This upcoming June is another busy period in the boxing calendar, with some meaningful matchups set to take place, including seven world championships. Ward vs. Kovalev II will take center stage, supplemented by a host of front-runners and rising hot prospects. As always, you can check out the complete fixtures for June and the year ahead in our extensive Boxing 2017 Schedule.
Adonis Stevenson vs. Andrzej Fonfara II (Showtime)
June 3, Montreal, Canada
I don’t want to kick off the lineup on a negative note, but it’s hard to get overly thrilled about Adonis Stevenson’s eighth WBC title defense. Fonfara is a hard-nosed, affable slugger who doesn’t know how to be in a dull fight, true. However, was beating a fringe contender like Chad Dawson in March really enough to warrant another title shot? Probably not.
While it’s true that front-runners like Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev were already booked, you have to wonder whether Stevenson, who’s been holding the WBC strap hostage for some time, has any genuine ambition to mix with serious resistance in the ring. Whichever way you look at it, this just looks like another hand-picked opponent for Stevenson.
On the flip side, at least one good thing might come out of this night. The Montreal-staged card has another Canadian resident filling the chief support, that being unbeaten contender Eleider Alvarez. Now, given Alvarez is also a Light Heavyweight, there’s a good chance he and Stevenson could be meeting next. That’s not a fight folks are clamouring for right now, but it’s probably about as much as we can realistically expect in the immediate future.
Stevenson vs. Fonfara II Undercard:
- Eleider Alvarez vs. Jean Pascal | Light Heavyweight
- Custio Clayton vs. Oscar Cortez | Welterweight
- Mikael Zewski vs. Christian Ariel Lopez | Junior Middleweight
Lee Haskins vs. Ryan Burnett (Sky Sports 2)
June 10, Belfast, Northern Ireland
This is a pretty good scrap on paper between awkward IBF Bantamweight champ Lee Haskins and a very promising, vicious prospect in Ryan Burnett. Haskins hasn’t had the most exciting run as a world champion since pulling off the biggest win of his career against Ryosuke Isawa in 2015, but he’s got good momentum behind him at present.
Personally, I believe Haskins is in for a tough night here, and all the more so if he were to underestimate Burnett, a hard-cracking brute with sharp tools from the Adam Booth stable. It’s true that Burnett hasn’t scored a knockout since late 2015, but it’s also true that Haskins, renowned for his canvas-level guard, has lost all three of his defeats by knockout.
There’s a notable age difference between these guys too, with Burnett, 25, about to enter the ring eight years younger than the champion. If you’re a Haskins believer, there’s still enough good reason to get behind him, given he’s got a ton more experience against very decent operators, with wins over guys like current world titlist Jamie McDonnell, Stuart Hall (twice), and the aforementioned Iwasa.
Haskins vs. Burnett Undercard:
- Ian Tims vs. Luke Watkins | Light Heavyweight
- Mike Perez vs. Tommy McCarthy | Cruiserweight
- Fergal McCrory vs. TBA | Junior Lightweight
Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev II (HBO PPV, Sky Sports 1)
June 17, Las Vegas, Nevada
This is the biggest fight of the month, so we can easily brand this as an ‘event’, especially since their spicy original encounter left us with more questions than answers. I must admit that when I covered their June matchup, I did actually tally matters at 114-113 for Ward. Upon a second viewing, I could only see the contest for Kovalev – which just goes to show how different something the same can look. Now, I’d love to go back and alter my scorecard in that article, but my colleagues tell me I’d be breaking a number of ethical reporting rules. Damn.
Anyway, whether you saw it for Kovalev or Ward that night, a sequel had to materialize to set the record straight. A much-needed conclusive ending can’t be guaranteed, but I’d be surprised if Kovalev didn’t push harder for a knockout since he’s adamant he got stiffed by the judges the first time. It goes without saying that this is an extremely significant matchup, not only for the Light Heavyweight division, but for boxing itself, in a year that’s continuing to deliver big fights.
Following the encounter, the WBA, WBO and IBF straps, currently with Ward, will occupy the victors’ trophy cabinet. Going in, both men sit at the front end of the Light Heavyweight Top 10.
Ward vs. Kovalev II Undercard:
- Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Moises Flores | WBA Junior Featherweight Championship
- Luis Arias vs. Arif Magomedov | Middleweight
- Vaughn Alexander vs. Fabiano Pena | Middleweight
- Junior Younan vs. Zoltan Sera | Super Middleweight
- Tramaine Williams vs. Christopher Martin | Featherweight
Tyron Zeuge vs. Paul Smith (TBA TV)
June 17, Wetzlar, Germany
I don’t have a great deal to say about this fight. In fact, I’m not a hundred percent sure it should have made the Top 5. But let’s go with it, for what it’s worth. Unbeaten Tyron Zeuge will be clashing with veteran Paul Smith in a bid to notch WBA Super Middleweight title defense number three. Zeuge is shaping up to be a decent addition to the 168 scene, and I doubt he’ll find much resistance from Smith, a guy who seems to do more ringside commentating than actual fisticuffs these days.
Smith has never really been a strong contender, and I’m surprised (well, kind of – this is boxing) to see him in another high-profile fight. Smith was beaten by Arthur Abraham in 2015, again in 2016, and by Andre Ward shortly after, before clocking up three wins over listless opposition who carried a combined record of 63-51-5. If anything, this is a chance to see Tyron Zeuge back in action. Which is something.
Zeuge vs. Smith Undercard:
- Yet to be announced
Robert Easter vs. Denis Shafikov (PBC on Bounce)
June 30, Toledo, Ohio
This is a solid Lightweight championship to end the Top 5 with. Robert Easter may be the champ here, but both fighters have been in with some stern tests in recent times, having earned twin Split Decisions over formidable banger Richard Commey last year, Easter in September, and Shafikov in December. For the record, Easter was the only guy to suffer a knockdown in those fights, though I wouldn’t get overly hung up on that fact.
It’s a competitive scrap on paper, and looks like a good show closer to see out June. I’d back the younger, taller, slightly more versatile Easter to come out on top, most likely by a fairly close decision, but wouldn’t be surprised if Shafikov finally gets it right in his third crack at capturing the IBF strap. Well, I would be surprised if Shafikov won – I just wouldn’t consider it a tremendous upset or anything. As it stands, Easter holds the No.4 spot in our Top 10 Lightweight Rankings, and Shafikov No.5.
Easter vs. Shafikov Undercard:
- Yet to be announced
Boxing in June: Best of the Rest
Bradley Skeete vs. Shayne Singleton (Boxnation)
June 2, Essex, England; British Welterweight Championship
Wanhen Menayothin vs. Omar Kimweri
June 3, Thailand; WBC Strawweight Championship
Cecilia Braekhus vs. Erica Anabella Farias
June 9, Bergen, Norway; IBF, WBA, WBC, WBO Championship
Joel Diaz vs. Regis Prograis (Boxnation, Showtime)
June 9, Verona, New York; Junior Welterweight
Claressa Shields vs. Mery Rancier
June 16, Detroit, Michigan; Super Middleweight
Tomasz Adamek vs. Solomon Haumono
June 24, Gdansk, Poland; Heavyweight
Chime in with your own picks for this June’s upcoming lineup. Which matchups are you anticipating most? And what will be the state of the game when the month is through?