Let’s face it, the Premier League is all wrapped up, but don’t despair because you can rely on boxing to provide the excitement this weekend.
On Saturday, there are three world title fights with “war” written all over them. Unified champ Jarrett Hurd is more than willing to take one shot to give one, and he faces fellow American scrapper Julian Williams in Virginia.
Across the country in Arizona, two world championship rematches look set to catch fire – Mexican rivals Miguel Berchelt and Francisco Vargas battle over the super featherweight crown, while Emanuel Navarrete and Isaac Dogboe are ready to repeat their 2018 classic.
Hurd v Williams – Bet Now
Since Canelo found a new home in the middleweight division Hurd has been the daddy in the super welterweight class. The slugger with the blonde curls has already seen off two leading contenders and the remaining superstar name at 154lbs, Erislandy Lara.
Shooting for the crown is once-beaten all-rounder Williams. The Philly fighter has great skills, solid experience and tip-top physical attributes, and his boxer-brawler style should gel beautifully with Hurd’s fearless fury.
There really is parity in boxing skills, but Williams is a massive 4/1 underdog – and I am still not tempted.
Hurd’s ability to boil his broad, 6’1” frame down to 11 stone is miraculous, and he is so much bigger and stronger than anyone in the division.
It seems like the weight drain makes ‘Swift’ a bit sluggish in the early sessions, but it has no impact on his engine – Hurd has stopped six of his last eight opponents in rounds 6-10, and of the other two: he battered Jason Welborn in four and dropped Lara in the 12th.
Williams’ weakness appears to be his punch resistance – the one time he stepped up to world level he was KO’d in five rounds. Don’t be surprised if Hurd takes some punishment in the early exchanges, but I expect him to overwhelm ‘J Rock’ around the fight’s midpoint.
Bet of the bout: Hurd in rounds 5-8 at 13/5.
Berchelt v Vargas – Bet Now
Mexicans have a long, bloody and glorious history of boxing rivalries, and Berchelt-Vargas is steeped in that tradition. The original 2017 epic was razor close after 10 rounds, but Berchelt’s onslaught in the 11th was enough to force the stoppage and take the super featherweight title.
Vargas only won the belt just over a year before in a see-saw contest with Takashi Miura and he made one defence via a draw with Orlando Salido. The battle-hardened Mexico City man bounced back from the defeat to Berchelt with a victory over Stephen Smith, almost ripping the Scouser’s ear clean off in the process.
The champ has churned out four impressive wins since taking the crown and he’s on a sizzling streak of 20 KOs from his last 21 wins. The only blemish on Berchelt record dates back to 2014 when ‘El Alacran’ was iced in round one by a journeyman.
Berchelt is hitting prime-time at 27 years of age while Vargas is a ring-worn 34, but making the younger man a 1/25 favourite is insane. ‘El Bandido’ is still a world class banger and it wouldn’t be the first time Berchelt has suffered an upset.
Bet of the bout: Vargas to win at 15/2.
Navarrete v Dogboe – Bet Now
Grand plans were being laid out for Dogboe at the end of 2018, but then the Brit ran in to Mexican giant Navarrete. The 12 round unanimous decision win landed Navarrete the super bantamweight belt and this lucrative rematch.
The first fight could be accurately described as a “tear-up”, but Dogboe wore the clean shots a lot worse than Navarrete, and by the end, the man who entered as champ was a swollen, bloody mess.
Both boxers could be better this time: Dogboe isn’t fitting in a training camp around a global press tour, and Navarrete has the experience and resources to improve his preparations. But, I think the fight plays out in exactly the same way.
If Dogboe is taking the same punishment as last time I don’t see him, or his corner, or the referee being quite so brave. The first encounter was a brutal 12 rounds, but this one could be cut mercifully short.
Bet of the bout: Navarrete by KO at 11/4.
* All odds correct at time of posting.