BLH March Mania: First round results, stage one
badlefthook |  March 21, 2020, 05:10 PM

Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

We’ve got the first batch of results for BLH’s fantasy boxing tournament!

The results are in for stage one of the first round of the Bad Left Hook March Mania fantasy boxing tournament!

In this set, we voted on the matchups at heavyweight, 175, 160, 147, 135, 126, 118, 112, and 105.

Voting for the rest of the first round matchups in the remaining weight classes remains open until tomorrow at Noon ET!

Voting for the semifinal matchups of these divisions will open on Monday, Mar. 23 at Noon ET, and last until Wednesday, Mar. 25 at Noon ET.

Heavyweight

(1) Tyson Fury def. (8) Kubrat Pulev (438-11)

It turns out that Pulev, despite being Bulgarian, you know, was no great match for Fury, and Tyson gets some fantasy revenge for Kubrat beating cousin Hughie back in 2018. The WBC (and LINEAL!!!) champ moves on to the semifinals by a landslide.

(5) Dillian Whyte def. (4) Andy Ruiz Jr (267-182)

In all honesty, I expected most of the first round matchups to wind up one-sided in the voting, but this was one I certainly figured might be a bit closer than most, and it was. In the end, belief in Ruiz appears to be fairly low right now; honestly, he might have less believers now than before he upset Joshua last year. At least then he had a few staunch defenders saying that even if he was going to lose the fight, he was a good fighter. Now everyone just thinks about that miserable December rematch performance of his. That also goes to show you just how much buzz and main event attention matters, because Whyte fought on the same card, was also visibly chunky and out of shape, and had a harder time with Mariusz Wach than he probably should have. But the people liked Dillian Whyte here, perhaps with the feeling that Whyte would show up in shape for a fight like this if not a tune-up with Wach on short notice, while Ruiz is much more of a question mark in general. Fantasy Andy will be taking a couple weeks off, then return to Instagram for some Fashion Nova ads.

(3) Deontay Wilder def. (6) Luis Ortiz (410-50)

A few people did pick Ortiz, and I can actually kinda see the reasoning, even beyond simple trolling or Wilder “hater” votes. We have to consider what Wilder’s confidence will be like coming back from his first career loss, and a real beating at that. But the vast majority picked Deontay to improve to 3-0 against Ortiz, which is certainly statistically the most likely outcome.

(2) Anthony Joshua def. (7) Alexander Povetkin (413-26)

This would also be a rematch, of course, as Joshua stopped Povetkin in 2018. This fight might look different now; if AJ sticks to what he did last time out, boxing and using distance more, mixing it up less, he might not get Povetkin out. But he’d still be a huge favorite to beat him, and that’s what the voters saw happening if the fight were to come around again.

Semifinals at a Glance

We’ve got Fury-Whyte, which could possibly happen in 2021 if Tyson sticks around and Dillian doesn’t lose a fight in the interim, as the WBC continue to kinda-sorta-maybe owe Whyte a title shot. And then we’ve got Joshua-Wilder in the 2-3 matchup, a fantasy fight for quite a while now. Both of them have suffered defeats since the fervor for that fight was at its peak, but it’s still a great matchup.

Light Heavyweight

(1) Artur Beterbiev def. (8) Badou Jack (421-9)

Jack is a tough, game veteran fighter, but very few think he’d be able to handle the skilled mauler style of Beterbiev, one of the nastiest, most straightforward and effective fighters in the sport right now. The two are about the same age, but Jack definitely has more miles and more hard nights behind him, and my guess is he’d be brave, but Beterbiev would just break him down.

Sergey Kovalev v Eleider Alvarez Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

(5) Eleider Alvarez def. (4) Sergey Kovalev (235-193)

This was one I was highly interested to see play out in the voting. They’re 1-1 in real life, with Alvarez upsetting Kovalev via seventh round stoppage in Aug. 2018, and Kovalev bouncing back to win a clear decision in the immediate rematch the following February. But coming into this idea, Kovalev was knocked out by Canelo in his last fight, and the feeling may be that he’s really getting into the decline phase, while Eleider, though about the same age, might be the fresher fighter. Alvarez also might well make similar adjustments to what Kovalev did for their rematch, correcting what went wrong in a flat performance. Either way, Alvarez moves on, Kovalev goes home.

