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Saturday, 4 March 2017

Boxing Picks 2017- Haye vs Bellew/Garcia vs Thurman (March 4th)

There have already been some stunning boxing fights in 2017 and there is no doubt there is another huge one on March 4th that is going to start separating the very, very good from the elite.

Of course I am talking about the battle of the unbeaten fighters Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman in the Welterweight Division where some of the biggest names in boxing reside. Our own Kell Brook has a huge dust up with Errol Spence Jr to come in a couple of months with every chance of being paired with the winner on Saturday night later in the year if he can come through his mandatory against a dangerous unbeaten American fighter.

Amir Khan remains the mandatory to Garcia's WBC title and has been pushing for that rematch for a while. That might depend on whether Khan is able to secure the fight with Manny Pacquiao in May as suggested as he would have to win that fight to be the next in line to take on Garcia and earn a revenge for his loss to the Philadelphia fighter.

While Garcia vs Thurman might be the biggest fight for the boxing fans out there, casual fans will be much more interested in the big card at the O2 Arena in London where former Heavyweight Champion David Haye has his grudge fight with current WBC Cruiserweight Champion Tony Bellew.

There has been a lot of talking ahead of that fight and there is a clear dislike between not only the two boxers, but also the respective camps right up to Eddie Hearn. That has seen the fight bring in the attention from casual fans and it certainly will be an occasion to enjoy.


David Allen vs David Howe
One of the more low-key fights on the underdog is between two Heavyweights who are unlikely to ever reach World level.

Out of the two, David Allen has aligned himself with Eddie Hearn to bounce back from losses to Dillian Whyte and Luis Ortiz and is the far younger fighter in this one. Allen was winning just last weekend and I have no doubt that Hearn is not going to risk him with a live opponent as quickly as he has this weekend knowing the long term picture.

Allen is not going to be good enough to win a World title, but at 21 years old he is going to be more than capable of trying to reach British and potentially European level. Get to there and Anthony Joshua keeps winning and Allen becomes an attractive opponent for him down the line as a fairly comfortable fight that Joshua can give the British fans once he makes his mooted move to begin fighting out in the United States.

David Howe has been beaten 4 times before and 3 of those have come by Knock Out/TKO. 2 of those losses have come in the First Round and I am not sure Howe, at 36 years old, is going to have a lot in the mental tank to take a few shots in this one.

I am not at all sold on the power that Allen has nor the technique he currently exhibits, but 4 of his 7 previous Knock Out wins have come in Round 1. This should be another night to tick him along and I think the quick turnaround from last week is likely to lead to another early night for the 'White Rhino'.

Backing Allen to win this one in the 1st Round looks a decent pick to open the undercard at the O2 Arena on Saturday.


Ohara Davies vs Derry Matthews
This is the first of two grudge London versus Liverpool fights on the card at the O2 Arena and it does look like a crossroads kind of fight.

Ohara Davies might be unbeaten, but his record has not got anyone on it that has fought at the level Derry Matthews has, although Matthews is coming off a loss to Luke Campbell and has had to move up in weight for this fight.

You have to think there is going to be nowhere for Matthews to go if he was to lose this fight as it would be his third loss in a row. At least the defeats to Terry Flanaghan and Campbell have come against fighters who are at the top of their game, but losing to a fighter in his 15th pro fight would be a huge blow for Matthews.

I like the confidence Matthews is displaying and the feeling he can box or fight, but I am not sure he is going to outbox Davies as much as he thinks himself. Despite the lack of a real challenger, Davies wins plenty of rounds and I think he will build up a lead on the scorecards which will start seeing Matthews become a little desperate as he looks to go for the Knock Out.

In his last fight Davies was criticised for perhaps not picking up the pace and looking to stop his opponent but instead coast to a comfortable win on the cards. Someone like Derry Matthews is likely to force Davies into more of a firefight if he is chasing the fight but the Liverpudlian has been stopped 8 times in his career and Davies has stopped 11 of his 14 opponents in the pro ranks.

It would be a surprise if Davies takes too many risks early, but I do think he will begin to wear down Matthews and can pick him off as the fight develops. The corner may stop it for their man if Matthews is eating too many shots, but that won't be until the second half of the fight.

Matthews was stopped in Round 4 by Luke Campbell, but this one might go a few more Rounds as Davies bides his time before finishing him off.


Sam Eggington v Paulie Malignaggi
I love Paulie Malignaggi.

I think the American is already an excellent commentator and he is clearly going to be one of the voices of boxing going forward with his easy enthusiasm and knowledge easy to get behind.

However this is a fight and his commentating skills don't really mean anything at all when he comes through the ropes.

There has to be little left in the tank for Malignaggi who reached the top of his game and has been in with some of the top names of the last ten years. Ultimately Malignaggi found himself coming up short when in with the likes of Miguel Cotto, Ricky Hatton, Amir Khan, Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia and the last four of those have ended in stoppages.

I do think the punch resistance has gone from his peak days and Sam Eggington is coming in off a stoppage of an out of condition Frankie Gavin.

Now it has to be said that Eggington is not in the same company as those names who have previously stopped Malignaggi, but the big question is how much does the New Yorker have left in the tank. He has spoken about being in two minds about retiring and his wins since the loss to Garcia have not exactly come against top quality opposition too.

