BOXING boff Iwan Evans (@IwanEvans19) talks us through his favourite fancies from Saturday night’s exciting Bad Intentions card.
Kevin Mitchell v Ismael Barroso | Saturday 21.00 | Sky Box Office
Saturday night at the 02 Arena sees a massive pre-Christmas PPV show headlined by a big heavyweight dust-up between former amateur rivals Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte.
The regard that Joshua is held in leaves little value for punters, unless you are a big Whyte fan, and that's why the undercard catches my eye.
The most intriguing fight in my opinion is a clash for the Interim WBA lightweight between Dagenham's Kevin Mitchell (39-3, 29 KO) and visiting Venezuelan banger Ismael Barroso (18-0-2, 17 KO).
This is a huge fight for ‘Mighty’ Mitchell, and the winner is set to challenge Manchester's Anthony Crolla for the full WBA title in the New Year. Mitchell comes into this after his second failed crack at a world title against another Venezuelan, WBC champion Jorge Linares, who stopped a brave and badly cut Brit in the 11th round off a pulsating contest.
It will go down as one of the fights of the year and one Kevin fully played his part in as he was ahead on two of the three cards at the time of the stoppage, with the other judge scoring it as a draw.
The 31-year-old showed how good a technical fighter he is on the night, and it's showed what the guy can do once he gets his head down and trains properly, this having had pre-fight problems before his two other defeats to Michael Katsdis (stopped in the 3rd), and Ricky Burns (stopped in the 4th).
Before that fight, Mitchell showed his class with a sensational display against Mexican Daniel Estrada in January, stopping him in the 8th, and a repeat of that performance will be enough to earn another world title crack here. He has the skills to out-box come forward fighters like Barroso, and could easily be levels above his opponent.
Barroso comes over with a big reputation as a puncher, and this is a fight that is going to tell us plenty about his ability. He was meant to face Liverpool's Derry Mathews for this same title in April, but didn't receive his visa on time, and instead delivered a brutal 6th round beating to Ira Terry at the Grand Casino in Hinckley, Minnesota.
This is a big step up in competition for him though, and the fact he's drawn twice at a low level early in his career suggests he struggles when he doesn't get his own way.
This guy could turn out to be a really top fighter; he's a come forward southpaw, which can be an awkward style for anybody but what I've seen of him on video is that he can be pretty crude, and could well leave himself open.
He doesn't have much of an amateur pedigree either, and with just 59 pro rounds boxed to his name, I do wonder if the 32-year-old is ready for this challenge.
I can see Mitchell being too good for Barroso, even at the age of 31 and I think he's still improving. He's seriously stepped up since joining ex-amateur trainer Tony Sims, and is probably at his peak now.
I've got a feeling we'll see a big performance from the Essex man and see great value in backing Mitchell to win by KO/TKO/DQ at 11/8 with BetVictor. I've also got a feeling Barroso's crudeness could leave himself open early, therefore I'll be having a small stakes bet on Mitchell in Rounds 1-6 at 4/1 with Paddy Power.
Tony Bellew v Mateusz Masternak | Saturday 21.00 | Sky Box Office
Liverpool's Tony Bellew (25-2-1, 16 KO) faces a big challenge himself, as he faces the tough Pole Mateusz Masternak (36-3, 26 KO) for the vacant European cruiserweight title.
This is a fight I feel pretty confident in calling correctly because these are two guys with styles I know well.
Bellew, the self styled ‘Bomber’, is one of my favourite domestic fighters as I love his passion, and intensity, while he's also delivered some brutal highlight reel knockouts in the past. He's moved up to the 200lbs weight division, and has won five straight fights, including beating his big rival Nathan Cleverly in a domestic grudge match just over a year ago.
This is his biggest test at the weight though, he's facing a genuine world class cruiserweight and it won't be easy. Although he's known as a big puncher, Bellew is a good technician, and I expect him to use his brain a bit more than brawn in this contest.
His trainer Dave Coldwell will have devised a great game plan for this fight, and I can't see them under-estimating this opponent. Tony will be happy to keep on the back foot, and I do expect him to nick most of the rounds in a close bout.
Masternak will be confident coming over to the UK however, as Tony has not impressed recently, struggling in wins over journeymen although Bellew himself would mention that he was lacking in motivation.
The Wroclaw-based boxer is very tough though; he's never been knocked down as a pro, with two of his three defeats being a split decision to Youri Kalenga in June 2014, and a disgraceful split decision loss in South Africa to Johnny Muller in June of this year.
His only other loss was a 11th round TKO defeat to current world champion Grigory Dzozd in October 2013, but close inspection of the scorecards will tell you he was losing by just two points on a couple of the judges sheets at the time of stoppage.
Mateusz is very solid, he does a lot of things very well, but one thing that Bellew has mentioned in the build-up is that he doesn't do anything brilliantly. I think the same could actually be said of Tony; these are two very well matched guys, but I see home advantage, and Bellew's slightly better footwork, being the key differences here.