(3) Oleksandr Gvozdyk def. (6) Jean Pascal (370-49)

Here’s one where I thought maybe the underdog would get a bit more support, but it didn’t pan out that way. Gvozdyk is coming off of a hard first pro loss to Beterbiev, and Pascal is on a bit of a run in his old age. But Pascal excels as a wild, risk-taking fighter, and if Gvozdyk is in good mental shape and doesn’t get sucked into Pascal’s preferred brawl, chances are he’d be able to calmly and convincingly outbox the Haitian-Canadian veteran.

(2) Dmitry Bivol def. (7) Marcus Browne (401-18)

Bivol, probably the best pure boxer in the weight class, wipes out the American Browne, who’s really kind of a weird fighter to figure at this point. The Kalajdzic controversy was in 2016, that’s long enough ago that I don’t think about it too much anymore in terms of considering who he is now as a fighter. But last year’s strong win over Jack may have been more due to an excessive amount of blood loss and vision impairment on Badou than any great talent of Browne’s, and then he went out and got clopped three times by Pascal in August, losing a fluky, odd technical decision where he could only blame himself. At any rate, Bivol moving on and by a wide margin is no surprise, but I do think Browne would be dangerous in this matchup. I definitely wouldn’t pick him to win, and I didn’t vote for him here, but still.

Semifinals at a Glance

Beterbiev-Alvarez and Bivol-Gvozdyk. The first one figures to be like any Beterbiev fight, he’s going to fight like Beterbiev and the opponent has to adapt and survive if possible. Bivol-Gvozdyk could be a terrific boxing matchup if no barnburner.

Middleweight

(1) Gennadiy Golovkin def. (8) Matt Korobov (418-13)

I didn’t figure any 1-8 matchup would be anything more or less than a voting slaughter, and Golovkin-Korobov definitely wasn’t. Korobov is a fine, technically sound boxer, a solid veteran southpaw, but even if GGG is faded compared to his prime, basically nobody would think he loses this fight. Good job, good effort for Korobov, but that’s a wrap.

(4) Jermall Charlo def. (5) Ryota Murata (295-122)

Actually thought this one might wind up closer, but the vast majority went with the unbeaten American over the rugged former Olympic gold medalist from Japan. I voted for Murata, but it was a top three or so tough choice for me of all the first round matchups over the 17 divisions, a true 50/50 sort of thing. Charlo is younger, Charlo is unbeaten, and Murata’s straight ahead style could well be made for getting picked off on the way in by the bigger twin.

Gennady Golovkin v Sergiy Derevyanchenko Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

(3) Sergiy Derevyanchenko def. (6) Rob Brant (393-16)

Either the respect for Derevyanchenko’s tough challenges of Golovkin and Daniel Jacobs, albeit in defeat, is really high, or the respect for Brant, who upset Murata in 2018 but was steamrolled in their rematch last July, is relatively low. Maybe both. And in all honesty, I have a hard time seeing Brant having the right tools to beat Derevyanchenko, which I suspect is mostly how others felt. Brant’s a fine fighter, but Derevyanchenko has only lost to real top tier guys, and he was so competitive in both that is stock only went up despite the defeats.

(2) Demetrius Andrade def. (7) Chris Eubank Jr (338-81)

Here’s a 2-7 I thought might be more competitive, but Big DAZN have apparently brainwashed the lot of you into thinking Andrade’s career of beating Vanes Martirosyan, Brian Rose, Willie Nelson, Jack Culcay, Alantez Fox, Walter Kautondokwa, Artur Akavov, Maciej Sulecki, and Luke Keeler makes him a pound-for-pound elite. Do y’all realize Andrade’s 32? He’s been a pro for almost 12 years? Those are his best wins! THOSE! But running anti-Andrade gag aside, I fully get this. I mean, the seedings are my rankings. I do believe Andrade is the No. 2 middleweight out there (if Canelo’s out of the division for good, which he appears to be), and I think style-wise he’s a handful for anyone. I voted for him, too; I gave Eubank some thought, and for me, at least, Eubank is too inconsistent to rely on, even if he has that great athleticism, some pop, and a fighter’s instincts. Andrade is simply a better-schooled, smarter, more consistent boxer.

