The next installment of the Premier Boxing Champions takes place on Saturday in Brooklyn and features a pair of intriguing matchups: two of the best junior welterweights (fighting above the division limit at 143 lbs.) in Danny Garcia (29-0, 17 KOs) against Lamont Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs) and a middleweight title fight between knockout artist Andy Lee (34-2, 24 KOs) and hometown boxer-puncher Peter Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs). Garcia-Peterson has been long-delayed but it's still a fascinating matchup. Their styles should mesh to form a very exciting fight. In the middleweight clash, both Lee and Quillin possess true knockout power. Read below for the keys to each fight. My predictions will be at the end of each section.
1. Neither fighter is good in the opening rounds. Who will seize the early momentum?
With some notable exceptions, like his outing against Zab Judah and the second Erik Morales fight, Garcia can be a slow starter. He's most often a counterpuncher who uses the first few rounds of a fight to size his opponents up. He fell behind early against Lucas Matthysse, looked terrible in the first few rounds against Mauricio Herrera, was dominated at the outset by Amir Khan and failed to impress in the opening rounds of the first Morales fight. Garcia gradually unleashes his arsenal throughout a fight. He'll start with a few jabs and right hands, either to the head or body, but his best shot, his counter left hook, often doesn't appear until a few rounds into the match.
Peterson could capitalize on Garcia's methodical starts by ramping up the activity level in the bout's first third. Using his strong jab and lateral movement, Peterson has the ability to take a decisive lead; however, he has his own problems in the opening rounds. Here's a list:
- Knocked down in the second round and twice in the third against Matthysse (the last one ended the fight)
- Sent down in the first round by Amir Khan
- Dropped twice in the third against Victor Ortiz
- Hit the canvas in the third round facing Tim Bradley
In his bigger fights, Peterson has demonstrated confidence issues. Early on, he can be very hesitant committing to his punches and it takes him a few rounds to warm up and find his comfort zone in the ring. Against top opposition, he gradually works his way into a fight, providing significant opportunities for his opponents.
Garcia should test Peterson in the opening rounds, unloading his power shots. This is a change from his standard operating procedure but it's a risk well worth taking. Getting an early 10-8 round from a knockdown could be a huge swing in the bout.
Both Garcia and Peterson can be bested early in fights. However, they are also slow starters. Which one will change his usual game plan and adapt to his opponent's weakness? Will either of them seize this potential opportunity?
2. If Lamont is hurt, can Danny finish him?
The flip side to Lamont's vulnerability early in fights is his significant recuperative powers. It seemed like he wouldn't make it out of the opening rounds against Khan and Ortiz but he rallied in both instances to earn a win and a draw. In addition, Peterson's physicality is a significant advantage in the second half of fights, gradually wearing down opponent.
It's certainly possible that Garcia will land something big in the fight but I'm not sold on his finishing skills. Even though he stopped Khan, he patiently hit him with flush shots instead of pressing for the knockout. Similarly, he had Zab Judah hurt badly early in their match but couldn't put him away. Judah was able to stay in the fight and actually hurt Garcia in the closing rounds.
On the world level, Garcia has only stopped Khan and an ancient Erik Morales. Although Garcia's counters are accurate and damaging, they don't necessarily KO opponents. In addition, I'm not sure that Garcia has the temperament to really push for the knockout if the opponent isn't ready to go. Against Peterson, Garcia needs to go for the KO if Peterson is hurt. Peterson isn't a natural counterpuncher so Garcia shouldn't have to worry about some spectacular shot coming back his way. In addition, letting Peterson stay in the fight is a bad idea for the later rounds. If Peterson's hurt, Garcia has to try to end it.
3. Peterson must get inside.
Garcia's best shots are from mid-range and further. His left hook can be wide. His counter right hand can be devastating in the pocket. Even his right uppercut needs a little bit of distance to hit his target. Garcia is less of a threat on the inside.
Peterson can be very versatile in the ring. He possesses the boxing skills to fight from distance and the physicality to rough up opponents in close quarters; for this matchup, Peterson must fight in the trenches. By staying in close, Peterson can lessen the impact of Garcia's best weapons. Peterson needs to use his double jab and lateral movement to get inside and once he's there he needs to work. He has the types of short shots (right hand and left hook) that could give Garcia problems. If he's clinching a lot it's a big mistake.
I see this as a very competitive fight with a number of swings in action. Ultimately, I think that Garcia's clean punching and effective counters will do enough to give him the nod. This very well could be a 7-5 type of fight and I don't expect the three scorecards to be in agreement.
Danny Garcia ekes out a victory over Lamont Peterson.
Note: this preview was written before Quillin came in heavy to the weigh-in. Quillin's weight can certainly be a very important factor in the outcome of the fight.
1. Can Lee land his best right hook and what happens if he does?
1. Can Lee land his best right hook and what happens if he does?
Quillin has never faced a big puncher in his career. Throughout 31 fights, his chin has never been a question mark but Lee's right hook could change that dynamic. In his last two fights, Lee destroyed John Jackson and Matt Korobov and he has the type of power to finish anyone at 160. However, those stoppages were the result of his opponents being out-of-position, in spots where they couldn't fully defend themselves. Quillin is a disciplined fighter and will take fewer risks than those opponents did. For Lee, delivering his best hook against Quillin will be a difficult proposition. He's going to have to throw combinations to land his best shot. I don't think that single counterpunches will be enough.
Quillin doesn't want a ragged fight. He's certainly aware of Lee's power and he can win without taking unnecessary chances. However, if he does get tagged, all bets are off. We don't know about his recuperative powers or his ability to survive if he gets hurt.
2. Quillin's counters.
A very accurate counterpuncher, Quillin can do damage with three shots: left hook, straight right hand and right uppercut. He's patient in the ring and he'll let an opponent outwork him during flurries to land his power counters. Lee has certainly been hurt before in the ring, especially to the body, and Quillin's counter shots will play a huge role in getting the best of the action. Lee can get lazy with his jab, giving Quillin the opportunity to land solid counter rights and left hooks. In close quarters, Lee often squares himself up, leaving his body exposed. Quillin will have his pick of power counters in those circumstances.
Although Lee is considered the bigger puncher in the fight, Quillin's power shouldn't be underrated. He has more than enough steam on his shots to end things if Lee makes mistakes. Ultimately, this is the type of fight where either man could get knocked out.
3. Can Lee win rounds by boxing?
I expect Quillin to have a very conservative game plan for this fight. Keeping the action in the center of the ring and using his jab to be first, Quillin could pick up points in a hurry. And despite Lee's Olympic pedigree, he's been beaten to the punch by almost every fighter that he's faced on the world level. In addition, Lee's work rate is often inconsistent and can fall precipitously if he's behind.
Lee can't expect a one-punch knockout to salvage his night on Saturday. He's the one who has to force the action. If the fight stays in the pocket, Quillin's jab and quick shots will score the points. Lee's going to have put punches together and really work to win rounds. Quillin will be more than content to win a decision by boxing; Lee will have to be active enough to give judges a reason to score rounds for him.
Although this matchup features plenty of firepower, I bet that we'll see a much more technical fight, with Quillin working behind his jab and using his legs to control the pace of the fight. Lee will continually see his head knocked back by sharp punches and his lack of athleticism will be a huge hindrance. Quillin boxes his way to a decisive victory.