There’s a blizzard of boxing this weekend with a multitude of huge fights happening both sides of the Atlantic. Let me begin with those bouts going on in Blighty.
Two rival shows promoted by two feuding promoters provide the entertainment on Saturday night with Frank Warren’s offering in London finally taking place after a number of cancellations and Eddie Hearn putting on an extravaganza in Blackpool.
The former will be headlined by Nathan Cleverly, who has never really been given an opportunity to prove himself at world level having been handed the WBO light-heavyweight belt in 2011 after then-champion Juergen Braehmer vacated the title.
Since then the university graduate has been calling out every man and his dog in the division to no avail.
His opponent on Saturday, 3/1 shot Robin Krasniqi, is perhaps the gamest pugilist he has faced since he tackled Karo Murat at the back end of 2010 and the German-based fighter was supremely confident in the pre-fight press conference.
He’s the mandatory challenger for the Welshman’s title and certainly has some skills, but does he stand a chance? The answer is no.
The chatter from the gyms seems to suggest that Cleverly has been on fire in sparring, blowing out heavyweights, and on top of that, it’s unlikely that Warren is going to allow a judging panel to take away the one world title that remains in his stable.
From what I’ve seen of Krasniqi he’s a poor man’s Cleverly who has actually managed to fight even worse opponents and I see the champion coming through on points or even a late stoppage.
A price of 13/10 for a Cleverly points win is a safe bet (he’s a mere 11/50 in the 3Way market) and a cheeky little flutter on one of the later rounds for a Cleverly stoppage should also be considered with odds on offer ranging between 13/1 and 16/1.
Meanwhile, headlining in Blackpool is Brian Rose (3/10), who, for some unknown reason, is being touted as the next big thing by his handlers Matchroom.
Personally, I don’t see it. To me he looks a solid domestic fighter at best and even though opponent Joachim Alcine (11/4) was KO’d in spectacular fashion last time out by Matthew Macklin, it remains to be seen if Rose has the clout to mix it with a such a world-class operator.
Tony Bellew needed some questionable judging to scrape a draw in the last Matchroom show and I can see the home town boy needing all of that assistance and more in this one.
The only question mark over Alcine is whether he’s just come over for a payday and to ride the waltzers on the Blackpool strip.
However, he’s a former world champion at this weight (he fought Macklin up at middleweight and this bout is at light-middle) and packs a considerable punch, as well as being fairly slick.
With that in mind, I’d be tempted by a mid-rounds stoppage for the Canadian at crazy odds of 45/1 or a points win for the away fighter at an equally barmy 9/1.
Once fight fans are done with the action this side of the pond, they can focus on Tyson Fury (7/50) as he makes his American debut against Steve Cunningham (19/4).
The man who nicknames himself after a battleship normally operates at cruiserweight and has never had to deal with a man of the size of Fury.
Add to this the fact that Cunningham wasn’t the most heavy-handed fighter to begin with and it’s very difficult to see how Fury loses this one.
He isn’t flattering to deceive a la David Price and has already proven his chin, so I see a mid-fight stoppage for the motor-mouthed giant, with rounds six or seven – both at 10/1 – looking the best options.
Rounding out the night’s action is an absolute humdinger of a war as Austin Trout (47/25) takes on Mexican ginger sensation Saul Alvarez (9/20).
Many pundits over the drink believe the latter to be the next pound-for-pound great but I have to confess that I don’t share their optimism.
So far, ‘El Canelo’, as he’s affectionately known by his fans, has been fed handpicked opponents who were either too small to deal with him or who were over the hill.
Trout is neither of these. The well-spoken world champion came under the radar to defeat Miguel Cotto and he won’t be bullied or intimidated by the man across the ring.
For me this is a fight that Canelo got talked into by Trout after the American beat his older brother earlier in his career.
The only thing that could hold up Trout in this one is biased scoring and that’s the only reason that a bet is tough to choose, but I would still side with a points win for Trout at 3/1.
Get betting now and KO the bookies!