I really fancy the ‘Bomber’ to win by Decision, which can be backed at 11/10 with Paddy Power. I have also backed a double with Mitchell to win by KO/TKO/DQ and Bellew to win by Decision, which is a best-priced 4/1 with Coral.
Chris Eubank Jr v Gary O'Sullivan | Saturday 22.00 | Sky Box Office
A couple of other side bets, the first of which comes in to the chief support to the Joshua v Whyte fight between middleweights Chris Eubank Jr (20-1, 15 KO) and Gary ‘Spike' O'Sullivan (22-1, 15 KO).
Chris is a fighter I really like, I think he gets compared to his dad too often, but should be regarded as a top quality fighter in his own right.
The winner of this contest will go on to face WBA champion Daniel Jacobs, and maybe it will take winning a world title for the younger Eubank to get his respect. I certainly expect him to be advancing to that opportunity however, and see him being far too good for the Irishman.
Eubank took a big step forward in a close defeat to Billy Joe Saunders just over a year ago – a bad start cost him but he came on strongly in the last six rounds and nearly got the victory on a decision.
He's gone forward again in his next two fights, stopping the tough Russian Dmitry Chudinov in the last round of their 12-round contest in February, and destroying the hapless American Tony Jeter in two rounds a couple of months ago.
He's shown his explosivity, and that's possibly an area O'Sullivan could match him in, but otherwise I feel Chris is a far better technical fighter.
‘Spike' has talked himself into this big fight but has been surprisingly quiet in the pre-fight build up, which possibly suggests he's bitten off more than he can chew. He's a big puncher, his record tells you that, and being trained by the Collins brothers, Packie and Steven (who beat Chris' Dad as a pro) at the Celtic Warriors gym, they feel they have the blueprint to win here.
I don't think Gary is good enough to get the better of Junior, however. He's been getting plenty of big knockouts over in the States but most have been against very poor opposition and some guys have even been bulked up welterweights.
Both boxers have been beaten by the same guy, that being WBO title challenger Billy Joe Saunders, but the Hatfield traveller made very easy work of O'Sullivan in their July 2013 contest. ‘Spike’ won just one round on the three judges scorecards combined, and was totally out-boxed on the night.
Saunders is technically very good, but doesn't hit as hard as Eubank, which is why I can see Chris taking over in the later rounds this weekend and I'm backing him to stop ‘Spike' between rounds 7-12 at 2/1 with Paddy Power.
Luke Campbell v Yvan Mendy | 20.00 | Sky Box Office
The final bout I'm previewing this weekend sees Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell (12-0, 10 KO) face the toughest challenge of his burgeoning pro career, as he defends his WBC International lightweight title against Frenchman Yvan Mendy (32-4-1, 16 KO).
The 135lb division in Britain is incredibly strong at the minute; we have two world champions in Anthony Crolla and Terry Flanagan, as well as plenty of top challengers in the already mentioned Mitchell, Burns and Mathews, as well as the likes of Scott Cardle, Tommy Coyle and O'Hara Davies.
However, ‘Cool Hand’ Luke could well be the best of the lot as he has some serious skills – ones you'd expect from an Olympic gold medallist and he's pretty much been punch perfect as a pro so far.
Luke comes into this on the back of a very good 10th round stoppage of cross-city rival Coyle, who was incredibly brave on the night, but had no answer for the supreme technical ability of Campbell.
The baby-faced 28-year-old has the potential to be a three-weight world champion in my eyes. He's got plenty of room to grow as he's very tall for the weight but this weekend's clash could be a perfect learning fight for him.
French boxers are renowned for being very tough and although most are not the greatest technically, they will take a shot and prove very difficult to knock back.
Mendy certainly has a reputation for being very rugged and strong, and is naturally the bigger man having started his career as a light welterweight.
He's never been stopped in his career, which includes going the full 12 rounds with current WBC light welterweight champ Viktor Postol in late June 2012 and current European lightweight king Edis Tatli in April 2015.
He was competitive in both fights and I look at the Postol contest as a great example in terms of how I feel the Campbell fight will go. Luke has a similar style to the Ukrainian but the world champion was having his 18th fight, therefore a stoppage win for the Hull man would be a massive result.
I can't see Campbell getting the Frenchman out of there early, though. This will be a great 12 round workout for Luke; he'll have to work hard but I expect him to have too much class for his opponent. I'm backing Campbell to win on points at 10/11 with Bet365.
Kevin Mitchell v Ismael Barroso – Mitchell to win by KO/TKO/DQ (11/8 BetVictor)
Kevin Mitchell v Ismael Barroso – Mitchell to win in Rounds 1-6 (4/1 Paddy Power)
Tony Bellew v Mateusz Masternak – Tony Bellew to win by decision (11/10 Paddy Power)
Chris Eubank Jr v Gary O'Sullivan – Chris Eubank Jr to win in Rounds 7-12 (2/1 Paddy Power)
Luke Campbell v Yvan Mendy – Luke Campbell to win on points (10/11 Bet365)
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