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Tennis Picks 2019 (June 17th)

The first week on the grass courts was not a great one for the Tennis Picks, but at one stage it was looking a lot worse than it ended up be...

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Boxing Picks 2019- Deontay Wilder vs Dominic Breazeale (May 18th)

The last weekend might not have offered the kind of Boxing that had the casuals engrossed, but whenever two belts are being defended in a Division like the Light-Middleweight one you have got to stand up and take notice.

Jarrett Hurd might have been the big favourite, but Julian Williams deserved his win in what has to be the best fight I have watched in 2019. Neither man took a backwards step, but Williams showed he has learned plenty from his sole loss to Jermall Charlo and he deserves to be set amongst the very best in the Division.

A rematch has to be next on the agenda for both, although it may depend on what happens in the already scheduled rematch between Tony Harrison and Jermell Charlo coming up next month. If Charlo wins there is every chance we get to see a third fight between those two, although there is an easy story to put together if a Unification with Williams is made having seen twin brother already beat J-Rock.

Emanuel Navarrette and Miguel Bercholt both made good on their first wins over Isaac Dogboe and Francisco Vargas by stopping those opponents faster than they did in the initial bouts. Both are moving on looking for big names in and around their Divisions, while Dogboe's bubble may have burst even at 24 years old.

He is talking about moving up a Division, but Dogboe is blessed with a big heart and not the same stature and that makes it hard to see how he is really competitive when moving up weights.

This Saturday we have some decent looking fights on paper and one exceptional one in Glasgow.

I am very high on Josh Taylor so am looking forward to seeing if he can become a World Champion in the World Boxing Super Series Semi Final against Ivan Baranchyk which takes place in Scotland. On the same night Billy Joe Saunders is hoping to pick up the WBO Super Middleweight Title which has been left vacant since Gilberto Ramirez made it clear he is moving to Light Heavyweight.

Later on is the WBC Heavyweight Title fight between Deontay Wilder and Dominic Breazeale- I've had my say on the farcical nature of the top of the Heavyweight Division after what has been a solid eighteen months to reinvigorate interest up to the Wilder vs Tyson Fury fight last December. As I have said before, I am not sure any of the top three will be facing each other in 2019 and to be fair to Wilder this may be the best of the fights the three have lined up over the next month.

Last week the Boxing Picks went 1-2, but once again a slight profit can be added to the numbers which continue to be turned around after a poor start to 2019. Not for the first time I was one more second from a winner as a fighter was retired in the corner between Rounds, but I do think I  am on the right road.

One Pick was pretty shoddy and very quickly looked to be the wrong choice so I am not going to complain about that one at all.

Joe Joyce vs Alexander Ustinov
There hasn't been a lot of exciting news from the very top of the Heavyweight Division, but there are a number of UK fighters who are trying to position themselves into a spot where they could be tasked with fighting one of the top three names out there.

One of those who has seemingly spoken about being in a rush to get to the top is Joe Joyce who was late to the professional game after having a decent amateur career. At 32 years old time is not on the side of Joyce who wants to fight for big titles, while I have to say I am not sold on him at all as being capable of challenging the best in this Division.

And not for the first time Joyce seems to be someone that promoters are struggling to know what to do with. Now he has aligned with Frank Warren and it sounds like he is hoping to go the WBA route by picking up their Regular Title and then perhaps facing Anthony Joshua for the 'Super Champion' Belt.

The fact he keeps moving promoters and trainers is a concern, but Joyce has continued winning and that means he is in a good position to at least give himself a shot at winning a World Title. I can't see him beating those top guys as I have said, but I think he will be matched up well and that begins with this fight against Alexander Ustinov.

A couple of fights ago Ustinov fought for what was then the vacant WBA Regular Title, but he was beaten by Manual Charr and was dropped in that fight. His last outing saw the 42 year old battered for nine Rounds before Michael Hunter was able to force the stoppage and I think the fact that Joyce is basically the same size means Ustinov is going to take more of a beating in this one than he did against Hunter.

Joe Joyce doesn't have the speed of Hunter, but this shouldn't be anything more than a showcase fight for the Brit who is out for a second time in 2019. He is expected back out in July on the big Daniel Dubois vs Nathan Gormon card that Frank Warren is putting together so Joyce won't want to be overly taxed in this one.

He doesn't hit as hard as his eight Knock Outs from eight fights may suggest, but I don't think Ustinov will be hard to find. It took Joyce Six Rounds to finish of Bermane Stiverne, but I think this one might be slightly quicker and backing him to get the job done in the first half of the fight is the pick.

Billy Joe Saunders vs Shefat Isufi
When you boil things down to the bottom line you can't help but be disappointed with Billy Joe Saunders' career so far.

No one can dispute the obvious talent Saunders has, but he has had too many long lay-offs and losing his WBO Middleweight Belt without fighting thanks to a failure of a drugs test only adds to the frustrations.

So much more was expected of Saunders, but that talent I mentioned means promoters are not ready to give up on him. He can become a real player at 160 and 168 if he can knuckle down and become a two weight World Champion, although Saunders may have to wait in line to get his crack at some of the biggest names out there like he wants to.

