Welcome to my new weekly blog, where I will preview the weekend’s boxing action, with some betting tips and predictions. I will be keeping a tally of the fights I got right, and got wrong.
Saturday night has one of the most intriguing British cards of the year so far from the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, airing live on BoxNation over here in the UK.
Amir Khan (27-3-0) v Julio Diaz (40-7-1)
This will be Khan’s first fight in the UK since his win over Paul McCloskey back in April 2011. Since then he has lost twice in America, a split decision points defeat to Lamont Peterson in December 2011, and a KO defeat to Danny Garcia in July 2012. Khan bounced back with a win over Carlos Molina in December, but considering more people attend county cricket matches than have heard of Molina, it wasn’t such an impressive win.
Diaz is a wildcard, and is coming to the end of his career. At 33, the Mexican has had 48 fights compared to Khan’s 30, and he is undefeated in his last three fights, with his most recent result being a draw with the undefeated American prospect Shawn Porter on the undercard of the Khan/Molina fight.
Five of Khan’s last six wins have come via some form of stoppage, while Diaz has been stopped in five of his seven defeats, and has been stopped in rounds three, five, nine and ten in his career. A lot of talk has been made about Khan’s ability to take a punch, and Diaz’s last three wins have all come via stoppage.
The odds have Khan as a heavy favourite, with the best odds of around 1/10 for him to win, with odds as big as 7/1 for Diaz to succeed. Those odds seem high for me, considering Khan’s punch resistance. While perhaps too much has been made of it, he has been dropped by a lot of his opponents, even Willie Limond and Michael Gomez had him in trouble in his early professional boxing days, and with odds of up to 10/1 for Diaz to finish Khan inside the distance, that might be worth a couple of quid.
My prediction however, is for Khan to stop Diaz inside the distance, and the best odds for that are around 1/4.
Deontay Wilder (27-0) v Audley Harrison (31-6)
Despite the main event involving two former World Champions, perhaps the most intriguing fight of the night is the heavyweight clash between Wilder and Harrison. It’s the sort of contest that can only happen in boxing. The undefeated Olympic bronze medalist, who has stopped every single one of his 27 opponents within four rounds, versus the sometimes defeated Olympic gold medalists who has had more comebacks than the Conservative party.
Wilder v Harrison is in some regards a crossroads fight, but in another, it could be an eliminator for a world title challenge. Wilder is 27, 14 years younger than Harrison, and the American will be confident he can defeat Audley with ease. Of Harrison’s six career defeats, three have come by KO, and his last two defeats were particularly brutal, stoppages at the hands of the two David’s, price and Haye.
The betting indicates all of this, with Wilder a massive 1/6 favourite, with odds of up to 6/1 for a Harrison win. Again, like the Khan odds, I think this is too big in Wilder’s favour. Yes the American has won all of his fights, but the caliber of his opponents has been massively lacking, to the extent that Harrison represents his most serious challenge by far. There is also talk that Wilder may have a slightly dodgy chin, he was dropped by journeyman Harold Sconiers in 2010, and his style will always open him up to shots.
However, perhaps sadly for Harrison fans, the Londoner has often been reticent to throw those shots. Against David Haye, Harrison barely threw a punch, and he looked incredibly nervous in the minute or so he was in the ring against David Price. If big punchers are Audley’s kryptonite, then his chances are slim, but there is hope for him.
Six of Harrison’s last eight wins have come via stoppage (admittedly six of those bouts were in the Prizefighter format where he’s a two time winner.) If Wilder is susceptible to shots, Harrison, especially in his left hook, has the power to capitalise on it. If Harrison can find the equaliser that knocked out Michael Sprott for the European title back in 2010, he can win this fight.
Ultimately, I feel this fight, at least initially, will be a fairly cagey affair. I can see the first two or three rounds having very few punches thrown in anger, with both men knowing that one mistake could see lights out. Although I’m an Audley fan, and I’d love to believe that we’re a nation living in fear of destiny, and that setbacks build you up for comebacks, my prediction is that Deontay Wilder knocks Audley Harrison out between rounds 4-6. You can get odds of around 5/2 if you fancy a bit of that.
