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Saturday, 7 December 2019

Boxing Picks 2019- Andy Ruiz Jr vs Anthony Joshua 2 (December 7th)

Things were supposed to go very differently for Anthony Joshua when he headed over the pond to make his American debut at Madison Square Garden on June 1st earlier this year, but the stunning upset at the hands of Andy Ruiz Jr has changed the layout of the Heavyweight Division.

In early December Joshua heads over to Saudi Arabia to try and redeem himself and once again put his name alongside Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury as the leading lights of the Heavyweight scene. This is a big moment for Joshua and all his fans as he looks to avoid a second straight loss that will likely put him to the back of the line and end any realistic hopes of a Unification fight for at least eighteen months.

Some suggest the career is on the line too, although Joshua has denied those and is instead focusing solely on trying to make sure he is on the winning side of this one.

The card in Saudi Arabia is a Heavyweight loaded one and also features the return of Dillian Whyte who was cleared by UKAD having supposedly failed a test before his win over Oscar Rivas in July. He will have a keen eye on the main event too as his best chance of finally securing a Heavyweight title shot may be if Joshua is able to win and set up a huge fight back in the United Kingdom next year.

Others like Filip Hrgovic and the winner of Michael Hunter vs Alexander Povetkin are also trying to get into the World title mix in what is a busier Division than we have seen for years.

Things will definitely look clearer for the contenders at the end of Saturday evening depending who wins the main event and how much governing bodies are going to be pushing their mandatories in the months ahead.

The card in Saudi Arabia is getting the majority of the attention in the Boxing world this weekend, but there are another couple of World Title holders in action this weekend. The main interest there has to be the return of Jermall Charlo as he takes on Dennis Hogan, while British fight fans will also see Chris Eubank Jr for the first time since beating James DeGale in a grudge fight earlier this year.

At the end of November the Boxing Picks returned to a positive position thanks to Deontay Wilder's 7th Round defeat of Luis Ortiz, but there are a couple of big weekends to come in 2019 to determine whether this year will be a success to back up 2018. It hasn't been perfect to say the least, but finishing up in the black is always a positive and that has to be the aim.

Mahammadrasul Majidov vs Tom Little
This is a Heavyweight loaded card in Saudi Arabia and the one that is going to kick off the big punching evening of Boxing is this bout between 1-0 Mahammadrasul Majidov against Tom Little from the United Kingdom.

You will probably hear it at least once during this one that Majidov holds a win over Anthony Joshua from his amateur days, but the professional game is very different. At 33 years old time is not really on his side and I expect him to be pushed forward very much in the same manner Joe Joyce is being pushed, another fighter that Majidov has faced in the amateurs.

If you are being brutally honest, Majidov was not very impressive in his first professional bout and Tom Little is going to come into this one and give it a go. A controversial stoppage against David Price was the last time we saw Little in the ring, but that was almost a year ago and I am surprised by that considering he is always seemingly around Eddie Hearn asking for an opportunity.

I don't think Little is better than the likes of David Allen though and the best thing he can be is perhaps a little durable. It took Filip Hrgovic Four Rounds to get rid of Little and Daniel Dubois a touch longer in Five Rounds and anything other than a Majidov stoppage would be hard to really appreciate.

He should have the power and the technique to start putting it on Little at some point in the middle of this fight, but I do think Majidov is going to have to spend a little time breaking down his opponent. My feeling is that this won't go further than the likes of Hrgovic, Dubois and David Price, but either a Fourth or Fifth Round stoppage makes it difficult to back Majidov on the Grouped Round market because it is being split right on those numbers.

However you can back this fight to have fewer than Six Rounds and I think that is where my focus will be. I don't think Majidov is going to want to keep Little around and I can see his superior amateur skills helping create openings leading to some big shots around the halfway mark that gets the job done.

Filip Hrgovic vs Eric Molina
There are some big things expected of 27 year old Croatian Filip Hrgovic who looks to put a former World Title challenger on his resume when taking on Eric Molina on Saturday.

The big punching Hrgovic has only seen two of his nine professional bouts reach the cards while the other seven have all ended relatively early. There might be some suggestion that Hrgovic does not carry his power that well when you see that anyone getting out of the Fourth Round has managed to hear the bell and both were in Eight Rounders where he would have had time to find a finish if he could.

One of those was against Kevin Johnson who has long been a fighter that will give prospects some Rounds under their belt, but Hrgovic failed to stop Sean Turner who was beaten very quickly by Nathan Gormon since then.

Sometimes it is the way it goes, but I do think Hrgovic can make a big statement on Saturday when taking on Molina.

Eric Molina has been in with Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder while also facing contender Dominic Breazeale although all ended with the Texan being stopped. All five professional losses have come via stoppage and three of those have been very early and Drummer Boy has had one fight in over two years which doesn't bode well for him.

My feeling is that Hrgovic is going to be able to catch Molina cold in this one too and he has shown he can be a finisher when the situation arises. This is the third fight Hrgovic will be having in 2019 and the previous two opponents have lasted a combined Four Rounds.

