This weekend Manny Pacquiao brings his big boxing show and a world title to Australia to take on home favourite and big underdog Jeff Horn.
Michael Conlan has another chance to show off his supreme skills on the undercard against Jarrett Owen, while in London Frank Buglioni makes the first defence of his British title against Ricky Summers.
The two greatest boxers of a generation are nearly done. Floyd Mayweather is scheduled for an exhibition against Conor McGregor and Pacquiao is taking inspiration from ageing rock bands and signing off with a swansong world tour.
However, like the Foo Fighters at Glastonbury last Saturday, the Filipino phenom has still got it. In Pacquiao’s two 2016 fights he outclassed two world class operators and he even knocked both opponents down.
When the fight with Horn was first mooted Pacman said he didn’t know who the Australian welterweight was (meaning I wasn’t the only one), but the fight got made and Brisbane becomes the first stop on the world tour.
‘The Hornet’ is fast and furious, and he has a big height advantage over the champ. He’s also fighting on home turf and is nine years younger than the Senator of the Philippines, but that will all count for nothing against the future Hall of Famer.
Pacquiao hasn’t scored a KO win since 2009 and it’s fair to say he doesn’t have one-punch power at this weight and at his age. But all of those fights were against the creme de la boxing, while Horn has been knocked down by two mediocre opponents previously.
The Filipino fighter is a reasonable 80/1 to win in 60 seconds and he’s nailed on to knock down Horn, which Paddy has priced charitably at 1/2. Pacquiao is beginning his world tour and I expect him to start with a classic hit.
Bet of the bout: Pacquiao to win by KO – 5/4
Conlan is supporting on the Pacquiao show but he’s on his own brand building mission.
The trip Down Under is also good experience for the prodigious super bantamweight prospect, but anything he’s learns will come before the first bell.
The Ulsterman has been pitted against Owen, an Australian journeyman who loses and draws to other journeymen.
Owen has been stopped three times in his unremarkable career, each time before the end of round four.
This bout is destined to finish early and I believe Conlan can do better than the two round three victories he’s notched up in his short career so far.
Bet of the bout: Conlan to win by KO – 1/8
The British light heavyweight title was awarded to Buglioni after his epic 12th round stoppage of Hosea Burton last December and now he has the seemingly simpler task of defending the belt against the untested Summers.
The challenger hasn’t got a decent name on his record and it’s hard to argue he deserves the shot, but he has shown a decent jab and good technique in his cakewalk-career so far.
Buglioni, on the other hand, has laid himself bare in the ring in his 22 fight career. The Londoner has been British and European champion, he’s challenged for a version of the world title, he’s lost twice and he’s been stopped once.
Summers doesn’t have the power trouble Buglioni, however the attacking skill-set of the champ can cause almost any opponent problems. If Summers has the grit to punch it out with Buglioni it could be a close fight and you can get long odds on a new champion being crowned by the judges.
The most likely outcome is that this is step too far too soon for Summers and Buglioni can finish the fight like he has in 15 of his 19 wins, inside the distance.
Bet of the bout: Buglioni to win in Rounds 4-6 – 4/1
The Buglion-Summers undercard is packed with young, unbeaten talent, but the pick of the bunch are 2016 Olympians Joshua Buatsi and Lawrence Okolie.
Bronze medallist Buatsi is making his debut, while Okolie is entering his fourth contest after three stunning round 1 stoppage wins.
Both the former Team GB fighters are exciting and aggressive and should be backed to win by KO early doors.