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Sherdog’s resident boxing expert, James
Kinneen
, breaks down an upcoming weekend with plenty of
can’t-miss fights.

When: Aug. 17

How to Watch: ESPN 2, 11 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because Dardan Zenunaj wants
to make a “Mickey Ward-Arturo Gatti type of fight” and
Andrew Cancio is more than happy to oblige.

Not every fight needs to have hall of fame or even pound-for-pound
implications, some fights are just great, because they’re great
fights. That may well be the case when it comes to Friday’s matchup
between Andrew Cancio (18-4) and Dardan Zenunaj (14-4). Although
neither fighter is likely going to be remembered as an all-time
great, Cancio has faced the better opposition having lost to guys
like Jojo Diaz but beaten guys like Rocky Juarez.
But, that likely won’t mean much. See, Zenunaj has shown he can be
outboxed, but has vowed he will come forward against Cancio, who is
probably not slick enough to keep him away for long. As a result,
everyone thinks this will be a brawl. Let’s hope it is.

When: Aug. 18

How to Watch: ESPN, 10 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because when fading
heavyweights collide, desperation can lead to devastation.

Neither Bryant Jennings nor Alexander Dimitrenko is likely to
challenge for heavyweight supremacy again. Jennings was knocked out
by Luis
Ortiz
four fights ago, while Dimitrenko was knocked out by
Joseph
Parker
three bouts ago. Though both have rebounded with a few
wins over unheralded opponents, this matchup is the one to decide
who no longer matters in the world of heavyweight boxing. For
Bryant, losing the fight in Atlantic City, a shot shot from his
hometown of Philadelphia, would make the loss sting even more,
while for Divitrenko losing a fight where he is so much larger than
his opponent would be a missed opportunity in an increasingly large
heavyweight division.

In boxing, motivation comes in many forms from national pride to a
desperate need for prize money. In this match, both fighter’s
motivations are clear; this isn’t just a matchup where two men are
fighting each other, it’s a matchup where both are fighting
irrelevance.

When: Aug. 18

How to Watch: ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: To see if outside
distractions give Shakur Stevenson the challenge he has yet to face
in the ring.

As a professional, former Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson
has not faced any real adversity in the ring. And, to be totally
honest it is unlikely Carlos Ruiz will be able to offer him any
adversity on Saturday night. Except, until this fight Stevenson
hasn’t had any problems outside of the ring either. But just a few
months ago, following claims that he made lewd comments toward women and
was involved in a brawl, Stevenson was charged with misdemeanor
battery
. So, now the likeable young man who had previously been
100 percent focused on boxing, had to deal with some issues outside
of the ring. Does that mean a distracted Stevenson will struggle
against the Mexican journeyman Ruiz? There’s only one way to find
out.

When: Aug. 18

How to Watch: Facebook’s Showtime Stream 4 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because Carl Frampton insists
he is in better shape than he has been recently, and as of late,
he’s been doing very well.

In his last fight, Carl Frampton won the WBO featherweight belt off
of Nonito Donaire. That’s a very solid accomplishment,
but Frampton doesn’t think he was as mentally prepared for that
fight as he is now, declaring “I’m fitter now than I was against Donaire. At the
end of that point I felt I was in the shape of my life, because
mentally, I’m so happy with boxing.”
If Frampton has built up a
24-1 record not being happy with boxing, it will be fascinating to
see what he looks like now that he is content with the sport.

Luke Jackson will be the first person to find out. The undefeated
Australian will be fighting outside of Australia for the first
time, and though he is undefeated (16-0, 7 KO’s) has not faced
elite competition. Frampton is happy with boxing, and in Northern
Ireland Jackson will likely have to produce greatness if he wants
to sow the seeds of discontent.

When: Aug. 18

How to Watch: Facebook’s Showtime Stream 4 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because, like I keep telling you, everything Tyson Fury
does is entertaining.

Tyson Fury should destroy Fransesco Pianeta. Pianeta has lost to
anyone good he has ever fought, and Fury is better than some of the
guys he has lost to (like Kevin
Johnson
). This fight should be one-sided, but don’t let that
stop you from watching it because it involves Fury.

With rumors that Deontay Wilder will be ringside for the fight,
what will Fury, the self-appointed “heavyweight Sugar Ray Leonard” do to taunt his
(likely) future opponent? Will he sing Wilder a song after the
fight? Will he say something offensive? With Fury the possibilities
are almost endless, just not the possibility of him losing this
fight.

When: Aug. 18

How to Watch: Facebook’s Showtime Stream 4 p.m. ET

Why You Should Care: Because Paddy Barnes is
trying to follow Vasyl Lomachenko’s path to stardom, a road that
may only work when you’re Lomachenko.

Patty Barnes is a two-time Olympic bronze medalist. However, as a
result of spending so much time in the amateur ranks, he is 31
years-old. Due to his advanced age, he is opting to do as
Lomachenko did, and very early in his pro career challenge for a
world title by facing WBC flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales in
only his 6th professional fight. Barnes is a pressure fighter, but
Nicaragua’s Rosales doubts he can march forward against him, and
recently asked Barnes not to “run away like a wee chicken” during the
match.

Doing the quick transition from amateur champion to world title
contender seems to have worked very well for Lomachenko, the
question is if someone who isn’t Lomachenko can replicate that
success. We’ll see if Barnes can do it on Saturday.


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