I don't think the Croatian will have to go looking for Molina in this one and I can see him finishing the fight in the first Four Rounds as he has done many times already.

Dillian Whyte vs Mariusz Wach
There is clearly a lot of anger inside Dillian Whyte at the moment after UKAD finally released a statement that cleared him of any wrongdoing ahead of his fight with Oscar Rivas. Just a day or two after beating Rivas, a report was released that Whyte had adverse findings in a drug test and was only cleared on the morning of the fight, something the British fighter had been saying was not as it sounded.

It has taken UKAD a few months to sort themselves out, but Whyte has seen his career just stall following the reports. It saw the WBC remove him from their World Rankings and Whyte would normally have been looking to headline his own fight in December is instead on the Anthony Joshua undercard in Saudi Arabia.

He did weigh in very heavy for this one, but I think Whyte is going to be looking to take his anger out of Mariusz Wach who is best known for going the distance with Wladimir Klitschko when losing to the long-time Heavyweight Champion.

The big Pole is 39 years old now and that fight for the World Title was over seven years ago and so Wach has seen better days. Some of his resistance might have eroded away with three of his last four defeats coming by stoppage including one against Jarrell Miller.

This is going to be Wach's third fight in four months, but his previous two opponents were nothing to write home about and this is a big step up. Even his defeats to the likes of Miller and Martin Bakole are against opponents who are not quite as good as Whyte and I think Wach is going to do well to survive this one.

He is a big guy and he has shown some durability, while I do have to wonder how Whyte is going to carry his additional weight. However Wach has shown he slows down in the second half of fights and begins to ship far too much punishment which is going to give the referee or corner a chance to stop this.

Dillian Whyte should be ready to unload some big shots when the chance presents, although he did struggle when facing Robert Helenius who was happy to survive very early on. That might be the Wach method and so I do think there is a chance that Whyte will win an easy Unanimous Decision, especially while carrying his weight.

However I think Whyte will soon realise he is facing someone who doesn't have a lot coming back and that will drive him forward for the stoppage. I think he will be keen to draw a line under the UKAD issue and that should see him unload some big shots in the second half which eventually sees Wach wilt under the pressure.

Alexander Povetkin vs Michael Hunter
The main support in Saudi Arabia is the crossroads fight between Alexander Povetkin and Michael Hunter with both potentially going to be in line to fight the likes of Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua (if he wins his rematch) over the coming months.

This is a WBA Eliminator so the winner will be ready to take on either Manuel Charr for the Regular Belt or have a shot at the Super Champion whether that is Joshua or Andy Ruiz Jr.

Alexander Povetkin has to know he won't have too many more opportunities to challenge for a World Title having come up short against Anthony Joshua in 2018. If he loses he will go to the back of the line and at 40 years old you have to question how much the Russian has left in the tank.

He did beat Hughie Fury in a boring fight back in August, but this should be a lot more interesting as Michael Hunter continues to surprise in the Heavyweight Division. His move from Cruiserweight to Heavyweight did not come with the same hoopla as Oleksandr Usyk's, but that remains the sole defeat for Hunter who has won six in a row since that defeat and all in this Division.

Two of those wins have been against unbeaten fighters in what have to be considered upsets, but this time Hunter is in front of the layers and is favoured to beat Povetkin. Michael Hunter has spoken of stopping the former World Champion, but I am more leaning towards the American winning by a Decision.

Back in his prime Povetkin would have the power and the skills to really give Hunter massive problems, but I am beginning to feel he is a faded force these days. While I think Povetkin still has some pop, I do think he is a fighter that might quickly wear down and as long as Hunter is sensible he should be able to win this fight without putting himself in massive danger.

Michael Hunter clearly has some pop considering he had four stoppages in a row before the Decision win over Sergey Kuzmin. He also put Kuzmin down during that fight and I would not be massively surprised if a tired Povetkin is perhaps pulled out late in the fight.

However the sensible play looks to be backing the American to just pick his shots and not get into a firefight with Povetkin. That should lead to a win on the cards for Hunter and at odds against that is the play.

Andy Ruiz Jr vs Anthony Joshua II
The first thing I had to do is look back to June 1st and read what I had wrote about a fight I thought was going to be won by Anthony Joshua and fairly early on too.

I expected Joshua to fight to his size and win the fight, but I did mention the fast hands of Ruiz Jr and that the fight could be interesting if Joshua wants to get into a firefight, but there was no way I really believed anything but a comfortable Joshua win was on the cards.

We all saw what happened in Madison Square Garden that evening and it changed the lives of both fighters who looked to be on very different paths on May 31st.

Now we get into the rematch and once again everyone is talking about the Ruiz Jr weight- I am not convinced he didn't load his clothes to make himself scale heavier than he is, but it does raise a couple of questions about whether Ruiz Jr has been enjoying life a little too much since it all changed for him thanks to a huge left hook that landed in the Third Round.

It does feel like many have forgotten that Joshua actually scored the first Knock Down on the day, but you can't ignore the kind of long beating he then suffered. Yes he wasn't helped by a clear concussion that knocked his equilibrium out of sync, but it is the kind of loss that is vastly different to the one suffered by Lennox Lewis in his defeat to Hasim Rahman that so many are comparing this rematch to.

