Several Notable Title Fights on KSI-Logan Paul Boxing Card
The WBO super middleweight and WBC lightweight titles will be on the line this weekend in Los Angeles.
Updated: Nov. 7, 2019 • 1:10 PM ET
Billy Joe Saunders is looking to keep his unbeaten record in tact.
This Saturday, Los Angeles’ Staples Center will host a big night of fights that includes a super middleweight title bout between WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders and Marcelo Esteban Coceres. Devin Haney will also defend his WBC lightweight title against Alfredo Santiago on a card that will be headlined by a rematch between YouTube personalities KSI and Logan Paul.
Saunders (28-0, 13 KOs) most recently defeated Shefat Isufi by unanimous decision to win the vacant WBO super middleweight title in May. The 30-year-old is also a former WBO middleweight champion who defended the belt four times before vacating the title in October 2018 following a positive drug test.
The British fighter has notable victories over David Lemieux, Willie Monroe Jr., Artur Akavov and Andy Lee. Saturday’s fight, however, will be Saunders’ first in the United States and perhaps the best time for him to land on American fans’ radars.
"I am looking forward to it because it is my American debut," Saunders recently said via The Mirror. "I am up for the challenge, and I am going over there to put my name out…If I can take five or 10 per cent of their crowd with a good performance, then I am establishing my name in America and giving myself a better chance of getting a Gennady Golovkin or Canelo Alvarez.”
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Also fighting in the United States for the first time this weekend, Coceres (28-0-1, 15 KOs) is a relatively unknown boxer at this point in his career. All but one of the Argentinian’s previous fights have been in his native country, including his last victory in September that came over German Ignacio Peralta. Peralta entered that fight with a 7-5-5 record, so Santiago is undoubtedly taking a major step up in competition to fight Saunders.
The 28-year-old Coceres suffered the lone non-win of his career in just his second pro fight, a split-decision draw against Cesar Hernan Reynoso. An orthodox fighter whose longest knockout streak is five, Coceres will be at a disadvantage in terms of height and reach against Saunders. If he’s going to have any advantage, it will be with his speed and how quickly he gets out of exchanges.
Can Coceres avoid the champion’s lethal combinations? He would have to raise his game to an unexpected level to do so, but a victory would shake up the boxing world and arguably be one of the biggest upsets of 2019.
A second title fight will be on the card, as WBC lightweight champion Devin Haney will defend the title against Alfredo Santiago.
Haney (23-0, 15 KOs) will make his first title defense after being elevated to full champion following a win over Zaur Abdullaev by fourth-round TKO for the interim title in September. Haney is looking to stay undefeated and keep cementing his name at the top of his division.
“All the fans at Staples Center and the millions watching on DAZN are going to witness another dominant performance," Haney said in a press release last week. "I’m going to continue to show the world that I’m the best in my division. Alfredo Santiago is my next opponent; he’s undefeated, he’s hungry and he’s coming to win.
“I take every fight very serious and this fight is no different. Tune in next Saturday and you’ll see that the hype is real.”
The 20-year-old Haney has publicly stated he wants a fight with Vasiliy Lomachenko, but said the pound-for-pound king didn’t seem interested.
“He said it’s high risk, low reward,” Haney recently said about Lomachenko via Boxing News 24. “If he were to fight me, he’d get more money than if he fought somebody else. The fans want to see me and him fight more than they want to see Commey or Teofimo.
“It makes all the sense in the world. If I was so easy, he’d fight me like anybody else. I don’t think he can become undisputed without fighting me.”
Haney turned professional at 16 years old after 138 amateur fights, winning seven national titles and becoming the youngest boxer to win the Youth World Championships. A win on Saturday over an undefeated opponent would keep his stock rising and being only 20 years old, he certainly has big fights in his future if he continues his championship reign.
Santiago (12-0, 4 KOs) last defeated Diego Contreras by TKO in June. He was a late addition to Saturday’s card, but feels he’s ready to shock the world.
“First and foremost, I would like to thank Matchroom Boxing and Fresh Productions for this opportunity,” Santiago said. “This is the moment that I’ve been dreaming of since I was a kid, and the one I’ve been waiting for since I became a boxer. I am physically and mentally ready, and I am going to show who the best 135-pounder in the world is.
“Mr. Haney is a formidable fighter who chose the wrong opponent. He cannot beat me. I belong to ‘The Terror Squadron’, the best boxing team in the world. This is my time.”
Saturday’s main event will be a six-round cruiserweight fight and rematch between YouTube personalities KSI and Logan Paul. The fight will be under International Boxing Association rules with each round being three minutes.
The two online enemies first fought in an amateur fight in August 2018 that ended in a majority draw. While plenty of pundits have criticized the fight being the main event, it’s a great opportunity for the real professional fighters on the card to gain exposure with a new audience that two YouTubers will inevitably bring.
Champions Saunders and Haney can make a real impact outside of die-hard boxing fans, and both can make great cases for big fights in the future if they win.