By Ian S Palmer
The WBA Lightweight Championship will be on the line in Las Vegas on March 2 when Sharif Bogere of Uganda takes on champion Richard Abril of Cuba for vacant belt. The unbeaten Bogere will climb the ring with a 23-0 record with 15 Kos while Abril’s record stands at 17-3-1 with 8 Kos.
The 24-year-old Bogere isn’t very well known by most casual boxing fans, but he’s pretty powerful and speedy and shouldn’t be underrated by the fans or Abril. He’s won three straight bouts by knockout and will be looking to make it four against Abril.
The 30-year-old Abril had a recent winning streak of five fights, but it came to a sudden halt when he lost a controversial 12-round split decision to Brandon Rios last April in a title shot. Most observers thought Abril won the fight handily and was robbed with the decision. Abril was recently elevate to the WBA’s regular lightweight champion from his previous interim status.
Bogere may have the edge of Abril in hand speed, bit even though Abril’s fought fewer fights as a pro he’s been in against the tougher opposition, especially when you factor in Rios. Abril is better at slipping punches and has a better overall defence, while both men have a pretty solid chin. Abril doesn’t really carry much in the way of power and while Bogere may not be a one-punch knockout either, his fists are definitely a little heavier than Abril’s.
Both fighters keep pretty busy in the ring and aren’t afraid to let their hands go with accurate shots. They’re both in great shape and like to be aggressive, so fans could be in for a treat here. The will to win could be the key since there isn’t a lot separating Abril and Bogere when it comes to boxing skills. Bogere should try to take advantage of his hand and foot speed instead of being a stationary target. He needs to move out of the way quickly to negate Abril’s counterpunching.
Abril is quite a bit taller at 5-foot-11 compared to Bogere at 5-foot-6 and also has a reach advantage. If he can use these to good effect then his fine boxing skills and experience could give Bogere some trouble as long as he keeps himself busy. Abril should try to catch Bogere while he’s trying to get within range. He doesn’t mind fighting on the inside and proved against Abril that he’s quite a handful to deal with.
Again, we have a tough bout to predict here. Bogere is skilled and has good power, but he hasn’t really faced top flight opposition other than Raymundo Beltran, who he beat by a unanimous decision in 2011. He’ll be confident due to the three straight knockouts and has good skills. Abril prefers to fight stationary guys, so if Bogere can use his feet he might frustrate him. It’s easy to lean towards Abril because of his showing against Rios, but he lost 10-round split decisions to Henry Lundy and Breidis Prescott. This is basically a coin toss and it comes up with Abril taking the title on a close decision.