The SSE Hydro in Glasgow is hosting the firefight between world champion Ryan Burnett and the legendary Nonito Donaire for the last bantamweight semi-final spot, while unbeaten trailblazers Josh Taylor and Ryan Martin do battle to become one of the final four in the super lightweight competition.
The hottest division in the WBSS is undoubtedly the bantamweight class. Three seeds from three are through but the top seed, Belfast’s Burnett, has the hardest challenge of the quarter finals.
The pocket-sized plugger has already been a unified champion and this is his fourth title fight despite being only 26 years old. But that experience pales in insignificance to the 18 year pro career of Donaire.
The Philippines’ second favourite boxing son is a four-weight world champ and was 2012’s fighter of the year. The reason Donaire is a chunky 11/2 underdog is because he’s shedding more than half a stone since his last contest six months ago and he hasn’t made the 8st 6lb limit since 2011.
In recent years as a featherweight, ‘The Filipino Flash’ suffered his only career stoppage to the powerful Nicholas Walters, he won a world title and, in his last bout, he visited the Northern Irish capital where he was outclassed by Carl Frampton.
Donaire will be a massive puncher back down at bantamweight. Burnett has incredible reflexes and often fights with his hand down, but a banger like Donaire can switch your lights off in a fraction of a second. 25/1 for him to win in rounds 1-6 is well worth a dabble.
There are serious concerns that Donaire will not make the weight and English former champion Paul Butler has already been lined up as the replacement. If the 35-year-old Filipino does make it to the ring on Saturday he’ll be dry to the bone like my Mam’s roast turkey.
Burnett will be too fast, too relentless and, if he works the body, he could force a surprising late stoppage.
Bet of the bout: Burnett to win in rounds 10-12 at 6/1
In the super lightweight tournament, second seed and Scotsman Josh Taylor meets American Ryan Martin in a bout that pairs up two talented, young and unbeaten contenders.
Taylor’s lofty ranking is due to his high KO ratio and his impressive shut-out of former 140lb boss Viktor Postol in his last contest. Other than that name, Taylor hasn’t faced a world class opponent and Martin’s record is equally sparse.
The Ohio man is tall, broad and he throws stinging straights with both hands, and he was already a successful amateur by the age of 20 when he turned pro. Martin is a big underdog with Paddy but if he keeps the fight at a distance he has a great chance of making good on the 9/1 for a points victory.
If that’s the pro column for ‘Blue Chip’ then his cons are a lack of proper power, a mediocre work rate and a habit of getting docked points. Taylor was a top amateur as well and has lots of quality on the outside, but he also has variety to his game, power and grit.
Postol was good preparation for ‘The Tartan Tornado’ for this encounter and while that one went the distance, I can see this one ending early. Martin has been floored before and he’s been frustrated in several scraps – Taylor can make his challenger buckle in front of his home fans.
The best of the early action is the super middleweight exchange between Zach Parker and Darryll Williams for the British title. Both Englishmen are unbeaten but fairly untested, and the only stand-out performance on either man’s record is Parker’s one round destruction of former Commonwealth champ Luke Blackledge.
Derbyshire’s Parker will have a huge size advantage on Saturday and the slick switch-hitter is a big odds-on favourite with Paddy. ‘Ferocious’ Williams will try to close the space and make it a phone-box fight.
This dust-up is coming at the right time for the 24 year old Parker and I expect him to show his class against his South London opponent. Williams has heart and grit but I am backing Parker to take the Lonsdale belt with a win in rounds 7-12.
*All odds correct at time of posting