Who wins Crawford vs Avanesyan, Teofimo vs Martin, Warrington vs Lopez?

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We’re coming down to the wire! Three of the four prediction combatants are right in the race to pull this thing out with just a handful of fights left to pick!

Who will it be? Not me! But someone!

Let’s get to this weekend’s picks.

Josh Warrington vs Luis Alberto Lopez

Scott Christ (87-38)

As we talked about this week’s podcast, I’m really high on this matchup. Lopez is a very good fighter, a legitimate contender, and could present some stylistic issues for Warrington — and basically anyone at 126. Add in the fact that Leeds crowds for Warrington are tremendous, and I think we have a chance for a good, enjoyable main event here.

I’m going with Warrington on questionable, controversial scores, not something I’d call a robbery, but maybe other people will, especially with Warrington having such a strong “home field advantage.” Be on the lookout for Warrington to try and make it rough quickly and get into Lopez’s head; I don’t think it’ll fully work, with Lopez maybe willing to press it right back in that manner. I think this is going to be scrappy, physical, and at times even a little ugly. A rugged fight. Warrington SD-12

Wil Esco (100-25)

I think this fight presents a much different stylistic matchup than Warrington has most recently seen against Kiko Martinez. Truth of the matter is the days are running thin in 2022 and I gotta take my shot and risk going out on my shield. Josh Warrington will likely start fast in his hometown of Leeds but I think if he’s not able to accumulate sufficient damage in those early rounds then he’ll give Lopez real chances here. Warrington has the superior experience but I also wonder if he’s not the more shopworn of the two men. Honestly, this is an even-ish fight and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Warrington takes it, but I’m going to go the other way as I look to land a haymaker in the staff picks. Lopez SD-12

John Hansen (99-26)

This looks to be a good, fairly even fight. I need to go against the consensus a little bit as we race to the end of Staff Picks season, so I’ll take the narrow and very live underdog here and hope that Wil and Patrick pick chalk.

I’m not a superstitious man, but I’m willing to pretend I am if anyone needs a rationale for the pick. As I mentioned on the podcast, Hopey Price has eight pro fights, and two of them were fought on undercards for Josh Warrington shows. Warrington didn’t win either of them. They’re the only two blemishes on Warrington’s record, and Price was also an opening act for John Ryder’s upset of Danny Jacobs and Andy Ruiz losing three heavyweight belts back to Anthony Joshua. I’ll just pretend it’s a trend, and predict that The Curse of Hopey Price strikes Warrington a third time. Headliners and belt holders beware! Lopez MD-12

Patrick Stumberg (101-24)

Even acknowledging that Warrington seems to have a weirdly specific problem with Mexican sluggers of late, I’m not seeing another upset. Lopez is offbeat and heavy-handed enough to give “The Leeds Warrior” some uncomfortable flashbacks, but he’s not quite the stylistic bear trap that Mauricio Lara was. What made “Bronco” such a perfect foil for Warrington was his ability to stay in the pocket and throw heat even as Warrington was three or four punches into his combination, a feat that Lopez and his pathological inability to avoid right hands will struggle to recreate. Plus, while Lopez is a better puncher than his record suggests, I’m not convinced he hits near as hard as Lara.

Warrington showed off a pretty solid blueprint for beating Lopez when he rematched Kiko Martinez: staying too close for his opponent to get real leverage on his power punches and looping his shorter, faster shots around the guard. I like him to outwork Lopez in a phone booth fight, potentially dropping him along the way. Warrington UD-12

Teofimo Lopez vs Sandor Martin

Scott Christ (87-38)

Martin beat Mikey Garcia, and Mikey Garcia was a blown-up, half-motivated featherweight. I respect Mikey’s skills, but he was always pushing himself over 135; it showed in every fight he had north of that weight, and Martin took advantage of the matchup to score a career-biggest win.

I still have my doubts about how Teofimo is going to handle nights where the challenge is real, or something goes wrong with Plan A, but I think he should be able to handle things here. Martin won’t be a total pushover, but the style matchup doesn’t strike me as one where he’ll find himself questioning things or needing extra gears. Martin will win a few rounds, but Teofimo takes it wide on the cards. Lopez UD-12

Wil Esco (100-25)

I actually believed that Teofimo Lopez’s loss to George Kambosos Jr would actually humble him a bit. Much to my surprise it seems to have only reinforced and emboldened his attitude of being above it all. I suppose one might consider it a good thing that Lopez’s confidence hasn’t been shattered, but it also makes me question how in tune he is with reality. As far as facing Sandor Martin goes, this is designed to be a step back towards where Lopez was previously at, and I rate him as the better fighter of the two so I think he’ll handle business here.