Semifinals at a Glance

Golovkin-Charlo might be interesting. I think there’s an obvious favorite there, or at least an obvious fan favorite, but GGG ain’t getting any younger and I think there are plenty of people who see him sliding over the other side of that hill. Andrade-Derevyanchenko screams “controversial split decision” to me.

Welterweight

(1) Errol Spence Jr def. (8) Sergey Lipinets (416-6)

With the “imagine the fighter to be the best they can be right now, whatever that means to you” bit, it makes a case like Spence hard. But in my mind, anyway — and I don’t see the point in DIRECTING people how to think about any one fighter, this is all just meant to be fun, is the biggest thing — I have no idea what Spence will be like coming back from a bad car crash. It’s not a boxing thing where I might can guess about someone’s reaction to a loss last time out, or their age, or recent declines or improvements. So I’m considering Spence to be the fighter we most recently saw, basically. And he gets the overwhelming win here over Lipinets, who just as easily could’ve been Vergil Ortiz Jr or Kudratillo Abdukakhorov or Mikey Garcia or Amir Khan or Jamal James, as welterweight drastically drops after the seventh spot in the rankings. I flirted with going with Mikey, as I said, but I didn’t think anyone even wanted a fantasy Spence-Mikey rematch.

Keith Thurman v Shawn Porter Photo by Bill Tompkins/Getty Images

(4) Shawn Porter def. (5) Keith Thurman (290-133)

These two fought back in 2016, with Thurman winning a narrow decision. But a lot has changed since then, as mentioned before. Thurman’s struggled with nagging injuries and didn’t look fully like his old self in his two fights last year, while Porter won a lot of support and believers with a stern test of Errol Spence in defeat last September. And styles, of course, always make fights; my guess is people see the aggressive Porter being too much for Thurman to handle anymore, as a less banged up Keith was barely able to beat him the first time. And for the record, I agree, and voted for Shawn.

(3) Manny Pacquiao def. (6) Danny Garcia (357-64)

Well, we certainly have a barometer on what people think of this matchup now if it happens sometime in the real world, and it’s overwhelmingly favoring the 41-year-old Pacquiao. This is not a shock; Pacquiao still looked sharp, fast, and strong beating Thurman last July, and Danny’s been sort of out of the mix lately, fighting just once in 2019 (a thrashing of Adrian Granados) and returning with a rather underwhelming if decisive win over Ivan Redkach in January. I do think this is an interesting style matchup; as Paulie Malignaggi said recently, Danny has really good timing as a counter puncher, and Manny sometimes over-commits on offense. But Pacquiao would also easily be Garcia’s career-biggest and best win, too, and Danny is 0-2 in his biggest fights at 147, albeit highly competitive in those bouts with Thurman and Porter.

(2) Terence Crawford def. (7) Yordenis Ugas (396-21)

I don’t know why, really, but I expected maybe mildly more support for Ugas, who has been on a great run and might be about as good a seven-seed as there is over all the tournaments. But as the votes poured in (I checked a few times a day), I thought about it more, and I understood. What does Ugas really do with Crawford? Outbox him? I don’t think he can. Outfight him? I don’t think he can. Ugas is a damn good fighter, but his stronger attributes don’t give him any real edge over Bud Crawford.

Semifinals at a Glance

Two really good ones here, a Spence-Porter rematch (some people did feel Shawn deserved the win last time) and the fight Bob Arum has vowed to never allow to happen, Crawford-Pacquiao. Take that, Bob, there’s a global pandemic so now we’re going to imagine it! We really got the old codger this time, lads.

