It’s the last of Matchroom Boxing’s Fight Camps this weekend and so far we’ve seen abundant action from the Hearn family mansion.
Saturday is no different, with a top-of-the-bill clash between big-hitting heavyweights Dillian Whyte and Alexander Povetkin, and a grudge match featuring undisputed champ Katie Taylor and her Belgian rival Delfine Persoon.
In the heavyweight division there’s Joshua, Fury, and Wilder, and then there’s a short list of big men who can challenge the top three – and Whyte and Povetkin are at the top of that list. The Brit and the Russian have beaten numerous faces in the top 15 over the years and now they fight each other to get another go at the titleholders.
Povetkin has been at the championship table twice before and he’s come up short both times. Pov pushed Wladimir Klitschko for 12 rounds in 2013 but he was well beaten, and then he was stopped by AJ in seven rounds in 2018. Whyte was also stopped by Joshua in the same session in their 2015 slugfest.
Despite turning 41 in few weeks time, Povetkin’s levels have stayed world class. The 2004 Olympic gold medalist has been a regular fixture on Matchroom cards in the last couple of years and the only perceptible dip has been in punch power after all the Russian has only knocked out one of his last six opponents.
32-year-old Whyte is Paddy’s favourite and he’s on a run of 11 consecutive wins against a string of high-level operators. However, there have been wobbles in some recent bouts – Joseph Parker and Oscar Rivas both floored ‘The Bodysnatcher’, while Dereck Chisora was winning before Whyte pulled out a hellish left hook and finished the argument in the 11th.
Povetkin has a left hook as good as Whyte’s and the veteran still has enough pop to get respect. Whyte only has one KO win in his last four contests, and if the South Londoner takes out the Soviet boxer it’ll be in the late rounds through sustained bombardment – but I believe this one is going the distance.
Both men can land on each other, and it’ll be Povetkin’s accurate work against Whyte’s size and freshness. In a close fight, Povetkin to win on points is good value, but I don’t believe you can beat backing the draw in Saturday’s showpiece.
Taylor has torn through women’s boxing to become undisputed lightweight champ, a two-division titleholder and one of its pound-for-pound stars.
The one blemish is the controversial mixed decision win against Persoon last June on the undercard of the huge Joshua-Ruiz upset – but there’s a chance to rubber stamp that result this weekend.
For the first fight, Persoon turned up with a good record and all the charm of a small town girl from Belgium, but few considered her a threat. In the ring she was physical and rough, and forced Ireland’s favourite in to a scrap which suited the underdog. Taylor got the judges favour, but plenty thought Persoon had done enough.
Worryingly for Taylor, Persoon could be even bigger and stronger this time – in New York last year the part time police officer weighed-in a whopping five pounds under the weight limit.
The boxer from Bray is 34 now and probably past her peak in terms of speed and slickness, but she is still by far the more skillful woman in this bout and she can fight smarter than she did last time. Too often in the first fight Taylor stayed in exchanges too long and held her feet.
Persoon is actually one year older than Taylor and I can’t see her being better than she was 14 months ago. Stoppages in 10 two-minute rounds are hard to come by and even more unlikely against a specimen like the West-Vlaanderen lady. Get behind Taylor to win with a shut-out decision.
Luther Clay v Chris Kongo: Kongo to win
The top bout of the undercard on the night is Luther Clay against Chris Kongo in the welterweight division. Kongo has the better pedigree and the size advantage, and he’s a great shout to win on points.
Kicking off the evening is the super middleweight clash between Jack Cullen and Zak Chelli. Jack has the experience. But, he doesn’t use his rangey attributes, which will play into Zak’s hands. Take Chelli to win.
Finally, Eddie Hearn is even squeezing another couple of heavyweights into his garden party. Paddy favours Alen Bebic to be the victor, but I reckon wily American Shawndell Terell Winters can win an entertaining tear up.
Dillian Whyte v Alexander Povetkin: Draw
Katie Taylor v Delfine Persoon: Taylor on points
Luther Clay v Chris Kongo: Kongo to win
Jack Cullen v Zak Chelli: Chelli to win
Alen Bebic v Shawndell Terell Winters: Terell Winters to win
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