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Boxing world titles get thrown about like confetti these days but this weekend we have three bona fide championship bouts – down in Australia George Kambosos defends his horde of lightweight gold against American sensation Devin Haney, in Cardiff the unbeaten Joe Cordina welcomes travelling champ Kenichi Ogawa to his manor, and in the US super talent Stephen Fulton defends his belt against Daniel Roman.
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There can be no disputing it, Kambosos is the current lightweight number one – but that doesn’t mean he can’t be beaten in the stacked 135-pound division. The Aussie fighter won all the marbles from Teofimo Lopez in November last year and he’s making his first defence against the undefeated, precocious Haney this weekend.
The pair have been exchanging a few barbs over social media and face-to-face during media duties, and it’s fair to say that Haney has got the worst of it. Devin, the so-called ‘email champ’, once got given a vacant belt by email, but he’s also beaten three former titleholders and two unbeaten contenders in his last five contests.
Before last year, Kambosos wasn’t really blazing a trail – in 2019 he edged past fringe world level fighter Mickey Bey on split decision and in 2020 he won by the same result against a faded Lee Selby. The Lopez scrap was a different level – Kambosos weathered an onslaught before dropping the American champ in the first round, and then he went blow for blow with his top drawer opponent to eke out a third split decision win on the spin.
Haney won’t load up and bulldoze forwards like Teofimo did, and he has a significant reach advantage over Kambosos that he’ll look utilise. Kambosos has speed, accuracy, great footwork and high output, but Haney can match or better all of those things – the question is if Devin ‘The Dream’ can equal ‘Ferocious’ Kambosos in the heart and guts department.
The Californian also has to deal with the absence of his father and trainer Bill and 50 thousand rowdy Australians backing their man. The pressure will be on George but he’ll be desperate to perform in front of his fans.
I am expecting a tight, back-and-forth battle. Paddy is offering Power Prices on both Kambosos to win by decision and Haney by KO, and I wouldn’t argue confidently against either bet!
In this situation I am going for the big value and big price. Haney isn’t known for huge power but he’s still only 23 and getting stronger. The challenger has won by stoppage in round 9 before and Lopez dropped Kambosos in round 10 of their fight – Haney to Win in Rounds 9-10 is huge odds and I reckon he can do it.
We’ve got another very tight fight with the super feathers in Cardiff on Saturday. Ogawa is the veteran king after winning a vacant crown on his last outing, but the Japanese champion is coming to Wales to face rising British star Cordina.
These two are both big for the weight, they are evenly matched in terms of tip-top conditioning, and they are bound to meet in the middle of the ring with their similar front foot, boxer-puncher styles. Ogawa is the older man by four years but he’s not old, and the champ’s only defeat came in his ninth pro bout almost 10 years ago.
With only 14 professional fights for experience, there are still some questions that Joe needs to answer. The Welshman does have Olympic amateur pedigree, and if he boxes from range he can win the battle of the jabs.
I think it’ll be an all action contest and it’s too close to call – I’m taking the huge price for The Draw.
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3am Sunday: Steph Fulton is a special talent. He’s the unified super bantamweight champ after only 20 fights and this weekend he takes on the former unified titleholder Daniel Roman. Fulton’s last four opponents were all unbeaten but the sharp shooting slickster showed his class with three victories on points and one by KO.
Roman is a very good high volume fighter with wins over several other champions and he’s only lost once in the last eight-and-a-half years – a close split decision to the masterful Murodjon Akhmadaliev. I think ‘Cool Boy’ Steph will just have too much speed for Danny, so I am backing Fulton to Win on Points.
9pm Saturday: On the Welsh undercard, Zelfa Barrett takes on Faroukh Kourbanov for the European super featherweight strap. Barrett has found his swagger in the pro game now and, although Kourbanov is tricky, game, and busy, Barrett will make his class show and Win on Points.
Midnight Saturday: And at the event in Melbourne, New Zealand heavyweight Junior Fa faces the battle-scarred Lucas Browne. The Australian once competed with the likes of Dillian Whyte but last year he was laid out cold by a former rugby league player in one round. The bet here is for Fa to Win in Rounds 1-2.
This weekend’s boxing tips:
4am Sunday: George Kambosos v Devin Haney – Haney to Win in Rounds 9-10
10pm Saturday: Kenichi Ogawa v Joe Cordina – Draw
3am Sunday: Steph Fulton v Daniel Roman – Fulton to Win on Points
9pm Saturday: Zelfa Barrett v Faroukh Kourbanov – Barrett to Win on Points
Midnight Saturday: Junior Fa v Lucas Browne – Fa to Win in Rounds 1-2
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