Chris Oliver looks ahead to Saturday's Sky Sports action featuring Joshua Buatsi and Gamal Yafai, with the latter tipped to win on points.
1pt Gamal Yafai to win by decision at 11/4 (Paddy Power, Betfair)
1pt Tommy McCarthy to win in rounds 7-12 at 2/1 (Sky Bet)
After the drama of Canelo versus Billy Joe Saunders in front of 73,000 fans in Texas last Saturday, we are back behind closed doors in Manchester for this weekend's Sky Sports show.
With Terri Harper's last-minute injury scuppering her super featherweight unification bout with Hyun Mi Choi, the spotlight is on Joshua Buatsi as he looks to continue his march up the light heavyweight rankings against Daniel Blenda Dos Santos.
The Olympic bronze medallist will have a point to prove after being asked some serious questions by Marko Calic when last seen in October. Having had very little trouble in racing to 12 straight wins (10 early), Buatsi struggled early doors with his tall and previously unbeaten opponent and was seriously rocked in the third. The Croydon native eventually stepped it up a gear in the middle rounds and stopped the man from Croatia in the seventh, but the doubters were out in force after that showing and he will be desperate to silence them with a big performance here.
Dos Santos looks the ideal opponent for him to shine against. Despite winning all 15 fights so far, only two of his opponents had winning records and this is a huge step up in class for the Frenchman as he boxes outside his homeland for the first time.
He's available at 22/1 and it could be an early night for hard-hitting Buatsi (1/100), who is just 1/10 to end this 10-rounder inside the distance. Those looking for a play may be best going with the 2/1 for Buatsi to win in rounds three or four, but it's not one I will be betting in and I prefer to concentrate on the three European title fights on the bill.
Lerrone Richards is starting to gather some momentum now and he goes for the vacant super middleweight belt against the experienced Giovanni De Carolis in an interesting contest.
Having picked up the Commonwealth and British titles in 2019 with points wins over Tommy Langford and Lennox Clarke respectively, the South Londoner switched over to Matchroom and got off the mark for his new promotional outfit when winning all of the eight rounds in a comfortable victory over Timo Laine in December. This is tougher for Richards, but it doesn't look tough enough for his unbeaten record to be under threat.
De Carolis has mixed in good company in compiling a record of 28-9-1, including going the distance with world champions Arthur Abraham in 2013 and Tyron Zeuge in 2016 — earning a draw with the latter before being stopped in the rematch. The Italian's best days looks behind him now but he has won his last three and should provide a good learning fight for the improving Richards.
The home fighter is a slippery and awkward southpaw, who moves very well and is happy to box on the back foot as he looks for counters. Only three early wins from 14 outings tells you he isn't about power, and with De Carolis only being stopped twice before, this looks destined for the scorecards.
However, a Richards win by decision is priced accordingly at 1/2 and there is little value there, but there could be in the super bantamweight clash between GAMAL YAFAI and Jason Cunningham.
Yafai has rebounded from his sole loss to Gavin McDonnell with four wins and went to Italy to outpoint Luca Rigoldi when last seen in December. That sort of form should see him justify odds of 1/16 in good style, with Cunningham (28-6) coming up short on each occasion he has stepped up in class before.
However, he knows how to look after himself and is durable, with only one of those six defeats coming inside the distance and odds of 1/3 about Yafai becoming the second man to stop him are plenty short enough. The underdog took Yafai's brother, Kal, the full 12 rounds in 2015, while smart prospects Jordan Gill and Michael Conlan couldn't get rid of the Doncaster veteran in 2018 either.
You can get 11/4 about a YAFAI DECISION and that should give you a good run for your money at a nice price.
TOMMY MCCARTHY arrives in the form of career and is fancied to make a successful first defence of his European cruiserweight strap against Alexandru Jur.
He won the vacant belt with a good points win over Bilal Laggoune in October, which came on the back of his split decision verdict over the previously unbeaten Fabio Turchi in the Italian's backyard, and has now won four in a row since being halted by Richard Riakporhe.
The Belfast man may not be the biggest puncher but he is busy enough and should be capable of wearing down the visitor, whose four defeats (from 23 fights) have come in his last eight outings. Two of those reverses came early, being stopped in the first and third rounds, and McCarthy is 4/9 to end his run of points wins with a knockout.
More appealing than those odds is the 2/1 about him getting the STOPPAGE IN THE SECOND HALF of this 12-rounder, as he's not the sort to blow someone away with one shot and can gradually grind down the Romanian as the contest goes on.
Posted at 0935 BST on 14/05/21
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