We’re less than two weeks away from Mayweather vs Pacquiao, and we’ve got a whole bundle of other fights to cover for the KounterMove DFS Boxing action. Remember, you can find the full list of fighters and build your roster for the weekend of May 2nd here. Now on to the fights!
Kountermove: Beltran – $4900, Ao – $4700
Ray Beltran is a very good boxer. Based on skill alone, you might even call him great. But there’s something in Beltran that keeps him fulfilling the potential his boxing abilities portend. Some call it “sparring partner syndrome,” and that makes perfect sense for Beltran, who’s earned his keep as a professional sparring partner at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card gym for years now.
Beltran fights well, and he’s more than willing to get a little rough with his opponent if need be, but his victories often come with the help of a little “cooperation” from the other man in the ring. In other words, Beltran wins when he’s able to fight his fight, but when the opponent makes a persistent effort to fight on their own terms he makes like a good sparring partner and lets them take the lead, doing just enough himself to stay competitive.
Sharif Bogere, Luis Ramos Jr., and Terence Crawford all managed to beat Beltran simply by sticking to their gameplans and convincing him early that he wasn’t going to win. Will Takahiro Ao be able to do the same?
Well… no, probably not. Ao is good, but considerably less than great. He lacks the attitude that typically troubles Beltran–Ao throws very little volume, often waits on his opponents far too much, and just doesn’t push the pace unless he’s much, much better than his adversary. Typically, Ao’s biggest advantage has been his southpaw stance, a rarity for the average orthodox opponent and therefore an unpredictable challenge. But that much-maligned sparring career of Beltran’s? It’s given him thousands of rounds and years of experience with the best southpaw on the planet, Manny Pacquiao himself. Don’t expect Beltran to be stymied by a mere left hand.
The best thing about this matchup? Beltran’s recent trouncing at the hands of Terence Crawford has a temptingly cheap pricetag on Kountermove. At $4900, the only factor working against Beltran as a valuable member of your fantasy roster is the fact that he doesn’t throw a ton of volume, but he’s bound to out-punch Ao.
The pick is Beltran by Unanimous Decision.
Kountermove: Zewski – $4800, Ponomarev – $4800
Zewski and Ponomarev are the only pair on Kountermove’s roster priced at even money, and that makes absolute sense: this is a closely matched fight, no matter which way you slice it. That also means its the most interesting matchup aside from The Fight itself.
Both Zewski and Ponomarev enter this fight undefeated. Canada’s Zewski is a power puncher with the record to prove it–20 of his 26 wins have come by KO–while Ponomarev is considerably less so, with only 13 of his 27 victories ending before the final bell. Oddly enough, we can look at the minority wins on each of these fighters’ records for some clues as to how this fight should play out.
Of Zewski’s six decisions, three were relatively close affairs. His latest venture saw him defeat journeyman Jeremy Bryan by majority decision, winning two points on two scorecards while drawing on the other. Prior to that he dropped 3 of 8 rounds en route to a close unanimous decision over Damian Frias, and before that he won a very narrow split decision against Clint Coronel. In fact, you have to go all the way back to Zewski’s seventh fight, in 2011, to find a truly dominant decision win.
Meanwhile Ponomarev’s finishes, while not the norm, consist of an unusually high number of “retirement” wins, meaning his opponents either quit on the stool, or were stopped by their own cornermen. 5 of Ponomarev’s 13 TKO’s have come in this fashion.
The story told by these records is observable in the fights themselves. When Zewski can’t knock an opponent out, he tends to flag and find himself in a close fight. Opponents crafty enough or tough enough to take him into deep waters tend to bring out the worst in him. Notably, Damian Frias seemed to take the wind out of Zewski’s sails in a single round when he began taunting the young fighter–”You can’t punch,” he told the man used to knocking people out. “Who told you you could punch? I’m gonna knock you out.”
Ponomarev, on the other hand, owes his high rate of retirement wins to three things: high accuracy, high volume, and sheer frustration. Ponomarev is an extremely cheeky fighter, fond of hanging his hands low and striking strange poses just to get his opponents thinking. This behavior belies his level of skill, as he possesses an extremely versatile jab and a sharp left hook, two punches which blend together very well. Moving forward, he will switch stances and attack from odd angles, and on the retreat he possesses a solid array of counters, particularly uppercuts to punish advancing opponents. He regularly throws more than 70 punches in a round, and loves to frustrate his opponents.
All of this not only gives Ponomarev the competitive edge over the comparitively taciturn Zewski, but also makes him an invaluable addition to your Kountermove team. Even in a loss, Zewski is bound to rack up plenty of points with volume alone. And though he’s unlikely to knock Zewski out, he stands a solid chance of taking the decision, or even retiring Zewski late in the fight.
The pick is Ponomarev by Unanimous Decision.
Kountermove: Jimenez – $4400, Hart – $5200
Less compelling than Zewski-Ponomarev, but this is still a bout between two undefeated prospects, this time in the super middleweight division.
Jimenez is a quality boxer-puncher with an extremely well-rounded skillset. He punches well, attacks up and down and leads comfortably with either hand, and packs a respectable punch, having stopped 11 of his 17 opponents.
What he lacks, however, is the sheer dynamism that makes Hart such a highly touted prospect. With a devastating right hand and an awkward, erratic way of dancing around the ring, Hart fights something like a 168 pound Deontay Wilder. Hart’s only gone the distance three times, and only one of those men–Derrick Findley, who’s never actually been knocked out–managed to go the distance without being put on the canvas. Fight math doesn’t typically check out, but it should be mentioned that Findley also knocked Jimenez out in 2013, before the result was changed to a no-contest after he tested positive for a banned painkiller.
The pick is Hart by Knockout.