Saturday's card at the Barclay Center, Brooklyn - the latest instalment in the fledgling PBC series - looks on paper like the strongest line-up we've seen so far. How do the bookmakers see what would appear to be two well-matched fights?
Danny Garcia vs. Lamont Peterson
In the headline event, Danny Garcia (29-0-0, 17 KOs), multi-light-welterweight-champion at large, takes on the IBF titleholder Lamont Peterson at a 143lb catchweight that: (a) either speaks volumes about each man's indecision about where they actually want to campaign; or (b), is a somewhat cynical ploy by the PBC to avoid the conventional light-welter title scene discussion dominated by Garcia and Peterson - ahead of launching in-house belts - simply by staging the fight at a different weight altogether.
Alphabet relevance forgone, though, this is still a fine fight, and a welcome return to the bigger names by Garcia after the homecoming-of-sorts against Mauricio Herrera that went all-sorts-of-wrong, and the subsequent slaughtering-the-lamb ritual against the grossly overmatched Rod Salk five months later.
Garcia is, as you'd expect, a reasonable favorite here, and has tightened up with most firms since the first prices were put up. An initial -250 or better shot (that's 1.4, or 2/5, odds conversion fans!), he's been clipped in to at best, -300, and is more generally available at -333 or -400 with a wide variety of firms.
(Image courtesy of oddschecker.com)
That is, of course, a stark contrast to Garcia's last outing, for which he went off somewhere around a 1/33 to 1/50 for that unnecessary beatdown of Salka, and again in a different ballpark to the landslide -1400 we saw on the Philadelphian against Herrera, a fight that he was lucky to get away from with his hand raised at all. Saturday marks a third fight in succession that he's been installed as betting favorite, ever since overturning the odds against Lucas Matthysse (when quoted at around the 2/1 underdog). Garcia is an excellent fighter who just keeps winning, but that sequence of favoritism since Matthysse says more about the perceived level of his opponents pre-fight than anything else.
Matthysse, one of two notable shared opponents Saturday's protagonists have, made light work of Peterson, who simply couldn't deal with the Argentinian's power. The other, Amir Khan, ended up with defeats to both - stopped inside a tumultuous four rounds by Garcia, and outhustled by Peterson over the distance, albeit a win called into some question by Peterson later testing positive for synthetic testosterone.
Peterson (33-2-1, 17 KOs), Memphis, Tennessee, will almost certainly go into the Garcia bout as just shy of a 3/1 underdog, with a general +275 offered across the market, and with as little give as +240 elsewhere. He is, though, no stranger to the underdog tag - there was a best price of around +925 for him to shock Khan - but in his most recent outings, against Edgar Santana (a huge -2750 favorite, won by TKO10), and Dierry Jean (-165, won by UD12), Peterson has obliged to record the win, as expected.
Andy Lee vs. Peter Quillin
Lee (34-2, 24 KOs) holds the belt- although it's perhaps highly unlikely that the name of the WBO will be mentioned on the NBC broadcast - but will go into this contest as the betting outsider. It's the unbeaten Quillin (31-0, 22 KOs), who vacated the same title rather than fight Matt Korobov - the same guy Lee duly went on to stop inside six rounds - that's the firm favorite to notch a 32nd consecutive professional win, but perhaps not overwhelmingly so.
Lee (+250), really, looks a rejuvenated fighter of late, and though winning a vacant strap against a fighter as limited as Korobov was only his first taste of any kind of world title level since a stoppage loss to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr in June 2012, he looks a far more dangerous proposition than before. Lee, of Ireland by way of deepest east London, is a very different animal under the tutelage of the excellent Adam Booth and many punters will fancy his chances of a third picture-book knockout, particularly in light of the abrupt dispatches of John Jackson and Korobov in his last two. He's a +450 shot to repeat that trick here.
It's quite possible, though, that this one of those strange fights where the shrewd money is actually with the mid-priced, reasonably firm, odds-on favorite, rather than the underdog, and the swathe of popular opinion pointing towards a successful title defence for Lee may be deceptive. Quillin (-250, but as short as -333) has his vulnerabilities, and can look as impressive as he can shaky, but he's the better technically, by far the quicker man of the two, and isn't lacking in power of his own. It's +125 that he forces a stoppage - which would be Lee's third in three defeats if so - and a satisfyingly round +200 that he gets the nod on the cards.