It’s a relatively low-key, hype-free weekend for the sport. Instead, we have to settle for a clutch of seemingly well-matched, relevant fights that bode well in terms of value-for-money and potential action. See, they do exist.
Adrien Broner (-225) vs. Khabib Allakhverdiev (+350)
Jostling for our attention from the Showtime side of the Great Divide is, we’re told, a rejuvenated, matured Adrien Broner, a few months after a somewhat impotent decision defeat at the hands of Shawn Porter. It’s hard to fathom why Broner, the WBA’s number two-ranked light-welterweight (I know the WBA refers to the division as super-lightweight, but I’m not about to) is fighting #5 Allakhverdiev for the ‘regular’ belt, when there’s already an incumbent interim titleholder in Jose Benavidez, but that’s #boxing for you.
If we disregard the legitimacy of this as a title fight, though - which is a sound rule of thumb for most WBA-sanctioned contests – this is a genuinely interesting fight. It’s sort of a crossroads fight for Broner, whose recent wins at 140lb stretch as far as Emmanuel Taylor and Carlos ‘Not That Carlos’ Molina, if we’re being unkind and discounting a win over John Molina Jr because Broner couldn’t be bothered to boil down any further than 141, which we will. That’s not to say that Broner – brash, well-connected, controversial – will struggle for fights if he does drop to three defeats from his last six, but he’s fast becoming a boxer living on borrowed time as any kind of genuine headline act.
Allakhverdiev is the type of unheralded guy that Showtime couldn’t even be bothered to make room for on their fight poster, but he’s far from a pushover. He doesn’t fit the role of ruthless eastern European killer in the same way as Sergey Kovalev or Gennady Golovkin, and won’t be a familiar name to most, but his resume at 140lb is both deeper and considerably more impressive than Broner’s, and – if he comes here to win – could give a better account of himself than many might figure.
It’s no surprise, though, that all the money has been for Broner. After opening at -187, the Cincinnati man – fighting at home here – has been steadily clipped in with most firms, and more emphatically so elsewhere. A glance of the European market shows only UK firm Coral holding at -225 (4/9), which is now the leading price across the market. Elsewhere, the layers who opened at -187 are now going -350 on ‘The Problem’, who can be found at -400 and nearer -600 with the more cautious bookmakers.
This will be Broner’s 33rd professional fight and he’s been the betting favourite in every single bout that’s been priced up. On paper, and pre-fight, the men behind the odds figure this is one of his tougher contests, but they didn’t make much of Marcos Maidana’s chances either (Broner was a -600 shot), and we all know what happened there. Since then, Carlos Molina (Broner -2500), John Molina Jr (Broner -600) and Emmanuel Taylor (-1400) were never thought to provide particularly stiff competition. Porter made a mockery of Broner’s -135 favouritism there, but in terms of numbers it was hardly an upset of any real note. Looking further back, there was -137 available for Broner to get past Daniel Ponce de Leon – a bet that paid out, albeit with a debatable set of scorecards.
All of Broner’s last six fights have heard the final bell (with the footnote that the Carlos Molina bout was scheduled for ten rounds), and so it’s no real surprise that a decision win for him is considered the most likely outcome at just over even money (+110, or 11/10). It’s a decent price. By comparison, Allakhverdiev’s last six fights have seen a total of 48 rounds, in contrast to Broner’s 70, with two technical decisions muddying the picture alongside three stoppage victories. The Russian has decent power at the weight, as Kaizer Mabuza and Souleymane M’baye for two will attest, but a 9/19 KO-to-win split underlines the point that ‘The Hawk’ isn’t the most explosive of punchers. There’s +550 that Allakhverdiev will work his way to a points win, but given that he’s going into Broner’s home city, it’s going to take a fairly decisive performance, and perhaps more besides, to have his arm raised that way.
With that in mind, how does Allakhverdiev win? Broner can be hurt, as Maidana demonstrated, but the underdog doesn’t have the same thudding power that the Argentinian did at welterweight. Neither man has ever been stopped, and it’s anything from +800 to +1200 that Broner doesn’t last the twelve rounds, while +200 can be found should you doubt Allakhverdiev’s chances of going the distance. It’s +2500 for the draw.
Lucas Martin Matthysse (-187) vs. Viktor Postol (241)
For those already tired of the Adrien Broner (side)show, HBO’s own 140lb offering, this time for the WBC equivalent, should prove far more palatable.
Matthysse – though now without much of the aura that many will have tagged onto him prior to his defeat at the hands of Danny Garcia - is a fine, if not truly elite, fighter, and one who virtually guarantees fireworks every time he steps into the ring. Postol, a Ukrainian, is another B-side eastern European to the more established TV guy this weekend, but it’d be a surprise if he doesn’t provide a very stern test indeed. Plenty would argue that Garcia vacating the title earlier this year pointed to the fact that he didn’t much fancy taking on Postol, who’s waited patiently for his crack at this belt.
Primarily fighting out of his native Kiev, Postol, unbeaten in 27 bouts (11 KOs), will be new to many tuning in on Saturday night. Last May, however, an impressive – and unlikely – knockout of the perennially-scrappy Selcuk Aydin on the Marquez-Alvarado undercard showcased to a wider US audience the fact that Postol is a genuinely talented boxer. Rangy, and at 5’11, big for the weight, Postol has an outstanding jab and, stylistically, is an opponent that could cause all kinds of problems should Matthysse fail to adequately close the distance.
Nonetheless, it’s the Argentinian who starts as slight favourite here, with a market-best price of -187 outnumbered by quotes of -225 (4/9) and -250 (2/5) with most other firms. Postol, a -200 favourite to see off Aydin, adopts marginal outsider status here, but there’s not much in it, and indeed he’s generally available between +175 and +187, with only UK firm Marathon Bet favouring Matthysse anything more than that.
Four of Matthysse’s last six have ended inside the distance, with only that decision loss to Garcia and a points nod over fellow warmonger Ruslan Provodnikov going to the judges. It’s -125 that there’s an early night of any kind here, with even money on offer for twelve completed rounds. By contrast, five of Postol’s last six have gone to the cards, but two eight-rounders and a ten-rounder make a straight comparison an unreliable gauge. It’s +110 that Matthysse racks up his second decision victory on the spin, with +333 on offer for a KO or TKO. Backing Postol by decision at +300 (+275 general) looks a better option for his backers and, as it’s hard to envision Matthysse being stopped, that’s perhaps rightly considered the most unlikely of the major fight outcomes at +900. It’s +2800 the draw.
Jose Pedraza (-400) vs. Edner Cherry (+475)
Antonio Orozco (-250) vs. Humberto Soto (+200)
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