New York is a great city to visit in the run-up to Christmas if you like big crowds, shopping and seasonal tat – but this weekend it’s also the place to be for boxing fans.
The stacked card at The Garden includes three championship contests: Stockbridge’s world titleholder Rocky Fielding is up against boxing megastar Canelo Alvarez, Katie Taylor can add to her legacy with a win against fellow champ Eva Wahlstrom, and American showboater Tevin Farmer gives Francisco Fonseca a shot at his crown.
Elsewhere, former heavyweight king Joseph Parker starts his journey back to the top against American Alexander Flores in New Zealand, and in Essex, big British prospect Daniel Dubois takes on Razvan Cojanu.
FIELDING v ALVAREZ
Eddie Hearn has pulled off some big bouts for some fairly unknown Brits this year, but Fielding versus Canelo is right up there with the most unexpected. ‘Rocky from Stocky’ might not be a household name but he does have a title and, at the very least, a massive height advantage against his illustrious foe.
The super middleweight supremo won his bauble on foreign soil after battering inexperienced German starlet Tyron Zeuge in July. Fielding’s only other foray to world level was in 2015 when he faced city rival Callum Smith, but Rocky was caramelised in 165 seconds that time.
In the previous few years Fielding has managed split decision wins against fringe contender John Ryder and continental gatekeeper Christopher Rebrasse, alongside a sprinkling of victories over Eastern European journeymen. In the last 15 months, Alvarez has beaten and drawn with Gennady Golovkin – a beast from the East of a completely different breed.
Not content with reigning over the middle and super welter divisions, Canelo has seen a chance to become a three-weight champ.
It’s a big move for a guy who’s 5’8” and weighed a stone lighter just two years ago, but the flame-haired Mexican has bettered taller and harder-hitting opponents than Fielding in the past.
Rock’s been dropped twice early: once was against Smith and the other time, against Rebrasse, he managed to eventually rescue the fight. If he loses composure like he did in those scraps against Canelo there’s a high probability that the 7/2 for Alvarez to win in rounds 1-3 is coming in.
The Liverpudlian’s only chance is that he’s being overlooked, and there’s a good chance he is. Canelo has signed the biggest financial package in all of sports and, crucially, he’s got a new missus. This fight means everything to Fielding and I think he will hear the final bell.
Bet of the bout: Alvarez to win on points at 10/3
TAYLOR v WAHLSTROM
Maybe it’s taken a bit longer than we would have liked, but 11-fight pro Katie Taylor is finally facing an elite opponent. The Irishwoman became the unified lightweight champ after only nine paid contests and this weekend she meets the challenge of unbeaten super featherweight boss Wahlstrom.
The Finn is rightfully an underdog – she’s 38, she’s never competed outside of her homeland, she’s moving up a division and she’s got a measly 13% KO ratio – but 10/1 is a crazy price. Put your emotion to one side and seriously consider backing Wahlstrom to win on points.
10 two-minute rounds is not a lot of time to put anyone away, let alone a champion, and the most likely result is for Taylor to win by decision. But, for me, the odds on the draw are just too good to ignore.
Bet of the bout: Draw at 25/1
FARMER v FONSECA
They say keeping your feet on the ground can be tough when you’re the champ and I am a bit concerned Tevin Farmer has started floating off towards the clouds. The lightweight titleholder has been getting ‘philosophical’ about money (in the Floyd Mayweather sense) instead of focusing on his Costa Rican banana skin of an opponent.
The trouble with Farmer is, he’s not as good as he thinks he is. The Philly fighter is slick but he’s only stopped six of 32 opponents, he’s yet to beat a world class boxer and he lost four times early in his career. Fonseca is tough, long and has some power – I’m backing the challenger to take the title.
Joseph Parker – the former heavyweight champ with losses to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte – makes his come back in Christchurch on Saturday. In the opposite corner, Flores, is a man with 17 wins and only one defeat, but on closer inspection he’s had just three fights in the last four years, and they were all in bars in Tijuana! The bet is Parker to win inside four rounds.
Daniel Dubois was taken the distance for the first in his last bout but I expect him to have an early night this weekend. This is a good fight for the Londoner because Cojanu has a bit of pedigree, but when the heat is turned up he wilts. My money is on Dubois in rounds 1-5.