WE may be in the midst of a cold snap, but the heat is sure to be ratcheted up for boxing fans this weekend, with a tasty double bill on Sky Sports.
Kell Brook v Sergey Rabchenko
First up is Kell Brook, making his comeback after two devastating defeats to Golovkin and Errol Spence Jnr. There was no shame in losing to two elite fighters, but suffering a fractured eye socket in both fights may be a cause for concern for the Sheffield fighter coming in to this one. At 31, Brook may not have many more fights left in him and the prospect of a big fight against Amir Khan next year is widely thought to be his end game now, so defeat to Rabchenko is unthinkable.
The Belarussian has a decent record, can be heavy handed and varies his attacks, so he should provide a decent test for Brook. He is trained by Ricky Hatton and has troubled Brook in sparring in the past, so is a little overpriced at 12/1. There is certainly little value in Brook at 1/16.
Brook has stepped up in weight to super-welter and there is so much on the line for him here. This, along with question marks over his facial injuries and a dangerous opponent, means I don't expect Brook to take risks and go all out for an early stoppage.
Brook has unquestionably demonstrated the better skills and I expect him to begin cautiously before his skills wear Rabchenko down. Rabchenko has been inactive since a 9th round stoppage to Tony Harrison in July 2016, so I expect him to gas later in the fight as the accumulation of Brook’s shots brings the stoppage.
- Main stake: Brook to win by KO / TKO / DQ / Retirement – 5/7 (Marathon Bet)
- Medium stake: Brook to win in rounds 7-12 – 7/4 (Sky Bet)
- Small stake: Brook to win in rounds 7-9 – 7/2 (888 sport)
- Small stake: Brook to win in round 8 – 12/1 (Boylesports)
Deontay Wilder v Luis Ortiz
In the small hours of Sunday morning, two unbeaten records are on the line as arguably the king of the heavyweight division, Deontay Wilder, puts his WBC belt on the line against the slick, powerful Cuban, Luis Ortiz. This will surely be Wilder's sternest test to date and there is serious potential for the much talked about future unification fight with Anthony Joshua to be derailed in the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn.
Styles make fights and Wilder's aggressive, rangy and unorthodox attack could match up well to the smooth, counter punching Ortiz. As with Brook, Wilder may have his eyes on potential big future fights and he will be wary of going all out for the KO, particularly when he has been rocked by less accomplished fighters than Ortiz in the past – see Eric Molina in 2015.
I expect Wilder to be cautious but with possibly the biggest right hand in boxing he undoubtedly has the power to get Ortiz out of there within the distance. I expect Ortiz to ail in the later rounds, as age, possible after effects of past doping indiscretions, along with Wilder's brute strength and will to make a similar statement for Joshua to think on – as he did when dispatching Bermaine Stiverne mercilessly back in November – will all combine to see Wilder over the line. Ortiz will be an altogether stiffer test than Stiverne, but I fancy Wilder to get the job done and stop the dangerous Cuban in the later rounds.
- Main stake: Wilder win – 4/11 or win by KO / TKO / DQ / Retirement – 8/11 (both Betfair)
- Medium stake: Wilder win in rounds 7-12 – 13/5 (Betfair)
- Medium stake: Over 7.5 rounds – 11/12 (Marathon Bet)
- Small stakes: Wilder in rounds 9-12 – 5/1 (Betfair)
- Small stakes: Wilder in round 9-10 – 17/2 (Betfair)
- Small stakes: Wilder in round 10 – 17/1 (Betfair)