Boxing Tips: 5 punts for this weekend including Benn v Van Heerden

Another weekend and another avalanche of top boxing to navigate. 

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*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

The Conor Benn hype train pulls into Manchester to meet veteran Chris Van Heerden this weekend and peak cruiserweights Chris Billam-Smith and Tommy McCarthy clash for the European belt, while over in the US a deep undercard is headlined by boxing colossus Errol Spence looking to unify titles against fellow champ Yordenis Ugas.

Let’s get straight down to business with our best bets.

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Saturday 10pm: Conor Benn v Chris van HeerdenBenn points or decision

It isn’t the fight the fans want but the Benn business is looking at the big picture. The Essex welterweight is still learning his craft and credible names past their prime serve well before the big bouts. van Heerden fits the bill perfectly and he’ll be challenging the Brit at the Manchester Arena this Saturday. 

The South African southpaw notched up some solid wins in the early 2010s but a round 8 KO loss to a young Errol Spence in 2015 signaled the end of his contendership. In the last two years van Heerden, 34, has entered the ring just once and that bout only lasted one round before a nasty head clash stopped the contest. 

Benn has improved immeasurably since his early days where he struggled at times with journeymen. In his last four fights, ‘The Destroyer’ has won twice with devastating KOs and twice with dominant decision wins. The early rounds will show us what ‘The Heat’ has left, and I suspect he’ll use his feet to take the sting out of the fast-starting home fighter – all of Benn’s 13 KO wins have come before the end of round 4. 

Both men are in tip-top shape but Benn will be way too fast for the older man. Having only been defeated twice, van Heerden still has ambition and I think he has the heart and experience to last the distance, but Benn will be the clear winner. 

Saturday 9pm: Chris Billam-Smith v Tommy McCarthy – McCarthy win

The chief support in Manchester is the rematch between the Bournemouth cruiser and the Belfast 200-pounder for the European and Commonwealth straps. The first fight in July last year was a close battle with Billam-Smith getting the nod, and not enough time has passed for this bout to be much different. 

‘CBS’ is still improving under the tutelage of Shane McGuigan but McCarthy has a wealth of amateur and pro experience to call upon. Paddy is confident the result will be a repeat but I think there is value in backing the Irishman to get revenge.

Sunday 4am: Errol Spence v Yordenis Ugas – Spence to win in round 7-12

Three quarters of the welterweight championship are on the line when Spence faces Ugas at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The ultra-talented Spence has been a champ for a while now but his Cuban opponent only took his piece of the crown last August with a fine points win over Manny Pacquiao. 

That victory is the summit of a tough career for Ugas that has involved four losses in thirty fights. The raw numbers don’t tell the whole story though, as the away fighter has only lost once in the last eight years and that was a contentious decision defeat by champion-at-the-time Shawn Porter. 

For the American the route to the top has been plain sailing – Spence is unbeaten and he hasn’t even been in a contest that was considered really close, despite taking on a lot of the top names in the division. Outside of the ring things haven’t been great – Errol was in a serious car crash and then, separately, had a detached retina. 

The home boxer has been out for 14 months and the eye could be an issue, but my guess is that the southpaw is fighting fit. Ugas is right up there on skill and IQ, but he doesn’t have great power and he’s been dropped and wobbled in a few fights – Spence can finish the job in the latter rounds.

US UNDERCARD

The winner of Radzhab Butaev versus Eimantis Stanionis (4am, Sunday) will pick up a secondary welterweight strap that should, theoretically, put them in line for a shot at the winner of the main event. Both men are unbeaten, high class operators on the right side of thirty. 

When these two Eastern Europeans met in the amateurs it was Butaev who got the decision both times and I think the experienced, grizzled Russian will make it a hattrick of points wins in Texas.

Isaac Cruz is coming off a close decision defeat to pound-for-pound star Gevonta Davis, but veteran lightweight champ Yuriorkis Gamboa is the perfect opponent to come back and look good against (3am, Sunday). Pitbull’ Cruz lives up to his name in the ring and he can get the win in rounds 3-4.

Boxing tips:

Saturday 10pm: Conor Benn v Chris van Heerden – Benn points or decision
Saturday 9pm: Chris Billam-Smith v Tommy McCarthy – McCarthy win
Sunday 4am: Errol Spence v Yordenis Ugas – Spence to win in round 7-12
Sunday 4am: Radzhab Buatev v Eimantas Stanionis – Buatev on points
Sunday 3am: Isaac Cruz Gonzalez v Yuriolkis Gamboa – Cruz to win in rounds 3-4

*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change

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