Lightweight

(1) Vasiliy Lomachenko def. (8) Javier Fortuna (409-3)

Yes, Vasilily Lomachenko would beat Javier Fortuna. No, it would not be particularly competitive. Fortuna’s not a natural lightweight, either, so he wouldn’t even have the physical size advantages over Loma that some others at 135 do, though he would have a bit of height and reach. But those things alone haven’t helped anyone beat Lomachenko yet, either.

(4) Luke Campbell def. (5) Richard Commey (265-133)

Former Olympic gold medalist Campbell has failed to win a world title as a pro, though he’s given it a go in losses to Jorge Linares (close) and Lomachenko (not so close). Eventually in real life he’ll get the chance to win the WBC lightweight title which the sanctioning body is passing around to anyone who wants it at this point, and here he gets the nod over former IBF titleholder Commey. An understandable decision; certainly not a guarantee Luke would beat the Ghanaian, and Commey’s right hand would be dangerous for the southpaw Campbell, but the guy who would be favored wins.

Devin Haney v Rafael Vazquez Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

(3) Devin Haney def. (6) Gervonta Davis (238-167)

This was one of the absolute most intriguing matchups of the entire first round. Haney has proven a bit more at lightweight, and he definitely passes the eye test, but it’s not like he has any wins over top foes, either. He’s beaten ShoBox opponents and since moving to Matchroom, three more guys who were basically ShoBox opponents except the fights came with a bigger promotional push. And while Tank Davis has had some name value and won world titles down at 130, his biggest win to date remains Jose Pedraza, which was three years ago. Like Haney, Davis generally passes the eye test and you can see where the hype comes from, even if he didn’t finish old man Gamboa early in his last fight, his proper lightweight debut. The voters are going with Haney by a solid margin. Personally, I voted for Tank, but it was one of the legitimate debates I had with myself.

(2) Teofimo Lopez def. (7) Jorge Linares (350-58)

I liked this matchup. The voters liked it less. To me, Lopez still has some question marks against better talent, and Linares is a tremendous boxer. But I do get it. Lopez has wicked power and Linares has never exactly had the best chin, plus he cuts easily and doesn’t handle cuts well a lot of the time. The rising young star moves on in a big way, the veteran is out.

Semifinals at a Glance

Lomachenko-Campbell is a rematch of a fight we saw for real last year, and I doubt there’s much intrigue about who wins the vote here. But Lopez-Haney? Now that’s that good stuff. Devin with another big matchup against a fellow young gun, we’ll get another sense of just how highly everyone thinks of him against Teofimo, who unlike Davis is a natural lightweight.

Featherweight

(1) Josh Warrington def. (8) Mark Magsayo (357-20)

Another no-brainer 1-8 matchup, basically. This division really thinned out in the recent months with several guys going up to 130; if we’d done this six months ago, the whole field looks wildly different and would’ve been one of the most packed groups out there. But Magsayo is a pretty unproven prospect and Warrington is a proven world titlist.

(4) Kid Galahad def. (5) Xu Can (232-119)

Galahad gets the solid nod over Xu. I think opinions on Galahad’s ability have shot up some over the last year. First he gave Warrington a tough if ugly fight last year, losing a split decision in Josh’s hometown, and last time out he was really sharp with a stoppage win over a pretty good fighter in Claudio Marrero. Xu has been on a good run, but style-wise Galahad is a tough draw for him, and it also probably doesn’t help that less people have watched him fight.

Vasyl Lomachenko v Guillermo Rigondeaux Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

(3) Shakur Stevenson def. (6) Tugstsogt Nyambayar (334-32)

Good win here for WBO titleholder Stevenson, maybe the real rising star in this division. King Tug, who is like Shakur a former Olympic silver medalist, proved himself plenty competitive with Gary Russell Jr in February, though he lost and deserved the L. But Stevenson might have that dynamic ability that Tug doesn’t, and Shakur is also the younger guy by about five years. Nyambayar is a good contender, a guy who has the ability to win a title. Stevenson might be blossoming into a true standout even among good fighters, though.

(2) Gary Russell Jr def. (7) Jessie Magdaleno (353-19)

Russell gets his own predictably wide win over former 122-pound titleholder Magdaleno, who is good but nobody would pick him to beat Russell. I mean, I get that a few people did here, but internet polls always have at least minor fuckery if nothing huge that affects the actual outcome.

