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Friday 12 April 2024

Boxing Picks 2024- Jordan Gill vs Zelfa Barrett (Saturday 13th April)

While it was not really a quiet month, March was one that began with a big card in Saudi Arabia and ended with a couple of good looking shows over Easter Weekend.

The relatively quiet nature of the cards has continued in early April, but there looks to be a clear shift coming up beginning with Devin Haney vs Ryan Garcia next weekend.

After that we head into Canelo Alvarez vs Jaime Munguia
Naoya Inoue vs Luis Nery
Vasyl Lomachenko vs George Kambosos Jr
Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk
Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall
Dmitry Bivol vs Artur Beterbiev
Juan Francisco Estrada vs Bam Rodriguez.

That is some run to take us through to the end of June and there are plenty of other big fights in and around those dates.

Unsurprisingly the two big Saudi Arabian cards in that stretch are expected to be loaded with a solid undercard and this is not even accounting for a big card being put together by Boxxer in London for June 15th with the hope still being that it will be headlined by a much anticipated Anthony Yarde vs Joshua Buatsi Light Heavyweight bout.

All things considered, it is a good time to be a fan of Boxing with some of the big fights we have already seen over the last fifteen months and the kind of schedule coming up. Inactivity is plaguing some of the top names, but the majority are getting out at least twice a year and that has to be considered a positive after fans have missed out on some of the Super-Fights that should have happened much sooner than they did.

In the current climate, it feels like those massive nights will be signed and delivered and it has to be bring excitement.

Like many, we do look through some of the rubbish spouted by promoters, but there is no downplaying of the signing of Jaron Ennis who is now under the Matchroom banner.

This is a monster signing- Boots is clearly one of the top fighters in the world and should be taking over the 147 pound Division now that Errol Spence and Terence Crawford have targeted Light Middleweight gold.

However, inactivity has held Jaron Ennis back and he has sued his previous promoter.

Now he is under the Matchroom banner, the expectation is that Ennis will have his career pushed on very quickly- he should be out before the end of July and will be hoping to clear his mandatory before chasing the other Champions as Boots looks to Unify before heading out of the Division.

It is a messy Division with Bud Crawford yet to announce he is dropping the World Titles he collected, and there are two Interim World Champions, while the IBF was officially dropped by Crawford and Ennis was turned into a full World Champion.

First up is expected to be Cody Crowley, even though the Canadian has had a purse bid accepted to take on Souleymane Cissokho in Paris in a final eliminator set by the WBC.

Other promoters will have to be prepared to work with Matchroom if those Unifications happen, but ultimately activity is key for a fighter that has spent too long on the sidelines.

There is little doubt in my mind that Eddie Hearn will see a potential clash between Jaron Ennis and Conor Benn as being one that could really take the former to the forefront of British fans notice too, Of course some of that will come down to Benn earning a right to fight in the United Kingdom again, a case that continues to drag and drag almost two years after his failed drugs test.

Big fights and big moments are coming up, but there are a couple of decent cards taking place in Manchester and Corpus Christi this weekend.

We have headliners who are looking to push onto World level in the months ahead and it is a good appetiser before the main courses begin in New York City.

Two weeks ago the Boxing Picks did not have the most productive win-loss record, but the overall numbers are still very positive and that is what matters most.

Adding to those will be the focus this week and having a strong first half of the 2024 season looks very attainable from here.

Jordan Gill vs Zelfa Barrett

A short notice opportunity was taken by Zelfa Barrett to try and win the then vacant IBF Super Featherweight World Title, but a very positive early start was not sustained and an injury saw the bid come up short.

Two wins have been earned since the defeat to Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov, but there is a feeling that Zelfa Barrett is not too long for this Division and will need to move up in weight.

He is headlining Manchester Arena, which brings its own pressures, but Barrett will also know that he will have to make a big decision on where his career is heading if he was to lose.

There has been talk from the Zelfa Barrett camp as well as the Jordan Gill one that the winner should be targeting a World Title if they are able to win, but that may have more to do with Joe Cordina being a World Champion and looking for the big fights going forward. It would be a solid money fight for Cordina rather than a legacy creating one, but that does mean there is more on the line for this headline act than perhaps there should be.

