Hero or zero, that’s what confronts Luke Campbell and Hughie Fury on Saturday night when both men take their first shots at world title glory.
Campbell has to dethrone the imperious Jorge Linares if he wants the crown, while Fury faces unbeaten heavyweight champ Joseph Parker.
The first bell this weekend is tolled in Arizona in the early hours of Saturday morning when Michael Conlan takes on American Kenny Guzman. The Irishman is a special talent but he’s still in the fighting-through-fodder phase of his career at the moment.
Conlan has stopped all of his first three professional opponents in round three and you can expect another knock-out performance. The two-time Olympian will be short odds to win early but look for the odds on round 3 and 4.
The best fights are evenly matched, high quality and, most importantly, full of drama. Linares vs Campbell has the first two covered and, given that both men are a bit soft around the whiskers, it should have the latter in platefuls.
Serial Brit conqueror Linares, having beaten Kevin Mitchell once and Anthony Crolla twice, is a three-weight world champion and current lightweight head-honcho.
That’s all been achieved despite suffering three KO losses, the latest coming in 2012.
No GB boxer has done more in the amateur game than Campbell, including picking up 2012 Olympic gold, but the Humberside man has been vulnerable against the better, tougher opposition he has faced.
Campbell has been knocked down by two fringe world-level fighters, losing the first but turning around the second to win comfortably on points.
Linares has the power to make Campbell pay and it’s the reason the British southpaw is a 7/2 underdog. The Venezuelan is widely regarded as one of the most skilled boxers on the planet but a close inspection of his record reveals he’s never really beaten a top-level opponent.
Beating Crolla and Mitchell are good results but ‘Cool Hand Luke’ is a step up, and if Mitchell put Linares down and led him on points then an upset is possible.
With these two glass-jawed gunslingers it’s likely someone will be hurt by the middle rounds. The betting value is with Campbell and he can be backed at 20/1 to win in rounds 4-6. There’s no guarantee that if Campbell hurts Linares he’ll instantly ice him, so I’m sticking with the straight bet to win.
If you like your boxing bloody, and Golovkin-Canelo was a bit too tactical for you, then you will not want to watch Parker and Fury spend more time on their bikes than Chris Froome.
But that shouldn’t prevent you profiting from the bout.
Parker marks the second defence of his heavyweight crown by joining countless other Kiwis in their twenties and flying over to the UK for work.
While Hughie is looking to regain for the Fury family one of the titles that were dispersed when cousin Tyson got injured, then banned, then ate all the pies.
The public and possibly Team Parker are overlooking Hughie because he’s 23, he doesn’t bang and he’s not a 6’9” motor-mouth, but Paddy makes the British former youth amateur world champ only a slight 11/10 underdog and favourite if the fight goes the distance.
That effectively rules us out of betting on the slickster challenger, who won’t go looking for the KO and probably couldn’t stop Parker if he did. Parker should be the busier and more aggressive fighter on the night and that could be enough to get him the win.
We’ve never seen Fury’s chin get checked and Parker to win in rounds 7-12 at 4/1 is a good bet. In ugly, slow contests it’s always worth looking at the draw, which is 25/1, but the best value is for the champ to keep his belt via the judges cards.