Semifinals at a Glance

A Warrington-Galahad rematch is, similar to Spence-Porter at 147, actually pretty compelling. There were plenty of people who believed Galahad had done enough last year, and that Warrington was lucky to escape with an ugly win. And Russell-Stevenson is really compelling; Gary’s still got the fast hands, but he showed some gas tank issues with Tug, and at 31 he’s about a decade Stevenson’s senior. On the other hand, is Stevenson yet a bit too green for Russell’s veteran skills, which haven’t eroded or anything? Good matchup.

Bantamweight

(1) Naoya Inoue def. (8) Zolani Tete (374-6)

Perhaps the least surprising 1-8 matchup, other than ANYONE voted for Tete, who got wrecked by John Riel Casimero last time out and would probably be chewed up early by the Monster from Japan. Even if you’re just trolling a little, picking Tete seems wild to me.

Gary Russell Jr v Tugstsogt Nyambayar Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

(5) Guillermo Rigondeaux def. (4) John Riel Casimero (287-85)

5 over 4 is, technically, a minor upset, but I’m not remotely surprised by this result — either just the fact that Rigo wins, or the fact that he pretty dominantly wins. One thing I’ll say about boxing fans, at least the sort who will care enough to be reading about the sport right now and vote in a silly thing like this, is that they’ll generally appreciate someone’s skills even if they don’t enjoy watching the guy fight. Casimero’s a really good fighter, multiple-division titleholder, but it’s so easy to see Rigondeaux do to him what he’s done to so many: freeze them with the threat of his zinging left hand and keep them from doing much of anything. And his overall skill, ring IQ, and mastery of using the ring to his advantage makes this really, really tough for a naturally smaller guy who used to fight at 108.

(3) Nonito Donaire def. (6) Emmanuel Rodriguez (316-50)

The aging Donaire proved himself still more than a handful at 118 with his Fight of the Year loss to Inoue last year, and he rolls over former titleholder Rodriguez, who was trounced in two by the same Inoue six months prior. I do think Rodriguez could have some success against Nonito, honestly, enough to be competitive, but Donaire earns the one-sided win from the voters all the same.

(2) Nordine Oubaali def. (7) Jason Moloney (281-43)

Oubaali, the reigning WBC titleholder, takes care of business against Australia’s Moloney, a former title challenger who came close to beating Rodriguez in 2018 and has won three straight easy fights since. Moloney’s got talent, but Oubaali has simply proven his ability to win at a higher level, and also is by all appearances, you know, more talented.

Semifinals at a Glance

Oh boy, do I like that Inoue-Rigondeaux matchup. Inoue is a favorite of just about every serious boxing fan these days, but Rigondeaux is the type of guy he hasn’t had to deal with. Guillermo might be a real live dog there. Oubaali-Donaire is currently tentatively set for the real world in May, so we’ll get an early look at what people are thinking there, and I think that’s a dynamite matchup on paper.

Flyweight

(1) Kosei Tanaka def. (8) Jay Harris (273-27)

Harris showed a lot of grit and heart in his last fight, which was a loss to Julio Cesar Martinez, but it wasn’t enough to even have an argument for the win. He’d undoubtedly show more desire against Tanaka, but Tanaka is the top seed for a reason, and he moves on handily.

(4) Artem Dalakian def. (5) Charlie Edwards (176-100)

Edwards has a particular few detractors after that performance against the aforementioned JC Martinez last August, where he was unquestionably fouled by the Mexican fighter, but was also being totally overwhelmed before he was hit while down from a knockdown, and some felt he may have milked how bad it was to get out of the fight, which was quickly and oddly changed from a KO for Martinez to a no-contest. Edwards declined a rematch and vacated the WBC belt. And while Dalakian is a good fighter and a titleholder in his own right, I do think Edwards has the skills to be competitive with him; it’s not quite the awful style matchup Martinez was for Chuck. But the voters liked Dalakian here, and it’s not hard to see why. He’s unbeaten, and he’s mostly dominated, albeit against carefully chosen opposition for the most part, and all but one fight at home in Ukraine.

