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Who will win Fury vs Ngannou? Plus Foster vs Hernandez, more

Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou is the weekend’s Big Headline Event, no question, but we ALSO have:

A pretty evenly-matched and stylistically intriguing world title fight from Cancun!
Amanda Serrano facing Danila Ramos in a 12×3 world title fight!
Other stuff!

So who wins this weekend’s fights? We’ve got you covered!

Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou

Scott Christ (85-35)

Indulge me for a moment. Or don’t and skip ahead to the bold part, that’s also fine. But if you’re still reading, I want to make something clear: I still love watching boxing. My “staff picks” record sucks, relatively, and I take a lot of dumb gambles, because in my heart I’m a dumb gambler.

And part of that, too, is because as much as I do often think I know, in more “serious” ways, who will win a fight, there’s always some little chance to get a surprise. To get a great story. To get some special triumph that makes you say, “Damn, didn’t really see that coming.”

What if Jorge Linares had boxed Catterall’s ears off last Saturday? What if Warrington hadn’t gotten caught by Leigh Wood’s big counter shot? What if Julian Williams had turned back the clock against Carlos Adames?

Wouldn’t all of those outcomes have been better stories? The stories and the events are what we remember long run. They’re what keep us connected week-to-week. There may be another one right around the corner. Something that isn’t the greatest, Douglas-over-Tyson or even Ruiz-over-Joshua sort of upset, but a thing you remember if you saw it happen. Something you keep in the back of your mind as a reason to watch yet another cynical bit of matchmaking play out the following week.

We’ve all seen outcomes like those, where an underdog just went out there and did it. Those three cases would all have been in the “reversing trends” style, so obviously — and I didn’t think of it this way until laying it out now — I have some sort of personal connection to that idea. We all age. We leave our “best” days, in some way or another, on the side of life’s roads and keep on walking, often not realizing immediately that we’ve dropped something, figuring it out when we look for it later. And generally, it’s just gone, and it’s not coming back.

Francis Ngannou, like, 99.9824 percent cannot beat Tyson Fury in a boxing match. Tyson Fury is a great professional boxer, and more than that, no matter how he comes off at one time or another, the man is not remotely stupid about his job. He knows very well the one and only way he can get shocked and lose this fight, and it’s Ngannou knocking him out. He’s not going to give Francis the chance.

Ngannou is a great story, and if anyone’s going to get a payday like this, I’m glad it’s him. And he is, in one single way, dangerous here. Fury knows that. Fury’s not letting it happen. There will be no story. Fury KO-3

Wil Esco (96-24)

It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that Tyson Fury, a current heavyweight world champion, is going to beat Francis Ngannou, who’s about to have his first professional boxing match. The only real question is the method of victory. Fury can do pretty much anything he wants against Ngannou and has teased that he might KO him, or that he just may toy with Ngannou over the distance. Both are perfectly reasonable expectations and trying to speculate on Fury’s actual intentions is a lost cause.

This is, however, a 10-round boxing match and I think it’s too long of a fight for Ngannou not to gas out along the way, making a Fury stoppage more likely than not. And if Fury really intends to fight Usyk by the end of the year, he probably shouldn’t play around with Ngannou too much. I’ll take Fury to win a mid-round stoppage after he has some fun. Fury TKO-7

John Hansen (85-35)

The coin I threw the last time we had a Fury in a novelty fight that I couldn’t be bothered to write anything about is 1-0 at picking fights.

It’s still laying heads up. So, give me the Fury in this fight, too. Fury TKO-5

Patrick Stumberg (92-28)

I like Francis Ngannou. I’m immensely proud of him for telling Dana White to shove it and securing a massive payday. He doesn’t have a shot in Hell here.

While he’s shown flashes of competent boxing, like the counter that obliterated Stipe Miocic in their rematch, Ngannou remains painfully crude and over-reliant on his power. He’s not fast or skilled enough to chase Fury down should “The Gypsy King” elect to play it safe; nor is he seasoned enough to deal with Fury’s smothering clinch and mauling offense should Fury go the Wilder 2 route and take it to him.

