Stevenson-Jack a great matchup; Usman should handle Maia
May 15, 2018 3:03 AM
by Alan Berg
Tons of fighting action Saturday so let’s not waste time jumping in.
In the sweet science, WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis Stevenson defends his crown against Badou Jack the main event of a two-site Showtime doubleheader. The other showdown is Gary Russell Jr. putting his WBC Featherweight Championship on the line versus Joseph Diaz Jr. Stevenson-Jack is live from Toronto and Russell-Diaz is live from Oxon Hill, Maryland at MGM National Harbor.
Also UFC Fight Night takes place in Chile for the first time ever. No. 5 ranked Welterweight Demian Maia fills in on short notice for Santiago Ponzinibbio, to face No. 7 ranked and rising star Kamaru Usman in the main event.
Let’s go one fight at time:
Stevenson -140 (Caesars, Westgate, William Hill, CG Technology)
Jack +135 (Wynn, Station Casinos)
As always check with your favorite book as the week goes on for a total on the fight. This is a great matchup for the fans as both fighters have been successful, but have yet to make a huge impression on the mainstream.
Stevenson (29-1, 24KOs) has incredible one-punch power and above average speed to go along with it. One X factor with him is his age, he’s 40, which in boxing is usually not an age fighters are still elite. He’s also been heavily protected avoiding nearly every top light heavyweight/super middleweight not named Chad Dawson. Remember him?
Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) has held alphabet titles in the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, but this is the biggest fight of his career. Jack has the better resume – wins over George Groves, Lucian Bute, Anthony Dirrell and a draw with James DeGale.
Clearly the line shows bookmakers expect this fight to be competitive and for both fighters to find support from the bettors. To me this fight is tailor-made for Jack; he’s much more of a boxer-puncher while Stevenson is the opposite. The crazy thing is if Jack is piling up rounds through the first eight, nine rounds, Stevenson might finally show the fighting spirit he’s never shown outside the ring.
Jack might be the best light heavyweight in going to the body but he that plan comes with high risk. One thing about going to the body, it means your hands are far away from protecting your head. Not the ideal situation for a boxer fighting someone with the punch quality of Stevenson. Jack will need to take his time behind his solid jab and not overextend his reach as Stevenson has great countering ability. The key will be when Stevenson tries to advance, Jack meets him with his jab and avoids “Superman’s” monster left hand.
Oddly I think Jack will have a solid lead in the fight headed into the ninth round, assuming the Canadian judges don’t have hometown cards, but I think Stevenson’s constant pressure won’t go away.
Stevenson’s talent to instantly change the complexion of the fight with one shot will stay around long enough for him to hurt Jack and collect a championship round stoppage or the hometown decision. STEVENSON
There is currently no line on the Russell Jr.-Diaz Jr fight and I couldn’t figure to guess what the line is here, but I will say definitely catch this fight as both fighters are ranked in the top 8 of the featherweight division.
UFC Fight Night
For over a year Kamaru Usman has begged the UFC for a marquee fight, a name that has been on a billboard or two. Thank you for stepping up, Demian Maia. The master of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is a pleasure to watch, but for a fan base that usually wants KO’s Maia can be an acquired taste.
Usman is the polar opposite; he is a guy that wants to physically smash his opposition into the octagon logos. “The Nigerian Nightmare” is also an accomplished wrestler although I think he will stick to fighting on the feet to avoid the danger that is grappling with Maia. No lines are currently available in town but should be popping up shortly, it’s likely that Usman is anywhere from a -350 to -450 favorite.
Expect Usman to mimic the last fight Maia had against No.3 ranked Colby Covington, where Covington stuffed all of Maia’s 13 takedown attempts and stayed busy on his feet landing 121 strikes to Maia’s 59. Usman will likely keep away but in doing so will control the space at all times.
Usman will stay in range for picking the right moments for combinations and if nothing of note lands or hurts Maia, back up and reset. I actually expect Maia to be too aggressive in this fight coming off the loss to Covington and I think Usman gets the stoppage in Round 3 or 4 with one right hand that leads to the referee pulling Usman off Maia. USMAN