Save yourself the sweat and sunburn from going outside on the hottest day of the year and find a comfy seat in front of the big screen for Saturday’s sporting action.
Following the FA Cup final is world title boxing from Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane. Blades fan Kell Brook will be buzzing to make the fourth defence of his title on home turf against talented challenger Errol Spence.
Also featuring is George Groves latest attempt at global glory against Fedor Chudinov and Dave Allen’s tear-up with Lenroy Thomas for Commonwealth honours.
Brook, the welterweight world champion and warrior who jumped two weight divisions to take on boxing’s most feared opponent Gennady Golovkin, can’t even convince Paddy to make him favourite against first-time title challenger Spence. And at 8/13 Spence isn’t a slight favourite either.
The unbeaten American wunderkind was a top amateur and as a young pro he was good enough to be used as a sparring partner for Floyd Mayweather. It is fair to say that there’s truck-load of hype behind Spence, but he’s never been 12 rounds and his only fight outside of the US was in Canada.
The big question mark surrounding Brook is his weight. Always big for 147 pounds, the Yorkshireman competed at 160 pounds in his last bout and now he needs to get back down to the welterweight limit.
Even fewer fighters move down two weight divisions than move up two, and fewer still are successful.
Carbs are off the menu, but Brook’s got his plate full with Spence’s power. The southpaw has a KO ratio of 86 per cent and his last two wins have come inside six rounds against well-known contenders who had never stopped before.
— Rob Staton (@robstaton) May 25, 2017
The away fighter is aggressive, powerful and a great finisher, add to that he’s a lefty with a superior reach and you can see why he’s favourite. However, Brook has home advantage, razor-sharp counter-punching abilities and has never been dropped before, including in his fight against Golovkin.
It’s a close call between Britain’s ‘The Special One’ and the USA’s ‘The Truth’. The Bramall Lane crowd is in for a treat and I expect them to get the full 36 minutes of action.
Bet of the bout: Fight to go the distance – 11/10.
It feels like a recurring dream where Groves looks like he’s going to win a world title and then, for the London lad, it turns into a nightmare and he comes away with nothing. But this fight versus Chudinov is by far his best chance yet.
Beating Britsh super middleweight legend Carl Froch was always a huge ask and losing a paper-thin decision to the beast that is Badou Jack doesn’t look so terrible since James DeGale barely survived against him.
Chudinov doesn’t have the size of Froch or Jack, and he doesn’t have the power either. Groves’ weaknesses are that he can be hurt and he can gas, but in a fight he should be able to control with his superb jab – those issues shouldn’t factor.
Presser done for the day. Still lovely and sunny in Sheffield. Chudinov says he’s a little excited. Me too! pic.twitter.com/S4EY5LABlm
— George Groves (@StGeorgeGroves) May 25, 2017
The Londoner has plenty of power himself, memorably making Froch sit down in round one of their first battle, but he’s never stopped an opponent in his biggest fights and he’s only ever scored one KO after round six.
There isn’t value in backing either fighter to win by KO, but don’t completely discount Chudinov. There’s a lot of pressure on Groves to finally get a belt and set up the huge rematch with DeGale, and let’s be honest, we’ve seen ‘Saint George’ slip up before.
The Russian is a good boxer and a former champion, and he won’t stop pressuring the favourite. You can get Chudinov at a hefty 9/1 to win on points and that’s the bet for any Groves doubters, but I’m backing the Brit to take the crown via the judges scorecards.
Bet of the bout: Groves on points – 8/11.
Many consider Tyson Fury to be Britain’s most entertaining heavyweight outside of the ring but I think Dave Allen runs him close. The Doncaster man has a light-hearted outlook, but a serious plan for his boxing career, and phase one is winning the Commonwealth strap this Saturday.
Standing in Allen’s way is muscled Jamaican Thomas. Both boxers have records tarnished with a few defeats and for the winner this will be a first major title.
Allen edges Thomas in terms of power, youth and grit and the away fighter will have to demonstrate more boxing ability than he has ever done before to stand a chance of winning. 10/1 for a Thomas victory via decision is a reasonable outside punt but I expect Allen to get the stoppage by the middle rounds.
Bet of the bout: Allen in rounds 4-6 – 9/4.