It’s going to be hard to match the drama of last weekend but if anyone can do it, the world’s pound-for-pound best boxer can.
Three-weight world champion Vasyl Lomachenko is attempting to unify the lightweight division by relieving Jose Pedraza of his strap in New York this Saturday, while British-Ghanaian super bantam boss Isaac Dogboe defends his belt on the same bill.
In Sheffield, Kell Brook will look to show his class against Australian stepping-stone opponent Michael Zerafa, Ireland’s Jono Carroll faces European challenger Guillaume Frenois, and Britain’s rising star Josh Kelly shoots for world level with a win over David Avanesyan.
Having a style similar to Lomachenko is always a compliment but it might not be an advantage for Pedraza come Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. The Puerto Rican recently picked up a version of the 135lb crown but he’s a huge 12/1 underdog against the two-time Olympic gold medallist from Ukraine.
The world has written off Pedraza because he’s good but not great – ‘The Sniper’ is a two weight titleholder but he hasn’t won by KO in eight fights, and he was iced in seven rounds by Floyd Mayweather’s protégé Gervonta Davis in January 2017.
On the other hand, Lomachenko has knocked-out all of his last eight opponents and in his last contest he stopped fellow three-weight world champ Jorge Linares in the 10th session. The one man some people think can halt Loma’s run is Mikey Garcia, but he’s currently busy battling 147-pounders.
One loss against a hammer-fisted elite fighter isn’t conclusive evidence Pedraza can’t compete at the very top level but, barring an injury, ‘Hi-Tech’ should take control of this contest in the middle rounds. Pedraza is gritty and the bigger man, but I don’t think that will be enough for him to hear the final bell.
Bet of the bout: Lomachenko to win in rounds 9-12 at 12/5
Forget Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Tony Bellew, Britain’s most exciting fighter is 122lb dynamo Isaac Dogboe. The Londoner became champion in April when he recovered from being sat down in the first round to force an 11th round KO victory against American Jessie Magdaleno in Philadelphia.
Dogboe’s life journey is a movie waiting to happen. Long story short: he was born into royalty in Ghana, raised in London, competed in the 2012 Olympics, travelled the world as a pro and has never been bettered in the paid code. And he’s all-action inside the squared circle.
The opponent this weekend is the once-beaten Navarrette. The 23-year-old Mexican has never competed outside of his home country, but since that defeat as a 17-year-old he’s won 20 on the bounce, 17 inside the distance.
This is a bout between two young, aggressive boxers and I will be disappointed if this isn’t a proper shootout from the first bell. Navarrette will be the much taller man, and his record shows he clearly has power, but I think he’ll be caught by the compact, quicker and classier man.
Bet of the bout: Dogboe to win in rounds 1-6
While Lomachenko and Dogboe should move on to blockbuster bouts in 2019, Kell Brook looks like he’s going to miss out on his mega-fight with Amir Khan again. At least ‘The Special One’ has a dance partner for this weekend’s final comeback contest.
After back-to-back losses against pound-for-pound stars Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence, Kell returned to the ring in March to record a second-round knockout win over former European ‘numero uno’ Sergey Rabchenko.
This Saturday’s opponent, Zerafa, is a similar standard but brings additional size and youth. The ex-Commonwealth champ has been beaten twice and stopped once, and Brook will be too sharp for the Aussie. The Brit is in a hurry to get back to the big time, so bet on Brook to close the show early.
Bet of the bout: Brook to win in rounds 4-6 at 23/10
Nobody expected Jono Carroll to win a European bauble in his boxing career – except maybe the man himself – but the Dubliner achieved that last year and now he’s fighting his way to world level. In the opposite corner this weekend is French 47-fight veteran Frenois, but Carroll starts as a 3/10 favourite.
The 2014 lightweight Prizefighter champ has a perfect record and he’s recorded KO wins in his last two bouts. I expect Carroll to control the action with his pressure on Saturday, but against an athletic, experienced competitor he might be in for a long night – back Carroll to win on points.
Fight of the night in Sheffield is likely to be Kelly versus Avanesyan – either the young Geordie will announce himself as a genuine contender after only nine pro outings or he’ll be given a torrid time by a hardened nine year professional who almost snatched a world title in 2017.
Avanesyan isn’t the biggest welterweight and his KO ratio is well under 50 percent, so he’s the right step up for Kelly at this point. I think the super slick former Team GB Olympian will thrive against a front-foot opponent and I will be getting my money on Kelly to win in rounds 6-10.