With Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury less than ten days away the odds have changed very little. Two weeks ago I reported that Wilder was a slight favourite at 11/10 with Tyson quoted as a spread from 8/11 to 10/11. The latest odds are still slightly in Wilder’s favour at 20/21 with Tyson at 20/23 but that reflects that this is the most difficult heavyweight title fights in recent years to predict. In the past both Wilder and Anthony Joshua have been clear favourites in their title fights and before that it was not even worth betting on a Wlad Klitschko title fight
Wlad has popped up to tease us by saying that if Fury wins he might consider coming out of retirement for a chance at revenge. Sorry Wlad but if that fight did take place it would be another Klitschko fight not worth betting on but this time no one would be betting on you.
The division continues to boil under the influence of Wilder vs. Fury. It seems that Anthony Joshua’s IBF mandatory defence against Kubrat Pulev is going to land in London on 20 June. The two grounds in competition to be the venue are Tottenham Hotspur’s Stadium or Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium. The word “rivals” doesn’t even begin to describe how the respective fans see each other so competition will be hot to land the fight. Almost like an off pitch cup final. The Joshua and Pulev teams have until Friday (20 February) to agree terms.
Some potential shuffling has Andy Ruiz apparently pricing himself out of a fight with Dillian Whyte and Luis Ortiz being mention as an alternative opponent and a Whyte vs. Alex Povetkin match in May being the route Whyte may follow. The Oleg Usyk vs. Dereck Chisora fight will now be pushed back until May because of an elbow injury sustained by Usyk and after missing out on his fight with Chisora in October due to a bite from a spider Joseph Parker fights in Frisco, Texas on 29 February against 39-year-old Shawndell Winters who is just about acceptable on the basis of a stoppage win over then unbeaten 16-0 Olek Teslenko in October and after signing Jarrell Miller Bob Arum is doing more than just dipping his toe in the heavyweights as he has added Oscar Rivas to his team and finally Otto Wallin will return on 28 March vs. Lucas Browne in Las Vegas.
Things have certainly changed in the heavyweights over the past fifty years. The current WBC ratings-I chose them as Wilder is America-shows that out of the top 15 plus the champion four are British (Fury, Dubois, Joyce and Chisora), two are Americans (Wilder and Mike Hunter) and then it becomes really international with nine different countries represented in Oscar Rivas Colombia, Oleg Usyk Ukraine, Luis Ortiz, Cuba, Adam Kownacki Poland, Andy Ruiz Mexico, Filip Hrgovic Croatia, Joseph Parker New Zealand, Alex Povetkin Russia and Kubrat Pulev Bulgaria making up the rest of the fifteen plus the champion. It was much different fifty years ago. In 1970 in the top 10 Joe Frazier was champion and Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Jerry Quarry, Mac Foster and Sonny Liston were in the top spots in the rankings with only Oscar Bonavena, Henry Cooper and George Chuvalo posing any kind of minor threat to American supremacy. Right now as far as American heavyweights are concerned Deontay Wilder is an oasis in a desert and you would need strong binoculars to see any young American heavyweights coming over the horizon.
With the Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Teo Lopez fight set for 31 May it looks like that month may end with a bang as Daniel Jacobs is planning to fight then as well but no opponent named yet.
End of March is also looking interesting with David Avanesyan set to defend the European welterweight title against unbeaten Josh Kelly on 28 March in London. These two were to have faced each other in December 2018 but Kelly fell ill after the weigh in so the fight was cancelled. On the same night Dominic Boesel is putting his IBO and interim WBA super middle titles up for grabs against Zac Dun in Magdeburg with unbeaten heavy hope Peter Kadiru and former undefeated European heavyweight champion Agit Kabayel also on the card.
