Boxing: The Weekend Preview
By Rachel Aylett
This week’s action starts early, on Thursday, 25th April, in fact. A British bantamweight title fight kicks things off in Glasgow, between reigning champion Ukashir (Kash) Ali and the second challenger for his title, Kyle Williams, of Wolverhampton. Ali was the first Pakistani-born fighter to be crowned British champion when he defeated Jamie Wilson in September of last year. Although Willliams is also unbeaten, expect Ali to retain his title on home soil. The current bookmaker odds on an Ali victory are 1/7. The fight is televised live on BBC Scotland.
Also on Thursday, Italian Luca Rigoldi defends his European super-bantamweight title in Brescia, against veteran French challenger Anthony Settoul. Rigoldi is Italy’s only current European champion and should comfortably retain the title in his first defence. Settoul challenged for the same belt last year, being stopped in the opening round by then champion Abigail Medina of Spain.
Rounding off Thursday is a very decent Golden Boy card from Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California. The main event sees recent Golden Boy signing, super-lightweight Yves Ulysse, get the opportunity to avenge his only pro loss to date, when he rematches with fellow Canadian Steve Claggett. Ulysse was outpointed by Claggett in October 2017 and must reverse this loss if his career is to amount to anything. He is currently 1/5 to get the victory.
The chief support on this show sees another rematch, between bantamweights Oscar Negrete and Joshua Franco, who drew in an exciting 10-rounder last October. This is an immediate rematch for both. I had Franco just edging the first fight and my pick is for him to eke out the decision this time. The bookies can’t split them though – this really is a 50/50 fight. Olympic bronze and World gold medal winner Marlen Esparza, 5-0, also features on the card, which can be seen live in the UK on Golden Boy’s Facebook page.
Matchroom USA has a great card lined up for Friday at Inglewood, California, featuring six high-quality 10-rounders. The main event is the long-awaited super-flyweight rematch between Srisaket Sor Rungvisai of Thailand and Mexican veteran Juan Francisco Estrada. At stake is Rungvisai’s WBC title. The Thai successfully defended against Estrada 14 months ago, but only via majority decision. Rungvisai is slightly favoured to repeat his previous victory at 4/5 at time of writing.
Chief support to the super-flys is an intriguing unification match up at super-bantam, which seems to have flown well under the radar. WBA champion Daniel Roman takes on his IBF counterpart T.J. Doheny. Perhaps the lack of publicity for this excellent match is due to neither boxer being particularly demonstrative. Indeed, they are both solid professionals who should put on a terrific battle. Unsung American Roman is fast improving and this is indicated in the pre-fight odds, where he is around a 1/6 favourite. However, that other Irish-Australian Dennis Hogan was written off a couple of weeks ago when challenging Jaime Munguia in Mexico – and look what happened there! This top-quality card is televised on Sky Sports in the UK.
Switching to Saturday and the biggest card in Britain is promoted by Frank Warren at Wembley, where hot heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois headlines. The unbeaten giant was to face Ghanaian Richard Lartey, but the African had visa issues and has had to withdraw. Whoever Dubois fights at such late notice, it will be a “nothing much” appearance for him, but eyes will still be on him as it appears a British heavyweight title fight against Joe Joyce is likely next on the horizon. Don’t expect his t.b.a. to upset these plans. The best fight on the Wembley card features a Commonwealth super-middleweight title fight between former British middleweight champion Tommy Langford and slow-burner Lerrone Richards. We have waited too long to see prospect Richards stepped up in class but the bookies have him at 4/9 favourite for this fight. Langford has a massive heart though and will fight to the bitter end.
In Louisiana, the World Boxing Super Series semi-finals begin and you will all be aware of the late pull-out of South African Zolani Tete from his bantamweight match with Nonito Donaire due to a shoulder injury. Donaire will now fight substitute American Stephon Young. In the other match, Regis Prograis takes on Kiryl Relikh in the first super-lightweight semi-final. A full preview of this show will follow on the website shortly.
Finally, the PBC rolls up in Las Vegas, with a very interesting card. The main event on this show features Robert Easter fighting for the vacant WBA (regular) lightweight title against Cuban Rances Barthelemy. The American returns for the first time since tasting his only defeat against Mikey Garcia last July. He is 1/7 with the bookies and it is hard to argue with this – Barthelemy’s abject surrender to Kiryl Relikh last March up at super-lightweight is still fresh in the memory. The main support features Ukraine’s Viktor Postol in a WBC eliminator at super-lightweight against former European welterweight champion Mohamed Mimoune of France. Postol starts as a 4/6 favourite, but Mimoune’s fleet-footed style can be a nightmare for opponents and if there is to be an upset this weekend, this is the fight that might produce it.
Prospect watch: don’t miss the eighth pro fight of Uzbek welterweight Shakhram Giyasov, who has his first 10-rounder on the Matchroom card on Friday. Giyasov was the 2016 Olympic silver medallist and the 2017 World gold medallist as an amateur and has looked nothing short of sensational in his pro career to date. His opponent on Friday is Emanuel Taylor, who not that long ago was a fringe contender at super-lightweight. Taylor has not fought for almost two years though and in his last appearance took a real hiding from Lucas Matthysse, being stopped in the fifth. Having said that, Taylor has fought in high class and the Matthysse defeat was his only one inside the distance. Can Giyasov become the second man to finish him?