We have yet to really see either produce an effort to believe they should be a World Title contender, although Jordan Gill will dispute that.

He has overcome some personal demons and moved up in weight after a bad loss to Kiko Martinez, and Jordan Gill will feel his win over Michael Conlan in Belfast suggests he is way above European level now.

The other side of the argument is that Conlan is completely shot as a top level fighter and Jordan Gill was in the right place at the right time to take advantage. It is still a very good win, and one that should give him confidence as he goes back into the lion's den on Saturday, but Jordan Gill still has plenty to prove to doubters.

I have to consider myself one of those and it is hard to buy one performance as being indicative that Gill will reach much higher in the Super Featherweight Division than he did at Featherweight.

In saying that, this is not a massively higher level than his previous high and Zelfa Barrett has plenty to prove too.

That performance against Rakhimov is clearly impressive and gives Barrett something to build upon and both are going to be confident fighters.

Ultimately the feeling is that Brown Flash might have a bit more in the tank and he is not likely to be worn down by Jordan Gill as he was by a relentless Rakhimov.

Zelfa Barrett can box well early and show he has the power edge when trading and the feeling is that the home fighter outlasts Gill and finds a second half Stoppage in this crossroads bout.

There is a decent undercard that has been put together for the card in Manchester and fans of Stable (if you haven't seen it, you should) will be rooting for Ellie Scotney to come through and Unify her World Titles.

This is a tough fight coming up for her in her relatively young career, but I will be cheering her on and hoping Shane McGuigan's team continues to grow.

However, any additional selections from this weekend will both come from Corpus Christi where Jared Anderson is the headline act.

He has long been considered the heir to the Heavyweight throne once the like of Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder move into retirement. Those four fighters are expected to have two or three years left at the top at the maximum and Jared Anderson certainly looks capable of filling the void.

At 24 years old Anderson has time on his side, although the focus for his management and promoter is to keep him mentally checked in having had some out of the ring issues recently.

That means pushing ahead into tougher challenges and Big Baby has actually called for a clash with Wilder later this year.

Focus is the key as he prepares to take on Ryad Merhy who has moved into the Heavyweight Division having come up short in his World Title bid at Cruiserweight the first time around, before winning an Interim World Championship that was upgraded.

An upset over Tony Yoka has given Merhy this opportunity, but Jared Anderson is a big Heavyweight and will have a considerable size advantage. He hits very hard, harder than Yoka who looks like a fighter lacking confidence, and not many have been able to stand up to the power Anderson brings to the ring.

Only Charles Martin has been able to get past the Fifth Round against Jared Anderson and he needed to escape a Third Round Knock Down.

Ryad Merhy has shown he can be competitive and has toughness, but this feels like a statement making moment for the next big name American Heavyweight and he may be able to really create some headlines with an early win.

The chief support on the undercard features Efe Ajagba who has bounced back from his loss to Frank Sanchez to win four fights in a row.

An upset win a couple of fights ago has just made Ajagba a player in the Heavyweight Division again after his early momentum was stalled by Sanchez.

It is very likely that a win would see him set up to headline against Jared Anderson, assuming the latter also wins, and Efe Ajagba can produce another big win over Guido Vianello.

The 29 year old Italian has won twelve of thirteen fights and he has ten Knock Outs on the record, but the loss to Jonathan Rice will have felt like a big disappointment. Guido Vianello is taking a considerable step up to face the big hitting Nigerian Heavyweight and Efe Ajagba has found wins in the Fourth Round in each of his last two bouts.

Building momentum towards a potential fight with Jared Anderson will be the focus for Efe Ajagba and he can force another first half Stoppage against an opponent that should not be hard to find in the ring.

MY PICKS: Zelfa Barrett to Win Between 7-12 @ 4.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Jared Anderson to Win Between 1-5 @ 3.00 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
Efe Ajagba to Win Between 1-5 @ 3.50 Sky Bet (1 Unit)

Boxing 2024: 16-23, + 12.92 Units (56 Units Staked, + 23.07% Yield)

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