And that’s not even mentioning the fact that Ngannou’s fighting under an unfamiliar ruleset with gloves twice as big as he’s used to. The odds of him sneaking a bomb around or through Fury’s guard are nil, and even if he did somehow land the money punch, I can’t imagine anything in his arsenal putting Fury down for good.

Fury’s too big, too skilled, too everything for a boxing neophyte with Wilder’s crudeness but none of his experience. He stops an exhausted “Predator” in sufficiently one-sided fashion to keep his December date with Usyk. Fury TKO-6

O’Shaquie Foster vs Eduardo “Rocky” Hernandez

Ed Mulholland/Matchroom

Scott Christ (85-35)

Think this is about a 50/50 matchup, and Hernandez does have home field in Mexico as the challenger. But I’ve learned more and more, in 50/50 matchups at this level, go with the boxer, not the slugger. Not saying it always goes that way, but it feels like it’s usually the smarter pick.

At the moment, DraftKings list this at Foster -175, Hernandez +135. I’ll stick with Foster and his boxing. I think he’ll be able to pick Hernandez off plenty, and if he can avoid the big power, he should be OK over the long run here. Foster UD-12

Wil Esco (96-24)

The is your textbook bull vs matador kind of matchup. O’Shaquie Foster is a good technician without a lot of pop, and Hernandez is a come-forward power puncher who will be looking to put an emphatic ending to this fight.

Foster’s obviously going to need great conditioning to walk the tightrope for the duration of this fight without getting lit up, but I do think he has the skill and style to temper Hernandez’s aggression. The biggest thing, though, is that Foster is a much higher quality opponent with a more slick style than Hernandez is used to facing, and I can’t help but wonder if that lack of experience on the higher level of the sport might work against Hernandez. I’ll take Foster to do the business over the distance. Foster UD-12

John Hansen (85-35)

I said in our predictions for Foster vs Rey Vargas that Foster is “damn good.” Hernandez might be even more than that, though. Even in his only loss, he had Roger Gutierrez bleeding in that first and only round, and when he went down, he fought like hell against his own stubborn and disobedient legs, desperately trying to get up and continue.

I thought Foster’s reach advantage and comfort level working from distance would be a big change for Rey Vargas to deal with, but that won’t be a factor for Hernandez. He’s not shy about moving in close, or taking the punches necessary to get himself there. And Hernandez can hit harder than anyone Foster has dealt with lately. You can make an argument for Mickey Roman’s power, maybe, but even if you do, Roman wasn’t 25 years old and just entering his prime years when he fought Foster.

Foster is still damn good, and it’s always a shame when a guy like him loses a belt he worked so hard to earn. But Rocky Hernandez looks like he could be something special. I think he’ll win this one, and in definitive fashion. Hernandez KO-10

Patrick Stumberg (92-28)

My heart’s with Rocky. Beyond the fact that I always respect prospects who pick themselves up and claw their way back into contention, his swing-for-the-fences style is incredibly easy to root for. It’s not, however, something that can carry him past Foster.

Hernandez fights as though he’s invincible, neglecting setups, footwork, and general defense in order to maximize the concussive force of each blow. That’s good enough against fighters willing to slug it out, but I’m not convinced he’ll be able to drag an incredibly well-schooled technician out of his comfort zone. Hernandez is just too flat-footed to chase Foster down and too negligent with his defense to deal with Foster’s sharp counters.

Foster has a much stronger body of work and a style anathema to Hernandez’s plodding onslaught. Much as I want Rocky to pull it off, expect Foster to break him down with the jab before capitalizing on his increasing desperation to floor him with a counter. Foster TKO-7

Quick Picks!

Amanda Serrano vs Danila Ramos

Scott: Serrano UD-12

Wil: Serrano UD-12

John: Serrano TKO-7

Patrick: Serrano TKO-10

Martin Bakole vs Carlos Takam

Scott: Bakole UD-10

Wil: Bakole UD-10

John: Takam MD-10

Patrick: Bakole TKO-8

Joseph Parker vs Simon Kean

Scott: Parker UD-10

Wil: Parker TKO-6

John: Parker KO-8

Patrick: Parker TKO-4

Note: We should have done Fabio Wardley vs David Adeleye, too, but I simply forgot it when I sent the email to the lads, so that one’s on me. — Scott

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