EDDIE HEARN’S Matchroom Boxing operation arrives in Mexico on Saturday (August 24) with a bill at the Centro de Usos Multiples in Hermosillo. The event, a co-promotion with Zanfer and Sauerland, will be broadcast live on Sky Sports Action in the UK and on DAZN in the USA. There is substantial British and Irish interest on the undercard but the main event sees local hero Juan Francisco Estrada defend his WBC super-flyweight title against North Carolina’s Dewayne Beamon. It’s an odd match, pitting one of world’s hottest fighters against a 34-year-old who has never boxed anywhere near world level.

Estrada has been operating at top level for a long time. After losing a 2012 bid against Roman Gonzalez for the WBA light-fly title, he moved up to flyweight where he held the WBA and WBO belts from 2013 to 2016.

He relinquished them unbeaten to invade the talent-packed 115lbs division in 2016. At this weight he’s beaten quality compatriot Carlos Cuadras, lost to WBC king Srisaket Sor Rungvisai on a majority but then defeated the Thai unanimously in a rematch. That April, victory won him the WBC belt and this homecoming – his last five bouts have been in California – looks like a “gimme”.

Juan Francisco Estrada
Zanfer Box Promotions

Beamon didn’t turn pro until the day after his 30th birthday, and has built his record against underwhelming opposition at places like the Abundant Life Christian Center in Raleigh. But since November 2017 he’s had all six fights in Mexico, where the lighter-weight talent is more abundant than in the USA.

Tellingly, he has suffered a couple of recent blemishes, being held to a 10-round draw by Angel Ramos, then losing a split eight-round decision to Martin Tecuapetla (only 13-9-4). He did beat Tecuapetla unanimously over the same distance two months later (October 2018) but hasn’t boxed since.

The biggest name on his record is Mexico’s Christian Esquivel, who way back in 2011 lost (rsf 11) to Shinsuke Yamanaka in Japan for the vacant WBC bantam title. Beamon stopped a faded Esquivel in nine rounds in February 2017.

His nickname is “Mr Stop Running”, but it’s more likely he will be Mr Stop Winning upon encountering a fighter of Estrada’s abilities. Expect the champ to outclass him for a stoppage in about eight rounds.

Former WBO super-welterweight champion Liam Smith gets a Mexican workout when he meets Mario Alberto Lozano over 10 rounds.

The Liverpudlian’s only losses in a 27-2-1 (15) record came against Mexicans in Canelo Alvarez (ko 9) and Jaime Munguia (pts 12) in world title bouts in the USA, so he’ll be keen to show local fans what he can do.

Lozano, from Chihuahua, is 32 and plenty experienced with a 30-9 (24) record. He has lost inside the distance only once, in four rounds against Alejandro Gomez in 2012, but has gone the distance with Vanes Martirosyan and big-hitting Jermell Charlo (who went on to reign as WBC 154lbs champ).

So Lozano, who holds a win over Ramon Alvarez (Canelo’s brother), has the seasoning and the chin to take Smith the distance before losing on points. Then Liam can think about another world title shot.

Another Matchroom-backed boxer gets a showcase as Dublin super-feather Jono Carroll meets Mexico’s Eleazar Valenzuela over 10 rounds.

For southpaw Carroll, 16-1-1 (3), it’s the first fight since being outpointed by Tevin Farmer in an IBF title shot in March. That, plus a draw with France’s Guillaume Frenois in his previous outing, showed the Irishman’s limitations at top level, but he can still figure in meaningful fights – if he beats Valenzuela.

That he should do, because the man from Guasave is only 20-11-4 (16), albeit has lost inside the limit only twice. Carroll can win on points.
Also in 10-round action are two former outstanding amateur stars with 8-0 (6) records as pros.

Uzbekistan’s Shakram Giyasov, who won silver at the 2016 Rio Olympics and gold at the 2017 World Championships, faces Colombian veteran Darleys Perez, 34-4-2 (22), who has lost in the UK to Anthony Crolla and Luke Campbell, but did hold Maurice Hooker to a draw.

Meanwhile, Croatia’s Olympic bronze medallist Filip Hrgovic defends his WBC International heavyweight bauble against Mexican Mario Heredia, 16-6-1 (13), and should triumph comfortably.

The Verdict The undercard matches figure to be more competitive than the main event.


Tanaka Test

KOSEI Tanaka isn’t well known to boxing fans but he should be. In just 13 professional fights (all wins, seven early) he has held WBO titles at three weights (straw, light-fly and fly) – and he’s still only 24.

On Saturday (August 24) Tanaka makes the second defence of his WBO 112lbs belt at the Takeda Teva Ocean Arena in his Nagoya hometown against Bronx-born Puerto Rican Jonathan Gonzalez.

The southpaw challenger is a solid 22-2-1 (13) but both his defeats have come by knockout so the pick is for the brilliant Tanaka to retain inside the distance.

Saludar in Puerto Rico

TRAVELLING to your opponent’s backyard is always tricky, but Vic Saludar doesn’t seem to mind.

The 28-year-old Filipino has already and won retained the WBO minimumweight (aka strawweight) title in Japan and on Saturday (August 24) he ventures to the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan to defend against Wilfredo Mendez.

The southpaw challenger is 13-1 but only five early wins suggests the 22-year-old isn’t a huge puncher. Saludar, 19-3 (10), was ko’d in six by Kosei Tanaka back in 2015 but looks much more battle-tested at top level than Mendez, so is the pick to retain on points.