The biggest night of British boxing this summer takes place on Saturday night, so we’re rattling through the best bets on the hefty bill in London.
Boxing emperor Vasyl Lomachenko can unify the lightweight division by beating Hull’s Olympic champ Luke Campbell, Charlie Edwards will have to grind to keep hold of his belt against Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar, Alexander Povetkin and Hughie Fury clash for a place in the heavyweight top ten, while Joshua Buatsi and Joe Cordina can both move closer to world titles with impressive wins.
There’s even more action on the early undercard and a couple of contests from across the globe as well, so let’s get cracking.
Campbell has already come up short twice in his pro career, so his hopes of beating the pound-for-pound best fighter on the planet are slim. Lomachenko is just 1/20 to retain his two lightweight straps and add the vacant green and gold belt to his collection at the O2 on the river Thames.
The Ukrainian maestro has only contested 14 professional bouts, but he’s already collected titles in three weight classes to add to the two Olympic gold medals on his mantelpiece. If Loma is successful this weekend and then obtains the one remaining 135lb belt later this year, he might happily retire as the undisputed lightweight king.
The transition from amateur champ to pro titleholder hasn’t been as simple for Campbell. Since topping the podium in 2012, the Brit suffered an upset loss in 2015 and then two years ago he dropped a razor thin decision in his first swipe at the championship.
The tactics from Campbell will surely be to keep range and use his height and reach advantages – which means, if the home fighter can execute his game plan, the opening few sessions will be closer to a chess match than a slugfest.
Loma was even on the judges’ cards with Jorge Linares when he managed to force the stoppage in their classic last year, while Campbell only lost to Linares by the single point he was deducted for getting floored early in the bout. There’s not a million miles between these two Olympic southpaws and Campbell to win on points at 18/1 is too big to ignore.
The big red flags on Campbell’s record are the three times he’s hit the deck in the early going.
Hull’s finest has never been stopped, but he’ll be vulnerable if he has to play catch up to his illustrious opponent. Lomachenko has knocked out nine of his last 10 challengers and I see it going the same way on Saturday.
Edwards may have just started believing his own hype, and if he has then it could be a torrid night against Mexican roughhouse Aguilar. This contest is the second defence of the flyweight title the South Londoner won at the end of last year.
In December, Nicaraguan Cristofer Rosales brought his belt to the English Capital but Edwards negotiated his strength and size with expert skills. Aguilar probably isn’t as dangerous as Rosales but he’s already claimed the scalp of one super talented Brit, Andrew Selby.
Edwards has a KO ratio of just 38% and the obvious bet is on the Brit winning by decision at 8/13. I have a nagging feeling that Charlie is looking past ‘Rey’ and if you underestimate this 24-year-old Mexican he can end you with crunching shots to body or head.
Bet of the bout: Aguilar in rounds 7-12 at 13/2.
Let’s get this straight, Povetkin has still only ever lost to Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua in a 36 fight pro career – he might be 39 but he’s a genuine top ten heavyweight. This will be a huge test of how much Fury has improved, and it will reveal if he can go on to challenge for championships.
The Manchester heavyweight is still only 24 and his two defeats have come at the hands of former contenders Kubrat Pulev and Joseph Parker. The Russian has been dropped several times in his career but Fury doesn’t have the firepower to take out Povetkin.
Tyson Fury’s cousin shares his silky footwork and fast combinations but he can be too defensive, while 2004’s Olympic super heavyweight gold medallist has only scored one KO since 2016 – a draw is not out of the question but I think Povetkin’s workrate will sway the judges.
Bet of the bout: Povetkin on points or decision 13/10.
Sometimes there’s hype and sometimes there’s obvious world class talent, and Buatsi is a rare case of the latter. Most boxing pundits would be surprised if Buatsi didn’t win a world championship but his opponent this weekend is fighter more experienced in MMA than the ‘sweet science’.
Ford has solid record of 20-4, but those four losses all came in his last six bouts. When the Canadian hardman has stepped up to fringe world level operators at 168 pounds he’s been comfortably beaten – the 175lb Brit will be too big, too sharp and too good.
Bet of the bout: Buatsi in rounds 5-8 at 15/8.
JOE CORDINA V GAVIN GWYNNE, 18:00
Cordina might be only nine bouts into his career but he’s ready to move past British level. The Welsh wiz is rumoured to be lined up for a European title tilt, but while that’s in the oven he’s got a defence of his domestic lightweight belt on his plate.
Gwynne is a good match-up for Cordina because there’s the South Wales rivalry and some sparring history, but most of all because Gwynne isn’t a puncher and Joe will look good beating him up. I reckon Gav will try some rough stuff but Cordina can find the finish in before too long.
Bet of the bout: Cordina in rounds 4-6 at 3/1.
In the early fights look out for James Tennyson’s lightweight contest with Atif Shafiq (17:00). The 2/7 for the Northern Irishman to win is decent value but back him to take victory in the first few rounds to boost your odds. Savannah Marshall and Dalton Smith can also add quick wins to their burgeoning careers on Saturday.
Over in Minneapolis, Erislandy Lara and Ramon Alvarez dispute the 154lb world title (Sunday, 4:00). Alvarez might be Canelo’s older sibling but he didn’t get the same gifts as his flame-haired bro, and Lara can make light work of an opponent who’s been stopped early before. Back Lara in rounds 1-4 at 3/1.
On the other side of the globe, Jeff Horn and Michael Zerafa battle over a domestic grudge that should lead to a title shot in the near future (14:00). Horn is the better fighter and favourite because of it, but Zerafa is the bigger man and I like the 8/1 for him to win by KO.
*Prices correct at time of publishing