Martin has a big win over Mikey Garcia, but this will be another level of athleticism he’ll be going up against here, and I think the speed and power will ultimately prove to be too much. It probably also won’t help that Martin has taken steps back down in competition since that win over Garcia. Anyway, I think Lopez forces a second half stoppage here and will give an out of touch post-fight interview where he continues to talk about how he’s somehow a trailblazer in boxing, doing things no one has ever seen before. Lopez TKO-9

John Hansen (99-26)

Part of me is very, very tempted to pick a Sandor Martin win by decision. Mikey Garcia was the aggressor when he lost to Martin, and Martin handled it brilliantly. He didn’t really let himself get trapped or cornered, and he moved and countered Garcia well even when Garcia opened up on offense. Martin said after the fight that Plan A was always to frustrate Garcia, and build on that foundation to outpoint him and win rounds.

The blueprint worked once already, and Teofimo Lopez appears even more susceptible to frustration and emotionally-driven poor choices than Mikey Garcia ever was. Comparing the two further, Garcia was the superior boxer by pure technical skill, while Lopez likely has an edge in raw power. Martin has never been stopped, but the power difference may be enough to limit his countering aggression against Lopez. I’ll give Martin credit for durability, and assume he goes the distance. But, I do think Lopez is hungrier, in the ring, than Garcia was at the end of his career, and that could swing things.

Can Lopez be defeated by a bouncy counterpuncher with a good game plan and a stout chin? Yes. Can Martin use his wits and movement to take down a “better” opponent? Again, yes. We’ve seen both happen within the past 14 months, so I’d encourage anyone betting the favorite to limit their exposure. But, even though I believe this is potentially a closer fight than most expect, I still think Lopez enters and exits the superior fighter. Lopez UD-12

Patrick Stumberg (101-24)

Upsetting Mikey Garcia is an achievement Martin should be proud of. It does not in any way suggest he’s prepared for Lopez. This isn’t an aging, undersized, passionless technician with either an inability or disinclination to cut off the ring; whatever justifiable criticisms you can level at Lopez, he’s a mid-prime physical specimen with twice the mean streak Garcia ever had. While Martin is mobile and tricky enough to give “The Takeover” some issues, his poor punching power and good-but-not-great slickness aren’t enough to carry him to victory.

A lot of stars aligned for Martin to beat Garcia, and those stars are a hell of a lot more disorderly this time around. He lasts the distance and banks a couple rounds but can’t overcome Lopez’s speed and thump. Lopez UD-12

Terence Crawford vs David Avanesyan

Scott Christ (87-38)

Bud will start mildly slow. Avanesyan will absolutely bring some fight to him. Bud will stop him. It’ll look a bit like the Crawford vs Kavaliauskas fight. It might also look a bit like the Kavaliauskas vs Avanesyan fight. Either way, bad news for Avanesyan, other than a good payday and a crack at a world title. Crawford TKO-5

Wil Esco (100-25)

Terence Crawford is a superb fighter, but boy is his resume at welterweight rather thin. He has a few names who he’s gotten at the tail end of their careers, but there’s a reason the people want to see him up against the elite fighters in the weight class. David Avanesyan, while a decent fighter, isn’t that and it seems to me there were better opponents available. Honestly, I’m not sure how much we can even learn about Crawford that we didn’t already know in this kind of matchup. I expect Crawford to do his usual thing by starting a little slow and then quickly taking over, stopping Avanesyan about halfway through. Crawford TKO-6

John Hansen (99-26)

Two predictions: Under 80,000 buys, and Crawford TKO-6

Patrick Stumberg (101-24)

I’m honestly a lot more interested in the behind-the-scenes event drama than in the fight itself. Everything BLK has put out suggests that things are going to go hilariously wrong both during and after the card; with Prograis vs Zepeda having gone depressingly smoothly outside of the issues Prograis initially had with getting his purse, I need some proper shenanigans.

This is with all due respect to Avanesyan’s abilities. He’s tough, he’s aggressive, and he hits hard, but we’ve seen our fair share of fighters bring that combination to the table against “Bud” and get an uncomfortably violent beating for their troubles. Crawford isn’t an untested Euro-level fighter with a heretofore unexploited allergy to pressure; he sits comfortably above the ceiling Avanesyan hit before the latter’s EBU adventures. Avanesyan will have a round or two of success as Crawford slowly dials himself in, but once the fight starts proper, he’s in for a drubbing. Crawford TKO-7

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