As the calendar turns to August, boxing gets back into full swing as Matchroom Sports and Premier Boxing Champions restart their promotions. Each has plenty of action lined up, and this weekend kicks off a busy stretch of fights to end the summer.
There will be cards around the world on Saturday, and they feature everything from former champions looking to showcase their greatness to title fights featuring late replacements who hope to seize the opportunity of the moment.
Here are four things to look out for this weekend:
1. The return of Sor Rungvisai
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3 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN+: Lyndon Arthur vs. Dec Spelman, 12 rounds, for Arthur’s Commonwealth light heavyweight title
While Williams (19-0, 6 KOs) is a late replacement, he’s a talented fighter. I worked a broadcast in the summer of 2017 when Williams fought William Gonzalez at the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California; on that night, he scored a highlight-reel, first-round KO. Williams is not really a power puncher — just look at his knockout percentage — but he’s your classic quicksilver southpaw who is elusive and slick.
“About a year ago, I started a top-five or top-10 fighters I had on notice. I always paid attention to all of the fighters in my weight class,” Williams said. “I’ve been prepared for the chance to face Leo for a while. I’ve had my eye on all of these guys for a year and some change now. It’s not like he’s a random opponent for me.”
Leo (19-0, 9 KOs) now has to make the adjustment to facing a left-hander.
“These things happen in boxing, so you just have to stay focused and prepared for anything. Luckily, Tramaine isn’t too much of a different fighter from Fulton,” Leo said. “He’s got similar styles, the only difference is he’s southpaw. We’ll make some small adjustments, but I’m in shape for whoever. I’m in the best shape of my life, and once I get in that ring, I’ll make the necessary adjustments.”
Leonard Ellerbe of Mayweather Promotions, which promotes Leo, said preparation is key.
“I purposely put him in fights where he boxed guys with all different types of styles,” Ellerbe said. “He’s been in with four straight southpaws. I purposely did that — we know how to make champs. You have to be able to adapt to all types of different styles. You’ve got to be prepared for everything.”
Look for a closely contested fight that will go the distance. I’ll go with Williams getting his hands raised in victory.
4. Fulton waiting in the wings.
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Not necessarily, according to Gustavo Olivieri, the in-house counsel for the WBO. He explained that the winner of this upcoming matchup will then get 180 days to fight the mandatory challenger designated by the championship committee. Currently, the unbeaten Fulton (18-0, 8 KOs) is rated No. 1 at 122 by the WBO.
Ellerbe says that if Leo wins, Fulton is tops on their list.
“One thousand percent, we want all the smoke. We want Fulton,” Ellerbe said. “But first things first, Angelo has to go out and face a very solid guy in Williams. He’s tough. He’s another undefeated fighter. The sole focus is on Tramaine Williams on Saturday night.
“And if Angelo is successful, we want Fulton — that’s the fight we want.”