He is a big favourite to beat Shefat Isufi on Saturday and there is nothing Isufi has done in his career to really think he is going to upset the odds. The Serbian born German fighter might show some toughness and he will want to demonstrate he belongs at this level, but his skills shouldn't really be a match for Saunders who has beaten much better company than the one he is facing on Saturday.

The layers seem to think it is going to be an early night for Saunders, but I think Isufi might show a little more desire to compete than it is believed. He has three losses on his resume, but only one of those came in a stoppage when the corner pulled him out and so Isufi has to be respected in this one.

Only thirteen of Saunders' twenty-seven wins have come by stoppage and it does feel like this could be a fight that sees him coasting to a comfortable win on the cards. I can see Isufi demonstrating enough heart to keep going, but Saunders should be winning the Rounds and I think the question then becomes how much the visiting fighter will want it.

If he is down by a healthy margin going into the Tenth or Eleventh Round there is a chance the corner will want to shut it down. However I think Isufi's team may feel going the distance is a win for their man and I am going to have a small interest on the visitor hearing the bell, but Billy Joe Saunders ending the night as a two weight World Champion.

The new partnership with Ben Davison has seen Saunders get into fantastic shape for this fight and I think he will be pushing to finish this fight where he can. But Davison is also showing off his tactical nous as a Head Trainer and I think he will keep Saunders grounded and make sure he is not chasing a KO but winning every Round and showing the rest of the Division, and those below at Middleweight, that his man is ready for the big fights as soon as September.

Naoya Inoue vs Emmanuel Rodriguez
I have been critical of some of the cards that have been offered to the UK fans in 2019, but this one in Glasgow from the World Boxing Super Series deserves all the credit it is given.

It is not often that we can get to see a special fighter like Naoya Inoue on these shores and especially not when he is going up against a non-British opponent. 'The Monster' is on most pound for pound top ten lists and some would have him much higher than that as he continues to wreak havoc in the lower weight Divisions.

He came up to Bantamweight and ripped the WBA World Title from Jamie McDonnell and then defended it impressively in the Quarter Final of this tournament. Now Inoue has the chance to become a Unified Bantamweight World Champion and there are some major doors opening to the Japanese star.

Remaining focused is the key for Inoue who will know those same doors will be slammed shut if he is upset in this Semi Final. He is fighting an unbeaten World Champion in Emmanuel Rodriguez as they both chase to Unify the WBA Belt with the IBF one the Puerto Rican holds, but Inoue is a strong favourite and has been speaking with a lot of confidence this week.

Rodriguez has the confidence of being unbeaten, but there have been one or two signs that he is also appreciating the size of the task in front of him. It was a tougher than expected Quarter Final win for Rodriguez against Jason Moloney and I do think the early Rounds are going to be tough for him as he has to deal with the kind of power that he won't have seen too often even though Inoue has come up to this weight.

Most have not been able to keep Inoue off them and many have struggled to get out of the first half of fights. It would be a stunner if Inoue is able to make it three straight First Round stoppages, but I do think Rodriguez may be in a tough spot here and Inoue is capable of finding the stoppage in the first half of the bout.

Emmanuel Rodriguez is a decent fighter, but this is a step up and so far this week he has not looked like someone who is as confidence as his words. Getting out of the first half of the fight may be difficult once he feels the power coming his way and I think Inoue can be backed to earn the early stoppage as he has become accustomed in doing.

Josh Taylor vs Ivan Baranchyk
The IBF World Champion may be Ivan Baranchyk, but Josh Taylor is the significant favourite in this World Boxing Super Series Semi Final and he was also Seeded higher in the 'draw'.

Most in the UK have been aware of the talent of Taylor and he has been the leading contender to join the World Champion list for some time. Entering the World Boxing Super Series has given Taylor the platform to really showcase his talents and prove he is one of the best fighters in Britain, but that ability may have increased tenfold with the news that Sky Sports will be offering this fight live to their subscribers.

For the most part Taylor has been fighting on channels that may not really be able to promote him the same way and I do think this is a coming out party for him.

The Semi Final being hosted in Glasgow upset the defending Champion though and Baranchyk is heading over to destroy the Scottish hero in front of his own fans. Anyone called 'The Beast' is going to be pretty easy to sell to the fans and Baranchyk's desire to get forward and pummel opponents is very pleasing on the eye.

I don't think he is going to want to box with Taylor who might be the superior talent as far as skills go, but Baranchyk will want to test the will of his opponent. Ultimately I think that is where he will come up short as I am expecting Taylor to outbox him for large periods of the fight, especially once he gets through the first couple of Rounds to figure out what Baranchyk is bringing to the table.

My opinion is that Taylor is going to take away some of the Baranchyk heart by doing that early enough to make his opponent become very one-dimensional. At that stage I expect Taylor to begin to pepper Baranchyk as he comes forward and there is enough spite in the Brit's shots to think he is going to be the one handing out some punishment the longer the fight goes.

