After a couple of dullish Anthony Joshua fights there’s less hype than usual but Watford’s world champion can get bang back in form against Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin on his home turf of Wembley Stadium.
The main event is supported by Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell’s shot at redemption against muscle-bound brawler Yvan Mendy, while East London’s biggest prospect Lawrence Okolie steps up to major title level to meet Matty Askin.
Expect another roller coaster rumble when big David Price takes on Sergey Kuzmin.
Joshua v Povetkin
In a twist on Rocky IV, AJ is the good guy and absolute specimen who’s a huge favourite to win, while Povetkin is the allegedly juiced-up Russian with only a puncher’s chance. Paddy prices up a Povetkin win at a hefty 15/2.
You could argue that those odds are generous for a hardened ex-Olympic champion whose only defeat came on points against the legendary heavyweight Wladimir Klitschko at the peak of his powers.
Povetkin carries a detonator in both hands and his stocky 6’2” frame means that he’ll be swinging in bombs from angles Joshua isn’t used to. If AJ’s recent performances have been poor because he’s gun shy after the Klitschko war then we should be backing Povetkin to win in rounds 4-6 at 20/1.
But counting against the Siberian is his own recent record.
Whether it’s because he turned 39 this year or because he’s had to back off the ‘roids since his second failed drug test in 2016, Povetkin has produced three underwhelming performances on the spin.
I think Joshua deserves a reprieve for his fights since Wlad: Carlos Takam was a late replacement and stubborn competitor, while AJ chose to jab Joseph Parker’s head off. The 28-year-old Brit wants to bring back knockout dramatics and he’s still improving on his already incredible skill set.
Povetkin was dropped four times his fight against Klitschko and once against Price earlier this year, and he was potentially saved by the bell in both contests. AJ won’t let this senior citizen off the hook and he can finish the contest in the early sessions.
Bet of the bout: Joshua to win in rounds 1-6 at 6/4
Campbell v Mendy
Back in 2015 a fresh-faced and unbeaten Campbell was chased around the ring for 12 rounds by an unknown French bloke named Mendy, and against all odds the heavily hyped Humbersider lost. Campbell says he wasn’t “right” for that fight and this Saturday he’s got a chance to settle the score.
Mendy has won seven out of seven since that original contest but money talks in boxing, and in 2017 it was ‘Cool Hand’ Luke who got the shot at the lightweight crown. Campbell pushed the elite Jorge Linares all the way but came up just short again.
In both of those defeats Campbell had to dust off his backside, even though neither opponent is known for their power. Mendy is a tasty 3/1 underdog for this bout but I think the 10/1 for an away stoppage win is an even juicier punt.
This fight is a tight call between Mendy’s energy and strength versus Campbell’s footwork and hand speed. The Brit’s trainer Shane McGuigan has been around Mendy’s sparring in the past but I am not convinced he’s worked with Campbell long enough to put it into a winning game plan.
Bet of the bout: fight to end in a draw at 22/1
Askin v Okolie
I am sure the British title doesn’t mean much around the globe but with the strength of boxing in the UK winning one normally puts you at fringe world level. British cruiserweight champ Askin has competed at that level before and he’s ready to try his hand again.
Which is why fighting nine bout novice and unbeaten 2016 Olympian Okolie is a big surprise and an even bigger risk. The popular Londoner has a knack of getting the fights he wants – this year he’s already dismantled local rival Isaac Chamberlain and destroyed Commonwealth champ Luke Watkins.
Okolie is progressing rapidly but the experienced Askin is a significant step up. The Northerner should be able to frustrate his lanky challenger for a while but Askin’s natural game is to stand right in the range Okolie wants him. You can back a victory for Okolie in rounds 5-8 at 3/1
When a couple of the undercard fighters dropped out ‘Fast’ Eddie Hearn had to pull out an ace. Price was supposed to be boxing in Belfast in a couple of weeks time but he rerouted when he heard about the chance to feature on a pay-per-view card at Wembley Stadium.
The kicker is that Price has to battle a bulldozing Russian who he’ll get no credit for stretching out. The Scouser is always dangerous in the early rounds and I am very tempted by the 11/1 for Price to win in rounds 3-4.
If ‘Pricey’ can’t finish the job then I think Kuzmin’s pressure will tell. After four rounds Price tends to wilt like a six foot eight daisy and he’s been stopped five times in his career. I will be backing Kuzmin to win in rounds 5-6 at 11/2.