BOXING boff Iwan Evans (IwanEvans19) has tackled Saturday night’s fight night with Anthony Joshua’s bout with Charles Martin taking centre-stage.
Anthony Joshua v Charles Martin | Saturday 23.00 | Sky Box Office
Saturday night at the 02 Arena sees a truly huge night of boxing as American Charles Martin (23-0-1, 21 KO's) makes the first defence of his IBF World title, against Britain's heavyweight hope Anthony Joshua (15-0, 15 KO's).
This marks the first time I've ever had a bet on a Joshua fight; there's hardly been any value around in his pro career so far, but on the biggest stage of all, I feel I may have found a decent little angle.
Martin travels over for a massive purse, having been tempted over from the States for his first title defence having won the title in rather farcical circumstances in January, with opponent Vyacheslav Glazkov suffering a right knee injury in the 3rd Round.
‘Prince' Charles was doing the better early work, with the Ukrainian struggling to get inside against the better man, but it's a victory that's left more questions than answers over the 29-year-old's ability.
Martin is a massive unknown quantity in my book – I tried to watch as much as I possibly could before the Glazkov fight, and found very little of note, especially as many of his opponents were of a very low level. That was shown in his penultimate fight before the title contest, as he destroyed hapless British journeyman Tom Dallas in the first.
Some experts are saying Martin is being totally disregarded in this fight and that it's Joshua's fight to lose, and even though it's a risky contest, given that Martin is the first southpaw Joshua has fought since the Olympic final, it could be awkward.
However, I think Charles is very unproven, and see only a stoppage win for AJ. This can be shown in their one common opponent – Brazilian Raphael Zumbrano Love – who was stopped in the final round of a 10-round contest with Martin in February 2015, only to get beaten in two devastating rounds by the Brit at Birmingham's Barclaycard Arena three months later.
The question is, how and when is he going to do it? It's fair to say Joshua has been pretty exemplary so far, and has destroyed all put in front of him.
Last time out at fortress 02, he claimed a 7th Round stoppage win over his big rival Dillian Whyte, having to take a big shot in the 2nd Round, where he did show some signs of inexperience.
Joshua will be a little more patient though in my opinion, and I'm sure his camp will know some caution is required.
As I have mentioned, Martin is a southpaw, which can be tricky for anyone, and could hold massive problems for a man with just 32 pro rounds under his belt. The Olympic final was not without it's controversies, it was very close against the top Italian Roberto Cammeralle, and it's the main reason I'm not expecting an early blowout.
The bookies are shortening Martin's price with each day, and clearly people are starting to realise this won't be an easy title win for Joshua. Plenty of money will go on the Watford man to win in the first three rounds but I think it could be slightly later.
My pick is Joshua to win in Rounds 4-6 at 11/4 with Paddy Power. This is heavyweight boxing – I'm expecting it to turn into a shoot-out after some potentially close early rounds, with the Britain adding another world heavyweight champion to it's ranks before the midway mark.
Lee Selby v Eric Hunter | Saturday 19.30
A good undercard sees two world title fights, plus George Groves fighting in a domestic clash against David Brophy.
One of my favourite boxers Jamie McDonnell defends his WBA bantamweight but I've spotted a tremendous value bet with one firm, as Welshman Lee Selby (22-1, 8 KO's) makes the second defence of his IBF featherweight title, against mandatory US challenger Eric Hunter (21-3, 11 KO's).
This is a very intriguing clash; it may not be the most exciting for the casual fan, but it's an excellent technical match-up, as the little known Hunter is a big threat here.
Selby is a quality boxer himself – he showed that when winning this title in May last year, claiming an eighth-round technical decision over Russian fighter Evgeny Gradovich, barely losing a round, leaving the visitor blooded and bruised after a real hiding.
That victory saw him sign up with American advisor Al Haymon and he made his US debut in October against two-time Mexican champion Fernando Montiel. It was a fight he won pretty comfortably but it wasn't the most sparkling performance and he failed to impress the viewing audience.
Selby returns to Britain with his tail somewhat between his legs and will be looking to impress once again. This won't be easy though and I can see him being in for a tough 12 rounds.
Hunter hasn't fought at the same level but he's rapidly improving and is an incredibly talented boxer. He really impressed in a fight with good Nicaraguan Rene Alvarado in January, winning a unanimous decision over 10 rounds and followed that up with a 1st Round demolition of Antonio Escalante in May.
He has three defeats on his record but two have come by disqualification, which clearly shows a potential for mental weakness and will surely be tested against a man known to frustrate opponents. However, it should also be pointed out that it's nine years since he legitimately lost a fight – and that was by a split decision.
