DAZN is keeping up with their strategy to book novelty fights between YouTube stars alongside legitimate fights featuring boxers with lower media profiles. In the case of their card on Thursday, Demetrius Andrade is defending his WBO middleweight belt in the main event, while YouTubers Jake Paul and AnEsonGib will face each other in a six-rounder in the co-feature fight of the evening.
Obviously there isn’t much to say about Paul vs Gib other than it being a good attempt to bring a new, younger audience to boxing, and hoping some of that new audience enjoys the rest of the show and converts them to fans of the sport.
What Matchroom and DAZN are trying to lure viewers to with Paul vs Gib is a trio of title fights; the aforementioned Demetrius Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs) defense against Luke Keeler (17-2-1, 5 KOs); Tevin Farmer (30-4-1, 6 KOs) vs Joseph Diaz Jr. (30-1, 15 KOs) for the IBF super-featherweight belt; and Daniel Roman (27-2-1, 10 KOs) vs Murodjon Akhmadaliev (7-0, 6 KOs) for the IBF super-bantamweight belt.
Andrade vs Keeler isn’t that interesting of a fight, as 32-year-old Keeler is a domestic level fighter in the UK/Ireland scene who can’t really punch. Andrade is just a much better fighter and an overwhelming favorite for a reason. Other than an opportunity to hopefully put on a bit more of a show than he has in his previous defenses, and a paycheck, this fight doesn’t do much for Andrade. However, the other two fights of the card are well-matched, intriguing bouts with the potential to be very fun to watch.
Tevin Farmer started his career with an inauspicious 7-4-1 record, but he recovered from that rough start with an 18-fight win streak that earned him a shot at the vacant IBF belt against Kenichi Ogawa. Farmer got robbed in the fight, but Ogawa testing positive turned the result to a no-contest. Farmer picked up the belt in his next fight and used his slick southpaw style to defend it four times. His defenses didn’t take place against the best of competition, but he did what he was supposed to do and looked good in dispatching them. Joseph Diaz Jr. will be by far the toughest opponent he’s faced in his reign.
Diaz is a former Olympian that turned pro after the London games. He went undefeated in 26 fights on his way to a title shot at featherweight against Gary Russell Jr, who beat him by decision despite a solid effort from Diaz. Diaz Jr. immediately got a shot at another belt, but despite winning the fight, he was ineligible to win the belt due to missing weight. He then moved up to super-featherweight and got his feet wet in the division with three wins in 2019, though he looked uninspired and only managed a majority decision win in his last one.
At his best though, he’s a good boxer-puncher with solid counters that could give Farmer trouble. However, I think Farmer’s slickness and defensive acumen will help him pull away from Diaz on the scorecards in the late rounds to take a close decision.
Daniel Roman won the WBA super-bantamweight belt in 2017 and defended it three times before unifying it with the IBF belt last year in a year with TJ Doheny. He will defend against Murodjon Akhmadaliev, an Olympic bronze and world silver medalist. Akhmadaliev has gone 7-0 since turning pro following the 2016 games, with six KO wins. He is a an aggressive fighter who combines good footwork with fluid combinations to overwhelm his opponents. He’s also quite a hard puncher, which makes him dangerous for anybody. However he likes to fight with his hands low and his defense doesn’t seem to be on par with his excellent offense. That seems like something a tough, experienced pressure fighter like Roman could capitalize on, especially if the fights drags on, as Akhmadaliev has only gone longer than four rounds once. If he survives the early rounds, I think Roman’s pressure should win him the latter half of the fight and the decision in a fight that is likely to turn into a war.
So while the main event is a foregone conclusion and the co-main is a celebrity fight, they’ll help put eyes on some of the most promising fights of the start of 2020, and that’s something I can live with.
Andrade vs Keller airs on DAZN with the preliminary card starting at 7:00pm ET / 4:00pm PT and the main card at 9:00pm ET / 6:00pm PT.
Demetrius Andrade vs. Luke Keeler
Jake Paul vs. Ali Eson Gib
Tevin Farmer vs. Joseph Diaz
Daniel Roman vs. Murodjon Akhmadaliev
Anthony Sims Jr. vs. Roamer Alexis Angulo
Amanda Serrano vs. Simone Duarte
Otha Jones III vs. Juan Santiago
Movladdin Biyarslanov vs. Nicolas Atilio Velazquez
Vincent Baccus vs. Alexis Espino
Donald Sanchez vs. Austin Williams
Avril Mathie vs. Angelina Hoffschneider