The Matchroom team have put on a cracking card for this ‘Bad Intentions’ bill at the O2 Arena, and the four matches listed below all have plenty on the line in terms of gold and/or credibility.
We’ve put together a little four-fold acca, and while predicting the outcome of boxing bouts can often leave punters with egg on their collective faces, this looks a pretty solid coupon.
Kevin Mitchell vs Ismael Barroso (8pm)
This clash for the interim WBA Lightweight belt has the potential to be an absolute barnburner, with two knockout specialists in Kevin Mitchell and Ismael Barroso likely to go toe-to-toe.
For Mitchell, the carrot of a WBA title shot against belt-holder Anthony Crolla somewhere on home soil next year will be in his mind, while for Barroso the opportunity to earn a world title scrap is motivation a-plenty. Neither man will be leaving anything to chance here.
The Brit’s career has been something of a rollercoaster to date, although he has the ability to operate at elite level as shown in his battle with WBC strap-holder Jorge Linares earlier this year. Mitchell pushed the talented South American all the way, and still clearly has the stomach for the fight.
His opponent here must not be underestimated however. Barroso has delivered 17 knockouts in 20 outings, but two draws on his record are rather large blemishes given the step up in class come Saturday night. For that reason, we can expect Mitchell’s class to ultimately shine through.
Kevin Mitchell to win – 4/11
Tony Bellew vs Mateusz Masternak (9pm)
Tony ‘The Bomber’ Bellew has been away in the United States filming scenes for the new Rocky movie, and if he doesn’t bring the Eye of the Tiger here against a game opponent then he may not be a Survivor.
The Scouser has begun a new boxing storyline after stepping up to cruiserweight, and it has been a case of so far, so good with five wins from five. And he’ll need to be on his mettle here as Masternak has never been knocked down and only stopped once – Bellew’s favoured mode of victory.
So he will need to box clever here, and fortunately he does have a clear advantage over the Pole in terms of technical ability. If he remains patient, Bellew should be able to impress the judges and pick up the verdict.
Tony Bellew to win on points – 21/20
Chris Eubank Jr vs Gary O’Sullivan (10pm)
The jury remains out still on Chris Eubank Jr’s credentials – he has oodles of technical ability yet for some reason chooses often not to display it, instead preferring to slug it out in the middle of the ring. That can be a dangerous strategy; particularly against someone like O’Sullivan, who has knocked out five of his last six opponents.
But there are definite signs of improvement in Eubank’s ring ability, and it is positive that he has moved on from a tough defeat to take against Billy-Joe Saunders and still appears hungry. His stoppage win over Dimitry Chudinov, who has operated at elite level, shows that he is adding a bit of method to the mayhem.
Given the nature of the fight and the viciousness with which Eubank operates, it is hard to see it going the distance. Spike O’Sullivan has a puncher’s chance, of course, but it is Eubank who should set the agenda in this scrap. Back him to win before the final bell is rung.
Chris Eubank Jr to win via KO or TKO – 4/9
Anthony Joshua vs Dillian Whyte (11pm)
The hype for the main event on the bill has been spectacular, and not helped by Sky Sports’ typically bombastic and over-the-top coverage. That said, these two certainly don’t like each other and it is exciting that Britain has two competitive heavyweights willing to square off. It’s just a shame that Sky have decided to hide it behind a paywall just as boxing in this country is regaining popularity, but hey ho.
All of the superlatives used to describe Joshua are justified, and while plenty of punters are happy to make predictions little, in truth, is known of Whyte’s in-ring ability and intestinal fortitude. When two fighters who have yet been tested collide, something has to give.
Much is made of Whyte’s victory over Joshua in the amateur ranks, but to anyone who has witnessed the YouTube footage of that dust-up Joshua will have been unrecognisable as a bean-pole scrapper lacking in technically. He has grown, both physically and as a boxer, to an almost unquantifiable degree.
Joshua is unbackable at the prices offered (1/16 to win, 1/8 via KO or TKO), so we need to look elsewhere for value. The Over 2.5 Rounds market at 8/13 looks a good enough price given that Whyte is likely to stick around for a while at least, and even the favourite himself is predicting a third or fourth round finish.
Over 2.5 Rounds – 8/13
The acca can be backed at 5.5/1