Selby's experience, and in my opinion, slightly better skills should get him the win here and some people will be wary of IBF mandatories after Kevin Bizier's terrible recent performance against Kell Brook on these shores.
This won't be easy for Lee though, and I think Hunter will take him the distance. I chalked the Selby points win an even-money shot and early quotes of around 4/6 – 8/11 with most firms made it a no bet.
To my surprise however, Betfred have chalked it up at 15/8, which makes it an absolute must bet in my book.
As I mentioned in my preview, I was very surprised to see Betfred price up the Selby points win at 15/8, when most other firms had gone odds-on.
I placed a bet with them on Wednesday night at that price but having looked at the odds Thursday lunchtime, they had corrected the odds to get in line with the other firms, and refunded my stake.
Personally I'm disappointed Betfred have done this, as the price had been there for 12 hours or more and had only been corrected at 10am (Thursday).
I do like the bet but the price is maybe not the best, as I mentioned. It's up to you punters if you want to have a wager and the preview will stay up, as odds can certainly move in the lead up to fights.
Brian Rose v Matthew Macklin | Saturday 21.00
The last fight I'm previewing is possibly the closest fight on the card between two British middleweights, Brian Rose (28-3-1, 8 KO's) and Matthew Macklin (34-6, 22 KO'S) with a career at a high level set to finish for the loser, a real high stakes battle. The IBF Inter-Continental title is on the line.
Both guys are exposed, having challenged for world titles previously with Macklin losing for a version of a world title three times, and Rose just the once, although that was at a weight below.
Macklin should have won a title in June 2011, when he was robbed in Germany by Felix Sturm and he's never really recovered since then, and has had a patchy 6-3 record, with all three defeats coming inside the distance.
To be fair, two of those losses have come to possibly the two best middleweights of the last 10 years in Sergio Martinez and Gennady Golovkin but it's his last defeat, to unknown Argentinian Jorge Sebastian Heiland, which has really put that cat among the pigeons.
Macklin was expected to win that fight in November 2014 but never really got going and was beaten up by the time he was KO'ed in the 10th round.
He really got taken apart that night and it had been coming as only two months earlier he produced a terrible performance in Germany against a guy with a record of 12-4-1, who had no business to even lace the Birmingham fighter's boots.
Last time out Macklin stepped down to light middleweight and struggled massively against average West Midlander Jason Welborn in a local derby. He won on all three judges scorecards but was given a very hard 10 rounds, a bout which should have been very easy for a fighter of his ability and experience.
The worry I have for Matt is, he's got plenty going on outside the ring. He's a clever guy and has built a very successful gym in Marbella and has now a number of satellite gyms under the MGM banner in Britain. I just wonder here, will he want it as much as Rose?
Rose is a boxer who I've never been the biggest fan of, to be honest. But he's very honest, hard-working, and will be determined here, as he knows his career is on the line.
He lost to the classy Demetrius Andrade in June 2014 as he was stopped in seven rounds after a real battering from the talented American in New York. Levels were shown that night and I doubt that Rose will ever get there again – but he can put himself back in the mix here.
He's had a real frustrating time since that fight and had just the four outings – one of which saw a terrible 1st Round defeat to Carson Jones in front of his hometown fans in Blackpool 14 months ago.
He had staggered the American, who is most remembered for once giving Kell Brook hell for 12 rounds but then took a massive shot himself with referee Ian John-Lewis somewhat controversially stepping in too early in some people's eyes.
To be honest, I thought his career was done then. Jones is really a welterweight, but he was given a chance of redemption in August and, to be fair, he put in his most impressive performance for sometime, claiming a unanimous decision over the man from Oklahoma.
He boxed well to instructions, showcased his excellent jab, and showed the great fitness, which has always been one of his biggest strengths.
I'm not sure how permanent this move to middleweight is going to be and you do wonder what kind of power he'll carry up with him.
I really like “The Lion” in this fight though, and have absolutely lumped on him. I think he's the better boxer and he's got more left in the tank. I absolutely love 4/5 quote available from Ladbrokes and also had a small play on Rose stopping Macklin at 9/2 with Bet365.
Jorge Heiland has just a 44% KO% and managed to get Macklin out of there, and although Rose has never been a big puncher, I just don't think Matt has much left in the tank.
Anthony Joshua v Charles Martin – Anthony Joshua to win in Rounds 4-6 (11/4 Paddy Power)
Brian Rose v Matthew Macklin – Brian Rose to win (4/5 Ladbrokes)
Brian Rose v Matthew Macklin – Brian Rose by KO, TKO or disqualification (9/2 Bet365)
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