On name recognition alone, the undercard for the historic Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao bout isn't very exciting. However, there are some intriguing prospects and bouts on tap before the main event. Still, it's odd that such a commercially appealing main event would be preceded by an undercard that will only really appeal to boxing purists.
Here's a look at the three fights signed to the undercard of MayPac.
- Jesse Hart (16-0, 13 KO) vs. Mike Jimenez (17-0, 1 NC, 11 KO) for the vacant USBA super middleweight title, per Dan Rafael of ESPN.com.
- Chris Pearson (11-0, 9 KO) vs. Said El Harrak (12-2-2, 7 KO), junior middleweights, per Rafael.
- Vasyl "Hi-Tech" Lomachenko (3-1, 1 KO) vs. Gamalier Rodriguez (25-2-3, 17 KO) for Lomachenko's WBO featherweight title, per Vladimir Lik of The Ring.
While Pearson is one of the most exciting young 154-pound fighters in the sport, his scrap with El Harrak would be ranked third on this short list. In all honesty, Pearson is likely to prove way too fast for El Harrak. Unless there's a highlight-reel KO—which is possible—this will be a fight most won't remember.
The two most intriguing battles will be for championships, although only one of them is considered a world title.
Someone's "0" Has to Go
Jesse Hart is a long, rangy 6'2" 168-pounder with excellent power. He has scored KO wins in 13 of his 16 bouts and has yet to taste defeat. He'll face another undefeated fighter on the MayPac undercard in Chicagoan Mike Jimenez. The latter's spotless record isn't quite as impressive as Hart's.
Tough journeyman Derrick Findley upset Jimenez in 2013, but the decision was later changed to a no-contest after Findley tested positive for a banned substance.
The banned substance was not a steroid; it was codeine from a Tylenol 3 pill Findley had been taking for a toothache, per Matthew Paras of Max Boxing. Findley dropped Jimenez in that bout and had him badly hurt at another point.
Findley was disgusted with the decision to erase his win, and he offered more perspective on the situation:
I think [the fight being changed to a no-decision] is a load of crap. Before I fought [Jimenez], I fought a dude named Gilberto Ramirez Sanchez and I’m not going to lie - he kicked my butt. He hit me with a right hook and he broke my tooth. I was having real bad toothaches because of the punch. I wound up being prescribed some Tylenol 3,” he said. “I had no idea it had codeine. I’ll be honest with you; I’ve never heard of anything. I just thought it was something to stop my toothache.
Nonetheless, Jimenez is still officially undefeated, and he's won six fights in a row since then. Most recently, he stopped Kevin Engel on March 28. This means he'll be only 34 days removed from his last fight when he steps in the ring against Hart.
As tough as Findley was, the 25-year-old Hart will clearly represent the biggest challenge for Jimenez to date. Hart has looked great in almost every one of his bouts, and that includes a six-round unanimous-decision win over Findley in 2014.
Hart's jab and powerful right hand will be the weapons Jimenez must account for in the bout. Jimenez has solid footwork and good power in his own right, but he's not quite as fluid of an athlete as Hart is. We'll see whose tools prevail in this interesting scrap between up-and-coming prospects.
The winner of this bout will have a great chance to position himself for a world title shot in the near future.
Hi-Tech, Low Pro, All Good
Many who aren't aware of his history will look at Lomachenko's four pro fights and say, "How did this guy get a title shot (twice), let alone win a world championship?" Lomachenko is one of the most decorated amateur boxers in the history of the sport. He parlayed that notoriety into a world-title opportunity against Orlando Salido in March 2014, for the veteran's WBO featherweight championship.
Lomachenko came up short against the cagey Salido, though he came on strong during the second half of the fight. Lomachenko got his second shot at the world title because the WBO stripped Salido of the belt for missing weight for the bout. Hi-Tech faced Gary Russell Jr. in June 2014 for the vacated title and won a majority decision.
He has since defended the title once with a win over Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo in Nov. 2014. Many would like to see Lomachenko take on other champions such as WBC titleholder Nicholas Walters or IBF king Evgeny Gradovich. Those are likely on tap if Lomachenko can get by Rodriguez.
The challenger's best win came over contender Orlando Cruz in April 2014. Based on what we've seen from him thus far, he doesn't figure to offer Lomachenko much in the way of a tough fight. Despite the champion's limited professional experience, his skills are among the most admirable in the sport.
Boxing purists should simply enjoy watching a gifted athlete and in-ring technician go to work. Lomachenko is truly something special.
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