The main event of the week has nothing to do with the US election or a health service announcement, but everything to do with a US boxing superstar and a former champ trying to make a statement.
Pound-for-pound welterweight titleholder Terence Crawford takes on the challenge of Sheffield’s veteran performer Kell Brook in the Las Vegas Bubble, while at Wembley Arena unified boss Katie Taylor headlines a trio of world championship bouts.
SUNDAY 3AM: TERENCE CRAWFORD V KELL BROOK
The truth of the matter is that almost everybody thinks Terence Crawford is going to smash Kell Brook. Even Paddy makes the Brit a whacking great underdog. But I am going to stick my neck out and say that this fight will be competitive, and we can get some real value out of this weekend.
For starters, Brook is at an incredible price. There’s an argument he’ll struggle to make 147lbs having not competed in this division for over four years, but less than two years ago he weighed 150 pounds, and he’s been in fighting shape since the start of lockdown. I expect ‘Special K’ will be ripped and ready to rumble come Saturday.
The other main reasons for the doubters are age and injuries. It’s true that Brook’s best win was way back in 2014 but Crawford is reportedly at the peak of his powers and he’s only 16 months younger than his opponent, so I’m not buying that Yorkshire’s finest is over-the-hill.
Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence both stopped Brook but those were injury-related more than true KOs and Crawford doesn’t bang like either of them. Kell also had to contend with moving up two weight classes and all the way back down within the space of about a year for those contests.
Both men are slick and strong, both can switch-hit and they have decades of experience between them. The edge, and the reason why I think the American will keep his belts, is in reflexes and reactions – Crawford is just a split second quicker slipping a shot and a fraction faster at throwing a counter.
In his last seven outings ‘Bud’ has KO’d every opponent but Brook is a tougher prospect than all of them: Amir Khan, Jeff Horn and Julius Indongo are chinny; Egidijus Kavaliauskas, Felix Diaz and John Molina Jr are levels below and Jose Benavidez doesn’t have elite speed or power.
And none of those opponents have been a welterweight world champion – unlike Brook.
There is one more reason to think Brook has a chance – Crawford will have been out of the ring for 11 months come Saturday, the longest break in his career.
Bet of the bout: If I still haven’t convinced you that Brook can make this a real fight then the best bet is Crawford in rounds 7-9, but I’m investing in a back-and-forth bout till the final bell and Crawford to win on points
If you’re getting up or staying up until the early hours look out for the super flyweight world title rematch between Joshua Franco and Andrew Moloney. The first bout in June was a humdinger and this one can be even more dramatic.
Bet of the bout: Moloney to win OR to do it in style with a KO
SATURDAY 10PM: KATIE TAYLOR V MIRIAM GUTIERREZ
Before the action across the pond, Katie Taylor puts her four lightweight world titles on the line against Spain’s Miriam Gutierrez. The 37-year-old challenger is unbeaten but her padded record is the best thing going for her.
Guiterrez has limited amateur pedigree, she’s never boxed outside of her home country and she was dropped in her last fight. If hand speed had warnings she’d be told she was going too slow. Taylor has only one KO win in her last six contests but the Irish sensation can finish the job early this weekend.
Bet of the bout: Taylor to win via KO
Thankfully, the championship bouts on the undercard at Wembley are more competitive.
Terri Harper and Katharina Thanderz (9pm) scrap it out for Harper’s featherweight strap in the main prelim. The Brit has been at world level in her last two bouts while unbeaten Norwegian Thanderz is stepping up for the first time.
Bet of the bout: Harper on points is the prudent pick but I’m punting on Harper to win in rounds 7-8.
Earlier in the evening, Rachel Ball has to squeeze down to bantam to fight Jorgelina Guanini for world honours (6pm). Ball will have a huge size advantage but making the weight will be a push, and Guanini has the experience of five championship bouts on the bounce.
Bet of the bout: Argentine Guanini is not afraid to take one to give one and can win by decision.
Boxing tips this weekend
3am (Sunday morning): Terence Crawford v Kell Brook
2am (Sunday morning): Joshua Franco v Andrew Moloney
10pm (Saturday night): Katie Taylor v Miriam Gutierrez
9pm: Terri Harper and Katharina Thanderz
6pm: Rachel Ball v Jorgelina Guanini