Valero-DeMarco, Adamek-Estrada, Johnson-Mack: Predictions

The Franchise says...

Is Edwin Valero ready to graduate from seldom-seen phenom to bona fide rising star? If so, that process may begin this Saturday, when he headlines a Showtime broadcast by defending his WBC lightweight belt against Antonio DeMarco.

This one promises to be explosive for as long as it lasts. DeMarco likes to come forward, using jabs to set up his powerful left hand. He's also got a sturdy chin, as he showed en route to the ninth-round KO of Anges Adjaho last summer that earned him this title shot.

The question is whether any chin is enough to stand up to Valero, who became the stuff of internet legend by racking up 18 first-round knockouts in a row to begin his professional career. He's averaged almost five rounds of work over the last three years, but every one of his fights has ended with his foe unconscious or unable to continue.

DeMarco is taller and rangier, suggesting that he may find some success staying on the outside. But that isn't his usual M.O., and he also tends to be a slow starter.

Those two things could prove to be his downfall. Questions still remain about Valero's overall skill set, but they won't be answered this time out as the Venezuelan notches a mid-round KO.

In New Jersey, former two-division titleholder Tomasz Adamek will continue to try climbing the heavyweight ranks as he steps in against Jason Estrada. Newark's Prudential Center should be rocking, as a strong Polish-American contingent always turns out in force to support Adamek.

Estrada is a legit heavyweight whose fighting weight is usually just above 240 pounds, but he's not especially tall (listed at 6'1") or powerful (only four knockouts in 16 career victories). That means he may have trouble keeping Adamek from getting in close and making him pay when he does so.

Eventually, Adamek is going to run into someone who reminds him why it's tough to take on the big guys when you give up too much weight. I don't expect it will be this Saturday, though, as I see Adamek battering his way to a late-round stoppage.

Last but not least (and actually first in chronological terms), venerable Glen Johnson headlines Friday Night Fights in an IBF light heavyweight title eliminator against Yusaf Mack. Few boxers can be counted on to give 100 percent in the ring as Johnson, even at 41 years of age.

Mack certainly has a bit of both skill and power, and he's yet to lose since stepping up to campaign at 175. But Johnson has beaten and lost to opponents tougher than anyone on Mack's resume, and he's always in shape to go the full 12 rounds.

Still, it's hard to get the image of Johnson's last fight, a second loss to Chad Dawson, out of my head. Did he finally start to feel his age, or was Bad Chad just better prepared for him the second time around?

Let's say for the sake of argument it was a bit of both. The Road Warrior is starting to near the end of his journey, but I'm not sure he's quite there yet.

Maybe my heart is outvoting my head on this one, but I like Johnson to take a close decision.

Posted by The Franchise

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