Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter
Through a combination of protracted rumours and an unfortunate delay forced by injury, Thurman-Porter is one of those fights that’s felt in the offing for a long old time.
It’s detracted from the buzz around the bout – from this viewpoint, at least – but in reality it doesn’t affect the quality of the pairing, which is as good as anything we’ve seen at welterweight since, well, You-Know-What last May. It is, frankly, the kind of fight that we should see more of, and certainly a fight that the PBC series should have been geared around right from its inception.
Thurman (26-0, 22 KOs) once felt like a breath of fresh air in the division, but an uninspired title defence against Luis Collazo last time out, last July, has slowed that particular train of thought, at least for now. Saturday night could change all that again and, with his WBA belt on the line, the Florida man is the firm – but far from prohibitive – favourite in a fight that’s a fine example of a ‘50/50’ contest in the promotional fluff, but is anything but on the layers’ coupons.
Having opened at 1/2 (-200) in March, followed up by quotes of 4/7 (-175) and 8/15 (-187), the Thurman’s price has, broadly speaking, been shortened since, with a general 4/9 (-225) the best to be found.
In betting terms, then, this is considered to be Thurman’s trickiest assignment since Carlos Quintana, the fight in which he announced his arrival on the peripheries of world level, while obliging as a 1/2 (-200) favourite. Since then, the careful manner in which Thurman’s been steered is reflected in the numbers, with 1/6 (-600) against Jan Zaveck, 1/8 (-800) against Diego Chaves and 1/33 (-3300) against Luis Collazo just a handful of the dubious highlights.
Porter (26-1-1, 16 KOs) has navigated an altogether trickier path, having picked up and dropped the IBF belt in a recent sequence that’s seen him outhustle and upset resident jester Adrien Broner (Porter was marginally odds-against at +110), bulldoze Paulie Malignaggi (Porter 4/9, or -225), and lose out while a 1/3 (-300) favourite to Kell Brook, who might just be the best active welterweight, if only he’d prove it.
There’s a very real argument that says Porter, a 2/1 (+200) underdog here, represents the value. We’ve yet to see Thurman troubled or, indeed, really tested, and Porter, Vegas by way of Akron, Ohio has the style and straight-up recklessness that will, at the very least, put him very much in Thurman’s wheelhouse - which could otherwise be classed as ‘harm’s way’, depending on your take.
Thurman, though, on all available evidence, is the more cerebral fighter of the two, and though his power is vaunted – perhaps talked up by himself more than anyone else – it’s just part of his game. We’ve seen Thurman content to sit behind what’s a very reasonable jab for as long as has been required before, and against Porter, who’ll look to close the distance, it could be the key to dictating the fight on his terms.
The bookies are split about the most likely outcome here, with both the Thurman decision and stoppage floating around the 7/4 (+175) mark. A Porter stoppage win is considered the rank outsider at 8/1 (+800), but with Thurman really yet to be roughed up, is it overpriced? Porter’s record of two KOs in his last three wins suggests so, but closer inspection reveals that a trampling of a half-there Malignaggi and a never-really-meant-to-be-there Erick Bone could be misleading.
There’s an industry best 3/1 (+300) available on Porter to eke out a decision – one would presume as the result of a performance based around high output and sheer activity – but most firms have it listed around the 11/4 (+275) mark.
Anthony Joshua vs. Dominic Breazeale
Earlier on Saturday, Britain’s second (of two) heavyweight titlists makes his first defence at London’s O2 Arena on Sky Sports PPV.
Having acquired the IBF belt by demolishing a clearly overmatched Charles Martin, the Anthony Joshua (16-0, 16 KOs) train rolls on to Dominic Breazeale for its first parade in front of a home crowd. The hype around Joshua has shown no sign of stopping and, for as long as he’s blitzing opponents in a round or two, we might as well do our best to enjoy the most crossover interest there’s been around a heavyweight champion in a decade or more.
Breazeale (17-0, 15 KOs), of course, has no more than a puncher’s chance here. That’s not to say he won’t take it, but those with a hunch for what would be an upset of monumental proportions would do well to put their money where their mouth is.
The Californian – fresh off a win over Amir Mansour that simultaneously highlighted his flaws and proved his will to win - is an enormous 14/1 (+1400) underdog to pull the shock, with only a couple of books going shorter at 9/1 (+900).
There’s plenty of discrepancy about Joshua’s price, with quotes ranging anywhere from the extremely lean 1/16 (-1600) to the aggressively lopsided (1/50, -5000). To put the confidence of the oddsmakers into context, Joshua is a best-priced 1/12 (-1200) to win by stoppage. By stoppage.
Unless you’re a boxing promoter or a television executive, making money on Anthony Joshua has so far been a cause of trying to pick the round (or group of rounds). The Londoner’s last six totals read: 3, 2, 2, 1, 7, 2, which almost feels closer to binary that it does a sequence of heavyweight knockouts. Nonetheless, Joshua anywhere in the first three can be taken at 4/9 (-225), which may hold appeal for short-price backers, with 10/11 (-110) on offer for him to close the show inside two.
If you’re still holding out hope for this to be remotely competitive, Sky Bet go no bigger than a paltry 5/2 (+250) that we see no more than 60 seconds of action and a Joshua win in the main event (Ladbrokes go a more reasonable 9/1, +900). For Breazeale to get it done in a minute? 150/1.
George Groves (4/11, -275) takes on Martin Murray (5/2, +250) in an eagerly-awaited battle of perennial world title bridesmaids, with the Londoner available at a very reasonable even money to jostle his way back into contention via a win on the scorecards.
With the prospect of Canelo-Golovkin shelved yet again, Chris Eubank Jr (1/16, -1600) faces what could be one final audition before he does what Alvarez is in no rush to do - challenge the Kazakh wrecking ball. Tom Doran (10/1, +1000) emerged victorious in a Fight of the Year contender against Luke Keeler, but isn’t figured to give Eubank Jr anything more than a last chance to undertake some fine tuning here. Slight odds-against at 11/10 (+110) for the bout not to see the fifth round has some appeal.