BOXING-JPN Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images

(3) Moruti Mthalane def. (6) Angel Acosta (195-66)

The veteran Mthalane overcomes the dangerous power of former 108-pound titleholder Acosta, pretty well coasting into the semifinal round. I say this a lot when he comes up, but Mthalane has really quietly been one of the most consistent fighters of his generation. He hasn’t lost in over 11 years, and when he did it was to Nonito Donaire, who was an absolute ripper at flyweight at that time. Acosta is a good fighter, but a bit limited, and has never won if he didn’t stop the opponent. I have to say I agree that Mthalane would win this one, but I do think it’d be a really exciting fight.

(2) Julio Cesar Martinez def. (7) Andrew Selby (258-24)

Selby was the guy Martinez upset in Mexico to start his mad dash to the upper echelon of the flyweight ranks, and the voters see repeat, not revenge. Selby might be a better pure boxer than just about anyone at this weight, but Martinez really did expose some limitations in his game, and Selby has been very quiet since, scaling his competition back to an almost absurd degree, fighting club-level opposition in Dubai and the Eagles Community Arena in Newcastle.

Semifinals at a Glance

The four titleholders move on, setting up Tanaka-Dalakian, where Tanaka will be a huge favorite, and Martinez-Mthalane, which is a great matchup of a rising young tornado of a fighter against a very good veteran who has seen just about every type of opponent there is to see.

Minimumweight

BOX-THA-PAN-WANHENG-ESTRADA-MINIMUMWEIGHT JOE FREEMAN/AFP/Getty Images

(1) Wanheng Menayothin def. (8) Vic Saludar (252-10)

The real TBE takes an easy win over Saludar. I’ve now double checked twice to make sure they hadn’t already fought in real life, but they have not. Saludar is a fine fighter, and while this division is historically pretty volatile, Wanheng has proven to be a true king at 105, with 54 wins against no defeats, and 12 successful title defenses since 2015. Sure, a lot of those wins are over scrubs, because that’s the Thailand boxing way, but plenty are over legitimate pros and good fighters, too. He’s proven himself without a doubt.

(4) Wilfredo Mendez def. (5) Pedro Taduran (187-45)

One-sided in the voting but a competitive matchup on paper, and probably would be tight in the real world. Both Mendez and Taduran won their first world titles last year, and still hold them, but Taduran is arguably a bit more questionable. His win over Sammy Salva was an upset, but Salva was still a little unproven, while Mendez won his belt from Saludar. Taduran also fought Daniel Valladares in February, which ended in a technical draw after four rounds, while Mendez has made a pair of successful defenses. I picked Taduran because I tend to expect all Puerto Rican fighters to flame out these days, but Mendez also has a very strong argument to be considered the No. 1 Puerto Rican fighter actually directly from the island in the sport today, other than Amanda Serrano on the women’s side.

(3) Jose Argumedo def. (6) Simpiwe Konkco (183-37)

Again, maybe Argumedo shouldn’t be as high as I have him ranked, I don’t know, but he definitely got the votes here over Konkco. Argumedo lost the IBF title to Hiroto Kyoguchi (now a titleholder at 108) back in 2017, and has fought three times since, dabbling twice at a higher weight before moving back down for a serious fight last March, a fifth round stoppage of Alexis Diaz. The Mexican fighter still appears a strong contender, but ranking the lil’est of lil’ guys is admittedly more challenging overall than any other division.

(2) Knockout CP Freshmart def. (7) Byron Rojas (225-21)

Decision CP Freshmart gets another win over Rojas, which he’s done in 2016 and 2018. This was one-sided and predictable. The better matchups in this division come next round, which goes for most divisions, but this one in particular.

Semifinals at a Glance

Wanheng faces Mendez, who will look to bring glory back to Puerto Rican boxing. Knockout-Argumedo is a good matchup, but in all reality I fully expect an all-Thailand, 1-2 final without much resistance. The two are solidly considered the best in the division and Mendez or Argumedo winning would be a real upset.

 

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