Spence Jr vs. Peterson is a January boxing highlightJanuary isn’t a bumper period in the boxing calendar, but there are a few tasty-looking matchups set to unfold in the month’s second half. Most notably, the Welterweight scene returns to the radar, the Lightweight scene remains strong, while the stellar WBSS series keeps on rolling with another pivotal fight. As always, you can feast on the whole month’s fixtures in our updated 2018 Schedule.

 

Errol Spence Jr vs. Lamont Peterson (Showtime)

January 20, Brooklyn, New York

There probably isn’t an upset on the cards, but I’ve a feeling this might not be an easy ride for Spence Jr so long as Peterson is as gritty as we’ve seen him in recent fights. Sure, I could be totally wrong. In fact, Spence may well blow away Peterson, simply because he’s the better fighter on paper, and has already beaten a superior Welter in Kell Brook last May. Peterson is as tough as they come, though, isn’t usually in a dull fight, and is fairly dynamic himself, able to box at range or slug it out with a notably vicious body attack. Spence’s IBF title will be on the line.

 

Robert Easter vs. Javier Fortuna (Showtime)

January 20, Brooklyn, New York

This is an interesting matchup, with Robert Easter Jr putting his unbeaten slate and IBF strap on the line against former champ Javier Fortuna, who is young and hungry enough to be in with a shot. The 5’ 11” Easter continues to be that guy who is yet to raise much fanfare on the Lightweight circuit, despite being a versatile, technically sound fighter who can bang if forced into a dog fight. So, all in all, this looks like a solid chief appetizer to the night’s headliner, Spence Jr vs. Peterson (above). With that said, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Fortuna will be giving away almost 6 inches in height here.

 

Jorge Linares vs. Mercito Gesta (HBO, Boxnation)

January 27, Inglewood, California

There’s a whole lot I can say about reigning WBC, RING Lightweight champ, Jorge Linares, but not a great deal about Mercito Gesta. Mainly because Gesta is an unheralded challenger – so far as I’m aware – who represents a stay-busy type opponent while bigger fights against the likes of Mikey Garcia continue to marinate for Linares. Mercito, a California-based, one-time title challenger from the Philippines, looks decent enough on paper, but, you know, hardly a legitimate threat to Linares who beat Anthony Crolla and Luke Campbell in 2017. Matthysse vs. Kiram (below) will co-feature, with the vacant WBA 147-pound title at stake.

 

Lucas Matthysse vs. Tewa Kiram

January 27, Inglewood, California

This undercard encounter, that sees the vacant WBA Welterweight strap on the line, looks both intriguing and like mutton-dressed as lamb. Lucas Matthysse is a gnarly, lights-out puncher who we know all too well. But is Tewa Kiram really as good as his 38-0 record suggests? On the plus side, Kiram’s 25-years-young and a big puncher, with 28 of his wins coming by knockout. On the negative, the Thailand-born contender has never travelled beyond his native land, meaning he’s had zero opportunities to test his abilities against today’s top Welterweights, seven of which (see BB’s Top 10) are US-based. I’m not saying Kiram has no chance against Matthysse, but I’m going with the Argentine banger.

 

Oleksandr Usyk vs. Mairis Briedis (TBA TV)

January 27, Latvia

The WBSS Cruiserweight tournament delivered the goods in 2017, and continues with what looks like another intriguing matchup of unbeaten titlists. The supremely confident, dynamic Oleksandr Usyk should have the edge here, for sure, but there aren’t enough compelling reasons to fully count out Mairis Briedis, who brings consistency and deft fundamentals to the table. This semi-final is a great fight on paper, with the victor set to face the winner of Murat Gassiev vs. Yunier Dorticos (on February 3) in the tournament’s finale later in 2018. Usyk will be defending his WBO strap, and Briedis his WBC variety.

 

Boxing in January: Best of the Rest

Claressa Shields vs. Tori Nelson (Showtime)

January 12, Verona, New York; WBC, IBF Super Middleweight championship

 

Jennifer Han vs. Lizbeth Crespo

January 27, El Paso, Texas; IBF Featherweight championship

 

So there you have it, readers. What’s your take on January’s Top 5 boxing matchups? Are there any upsets in the mix? Can Lamont Peterson and Mairis Briedis ask questions in their respective outings? Spill those opinions in the comments below.

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