Our boxing expert Peter Morris, has three tips for this weekends boxing.
On Saturday night in Frisco, Texas there is a huge night of boxing that has somewhat gone under the radar since the spectacular performance Tyson Fury put on in Las Vegas last weekend. All the talk since that fight has been about Wilder’s ring walk costume and if Fury will be able to meet Anthony Joshua in the ring soon. However, if we turn our gaze away from the heavyweight division, there are some exceptional fights to enjoy this weekend.
Two Brits feature on a stacked card in Frisco: Welshman Jay Harris is a big underdog against Julio Cesar Martinez for the WBA Flyweight title and Kal Yafai is marginal favourite as he defends his WBA Super Flyweight title against the Nicaraguan legend and future Hall of Famer Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. The Yafai Gonzalez matchup is fascinating: Gonzalez is seen as one of the modern greats who is now past his prime whilst Yafai is the fresher, younger current champ. The reality is that whilst their experiences in the sport are vastly different, their ages are relatively close, Chocolatito is 32 and Yafai isn’t far behind at 30.
However, whilst they may be close in age they are far apart in terms of miles on the clock. Roman Gonzalez’s record reads 48-2 and he’s campaigned at and won world titles in the minimumweight, light flyweight, flyweight and super flyweight division. Until his move to super fly, his record was 44-0. Since moving up to super flyweight his record reads 3-2. At the bigger weight and with more miles on the clock, the great Chocolatito has not looked the same fighter in recent times. He’s also struggled with personal loss, with his long-time trainer and mentor Arnulfo Obando passing away at the end of 2016.
Kal Yafai on the other hand is a career super flyweight. His size advantage over Gonzalez is considerable and he himself has superb boxing pedigree, with an extensive and successful amateur background and a 26-0 pro record. Since becoming the WBA champion he has not looked amazing, with a series of laboured defences against pretty moderate opposition. However, he’s tended to look better when he steps up in class. Bookies have installed Yafai as a 5/6 favourite whilst Gonzalez is slightly longer at 11/10. While Yafai may not have impressed hugely in his recent outings, he has size and freshness on his side against a once great but now faded opponent. Whilst his 5/6 price is not hugely appealing, the 11/8 on him winning a decision is a bit juicier: Yafai has won 5 of his last 6 fights by decision and Gonzalez has only been stopped once in his career – a distance fight looks likely. The Nicaraguan legend will be competitive and dangerous throughout, but Yafai should have enough in the tank and the size to eventually wear down Chocolatito on the way to points win. The bookmakers do expect it to be tight and hard to score, with the split decision and majority decision markets unusually short (6/1 and 10/1 respectively) and the draw is definitely in play in a contest like this. As short as 18/1 in some places, but available at 22/1 with Boyles and GentingBet, it’s worth a small bet on the draw as the fight could be tight, scrappy and hard to score.
At the top of the Frisco bill Mikey Garcia takes on Jessie Vargas for the WBC Diamond welterweight title. Mikey Garcia is a short 1/4 favourite against the far bigger Jessie Vargas. This fight seems to be one where the bookies have potentially priced it slightly wrong. Mikey Garcia is unquestionably a superb boxer but he seems insistent on fighting up at welterweight despite a clear size disadvantage. He jumped up two weight classes (from lightweight) to welterweight in his last contest and lost a shutout decision to Errol Spence. He didn’t show anything in that fight that suggests he could or should continue fighting at welterweight and many expected him to return to lightweight or light welter. Instead he’s surprised us all by taking a fight against an experienced former world champion welterweight in Jessie Vargas. Garcia is daring to be great and taking a gamble continuing to campaign at welterweight. That gamble may not pay off: taking into account that Vargas a very good welterweight himself, the size and weight advantages he holds over Mikey Garcia surely mean the best price 4/1 available on him is worth backing.