Smith's Weekend Preview And Bets
Tony Bellew came up short in a bid for a light heavyweight world title for the second time in 26 months and this time the 31-year-old had no one else to blame. The Liverpudlian was simply too negative and didn’t go for the kill when Stevenson was troubled. Bellew did more walking than punching.
Let’s not take anything away from WBC champion Stevenson who has a serious claim for 2013 fighter of the year after massive improvement and four impressive KO wins. The only disappointment from ‘Superman’ was the fact that he called nearly every fighter other than Sergey Kovalev after the fight.
Kovalev provided chief support to the main event in Quebec City with a quick knockout vs Ismayl Sillakh. The fight was pretty much over as soon as the WBO champion landed with any authority and it was a cupping blow that started the Sillakh breakage. Kovalev, to me, is without question the most vicious puncher in boxing and even gave Sillakh some verbals when he was downed.
Dereck Chisora dispatched of Ondrej Pala in three rounds on the Copper Box bill but it wasn’t all plain sailing for Del Boy who ate some meaty shots. It was another unsatisfactory stoppage in a British ring but we can’t blame the referee who halted the action when Pala turned his back the first time he was in trouble. Protect yourself at all times Mr Pala.
It’s been a good year for Chisora who has rebuilt after a string of losses. He’s still young in heavyweight terms and could well get another world title shot in 2014.
This Week’s Action
Darren Barker heads to Germany this weekend for "big money, neutral judges and a rematch clause." Many have questioned why Barker is going on the road for the first defense of his IBF middleweight title but it's a winnable fight with an opponent on the slide that German TV is happy to stump up the cash for. The same German TV company that have pressured their client Felix Sturm to take a big fight.
Barker put in the performance of his life against Daniel Geale in August in a show of true grit and determination. Boxing fans on this side of the Atlantic rejoiced in support of Barker as it was a case of nice guy done good.
I noted Barker’s good footwork and boxing intelligence in the Geale fight and was especially impressed with how he closed down the space and dodged Geale’s jab on the way in to attacks. Sturm’s main weapon is his ram-rod jab so Barker is likely to again need much of the skill he relied upon in Atlantic City last time out.
Sturm is certainly not the force he once was. The former WBA champion lost to Geale last September where Geale simply outworked him. Then Sturm lost to 39-year-old Sam Soliman in February this year before a drugs controversy saw the result changed to a no contest. That was a fight Sturm was heavy favourite for and simply didn’t pull the trigger enough.
Sturm’s recent reluctance to unload the shots will be his downfall this Saturday in Stuttgart and I expect Barker to get the job done at a best price of 20/21. The Barker KO (6/1) could be worth a look also, Sturm (6/5 for the win) often marks up and Barker could stamp his dominance on proceedings around the ninth round before a referee or corner stoppage. In my mind, the only thing stopping Barker from winning is terrible and/ or Sturm’s left hook.
There’s also a busy weekend of action in America with three world titles on the across two shows.
In Brooklyn Devon Alexander defends his IBF welterweight title against Shawn Porter on a day that was earmarked for a fight with Amir Khan. Floyd Mayweather now seems the focus of Khan and life goes on for Alexander.
The Saint Louis fighter is just 1/5 to beat the undefeated 26-year-old who reminds me a bit of Andre Berto - stocky with bad intentions in his punches. Porter will try and work on the inside but I’m not sure Alexander will let him as he often spoils up close. Porter ate a lot of punches against former lightweight titlist Julio Diaz last time out and I expect Alexander to have success at range.
I was looking at backing the Alexander KO at 19/5 but recent hand injuries mean he can’t be relied upon for a serious bet.
Erislandy Lara defends his WBA interim light middleweight title against Austin Trout and the bookmakers can hardly split them. Trout did carry the WBA full title until April when Canelo Alvarez outpointed him in a closer fight than the ringside judges would have you think. Before that loss Trout had impressed when going the distance against Delvin Rodriguez and Miguel Cotto.
Lara meanwhile has been in with some of the top dogs at 154lbs with mixed results. The Cuban national was struggling badly with Alfredo Angulo last time out with two visits to the canvas before a somewhat bizarre stoppage.
Trout is a very different fighter compared to Angulo and this is likely to be a clash of two boxers rather than punches so don’t anticipate fireworks. Trout did open at 11/10 when the fight was first announced and now available at 10/11 whereas Lara can be backed at 6/5. Whoever wins will be right back in the picture for a title shot so there’s plenty riding on it. I’m siding with Trout at this stage.
The main event at the Barclays Center doesn’t have a title on the line as Zab Judah and Paulie Malignaggi battle to be champion of Brooklyn. Both men are clearly past their best but have enough left in the tank to make this entertaining. Paulie came up short against Adrien Broner last time out but didn’t disgrace himself against the young pretender. Paulie threw a lot more punches than his more powerful opponent and showed his chin is still one of the best at 147lbs.
Judah has had an up and down few years culminating in a valiant yet unsuccessful challenge to light welterweight king Danny Garcia in April this year. I’m actually surprised Judah is the betting favourite for this fight at 4/6 with Malignaggi available at 11/8.
Who is the most shot? Judah, so for that reason Paulie should be backed at 11/8 and the Magic Man won’t be scoring a knockout so back him to win on points at 7/4. His output against Broner suggests he’s still got it and his ring intelligence will keep him out of trouble.
Down in Atlantic City, Guillermo Rigondeaux (1/12) returns to the ring after his masterclass against Nonito Donaire in April. That fight was by no means a classic but Donaire was fully exposed by the slick skills of Rigondeaux. The Cuban native faces Joseph Agbeko (8/1) who’s been in with most of the best at bantamweight and makes his debut at super bantamweight this Saturday.
Rigondeaux was criticised for his perceived negative style against Donaire and could be out to make a statement this weekend but I’m not about to getting involved in the KO at just 15/8 as Agbeko has never been stopped despite four losses. Rigondeaux points is the value here at 4/6.
Vitali Klitschko hasn’t fought for 16 months and doesn’t appear to be doing so anytime soon. Despite Vitali’s inactivity the WBC are happy for him to remain as the WBC champion while the 42-year-old “decides his future”. Shocking double standards by one of the many world governing bodies.
Unsurprisingly David Price has vacated his British and Commonwealth titles as he goes on a European tour with new promoters Sauerland Promotions. There’s an argument that Price should’ve had his titles taken from him after back to back losses anyway.
Manny Pacquiao’s promoters Top Rank have penciled in the Filipino to fight in Las Vegas on April 12 next year. That puts to bed any talk of a Mayweather fight straight away as we know Floyd only fights on the first weekend of May.
This week Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Calzaghe and Feliz Trinidad were inducted into the Boxing Hall Of Fame at Canastota. All well deserved of course, not sure about Barry Hearn being inducted though!
Barker to beat Sturm at even money. Sturm is past his best and his reluctance to let his hands go will be his downfall. Those of you chasing a bigger payout may want to look at the Barker KO at 6/1.
Devon Alexander is harder puncher than his recent record suggests and should be too much for Shawn Porter. Reinvest some Barker winnings at 19/5.
Trout win (10/11), Malignaggi points (7/4) and Rigondeaux points (4/6) makes a nice accumulator at over 13/2. Not massively confident on either result but one to keep you interested across a busy weekend.
Quote Of The Week
“We’re paying a lot of money, he’s the most expensive opponent that we’ve ever had.” Boxing Monthly.
Felix Sturm’s German TV backers SAT.1 made it clear they wanted their man in a big fight and it’s cost the home fighter a lot of money to get Barker to Stuttgart.