If you’re staying in this weekend – and let’s face it, there’s not much else to do – then boxing will be there to keep you company from Saturday dinner time til the middle of the night.
First up, Sky are showing canny Geordie scrapper Lewis Ritson versus former champ Miguel Vazquez, and a fistful of fights on the undercard. Then, Stateside, we are treated to the biggest contest since Covid hit, Vasyl Lomachenko against Teofimo Lopez for the undisputed lightweight crown.
Getting to a world title shot in boxing is a game of snakes and ladders, and a win for Ritson against Vazquez will be like flying up the steps and landing just a couple of moves away from the belt. The Mexican is a big name former world champion and tricky veteran, while the Geordie is still only 27 years old and looking to move on from European level.
Ritson actually suffered his solo pro loss in a contest for the continental crown but he’s improved as a boxer since then and moved up in weight. The one thing that seems to have suffered with ‘The Sandman’s’ move to super lightweight is his power – Ritson has only stopped one of three opponents at 140lbs.
Vazquez has only been stopped twice in 51 fights and at 33 years old he still has plenty left in the tank to make this competitive. Paddy is making ‘El Titere’ a huge underdog and I could be tempted by the draw at 20/1, but I think Ritson takes it on the judges cards.
Do you remember when the untouchable Floyd Mayweather took on imposing rising star Canelo Alvarez? ‘Money’ put on a masterclass against the young buck; and exactly the same is likely to happen with Lomachenko and Lopez on Saturday. But, unlike the bout in 2013, a knockout or a knockdown is much more likely, and there are loads of outstanding bets on Paddy’s book.
Lomachenko has more accolades than I have paragraphs to write about them but the highlights are: around 400 amateur fights with just one defeat, two Olympic golds, and professional titles in three divisions. Lopez lost in his first and only fight at an Olympics, and he only won his first professional strap in his last outing.
In boxing, weight is a thing, and while it would be unnatural for Loma to tip the scales any higher than lightweight, Teo has the frame to go up through multiple divisions. Lopez is the biggest bloke Lomachenko has faced and he’s definitely the hardest puncher.
Both men have had 15 paid punch-ups, with Lopez winning 12 by KO and Loma 10. Their hand speed is similarly rapid, but the American does his damage with huge single blows whereas the Ukrainian makes his opponents quit from endlessly accurate connects. And, interestingly, both men have been dropped themselves.
You can get a whopping 9/1 for both men to get knocked down in the Las Vegas bubble or a more conservative 11/10 that the fight doesn’t go the distance.
Vasily has lost once as a pro – in 2014, he was roughed up by an oversized veteran, and Lopez thinks he can do the same. But the Latino’s belief in bulldozing Loma and his training montage of bicep curls doesn’t impress. The European southpaw is practicing Jedi mind tricks in camp and he’s faced hundreds of hard-as-nails Soviet sluggers in the ring. I think Lopez will have moments of success but Loma will be a class apart.
Tips for this weekend’s boxing
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- Salford Might Be Keane On Roy: Man Utd Legend Among Favourites For City Job