In fact it was much more like the sustained beating that Mike Tyson took against Buster Douglas and we did not get to see that rematch. In the Heavyweight Division I can rarely remember one fighter being knocked around as much as Joshua was that has had an immediate rematch and won that fight.

The biggest factor may be how much Andy Ruiz Jr wants this, but he does sound like a fighter that had less 'x' factors that Douglas had before his win over Tyson when the stars aligned for him. This time it feels like Ruiz Jr was just the better Boxer and his fast hands and ability to take a shot being superior to Anthony Joshua gives him the edge.

Anthony Joshua does look like has employed more sparring and is looking to have improved his own Boxing skills which have been questioned by many even before the defeat to Ruiz Jr in June. However it took Wladimir Klitschko some time to erase his demons after his initial losses and I do think Joshua is going to have to ride out a storm in this one at some point.

Much will depend on how he handles that- does he bite down on the gum-shield or does the mind go back to Madison Square Garden?

I would love to see Anthony Joshua win.

Some of the casual fans and their overrating of his abilities can be annoying, but I like Joshua and I think he would be bringing some big fights back to the United Kingdom.

However I can't shake the feeling that the first loss was so devastating and Joshua really hasn't had a lot of time to make massive adjustments. Everything he is learning is not going to be in the muscle memory which means resorting to type when things get tough and that is where Ruiz Jr could take us back to New York City.

The added weight on the scales does raise some doubts about Ruiz Jr, but my head is overruling my heart and thinks the Champion retains via a stoppage. I don't think he is looking for this to go longer than last time which could give Anthony Joshua a chance too and I can't ignore the fact that he put Ruiz Jr down early.

With that in mind I have to say I like the price on seeing less than Nine Rounds in this one which is close to odds against. I hope Joshua is the one landing the big punches early, but like the Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz fight recently, my underlying feeling is that this one goes shorter than the first bout.

Chris Eubank Jr vs Matvey Korobov
The win over James DeGale should really have sparked something in Chris Eubank Jr, but to the surprise of everyone he has not been in action since then.

I am not sure who his matchmaker is, but picking Matvey Korobov for his return opponent looks a strange decision. Twelve months ago Korobov was a very unfortunate losing fighter when challenging Jermall Charlo for the Middleweight Title, but he was not so good in his most recent outing as he looks to get back into a position to rematch Charlo.

That is what Eubank Jr wants to do and I do think this is going to be a real learning fight for the British fighter. The southpaw he faces looks to have better Boxing skills, but Eubank Jr has determination and a high workrate which I think is going to be key for him on Saturday.

You do have to respect Korobov and what he is going to bring to the table, but I do think the sheer will of Eubank Jr may help him get over the line. I can see a situation where Korobov wins four out of six of the early Rounds, but Eubank Jr is able to drag him into a real fight which sees him wear down the 36 year old.

He might be behind going into the second half of the fight, but Eubank Jr will be looking to make a statement before he likely calls out Charlo for a World Title fight in 2020. I think Eubank Jr can do that with a late stoppage here as he puts his shots together late against an awkward opponent.

Jermall Charlo vs Dennis Hogan
The WBC Middleweight Title is on the line when Jermall Charlo takes in his second fight of 2019 and it is against a stubborn Dennis Hogan who many thought did beat Jaime Mungaia back in April.

You can't ignore the fact that Hogan is coming up in weight this time and I think the performance against Mungaia is perhaps a touch over-rated against a fighter that is struggling to make the 154 limit.

This time he is taking on someone who has plenty of power at 160 and I think Charlo is looking for a big performance after perhaps losing a touch of motivation in his last couple of fights. He is saying all of the right things ahead of this one and I do think Hogan is going to find it very hard to take the accumulation of shots he is likely going to have to if he wants to get to the cards this time.

I think that is a big ask for him though and I am looking for Charlo to wear down and break down the tough Irishman who fights out of Australia. It is the fact he is coming up in weight which I think leads to Hogan being stopped for the first time as he perhaps does not have the same resistance in this Division and Charlo is one of the bigger hitters out there at 160.

It won't be easy for the Texan, but I do think Jermall Charlo can find a late stoppage in this one.

MY PICKS: Mahammadrasul Majidov-Tom Little Under Six Rounds @ 1.80 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Filip Hrgovic to Win Between 1-4 @ 2.10 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Dillian Whyte to Win Between 6-10 @ 2.62 William Hill (2 Units)
Michael Hunter to Win by Decision/Technical Decision @ 2.00 Bet Fred (2 Units)
Andy Ruiz Jr-Anthony Joshua Under Nine Rounds @ 1.91 Sky Bet (2 Units)
Chris Eubank Jr to Win Between 7-12 @ 4.50 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Jermall Charlo to Win Between 7-12 @ 3.25 Sky Bet (1 Unit)

Boxing Picks 2019: 24-47, + 1.43 Units (109 Units Staked, + 1.31% Yield)

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