The rest of the undercard
The above two fights are the only bouts available to bet on at the moment, but let’s have a quick look at a few other interesting fights on the bill.
Terry Flannigan (19-0) takes on Nate Campbell (36-10-1) over ten rounds. Flannigan came out of nowhere to win a Prizefighter tournament in October 2012, when he beat Gary Sykes, Patrick Walsh and Derry Matthews to claim the crown, and raise awareness. He faces a tough test against the veteran Campbell, who at 41 is 18 years younger than the Englishman. Campbell didn’t start boxing till his mid twenties, and the American has been in with a lot of good fighters. Flannigan has only done ten rounds twice, while Campbell has gone ten rounds or more 12 times in his career. I think this will be a very close fight, and despite Campbell’s power (26 of his wins have come via KO) my prediction is that Flannigan will win a close, possibly controversial points decision.
Bolton’s Rick Godding (18-0-1) takes on the Welshman Bradley Pryce (33-12) over six rounds. Godding has been a pro since 2007, but not until his recent draw in Germany with Rafal Jackiewicz have people begun to take him seriously as a possible contender. Pryce was highly regarded back in the day, but he has lost his last two fights, albeit to decent opposition in Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr. Over six rounds, Pryce has enough to trouble anybody, but he hasn’t finished anybody since 2010, while Godding has just three KOs from his 18 wins. My prediction is that the younger man in Godding will sneak this on points in a surprisingly competitive fight.
The evening also sees the professional debuts of two decorated amateurs, with Haroon Khan and Anthony Ogogo making their debuts. I won’t make predictions on the bouts, as it’s debutante v journeyman and there’s no point in that, but it will be interesting to see how their careers progress. Khan won a bronze for Pakistan in 2010 Commonwealth Games, and although it will be a challenge to live up to his older brother Amir, he will be given time to forge his own path.
I’m a big Anthony Ogogo fan, as it seems, are the Americans, as Golden Boy Promotions won the race to sign the Lowestoft man, and if column inches were titles, Ogogo would be World Champion already. It might seem a bit far-fetched to say, but there is every chance that Ogogo could be one of Britain’s most popular sportsmen if his career takes off as he hopes. The Olympic bronze medalist has everything it takes to be a star, the looks, the personality, and the athletic ability.
If his amateur ability can transfer through to the professional games, then we could be looking at a superstar here. After encouraging kids to eat their greens at Subway, and encouraging women to have some private time after his appearance on Splash! it’s now time to get serious in the ring, and Kieron Gray will be his opponent in Sheffield.
Later on in the evening in front of tens of thousands of fans at the Estadio José Amalfitani stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina, WBC Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez (50-2-2) takes on England’s own Martin Murray (25-0-1). This is the first time Martinez will fight in his homeland since 2002, while it will be Murray’s second trip abroad in a world title challenge, after his draw against Felix Sturm in Germany back in 2011.
Martinez has fought five times against British opposition, winning all five, and knocked out Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker in America in 2011/12. With a rabid stadium crowd in Argentina, this will be an advantage for him. However, Martinez is now 38, and fighters can get old over night. While not known as a puncher, Murray has stopped four of his last five victims, and there could be a decent little bet at Murray stopping Martinez, as it’s unlikely he would get a decision out there. Murray by stoppage is around 7/1 in the betting.
Martinez though is the huge favourite, and quite rightly, considering his resume in comparison to Murray. Although I think Murray is a good fighter, I don’t think he’s quite as good as the likes of Matthew Macklin, and especially Darren Barker. Martinez has guaranteed to knock out Murray within eight rounds, and my prediction is that he does stop Murray, with odds of around 8/13 available if you fancy that as well.
My predictions for week one:
Amir Khan to KO/TKO Julio Diaz
Deontay Wilder to KO/TKO Audley Harrison
Terry Flannigan to beat Nate Campbell on points
Rick Godding to beat Bradley Pryce on points
Sergio Martinez to KO/TKO Martin Murray
A tenner on my Khan/Wilder/Martinez treble on Paddy Power will bring back around £70.
Saturday night should be a fantastic night of boxing, and all the action can be found on Boxnation, channel 437 on Sky. I get the best odds aggregated from Oddschecker, remember to bet sensibly.