This weekend the boxing is back at Madison Square Garden – prizefighting superstar Terence Crawford takes on top welterweight contender Egidijus Kavaliauskas, rising star Teofimo Lopez challenges lightweight champ Richard Commey, and the stars have aligned for the rematch between featherweight foes Michael Conlan and Vladimir Nikitin.
Many believe that Crawford is one of the pound-for-pound best, but because he’s on the wrong side of the promotional divide he’s struggling to prove it. While Errol Spence, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao and all of the Garcias fight one another, Crawford takes aim at Lithuanian 9/1 underdog Kavaliauskas.
The Baltics’ best welterweight is a relentless puncher type – with the not-so-original nickname ‘Mean Machine’ – who is unbeaten in 22 fights, with 17 KOs.
The blemish on Kavaliauskas’ record is the draw in his last bout – when he was lucky to avoid a loss against the notoriously tricky Ray Robinson. In fact, when Egidijus has struggled to get the knockout he’s struggled to win any fight clearly.
Crawford, on the other hand, seems to triumph in every fight with ease, and as the three-division champ has moved up in weight classes the stoppage wins have come even more effortlessly – the American’s last six bouts have all been for world titles and he’s won them all inside the distance.
Kavaliauskas’ style is going to leave him open to ‘Bud’ Crawford’s counters on Saturday, and a closer look at the Lithuanian’s amatuer record reveals that he was stopped on multiple occasions despite wearing the headgear.
Bet of the bout: Crawford by KO in rounds 5-8 at 21/10.
Commey isn’t old but Lopez is so young he makes the Ghanaian champ seem like a veteran. The 22-year-old American has only had 14 professional fights but he’s managed to get himself a shot at the lightweight crown on home turf in New York.
Teofimo powered up the rankings by beating a former titleholder and two legitimate contenders, but, despite his talent, he showed moments of inexperience on his way to an unspectacular points victory in his last contest.
While there are still some question marks about the ultimate ceiling of Lopez’s ability, Commey has been competing for championships for three years and he has proven he’s world class.
Although both men have serious power, I can’t see this one ending early – both are too tough and too savvy. Commey has dropped two split decisions previously, so Lopez is rightly the favourite on points, but the price for the champ to retain his title for the second time is too good to ignore.
Bet of the bout: Commey on points at 9/2.
Everybody remembers Conlan’s highly controversial defeat to Nikitin in the 2016 Olympics, but what some people might not know is that the Irishman also suffered a slightly less controversial defeat to the Russian in 2013.
Conlan is so fancied to win that Paddy’s only offering 1/20 for a home victory, making it difficult to find a worthwhile bet on Mick.
All I know is that Conlan is unbeaten, without looking sensational, but he has a tendency to get into brawls where he could win easily by boxing. If Conlan feels the urge to ‘put it on’ Nikitin, he’ll give the pint-sized Russian half a chance. (Forgive me Ireland.)
Bet of the bout: Draw at 33/1.
*Prices and times correct at time of publishing