Boxing belongs to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez now and we just pay our money, tune in and marvel at the stocky ginger maestro.
This weekend Canelo moves up more than a stone in weight to face light heavyweight head honcho Sergey Kovalev under the bright lights of Las Vegas.
In Manchester, Anthony Crolla has the swansong fight of his superb career, and Katie Taylor attempts to win a title in a new division after dominating lightweight. While in California, the bout to look out for is Miguel Berchelt’s defence of his world title against Jason Sosa.
PaddyPower.com’s boxing odds are a knockout
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez v Sergey Kovalev, Sunday, 5am
Canelo is daring to be great – he’s gone from being the super welterweight king three years ago to challenging the most infamous light heavyweight champ on the planet this Saturday – a weight change of more than 20 pounds!
Kovalev has the belt and record to suggest this is a big ask for the diminutive Mexican, but the Russian is a 10/3 outsider.
When the pair met at a press conference a few weeks ago they acted like best pals – all fist bumps and selfies – and the biggest pay day of Kovalev’s career may have chilled out the menacing slugger.
Or it might be his age – the Soviet veteran turned 36 in April and he first fought for a world title in 2013.
Canelo is in a position where he can pick and choose his opponents – he waited until Gennady Golovkin was 35 before he took his first shot at the monstrous Kazakh, and Alvarez believes now is the right time to pick off Kovalev.
The fight might start off tactical – with Kovalev trying to use his massive reach advantage and Canelo cautious of the older man’s power – but I think Guadalajara’s superstar will want to get on the inside and attack the body.
Sergey has been stopped twice before and both times body-work was a huge factor. If Canelo can take GGG’s power then his chin can hold up against anybody except possibly the heavyweights.
Kovalev is a bully in the ring and he has quit before when the going’s got tough. I think ‘Krusher’ has gone soft and Canelo can get him out of there in the middle rounds.
Bet of the bout: Alvarez in rounds 5-8 at 5/1.
Anthony Crolla v Frank Urquiaga, Saturday, 10:30pm
Crolla has had a rollercoaster career – he suffered losses in some of his early bouts, he improved and won a version of the world title in 2015, and he eventually came up short against the two very best lightweights of this generation. He also ended up in hospital after fending off burglars and is generally considered the nicest bloke in boxing.
Nobody will begrudge Crolla a final fight, especially his Manchester faithful, but it is a bit of a shame it’s against unheralded Spaniard Urquiaga.
The visiting boxer has been picked because he has scored one KO win in his 14 pro fights, but I hope he sees this as his route to the big-time and goes after the ‘W’. Don’t expect Crolla to cut corners for this contest but at the same time remember the Manc has a KO ratio of only 29%.
Urquiaga has only ever suffered one loss, and that was on points against European champ Edis Tatli, so I think we could have a decision on our hands – and in a farewell fight that’s only going one way.
Bet of the bout: Crolla on points – 8/11
Katie Taylor v Christina Linardaou, Saturday, 10pm
Taylor blitzed through the lightweight division in just 14 fights and now she has her eyes set on Linardaou’s belt in the division above.
The Greek has only ever lost to Delfine Persoon – the woman who Taylor beat by the skinniest of margins in her last bout – but this is her first time performing on the big stage.
Taylor isn’t moving up because she’s struggling with the weight, so I don’t expect to see a much bigger, more powerful version of the Bray boxer. Linardaou is a decent little fighter but she’s not a power-puncher either.
I am backing the 2012 Olympic champ to become a two-weight titleholder on Saturday night.
Bet of the bout: Taylor on points – 4/11
Miguel Berchelt v Jason Sosa, Sunday, 3am
Berchelt might be up there with the pound-for-pound best, but until the Mexican faces another great fighter in his prime we won’t know for sure. This weekend the long-reigning super-feather champ takes on solid former titleholder Sosa.
The American has been in tough fights for four years and although he always hussles hard some of that resilience is starting to erode.
Berchelt has KO’d 14 of last 15 opponents and I think he can add Sosa to his stack of flattened opponents.
Bet of the bout: Berchelt in rounds 7-12 – 11/10Stop ’em in their tracks with PaddyPower.com
* All odds correct at time of posting.