With the best of British and Irish boxing chasing the American dollar, on this side of the pond we are looking to the next generation of superstars.
The showcase at London’s Copper Box Arena this weekend features fresh-faced flyweight Charlie Edwards defending his world championship for the first time, the biggest prospect in GB boxing Joshua Buatsi moving up to domestic title level against Liam Conroy, and British cruiserweight belt-holder Lawrence Okolie versus Commonwealth king Wadi Camacho.
Also on Saturday in Leicester, Sam Bowen looks to get his first win as British champion when he faces Jordan McCorry, and Nathan Gorman is set to continue his fine form as a pro by beating heavyweight ‘OG’ Kevin Johnson.
Edwards v Moreno – Bet Now
As a boxer, weighing less than your average 13-year-old lad makes title shots easier to come by but getting paid much more difficult. Edwards came up short when he first fought for a flyweight strap in 2016 – just one year after turning pro – but last December he ripped the belt from nightmare Nicaraguan Cristofer Rosales.
The Londoner now wants to battle any of the bosses at 112 or 115 pounds, not least Birmingham’s Kal Yafai, but first he has to handle Spain’s Moreno. The tapas-sized Castellano has a padded record and he’s being served up to Edwards for the learning experience.
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It should be a case of the slick champion with pedigree putting it on the limited, single-shot throwing challenger. Moreno will be in shape though, and the fighters coming out of the resurgent Spanish boxing scene tend to be tough.
Paddy puts Edwards odds-on to win via the judges’ cards at 3/10, but I reckon he might be able to get the job done within the 12 round distance. Yes, Moreno will be difficult to hurt, but he’ll be so out of his depth that wave after wave of attack could down the visitor.
Bet of the bout: Edwards by KO at 11/4.
Buatsi v Conroy – Bet Now
Even though Edwards is world champ and Okolie has some big wins over British rivals, the man everybody wants to see is Buatsi. The 2016 Olympic bronze medallist has only been in nine pro bouts, but he’s already poised to fill the gap in the UK left by AJ’s move to America.
Conroy is a solid enough domestic level boxer, but he’s been installed as a massive 14/1 underdog – revealing that most people think winning the British title is a mere formality for Buatsi. Obviously, the four-year unbeaten Conroy believes he can win, but that might play into Buatsi’s fists.
Any boxer planning to be on the front foot against the light heavyweight prospect better have a granite chin and hands of stone, or super slick defensive skills – Conroy has a KO ratio of only 40% and he’s been ironed-out in three fights.
Buatsi will live up to the hype and put Conroy to sleep early in the night.
Bet of the bout: Buatsi in rounds 1-3 at 17/10.
Okolie v Camacho – Bet Now
Boxing needs good guys and bad guys, and Okolie is fast-tracking himself to the role of the heel.
He’s talented but some of his fights will be stinkers, and he has no shame in talking himself up and calling out other people. ‘The Sauce’ won’t be remembered for a win over Camacho, but it all adds to the legacy. Okolie is another big odds-on favourite, as Camacho has lost to several other domestic level rivals, but the Barcelona-born Brit won the Commonwealth strap in his last bout and his veteran years might be his best.
I expect there will be a clash of styles while Okolie measures his distance and Camacho works craftily on the outside, but it won’t take too long for the Hackney man to find the target.
‘Machoman’ has been stopped four times in his career and I’m backing Okolie to notch another one up.
Bet of the bout: Okolie in rounds 1-4 at 15/8.
Up in the East Midlands, British super-featherweight boss Bowen will have too much for late replacement McCorry. Bowen is a bully in the ring and he has stopped nine of his last 10 opponents. Back Bowen to win in rounds 5-8.
22-year-old Gorman is stepping up through the levels and this weekend he faces old warhorse Kevin Johnson. The 39-year-old American has been in with the who’s who of heavyweight boxing and you would be wise to get behind Gorman to win on points.
* All prices correct at time of posting