 98.9) on Fridays and Sundays from 11 pm to midnight when he co-hosts First Preview. Contact Vegas Runner at [email protected].

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