Vegas is the venue for three world title fights and one great acca
Two weeks ago James Degale put on a stunning show, lost a couple of teeth and won us a huge 25/1 bet. This week we’re looking for the same from Carl Frampton’s rematch with Leo Santa Cruz, the battle of the unbeaten between Dejan Zlaticanin and Mikey Garcia, and Josh Taylor’s bout with Alfonso Olvera.
In 2016 Frampton unified the super bantamweight division when he beat up British rival Scott Quigg, became a two-weight world champion when he out-boxed featherweight supremo Santa Cruz, and was declared the fighter of the year by The Ring magazine. Every boxer wants to take what he’s got and first in line is Santa Cruz for his rematch.
In the original contest Frampton was on the right side of some close Judges’ cards, and a repeat result is 6/4, but there are a few different factors for this fight in Vegas. Firstly, Santa Cruz’s father and coach was in the depths of a cancer battle during the build up to the last contest but this time he’s in the gym preparing his protégé.
It’s rumoured that Santa Cruz senior wants Leo to use his huge seven inch reach advantage more but doing so would mean slowing up his usual game. ‘El Terremoto’ is the best volume puncher in boxing at the moment – throwing and landing more punches per fight than any other championship boxer – and whatever tactics he uses early on he’ll end up going full throttle.
As for the man some people are already calling the best Irish boxer ever, it must be almost impossible to prepare with the same intensity after all the accolades of 2016. The Tiger’s Bay boy has admitted in the past he doesn’t love training and this fight will be decided by fine margins.
Frampton has promised a KO win and if he’s at his razor blade sharpest it could come late on. Santa Cruz won’t back down in the final rounds if he’s behind and an Irish win in rounds 7/12 is 11/2. Both men were wobbled the first time out and it’s 9/4 for Frampton to be knocked down and 15/8 for Santa Cruz to touch the canvas, and both are good bets.
If Frampton is only 1% below his best the opportunity will be there for the irrepressible Mexican-American to win on points at 11/4 – it’s a great bet and if you’re Irish think of it as an emotional hedge. A draw is only 18/1 so the best bet is the 8/15 for the fight to go the distance. It’s boring but this fight is already exciting enough.
The third fight for world honours is between lightweight champ Zlaticanin and former feather and super featherweight king Garcia. The man from Montenegro picked up the vacant title on his last outing but his highest profile win was a split decision victory over Scotland’s Ricky Burns in 2014.
The southpaw champ is a little man but a lot to handle. Built like a chest of drawers he’s quick and aggressive, and every hook he throws is intended to take his opponents head off. Garcia is from a boxing family and so well schooled he could get a first class honours degree in a boxing.
Garcia will surely have the edge in skills and he’s 4/9 to win, but now that he’s fighting up at lightweight he doesn’t look cut. Power is going to be key in this one – the American has knocked out 83% of his opponents, to Zlaticanin’s 68% – and a knock down is on the cards. Backing Garcia to win after being knocked down is an outstanding 7/1 but I’m backing the American on points at 2/1.
One other fight on the Las Vegas card is definitely worth a mention. Taylor is the former Olympian who has won seven fights as a pro, winning all seven by KO, and in his last fight, against former British champ and hardman Dave Ryan, he won the super lightweight commonwealth strap.
Trying to prevent it being eight from eight is Olvera, a tough Mexican with a record of pushing decent prospects all the way. Olvera has never been stopped but Taylor is just 1/7 to win by KO. The Scot isn’t a prospect, he’s the real deal already, and I’m backing him at 2/1 to win in rounds 1-3.
Gipon’s best bets
Frampton v Santa Cruz to go the distance 8/15
Garcia on Points 2/1
Taylor in Rounds 1-3 2/1