Eggington does have a serious dig into the body and I can see him wearing down Malignaggi in this one and slowing down an opponent whose speed and reflexes have regressed. Malignaggi has plenty of experience and has vowed to use all of his wily skills to bamboozle Eggington and I do think the American will be ahead on the cards and potentially wins this one on points.

However a nagging feeling is Eggington is catching Malignaggi at the right time and will be too young, too powerful and can wear him down to force a stoppage in the second half of the fight. It will be time for Malignaggi to concentrate on his commentating career, while Eggington can take a step towards some of the really big fights that are available in the Welterweight Division.



David Haye vs Tony Bellew
Things have certainly got a little heated between David Haye and Tony Bellew and all of the talking and soundbites have resulted in plenty of interest in a fight that Haye keeps telling anyone who will listen is 'one sided'.

I genuinely think Haye does not believe Bellew should be in this fight but it looks like the public have demanded it with tickets selling out in record time. All of this came from Bellew rushing the ring to try and 'attack' Haye in his 3rd Round win over BJ Flores a few months ago.

A heavier than expected David Haye looks like he will be coming in to overwhelm Bellew and I think the smart money has to be on the guy who has been campaigning at Heavyweight for the last few years. Of course the lay off from the ring with just three Rounds boxed since Knocking Out Dereck Chisora has just put a few doubts in this fight and whether Haye has enough left to finish off Bellew or whether he will get 'gassed' as Bellew has been warning.

Regardless of Bellew's constant knocking off the Haye resume, this is a fighter that carried the power to Knock Out the likes of Audley Harrison and Chisora and Haye has looked sharp. I am not sure he has slipped as much as Bellew likes to say and Haye is going to be very dangerous early on in this fight.

Bellew will look to take it into the deeper Rounds and see what Haye has in the tank, but I am not sure he can get out of the way of the power that the former Heavyweight Champion possesses.

This really feels like the Enzo Maccarinelli fight that Haye concluded with big punches in the 2nd Round.

I think there are levels to punchers and while 'Bomber' thinks he carries power, I don't think he has as much as he thinks. He fought Nathan Cleverly twice and went to decision both times against a fighter who was obliterated by Sergiy Kovalev, while Bellew was put down at Cruiserweight by Ilunga Makabu and was stopped heavily by Adonis Stevenson at Light Heavyweight.

Haye is a bigger hitter than both those fighters and I think Bellew is going to have to do something very different to get out of the first 4 Rounds here. David Haye has mentioned that he is predicting a Round 3 Knock Out (anyone who remembers his fight with Audley Harrison will remember Haye telling everyone that he had told his friends to bet him winning in that Round) and I really don't think Bellew will be able to stand up to the shots nor move out of the mindset to want to fight back.

That will likely cost Bellew and Haye can be backed at odds against to win this fight in the first 4 Rounds and that looks the most obvious way to back the former Heavyweight Champion. Expect Haye to be calling out all the other Heavyweights at the end of the fight, especially Anthony Joshua and his promoter Eddie Hearn.


Danny Garcia vs Keith Thurman
There are some fights that get a lot of hype when it isn't really justified (just think of some of the hyped up opponents Anthony Joshua has fought that have been considered 'PPV' material), but this fight between Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman has been overshadowed in the United Kingdom by the grudge fight between David Haye and Tony Bellew.

Make no mistake though, this is a fight that not only has huge implications in the Welterweight Division, but it is one where the winner may have every argument to suggest they are the 'Pound for Pound' Number 1 fighter on the planet.

Both fighters are unbeaten and both Garcia and Thurman have some big wins on their CVs which makes this a much tougher fight to call than the oddsmakers have suggested. Thurman is a fairly big favourite for the win, but Garcia has found a way to make adjustments and win big fights through his career, and many times when he has been set as the underdog.

I do think Thurman has the edge in power and is perhaps the 'prettier' boxer to watch, but Garcia is might effective, has a neutraliser of a left hook and might just be better at the weight.

There have been a couple of decisions given to Garcia which have prevented him from really being given the credit he should as a fighter. However his wins over Amir Khan and Lucas Matthysse are highly respected ones.

Both have decisioned Roberto Guerrero and Thurman has a solid win over Shawn Porter, a former Kell Brook victim, to his name. I am just not sure that Thurman doesn't have to drain himself a little more than Garcia to get down to this weight which could see some body shots slow him down.

I am a big fan of Thurman, I really am, but Garcia is the kind of fighter that doesn't have a lot of flashy tools outside of a legit left hook, but still does enough to win fights. Someone being dropped could be the difference maker in this fight, but without that this looks like a controversial decision in the making.

This is actually more of a 50-50 fight than the oddsmakers think and I will back Garcia to come through with a decision win in what could be a really good fight early on Sunday morning for us in the United Kingdom. I just like Garcia perhaps tagging Thurman with a left hook and being stronger at the weight which can help him past yet another tough challenge as the underdog. I really don't like Angel Garcia much, but Danny is a very good fighter and looks a big price to add another decision to his resume.

MY PICKS: David Allen Win in the 1st Round @ 2.25 Ladbrokes (2 Units)
Ohara Davies Win Between 7-12 @ 3.75 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Sam Eggington Win Between 7-12 @ 5.50 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
David Haye Win Between 1-4 @ 2.10 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Danny Garcia Win on Points @ 5.00 William Hill (1 Unit)

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