Not Exactly High Drama

Coming on the heels of a thrilling month of fight action that was capped off by a Halloween knockout parade, November has big shoes to fill. As boxing promoters struggle with the limitations wrought by the corona virus, we’ll still get to see a number of talented fighters in action this month, though not as many big-name battles. In fact, November 2020 might rightly be described as a month of mediocrity and mismatches. Barring any huge upsets, we can expect the month’s A-side fighters to add victories to their records on the way to, hopefully, more compelling match-ups in 2021. In other words, not exactly high drama this month. Tonight we’ll see two cards featuring this type of soft matchmaking on both Fox and DAZN.

Devin Haney

Where does Devin Haney (24-0) fit with the rising young talents jockeying for position in the territory between featherweight and 140 pounds? Shakur Stevenson, Gervonta Davis, Teofimo Lopez, and Ryan Garcia are all vying for supremacy, and Haney is also in the mix. He holds the only outstanding lightweight strap after Teofimo Lopez’s upset win over Vasiliy Lomachenko as he returns from a November 2019 shoulder injury to defend that belt. His opponent? The once-elite Yuriorkis Gamboa (30-3).

Last year, Gamboa lost to Gervonta “Tank” Davis in a fight in which he suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon and it’s entirely possible that the 38-year-old is little more than a gatekeeper now, if not washed up. Still, he’s a former gold medalist and two-time world champ so he represents some degree of challenge. Haney ought to win this fight, but at the same time Gamboa potentially has the experience and, if he’s not completely shot, the skills to expose Haney, if the latter proves to be undeserving of his “mini-Mayweather” moniker. If nothing else, Yuriorkis will represent a shared opponent and point of comparison between Haney and Gervonta Davis.

Gamboa was beaten by “Bud” in 2014. Does he have enough left to test Haney?

Should you prefer bigger game tonight, heavyweight Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (31-2) headlines the Fox/PBC card as he  faces off against Alexander Flores (18-2-1). The power-punching Ortiz is favored to make this a short night against Flores, whose two losses come by way of knockout. In both cases, the lights went out early, with trips to the canvas in the third and fourth rounds, respectively. Despite Ortiz’s defeats to Deontay Wilder, there’s not much reason to doubt his ability to close the show in short order and cap off an all-heavyweight card with a bang.

November 14th’s fistic festivities begin in London, where the undefeated Katie Taylor (16-0) defends her four lightweight belts against the also undefeated mandatory challenger Miriam Guitierrez (13-0). Taylor is a superstar of women’s boxing, and is coming off of a convincing rematch victory against Delfine Persoon. At 34, Taylor is likely looking at the last few years of her career so fans can only hope that Taylor doesn’t ride off into the sunset before delivering another big fight or two, perhaps against Amanda Serrano or Mikaela Mayer. But for now, she headlines this all-female, all-title fight triple-header on Sky Sports before the action jumps back across the pond with an ESPN-Top Rank card.

Katie Taylor

In Las Vegas Terence “Bud” Crawford (36-0) ends an eleven month layoff following last year’s TKO win over Egidijus Kavaliauskas. On the 14th the switch-hitter from Omaha, Nebraska faces England’s Kell Brook (39-2), who has bounced around weight classes without any career-defining success since his besting of Shawn Porter in 2014. Oddsmakers have generously pegged Brook as the +500 underdog, but a case can be made he’s a much longer shot than that as he has stumbled in the past against competition below Crawford’s level. Brook might have his moments early on, but he can only hope that Crawford, frustrated at Top Rank’s inability to ink big matchups, will come into the ring poorly prepared.

Crawford
Crawford’s elite-level talents are going to waste.

Fans share Crawford’s frustration, as his hopes to both build a legacy and land significant paydays have been dashed by promoters and fellow fighters alike. At the top of the legacy fight list is the oft-talked about, never consummated, Crawford vs Errol Spence clash. Fans, not to mention “Bud” himself, can only hope Crawford vs Brook is just a way station en route to that major showdown. Until then, the only intrigue here is the fact that Brook will represent a common opponent between Crawford and “The Truth,” a fact which should give Crawford some extra incentive to aim for an emphatic victory. For instance, an impressive, early round KO would go a long way in terms of building some serious momentum for a mega-money Crawford vs Spence showdown.

Crawford vs Spence: sadly, it may never happen.

Those who take the trouble to tune in to the Crawford vs Brook show early will be rewarded, as Top Rank has put together a solid undercard in support of the lukewarm headline match-up. It includes a quick-turnaround rematch of June’s all-action fight between Joshua Franco (17-1) and Andrew Moloney (21-1), and the sixth bout of 2020 for the Freddie Roach-trained, up-and-coming welterweight Elvis Rodriguez (10-0-1). Be sure to stay in your seat for Elvis: in his five fights so far this year, he’s logged just fifteen rounds total, making him a fan-favorite knockout artist.

The subsequent weekend will be quieter, with only a few cards and even fewer big names, but on the 27th we’ve got Daniel Jacobs (36-3) headlining a DAZN card against Gabriel Rosado (25-12-1). This match is Jacobs’ first since his stoppage of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. last December and is renewing criticism of what appears to be soft match-making for the two-time world champion.

Rosado is a paltry 2-3-1 in his last six fights, but he and Jacobs have tried to gin up some excitement for the fight with some trash-talk, including Danny’s employment of the shopworn “it’s personal” declaration. The best we can hope for is a mix-up in the dressing rooms that would result in Demetrius “Boo Boo” Andrade (29-0), a criminally avoided southpaw, facing Jacobs while Andrade’s scheduled opponent, Dusty Harrison (34-0-1), would then take on Rosado.

Rounding out November is a spectacle that elicits strong opinions, those ranging from “how can this be sanctioned?”  to “I can’t wait!” Our own Sean Crose has rightly described it as a “farcical novelty match” but this exhibition between two legends with a combined age of 105 promises to get more attention from the general public than almost any other fight this year. There is definitely a somewhat grotesque, can’t-look-away quality to Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr, a supposed “exhibition” match between two men who were once among the most feared boxers of their times.

Tyson vs Jones in November
A November to remember? Or forget?

The circus-like atmosphere is further reinforced by an undercard match for Tyson vs Jones between two men, neither of whom are boxers, and only one of whom is a professional athlete, as YouTuber Jake Paul and former NBA slam dunk champion Nate Robinson will face off in some kind of celebrity light heavyweight duel. This trip from the weird to the bizarre is a high ticket pay-per-view extravaganza so buyer beware. Unfortunately, this absurd event is likely to overshadow the legit professional boxing occurring on the same night, including Joe Joyce (11-0) vs Daniel Dubois (15-0) in London, and Chris Colbert (14-0) vs Jaime Arboleda (16-1) for Colbert’s WBA interim junior lightweight title.

It would have been hard to best October’s excitement, but the fight cards of November feel like a hangover after last month’s fireworks. Check back with The Fight City for continued coverage of this month’s matches, as well as an upcoming preview of next month’s cards, which will round out the surreal year that is 2020.

— Harry Meyerson 

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