The Rhyme and Reason of Matchmaking

In the coming weeks are two fights that I’m going to watch, and will recommend that you watch. Both fights feature an exciting up-and-comer, an undefeated knockout artist. One is Joe Joyce, the other Adam Kownacki.

Now I’ve been whining lately about the lop-sided nature of the matches that are being presented to us. I called Fury / Schwartz a farce, and it was. I thought Joshua /Ruiz was too, (it was supposed to be) but Ruiz had other ideas. I thought Wilder / Breazeale was going to at least go a few rounds, but live and learn.

Joe Joyce, who is 9-0, is fighting Bryant Jennings. Jennings is 24-3, and once went 12 rounds with Wladimir Klitschko. Okay, so what’s the problem? Joyce is ranked number 11 and Jennings 29 (IBO rankings) and a 7/2 dog.

Adam Kownacki (19-0) is to fight Chris Arreola (38-5-1), who fought Bermane Stiverne, Vitali Klitschko and Deontay Wilder for a world title, getting stopped all three times. Kownacki is ranked number 7, and Arreola 44. (They haven’t put any odds on this one yet, but you can bet (har) it will be ugly.)

Adam Kownacki needs another tune-up fight? Really?

This looks like the result of the same mentality that gave us Fury / Schwartz. But maybe not…

I got curious and I got to thinking and I looked these fellows up on Boxrec and found that in the first five fights of Joyce’s career, he fought men with a combined record of 79-27. The last four men has faced have a combined record of 108-12. So kinda what you would expect to see, the competition getting harder as Joyce gains experience.

Kownacki’s first eleven opponents have a combined record of 43-44 and the last eight 127-11. Hm. Kownacki’s team made a big change after eleven fights.

So, there is a difference in the rate of change and a difference in the starting point (Kownacki starting much lower) but the overall arc is the same. Start them out with opponents you expect them to beat, so that they can gain experience. Then gradually introduce them to better fighters and see how far you can go. The aim is prepare your man for championship level fights with out having absorbed a whole bunch of punishment on the way up.

I’m thinking maybe Joyce and Kownacki’s teams already believe they are ready for top competition.

Kownacki was actually considered to replace Jarell Miller to fight Anthony Joshua. At that time he said “I am not ready”. But shortly after Ruiz beat Joshua, he changed his tune, and there is talk that he will maybe get a shot at Wilder sometime soon.

So, maybe the thought is to just keep Kownacki healthy while he waits for his title shot.

Joyce has been saying that he wants the ‘fast track’ to the title. Maybe that explains the higher quality of fighters he was facing early in his career. I also looked up and watched his last fight (Alexander Ustinov) and I think Jennings is a step above his level. So this really could be Joyce simply climbing the ladder.

Actually I will go as far as to say that I wouldn’t be that surprised if Jennings pulled off the upset.

(I wrote this before the Joyce / Jennings fight, but forgot to post it.)

My prediction for Saturday: Kownacki wins by KO in 5 or less.

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