Local rivalries in boxing always add that extra bit of spice.
Sure, there might be 74 miles between Nottingham and Leeds, but the support of both Leigh Wood and Josh Warrington from their respective cities means Saturday night’s featherweight clash has been turned up a notch.
The pair meet at the middle-ground, in Sheffield, with violence likely to ensue between two guys who are likeable outside of the ring.
Still life in the old-er dog
Opening up as a 4/9 | -225 FAV, Leigh Wood is being favoured here as the champion despite being the older man at 35.
He has peaked later in his career than Warrington, and holds the key to that one-punch power that the Leeds man has struggled with throughout his career.
Warrington is a 7/4 | +175 dog and has been priced that way due to the fact he has won just one of his last four contests.
Make no mistake, Warrington is drinking in the last chance saloon as his career hangs on by a thread, and a points win utilising his work rate and aggression looks the only realistic path to victory at a weighty 7/2 | +350.
The pick looks to be Wood by stoppage at 11/4 | +275. The Nottingham fighter bounced back to seek revenge over Mauricio Lara with a controlled display in May, his 27th win as a pro.
He went on a TKO blitzing over the space of 13 months at the start of 2021 stopping Reece Mould, Xu Can and Michael Conlan, all in fights where you could have argued the opposite corner pre-fight.
This power is bound to trouble the whiskers of Warrington who knows what it’s like not to hear the final bell in a fight.
This could well be a barnburner and over fast. Under 6.5 Rounds weighs in at 11/2 | +550 and with a fervent crowd expected in Sheffield, emotion might just get the better of both of them.
Zurdo a big favourite against big Smith
We’re up in fresh waters for both Gilberto Ramirez and Joe Smith Jr in a cruiserweight contest that will springboard the winner towards a world title shot.
And the first thing to point out here is the value in Joe Smith Jr as a 3/1 | +300 underdog.
Smith has made a career in being pretty unpredictable – whether it being in beating favourites or losing to underdogs – and up at cruiserweight Smith will be expected to chin check Zurdo. Joe Smith’s middle name is “puncher’s chance” and at 8/1 | +800 to knock out the favourite, is perhaps worth a small stake.
Ramirez ran to 44-0 until being schooled by Dmitry Bivol last November and this move up to the 200-pound limit division will give us the opportunity to see him fight without the restrictions of being weight drained.
He is more skilled than Smith in every compartment, but does he have the stamina to keep Smith off him for 12 rounds? A Zurdo win on the cards is priced at 7/4 | +175.
Udofia at 8/11 in a pick ‘em
After a postponement earlier this year, a middleweight pick ‘em falls on the Wood-Warrington card between Linus Udofia and Kieron Conway.
Udofia comes in as an 8/11 | -138 FAV and at such a slender price is well worth backing against a man in Conway who has lost two of his last four.
Conway is a tough middleweight, but with Udofia coming into this fight buoyed by an impressive run in the ring — including a contested SD loss to Denzel Bentley — he must be favoured to pick up the vacant Intercontinental title.
This one is destined to go the distance – Udofia to win on the scorecards at 6/4 | +150 looks favourable.