What season is it? It’s boxing season – and it’s in full swing!
This Saturday night there’s a prize-fighting bonanza at London’s 02 arena, and headlining the event is the unification bout between unbeaten stars Regis Prograis from America and Scotland’s Josh Taylor.
The undercard is topped by Dereck Chisora’s heavyweight duel with David Price, and it also features the epic battle between former champs Lee Selby and Ricky Burns, and Lawrence Okolie’s quest to rip the European cruiserweight crown from Yves Ngabu.
There’s a lot up for grabs in this fight. The winner walks away with two of the four recognised super lightweight belts, the World Boxing Super Series trophy and bumper cheque, and a place in the pound-for-pound list. Prograis is the 4/6 favourite – but I can’t split them.
The New Orleans southpaw survived Hurricane Katrina and that tragedy refocused the teenager on boxing. Prograis has won all 24 of his contests – 20 inside the distance – and his best performance was probably his last, when busted up then-champion Kiryl Relikh in six rounds.
Not to be outdone, Taylor turned in a masterful performance when he won his title in May and his last three opponents have been a champion, an unbeaten prodigy and a former titleholder with only one defeat. And the horrible Scot knocked them all down at some point.
With neither fighter displaying any weaknesses you have to look at the 18/1 for the draw, but the best bet is on Taylor because Paddy thinks he’s the underdog.
The Prestonpans man is the bigger bloke and he’s also a southpaw – things which will make it harder for Prograis to land his usual flashy combos. And the American has had to leave the warm weather and home comforts of Louisiana to come and fight in dreary London.
Regis is a fast starter – but because of that he’s only been past eight rounds once. Taylor can handle Prograis’s power and he has the deeper experience and better engine. I think Josh will be pinging scoring shots past Prograis’s relaxed defence for the better part of the 12 rounds.
Bet of the bout: Taylor on points at 21/10.
“Ooh Dereck Chisora!” ‘Del Boy’ was set to fight Joe Parker but when the former heavyweight champ was forced to pull out, David Price stepped up – and this is a lot more exciting. Eight of Chisora’s last nine wins have come by KO, while ‘Pricey’ has a nuclear right hand but a chin made of millimetre-thick glass.
As always with Price, it all depends on his confidence. The big lad from Liverpool won his last bout impressively but he’s only had four weeks notice for this fight. All of Dave’s six stoppage defeats have come before the end of round 7 and Chisora is just 13/8 to win in rounds 1-6.
‘War’ Chisora has had his losses but in recent years he’s proved he’s on a level with world class operators Dillian Whyte and Kubrat Pulev. I think Dereck will be winging bombs over the top at his opponent from the first bell, and Price will be let down by his stamina or his confidence sooner rather than later.
Bet of the bout: Chisora in rounds 1-4 at 10/3.
These two British stalwarts are mates who have sparred in the past, but nobody even considered a them fighting because they were two weight divisions apart. But after losing his belt Selby made the move to lightweight and Burns couldn’t resist another domestic dust-up and the chance to get in title contention again.
Both boxer are still world level and they have prepared to bring their A-game. 36-year-old Burns is past his best and making 135 pounds must be tougher than ever, while Selby has enough left to make another run at the championship. Expect 12 gruelling rounds but neither man has the power to take the other out.
Bet of the bout: Selby on points at 10/11.
Since his debut in 2017, Okolie has boshed his way to British and Commonwealth titles and now he’s after the European belt. Ngabu recently moved to the famous Ingle gym in Sheffield, and distinguished teammate Billy Joe Saunders has been lauding up Belgium’s best cruiser-weight.
Ngabu is a short, stocky puncher but all that will be nullified by the much taller and longer Okolie. I can see it being a scrappy bout and the Londoner only has one KO win after round 4.
I am betting this goes the distance.
Bet of the bout: Okolie on points at 7/4.
*Prices correct at time of publishing but can slide