Welcome to our fantasy boxing breakdown for the Throwdown Fantasy Wilder-Arreola Contest, beginning July 9th.

This is a contest period that doesn’t offer much viable upset potential, so making the right picks at the right value will be vital. We’ve got some guidance regarding Premium Plays, Ultimate Value Picks and Upset Specials for this upcoming Throwdown Fantasy Contest.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @researchandwin and follow me personally @BoxingAddiction, where I’ll have live round-by-round scoring and analysis for all the fights! And if you haven’t already, download the free Throwdown Scoring App (available in the App Store for all your mobile devices). It offers access to real time punch stats and includes features which enable you to make predictions and score the fights yourself.

Here are the fighters you should be paying attention to when building your team for the Throwdown Fantasy Wilder-Arreola Contest:

Premium Plays:

Deontay Wilder ($5,900; 7/16 defending WBC Heavyweight Title vs. Chris Arreola): 

A highly disappointing series of events led to unbeaten knockout artist Deontay Wilder make the fourth defense of his WBC Heayweight Title against Chris Arreola. Wilder was originally scheduled to travel to Russia and face mandatory challenger Alexander Povetkin. Just a week before the fight, it was disclosed that in April, a test administered to Povetkin by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Agency (VADA) was found to contain traces of the recently banned drug meldonium. Controversy ensued and the bout was called off. Depending upon which side you listen to, it was either postponed or cancelled entirely. The WBC (nearly two months later) has still yet to make an official ruling on the matter. Either way, it paved the way for Wilder to make this voluntary defense against a completely undeserving challenger in Arreola.

Arreola is coming off what was originally a close and debatable win–which was ultimately changed to a No Decision after he failed his postfight drug test for marijuana–against Travis Kauffman back in December. Arreola has fought for the WBC belt twice before and was stopped in both fights (by Vitali Klitschko and Bermane Stiverne, respectively). In fact, he’s lost virtually every time he’s stepped up his level of competition throughout his career. Arreola has also struggled with weight and conditioning issues over the years, but he’s a tough and game fighter, who won’t be afraid to get in there and mix it up with Wilder. The significant advantages in height and reach that Wilder holds, however, will likely cause another frustrating night for the challenger. Expect Wilder to control the distance and tempo with his stiff jab, before ultimately punishing Arreola with his massive right hand. You can almost certainly bank on earning a hefty KO bonus by drafting Wilder this week!

Wilder (36-0, 35 KO) Past Statistics (stats per fight; courtesy of Throwdown Fantasy):

  • Fantasy Points: 90.8
  • Punches Thrown: 157.5
  • Punches Landed: 63.7
  • Connect Percentage: 40.4%


Ultimate Value:

Sergey Kovalev ($5,700; 7/11 defending unified WBA/IBF/WBO Light Heavyweight Titles vs. Isaac Chilemba): 

You’re probably confused as to why a fighter priced at $5,700 is being listed as my Ultimate Value pick for this competition. Fair question. As mentioned above, there isn’t an abundance of potential spoilers available during this period. That makes drafting fighters with a high probability of garnering a KO bonus even more imperative than usual, and that’s exactly where “Krusher” Kovalev comes into play! Once upon a time, Kovalev was simply regarded a puncher with destructive power. His unanimous decision world title unification win over Bernard Hopkins in November 2014–which netted him the WBA and IBF belts to add to his WBO strap–cemented Kovalev as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the entire sport. Kovalev showcased much-improved footwork and found a home for the heavy right all night against the then-49-year old, who was still one of the dynamic defensive masterminds in all of boxing. In his last thirteen fights, only Hopkins lasted to the final bell.

Chilemba is a tricky and awkward opponent, who has never been stopped. In February 2011, he got up off the canvas twice in the eighth round, and otherwise comprehensively outboxed then unbeaten Russian Maxim Vlasov en route to a unanimous decision. Chilemba has since suffered decision losses to current WBC Cruiserweight titlist Tony Bellew in May 2013 and to WBC 175 pound mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez in November. But none of those guys posses the pop that Kovalev does, and to be frank, Chilemba’s style is not as difficult as that of Hopkins. This will be Kovalev’s first fight back in his native Russia since December 2011. On that tragic night, Kovalev scored a sixth round TKO over Roman Simakov, who sustained a brain injury and died three days later at the age of 27. Without a doubt, emotions will be running high when Kovalev steps into the ring in the same arena where that unfathomable heartbreak occurred. Expect Kovalev to pay tribute to his fallen countryman and soak up the energy of a passionate Russian fanbase with a stellar performance. Expect Kovalev to deal Chilemba the first knockout loss of his career and deal your team some major fantasy points in the process.

Kovalev (29-0-1, 26 KO) Past Statistics (stats per fight; courtesy of Throwdown Fantasy):

  • Fantasy Points: 86.4
  • Punches Thrown: 279.4
  • Punches Landed: 97
  • Connect Percentage: 34.7%

Upset Potential:

Felix Diaz ($4,600; 7/16 vs. Sammy Vasquez Jr.):

As a late replacement in this bout (filling in for original opponent Luis Collazo), 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist Felix Diaz presents a vastly more ominous threat to the undefeated mark of Sammy Vasquez Jr. This assessment is absolutely not an indictment of Vasquez, who has proven himself to be an extremely well rounded, up-and-coming fighter. Vasquez has showed great footwork, an ability to use angles, good hand speed, power in both hands, and impressive variety in the first 21 fights of his career. He has consistently stepped up his level of opposition, but this one could very well prove to be too large of a step for the favorite. Despite the talent and promise of Vasquez, he will definitely have his hands full with Diaz.

In his last outing, Diaz suffered his first loss as a pro, dropping a controversial majority decision to former Junior Welterweight world titlist Lamont Peterson (in a fight that many observes felt Diaz deserved to win) in November. That fight was an entertaining back and forth battle, in which Diaz displayed sharp counterpunching skills and remarkable footwork of his own, as he answered everything Peterson brought and had the much more seasoned former beltholder looking confused at times. A fighter with the schooling of Diaz will have benefited a great deal from that setback, and I expect him to bounce back with an even stronger showing against Vasquez. This matchup is about style, and this pick is about value. At only $4,600, Felix Diaz is far too tremendous a value to pass up!

Diaz (17-1, 8 KO) Past Statistics (stats per fight; courtesy of Throwdown Fantasy):

  • Fantasy Points: 47.4
  • Punches Thrown: 545.2
  • Punches Landed: 163.6
  • Connect Percentage: 30%