It’s the time of the year for a full blown American homecoming party, and the boxing world has two major ‘Stars and Stripes’ events this weekend.
Maurice Hooker is back in Texas for the first time as a champion but he’s being challenged by a king from across the state line, Jose Carlos Ramirez. Tevin Farmer had his homecoming in March, so this weekend he’s on the undercard in Arlington defending his title against France’s Guillaume Frenois.
Over on the east coast, Baltimore home-boy Gervonta Davis headlines his city this Saturday, giving Panama’s heavy-handed Ricardo Nunez a shot at his belt.
3AM SUNDAY, TEXAS
The super lightweight division currently has four separate champions but by Sunday morning that will be whittled down to just three. Hooker and Ramirez go at it to unify the WBC and WBO belts and put their undefeated records at risk as well.
‘Mighty Mo’ picked up his bauble in Britain last year when he defeated long reigning champ Terry Flanagan on his own patch. The Texan has made two defences already and he’s looking better with every bout – you could say he’s really seizing the moment.
In the opposite corner, Ramirez has paralleled Hooker’s rise.
The Californian fighter also won a belt last year and he has made two successful defences also. Ramirez hasn’t been quite as impressive recently but he still improving at age 26.
I expect a real humdinger but no decisive blow – Ramirez hasn’t scored a KO in three fights, while Hooker has only managed one early win in his last six.
Paddy is struggling the split these two and he’s being uncharitable by pricing the draw at just 16/1. ‘Mo’ has a big reach advantage, and cheered on by his home crowd I think he can take the decision victory.
1AM SUNDAY, TEXAS
Farmer has been harvesting Matchroom/DAZN’s stable of B-grade super featherweights for almost a year now and this weekend is no different. Frenois is priced at 13/1 to score an upset but he’ll have packed his will-to-win for his first bout outside of north-west Europe.
The boxing arithmetic for this fight goes like this: Frenois drew with Jono Carroll, and Farmer comfortably beat the Dublin man. So the American will beat the away fighter handily this Saturday. The referee could have saved Carroll in the pounding he took off Farmer and I’d back a gutsy Irishman over a fancy Frenchman to make the final bell any day.
Frenois has shown patience waiting for his title shot but at 36-years-old he has waited too long. The southpaw challenger doesn’t have the pop to deter Farmer and even though the champ has a paltry 17% KO ratio I believe he can get the KO win in Texas.
3AM SUNDAY, BALTIMORE
I could describe two young, big-punching super featherweights battling for a version of the world championship in Baltimore this Saturday, but it would be a lie – Davis is 1/14 to win by KO and that is a bet worth considering!
‘Tank’ is a special talent. Raised on the mean streets of Baltimore where the ‘The Wire’ was his life, the pint-sized puncher reached champion status by the age of 22. Davis has stopped 20 of his 21 opponents and the other guy survived two knockdowns to hear the final bell in a 2014 six rounder.
Panama’s Nunez is a banger but unproven at this level. There’s a tiny chance that Davis was indulging in the good life too much and had to crash the weight cut, and if the American hasn’t been fully focused in training camp then a small insurance bet on Nunez by KO at 22/1 could make sense.
But let’s get real, Davis will come through this and, fingers crossed, face-off against Farmer for a unification bout later in the year. How will Davis do it? In double quick time, adding to his 15 KOs in rounds 1-4.