Felix Trinidad has a fight on his hands but not in the ring. The Banco Popular in Puerto Rico is threatening to seize all of his assets and he is fighting in the courts to prevent it. He has been fighting with the bank since 2013 when Trinidad filed a complaint against the Bank for allegedly mishandling his investments and the Bank sued Trinidad to recover a line of credit. In November the Bank filed a motion to freeze Trinidad’s assets. They feared that they would not be able to collect against that $22 million line of credit as documents showed that Trinidad’s net asset value dropped from $27 million in 2010 to $1.6 million in 2016. Hearings over the Bank’s action to freeze Trinidad’s assets are scheduled for 27 and 28 February.
Martin Vargas is probably the best fighter that Chile has ever produced and he is playing his part in establishing an unusual use for boxing. He is working with the Chilean Association for the Blind setting up a boxing programme for blind youngsters with the title of Raise Your Eyes Champion. It features training with a punch bag where the youngster can establish the position of the bag with a jab and then work from there with other punches and getting them in the ring, giving them a feel for where the ropes are and then letting them shadow box to build their sense of spatial orientation. He is being assisted by Cristian Valenzuela a vision impaired gold medal sprint winner at the Paralympics. Vargas boxed from 1973 until 1998 and had four shots at winning a world title. He was defeated in all four but he lost only 15 of his 109 fights.
There was quite a difference between two winning bids for upcoming European title fights. The winning bid for the fight between Spaniard Sandor Martin and Dane Enock Poulsen for the vacant EBU super lightweight title was won by Team Palle with a bid of EU 55,555 (approx. $60,000) although it is not certain that Martin will want to go down that route. The other was for the vacant European Union cruiserweight title between Frenchman Dylan Bregeon and Pole Nikodem Jezewski where the winning bid-in fact the only bid as Jezewski’s team were too late with their offer- was of EURO 12,000 (approx. US13, 000) from Bregeon’s team and that would be split 50-50. Not much money but actually quite a good contest at this level.
Having left the EU British fighters will now not be eligible to fight for the EU title but instead will have to contest the EE-EU title for fighters outside the European Union. That might actually work out well for British fighters. Like every other sanctioning body the EBU look kindly on those who win their subsidiary titles so it could be a route into the EBU ratings worth following. The British promoters have not put a great deal of effort into bidding for EU titles partially because there are some very good fighters to compete against and some rival promoters with serious money to bid against but the EE-EU rankings are not nearly as strong and neither are the promoters who might contest the bidding.
Back to purse bids- since the parties have not come to an agreement the WBO has ordered purse bids by 20 February for the light heavyweight eliminator between Gilberto Ramirez and Eleider Alvarez with the minimum bid set at $300,000. The split will be 50/50 unless the proposed venue is the home base for one of them in which case the “away” fighter gets 60%. The winner will have to meet the winner of an eliminator between Umar Salamov and Max Vlasov at least that’s the plan but don’t bet on it going down that route.
Sorry to see that Sergio Martinez is returning to action. “Maravilla” will be 45 next week and has not fought since losing to Miguel Cotto in June 2014. It seems that the target date is June 7 but the reason is harder to figure.
One downside of growing old-and I am an expert on that-is when the names that have contributed to your memories pass on. Recent deaths include Johnny Bumphus and only a day ago Jimmy Thunder. Two very different fighters. Johnny was a classy boxer who really should have had more success than the one world title he won and Samoan-born New Zealander Thunder (Jimmy Peau) a big punching banger. Jimmy beat Tony Tubbs, Trevor Berbick, Ray Anis and Tim Witherspoon. He lost to Derek Williams and Henry Akinwande in Commonwealth title fights but never fought for a world title and fell on very hard times before dying 13 February. RIP guys.
World title fights in April will see Junto Nakatani and Filipino Giemel Magramo contest the now vacant WBO flyweight title in Tokyo on April 4 and Patrick Teixeira defend the WBO super welter title against Argentinian and ex-undefeated champion Brian Castano in Los Angeles on 24 April. On 25 April Felix Alvarado defends the IBF light flyweight title against South African DeeJay Kriel in Indio California. Another April title fight will feature Andrew Selby against Italian Mohammed Obbadi for the vacant European flyweight title in London on 18 April.
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