Whether you’re doing dry January, Veganuary or you’re just sick of the cold and dark, treat yourself to a late night of boxing and a dabble on the outcomes this Saturday.
Burgeoning boxing megastar Errol Spence seeks to destroy former champ Lamont Peterson, Robert Easter defends his belt against the mercurial Javier Fortuna, Marcus Browne and Francy Ntetu face off for a top contender spot and Adam Kownacki and Iago Kiladze collide a heavyweight showdown.
The next superstars of boxing, Vasyl Lomachenko, Terence Crawford and Mikey Garcia, all share the commendable attitude to want to fight the best opponents and Spence, while not quite at that elite level yet, has that mindset.
Before Spence even got his title shot he battered a former title-holder and rattled through a host of top contenders. Now he’s top of the bill in New York but he faces a hardened pro who unified the light welterweight division against Amir Khan.
Peterson always comes in great condition and it’s his strength endurance and pressure that have won him titles. You might think that 10/1 for the challenger to win represents value – so did I at first.
The first and biggest issue with the fighter from Capitol Hill is that he starts slowly and he’s been dropped before the end of round three in four fights.
It’s safe to say that Peterson wears his hefty beard better than he wears a punch in the early going.
Then consider that Peterson turns 34 a few days after the contest, that he’s only had one contest in over two years and that his power could be called moderate at best. But the real kicker is that Peterson, despite his vast experience, has only fought as a fully fledged welterweight once.
I could go on and on about the qualities of Texan titleholder Spence but it’s easier just to say that he outclassed the world-class Kell Brook in every aspect when he won the belt.
Khan let Peterson back into their fight after flooring the American in round 1 but the big punching Lucas Matthysse finished Peterson in just three rounds the following year.
Having knocked out 19 of his 22 opponents Spence is not in the business of letting boxers off the hook. The welterweight champ is 2/5 to win by KO but I think he can get his hand raised within six rounds.
Bet of the bout: Spence to win in rounds 1-6 at 9/5.
The lightweight division is stacked with talent and there are four legitimate champions but the name no one mentions is Robert Easter Jr. The 26 year old beanpole from Ohio is not a huge money spinner but his combination of reach, power and skill also make him an avoided champion.
Easter is defending his version of the crown for the third time this weekend but for Fortuna this is his first shot at a title since getting starched more than a year and a half ago. The Dominicano is short, southpaw and unorthodox, essentially the polar opposite of Easter.
The great long odds punt this weekend is that Fortuna catches Easter clean with one of his haymakers.
You can back the challenger at 9/1 to win by KO and a jaw-dropping 18/1 to finish it in rounds 1-6.
Assuming that doesn’t happen then Easter will almost certainly win. Fortuna is moving up in weight for his first genuine contest at 135 pounds and he’s got a record of getting chinned.
Bet of the bout: Easter in round 7-12 at 10/3.
There’s a lot belief in America that their boy Browne can ascend to the top of light heavyweight division but beating Ntetu won’t prove anything. The Congolese-Canadian is small, basic and a powder-puff puncher to boot.
There have been signs that Browne can gas and can be hurt, and you will be able to get an almighty price on Ntetu to win, but I can’t see an upset in this one. I am taking the shorter, but still meaty, odds on the home town fighter by decision.
One fight further down the New York card is the clash of the big men. Polish-American Kownacki achieved a stunning result by stopping former title challenger Artur Szpilka in four rounds in his last bout but anybody watching could see Szpilka was out of shape.
Kiladze is quick, slick but ultimately a blown-up, chinny cruiser. If he can dance around the Butterbean look-a-like then he can win this but if Kownacki catches Kiladze then it’s lights out and good night.