In the second half I am going to expect Taylor to look comfortable on the cards and have slowed down Baranchyk far enough to feel very easy in the ring. From there I think Taylor will be the one dishing out the big shots and he will break the heart of the Champion who will then be saved by the referee or his corner.

The sensible play may be Taylor winning on the cards, especially at home, but I think there is going to be a bigger statement made as he stops a tough opponent in the second half of this one.

Gary Russell Jr vs Kiko Martinez
For the fifth year in a row we are going to be seeing WBC Featherweight Champion Gary Russell Jr in the ring in the first half of the year. In the last four years that has proven to be his one and only appearance in the ring which is a real shame considering the obvious talent the American has and in a Division where there are some big fights that could be made.

His only loss has to Vasyl Lomachenko looks better all the time and most would have been hoping Russell Jr would have been paired up with Leo Santa Cruz by now to recognise the best fighter in the Division and Unify two of the Belts.

There has been more of a suggestion that Russell Jr will be making at least two appearances in 2019 and that can only be good news for the fans. As I have said before, there is no doubting how good Russell Jr is and he has some fast hands that could be a problem for anyone to deal with.

He has to get through this fight to make the big fights with the likes of Santa Cruz, Josh Warrington, Oscar Valdez and Carl Frampton a reality. And in all honesty this should not be a difficult evening for Russell Jr when he faces Kiko Martinez who has regularly come up short when facing the best in this Division.

Since coming up to 126 Martinez has lost to both Santa Cruz and Warrington, while he has previously been beaten by both Frampton and Scott Quigg at 122. Both Quigg and Santa Cruz have stopped Martinez who now has a lot of miles on the clock ahead of facing Russell Jr.

He has been much more active than the American, but Martinez has also been operating at a much lower level. This is a fight in which the Spaniard is going to be facing some incredibly quick hands and I think Russell Jr will be keen to remind the rest of the Division of what he is capable of by not having to work overtime for the win.

Carl Frampton, Scott Quigg and Leo Santa Cruz all put Martinez down in the first half of their fights against him. Both Quigg and Santa Cruz managed to get him out in the Second and Fifth Round respectively and Russell Jr had won three in a row by stoppage before Joseph Diaz was able to go to the cards twelve months ago.

I think an early onslaught from Russell Jr may put Martinez down in this one and the speed of the combinations may be enough to get the referee to step in. With that in mind and with Russell Jr aiming to be back out in the ring again in 2019 I think this is just going to be a time to show he is still at the peak of his powers and backing him to produce a dominant win is the call.

Deontay Wilder vs Dominic Breazeale
There is some legit bad blood between these two fighters who had an altercation in a hotel lobby in Alabama following a night in which both had won in the ring.

Some of the words from Deontay Wilder in the build up to this one have been unsavoury, but Dominic Breazeale is keeping his cool for now and promising to hand out a punishing defeat to the WBC Heavyweight Champion.

It certainly would be a surprise if there is much of a feeling out process in this one with Breazeale not being as quick or slick as Tyson Fury to really believe he can outbox Wilder for long periods. The Champion will be looking to land his right hand on an opponent who has not always been able to get out of the way of big shots and he has been down enough times in his career to believe Breazeale is going to struggle with the power that Wilder brings to the table.

I also believe Wilder is one of the best finishers out there and if does get to Breazeale early and knock his compatriot down this could be a fight that does not go much beyond that.

Dominic Breazeale seems like a decent bloke to be perfectly honest, but I do think he is far too open defensively and I am not sure Virgil Hunter would have been able to tighten him up. A defeat makes it a long road back for Breazeale considering he has already lost to Anthony Joshua, although he does show plenty of heart in his fights to suggest he can bite down on the gum-shield and try and fight fire with fire.

He does hit hard enough to potentially cause problems for Wilder if the Champion is perhaps pushing too hard for the early Knock Out. I can imagine a situation where Breazeale perhaps rocks Wilder in the early exchanges, but I think the power of Wilder is going to be a telling factor in the potential shoot out between two massive fighters.

Anyone who saw Breazeale's effort against Joshua in a defeat and his heart in the win over Izuagbe Ugonoh will know this is not a fighter who will quit easily. He goes down, but refuses to stay down so this might be a fight with multiple Knock Downs, although I do think Wilder's athleticism is going to be tough to hold off if he does put Breazeale down.

We have seen Wilder outboxed by opponents before finding the leveller later in some of his recent bouts, but I think he beats Joshua by getting Breazeale out in the first half of a fun shoot out.

MY PICKS: Joe Joyce to Win Between 1-5 @ 2.50 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Billy Joe Saunders to Win by Decision/Technical Decision @ 4.00 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
Naoya Inoue to Win Between 1-6 @ 2.75 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Josh Taylor to Win Between 7-12 @ 5.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Gary Russell Jr to Win Between 1-6 @ 2.60 William Hill (2 Units)
Deontay Wilder to Win Between 1-6 @ 2.62 Sky Bet (2 Units)

Boxing 2019 Update8-20, - 6.20 Units (44 Units Staked, - 14.09% Yield)

Boxing 2018+ 5.14 Units (159 Units Staked, + 3.23% Yield)

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