The fighting front line is in Germany this weekend with Chris Eubank Jr taking on the ‘Turkish Tank’ Avni Yildirim in the World Boxing Super Series quarter finals.
In Manchester there’s a real battle of Britain between Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns, and on the undercard Sam Eggington defends his European crown against Mohamed Mimoune.
Eubank Jr v Yildirim
The World Boxing Super Series is an elimination competition where the best eight fighters on the planet compete for a world title and a pile of cash. At least that’s what the WBSS marketing department are saying and the second quarter final of the super middleweight edition has Eubank taking on Yildirim.
We won’t dwell on the facts that Eubank is a natural middleweight and Yildirim hasn’t beaten anybody of note because, well, it’s the quarters and it should be an absolute war. The odds on the Turk upsetting Brighton’s boxing royalty are 4/1 but I bet he gives it a good go.
Junior has looked as imperious at 168 pounds as he did at the lower limit but the power might not be the same. He blitzed the vastly over-matched Renold Quinlan and the ageing Arthur Abraham but struggled to really hurt either.
The sparring stories suggest that Yildirim is a game prospect but he’ll need power, not just pressure, to beat Eubank. With a career KO ratio of 63% garnered against level 1 opponents I don’t see how he can win.
The German-based bruiser is fitter than Abraham and bigger than Dmitrii Chudinov, but less skilled than both men, and Eubank barely conceded a round to either. Whether the Brit can win by KO is a question of how tough Yildirim is.
If it’s a stoppage victory for Junior it will surely come after round 6 like three of his last four KOs.
That bet can be taken at a price of 7/2 and is definitely worth a look. However, my money is going on Eubank to march his way into the WBSS semis with bloody decision win.
Crolla v Burns
You hear a lot of boxers say that their next fight is a must-win but we know most the time they come back for one, or 10, more scraps. But for Burns, 34, and maybe even Crolla, a more youthful 30, this really could be a final chance to get back to the big time.
In recent years both have been world champions and two of Britain’s biggest ticket sellers but now there are no titles and both are coming off losses. Crolla’s narrow defeats to Linares, his relative freshness and home advantage are why he’s a 4/11 favourite.
The Mancunian lightweight has lost two and drawn one of his last five contests but the record would look much worse if he hadn’t pulled out some uncharacteristic KOs in recent years.
In Crolla’s last four stoppage wins he was only ahead on the cards once. Burns has never been stopped and he doesn’t gas.
The weakness of the ‘Million Dollar’ man is that he doesn’t win many rounds from the back foot. While Burns’ recent losses have been at least partly a result of having his solid jab nullified by opponents with greater wingspan.
The men from opposite sides of Hadrian’s wall are well matched and the fans at Manchester Arena are in for a proper battle. A draw at 20/1 is the bet for the big risk-takers but if Burns is on form he has the reach, shots and energy to outscore Crolla.
Slightly earlier in the evening in Manchester Eggington is also looking for a victory to lift him to world level. The Brummie has only suffered one defeat in his last 14 contests and he’s still improving at just 23 years old.
In the opposite corner is French welterweight Mimoune, a tricky, quick southpaw with a staggeringly low KO ratio of 10%.
To keep Sam the Savage at bay you either need power or movement, so Mimoune had better have been working on his footwork.
The 2017 British young boxer of the year is decent value at 13/8 to win on points but I think you’re better off backing Eggington to win with a late stoppage.