Saturday is a great night for fight sports, but this is only the first weekend in an epic run of fist-to-face action that will stretch all the way to Christmas.
The bouts to get our bankroll beefed-up are Amir Khan’s second comeback contest which sees the star clash with Canadian-Colombian tough guy Samuel Vargas.
Stateside there’s also the world championship war between former champions Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter.
Khan v Vargas – Bet Now
Let’s be honest, Khan would be in danger of getting ironed out by his local dry cleaner, so even though Vargas isn’t the biggest name in the division this bout could easily end up being upset of the night.
In April Khan returned to the ring for the first time two years and iced Phil Lo Greco, considered to be only slightly worse than Vargas, in 39 seconds. The 31-year-old Brit who won Olympic Silver 14 years ago still has all his speed and accuracy.
Vargas is a rangy, but unspectacular welterweight and his record of one KO win in his last eight fights suggests he’s been invited to Arena Birmingham this Saturday to give Khan some rounds without posing too much danger.
The 12/1 underdog has only lost twice in his last 17 bouts and defeats to Danny Garcia and Errol Spence are nothing to be ashamed of; I’m sure Khan would agree. Against both of those opponents Vargas was stopped on his feet and for Spence he turned up on short notice.
If Khan was distracted by bouts with Manny Pacquiao or Kell Brook then the Latino might have a chance of springing an ambush, but Khan’s sounded like an enthusiastic beginner during his media obligations and his new coach is purring like a house cat over his charge’s progress.
‘King’ Khan will be too fast and land too easily for this to be a close contest. The former light welterweight champ has won seven times in the first round and inflicted numerous knock-downs and cuts in other opening sessions.
18/1 for Khan to win in round 1 is too good to pass up and it’s probably worth spraying some loose change on the #WhatOddsPaddy bets: Either Fighter to be Knocked Down in round 1 at 16/1; and Vargas to be knocked down in rounds 1-3 at 5/1.
The thick end of your wedge should be saved for a middle rounds stoppage though. I can see Vargas riding out a rough start but Khan beginning to tee-off by the fifth round.
Bet of the bout: Khan to win in rounds 5-8 at 21/10.
Jason Welborn was never supposed to win the British middleweight title in May having bobbed around the domestic scene for 13 years, but he got the decision in a fight of the year contender when Tommy Langford overlooked his Midlands rival.
Langford gets a chance to reclaim his crown this weekend and he returns as favourite, but at 4/5 he’s not a big front runner. The problem with Langford is that he was buckled by Welborn and he was knocked silly by Avtandil Khurtsidze – and it could happen again.
The fact that the rematch is happening is a sign that they both fancy it. Everybody expects Langford to try to use his skills to pick apart his opponent, but I can see another back-and-forth scrap, and this time I’m betting it won’t go the distance at 13/8.
Garcia v Porter – Bet Now
I probably shouldn’t say this, but I’m going between Garcia-to-win and Porter-to-win like a kid doing the bleep test. Garcia appears to have the slightly higher professional pedigree, having unified the 140lb division and also reigned as the welterweight champ, and the Philly fighter is 4/6 to take the title this Saturday.
Garcia’s counter-punching style means that he rarely dominates an opponent and many of his decision wins have been close. Against quality volume punchers like Lucas Matthysse and Lamont Peterson Garcia only won by 1 or 2 rounds each time.
The single man to best Danny ‘Swift’ in the squared circle was Keith Thurman in 2017 by split decision and the same fella edged Porter one year earlier. Both bouts could have been draws if one round in each fight was scored differently.
Ohio’s Porter suffered his only other defeat to Britain’s Kell Brook by mixed decision in 2014 and ‘Showtime’ Shawn has the hand and foot speed to run up a lead this weekend. However, as the bout progresses Garcia’s timing and power will come into play to make this a really close contest.
Both men are as tough as old boots and it’s likely to go the distance. The draw is unusually short at 16/1, but I’ll still have a dabble on it.
Thurman has picked Porter on points or Garcia by KO, and who am I to argue. If you fancy Garcia the best bet is for him to win in rounds 7-12 at 7/1. Personally, I like Porter on points because Garcia doesn’t have the size of Brook, while Porter is better than both Matthysse and Peterson, who pushed Garcia so hard.
Bet of the bout: Porter to win on points at 15/8.
* All odds correct at time of posting.