It’s the first week of December, and boxing has to clear a bigger backlog than a Turkey farm before Christmas.
This weekend there’s all-British world title action from Wembley in the form of Billy Joe Saunders versus Martin Murray, there’s the scrap for the Commonwealth crown between Anthony Yarde and Lyndon Arthur, and then there’s the mega-bout in America pitting champion Errol Spence against former titleholder Danny Garcia.
FRIDAY 10PM: BILLY JOE SAUNDERS V MARTIN MURRAY
A huge domestic dust-up for one of the major world titles in the super middleweight division should be a huge event, but Saunders has been out of the ring for a year and Murray said he was hanging up his gloves after his last bout. So, here we are, with a couple of boxers who have faded from public view trying to shake the ring-rust – and I think it could be a corker!
These two have been pencilled in to fight at least twice before but in 2018 Billy Joe had his head turned by a flame-haired Mexican and ditched the all-English contest – only for Canelo Alvarez to then ditch Saunders and go back to face an ex. Fair to say, Murray was not happy and he made it known on social media.
Then, in November 2019, with no big fights on the cards and his 37th birthday just behind him, Murray booked in a bout with an unknown Bosnian as his farewell fight. Since then the family man has looked like he was enjoying the quiet life and he even started to embrace the dad-bod.
Saunders, 31, has been a source of frustration for many fans with lacklustre performances in the ring and some seriously questionable antics out of it. After becoming a world champion in 2015, the unbeaten Hatfield man has only had five world championship contests and he’s faced no big names or made any unifications.
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Murray’s career has been even more frustrating, but mainly for himself: he’s had four title tilts in his career and lost them all – some through dodgy judging. The tough guy seemed to show his age in 2016 when he was outclassed by George Groves, and he lost for the first time outside of a title fight in 2018.
If it was a prime Murray fighting this Friday I would say there’s loads of value in the massive prices for him to win on points or to snatch a draw, but the St Helens boxer peaked five, six, or even seven years ago. Murray was taken the distance in both his fights in 2019 and the opponents were little more than tin cans.
Reportedly, Murray moved away for training camp and hasn’t even been talking to his family, but I think it shows how much work he felt he had to do to get ready for this bout. I expect the veteran will give it everything he can for as long as he can, but it won’t be enough.
Saunders is very short odds to win on points, and can I see why given his average KO ratio and Martin’s solid chin.
But when Murray’s best is nowhere near good enough, and he’s getting peppered with shots from all angles, I can see it being stopped in Saunders favour.
BET OF THE BOUT: Saunders in rounds 5-8
SATURDAY 9PM: ANTHONY YARDE V LYNDON ARTHUR
The real British beef is happening on Saturday this weekend. Although it’s just Arthur’s Commonwealth strap on the line, we get to see the unbeaten former top amateur take on Yarde – a man who has notched 19 KOs in his 20 wins and his only defeat was against light heavyweight tsar, Sergey Kovalev.
It’s likely that Manchester’s Arthur will box off the back foot and pump out his rangy jab, while Londoner Yarde will try to close the distance and counter the lead left with power shots.
King Arthur’ is decent value to win but I think, in the end, he won’t have the snap to put Yarde in his place. I expect to see a sharp Yarde capable of closing the show early.
BET OF THE BOUT: Yarde by KO
SUNDAY 4AM: ERROL SPENCE V DANNY GARCIA
The biggest fight of the weekend, and one of the best of the year, is Spence versus Garcia for two welterweight world titles in Texas. Spence is right at the top of some people’s pound-for-pound lists but it’s still surprising to me that he’s a huge favourite this weekend given that it’s his first fight since a horror car crash in October of last year.
Huge credit has to be given to Errol ‘The Truth’ for not swerving Danny ‘Swift’, who is probably the most underrated two-weight world champion in boxing history.
Spence tends to bludgeon counter punchers like Garcia with his ramrod jab but with some uncertainty about what he’s got left after the accident and the quality of Garcia, I’m backing this bout to be too close to call.
BET OF THE BOUT: Draw
Weekend Boxing Tips
Friday 10pm: BILLY JOE SAUNDERS V MARTIN MURRAY – SAUNDERS TO WIN IN ROUNDS 5-8
Saturday 9pm: ANTHONY YARDE V LYNDON ARTHUR – YARDE TO WIN VIA KO
Sunday 4am: ERROL SPENCE V DANNY GARCIA – DRAW