Posts by Jake Collins

Andy Lee Vs Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO Middleweight Title

Billy_joe_saunders2_-_wembley_2011.11.05

There is no sport more exciting to have a wager on than boxing. Football can be exciting, but once your team is 4-0 down with 2 minutes to go then it’s curtains for you and your scrappy little betting slip. Not so with boxing. Let’s use Carl Froch as an example. If you’d bet some of your assiduously earned coins on a Jermain Taylor victory back in April 2009, you’d have been elated by the final round. Taylor was comfortably ahead on two of the three judges’ cards. Froch would win the fight via TKO with 14 seconds left to go…

It’s that cliché of “it only takes one punch to win a fight” that makes it such an enthralling sport to spectate. Finally, after two postponements, Lee and Saunders fight on Saturday in Manchester for the WBO Middlewight Title. To borrow another shop-worn cliché “this is a genuine pick ’em 50-50 fight”. Hailing from Ireland, Andy Lee is currently the WBO Middleweight title holder. He won this when he scored a surprise TKO in round 6 against the technically skilled Matt Korobov; they were fighting for the vacant title. Since then he shared a draw with Peter Quillin (who both had each other tasting canvas) and has demonstrated his game changing right-hook in both of those fights. Lee was losing on points to both John Jackson and Matt Korobov before landing cleanly on Jackson’s chin to end him and setting up Korobov for the end with the same shot respectively.

Whilst not quite a maestro when it comes to actual boxing skill, Lee is capable of boxing at range. With a 75′ reach and operating as a southpaw, Lee can still be tricky to work against. That said, both of his loses (against 34 wins (24KO’s)) have been times where he has been stopped. Once against the much maligned Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and prior to that Brian Vera, who you might know after recently being halted by Rocky Fielding. The aforementioned Quillin also had Lee down twice as well – visibly hurt in fact, so there are questions on the durability of Lee’s chin. Though as stated, Lee’s right-hook is a shot dangerous to anyone in his division; it’s an equaliser that means he can’t be ruled out of any fight really. Thanks to that, he’s much more likely to be winning a fight by KO than by a points decision.

His opponent for the night  is unbeaten southpaw Billy Joe Saunders. Saunders – whilst lacking genuine power – is an excellent boxer, combining his quick hand-speed with intelligent footwork to make himself a difficult night for anyone at Middleweight. His best win is against rising star Chris Eubank Jr. Whilst this was indeed a split decision I think it’s difficult to truly make a case for Saunders losing the fight. Yes it was extremely close, but it was also clear. On top of that, Saunders has used his talents to secure wins across other top fighters across the domestic scene, namely: Nick Blackwell, Gary O’Sullivan and John Ryder.

To his detriment, Saunders seemed to slow down a fair bit towards the Eubank Jr fight. Wherever this was a case of Saunders not having enough in the tank or Eubank Jr finally starting to work him out, I guess we won’t know until Saunders is dragged into the late rounds again. He’d built up a steady enough lead after the first 5 rounds so it’s possible his mentality shifted and allowed him to think he could coast the fight. Whilst confidence is a required skill to be a top fighter, being able to impose a limit on one’s own mind and halting before arrogance is equally vital.

With both fighters being southpaw I’d expect the first few rounds to be a little bit cagey. A cautious approach whilst both work the other out (in fact, I believe these rounds will edge towards Saunders slightly as he is the better boxer). Lee will eventually begin to look for that KO shot and will want to make this more of a brawl than an exhibition. Saunders has never been down in his career; he looked hurt against Eubank Jr but it’s possible this was down to fatigue as much as anything. Will that happen again? Possibly. Either way, Lee will land that right-hook eventually and as tough as Saunders has proved to be, I’m not confident it won’t shake him up enough for Lee to go in for the kill. My opinion: Lee via TKO 10.


Jake CollinsJAKE COLLINS is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in London and lives in Essex. Read more of his sports betting commentary in Jake’s blog or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.

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Can Cotto retain his WBC crown?

Miguel Cotto makes his return to the ring after dispatching Sergio Martinez in 10 rounds to win the WBC Middleweight title. Although Martinez looked to be carrying an injury, Cotto’s past achievements still speak for themselves. Challenging him for his belt is Australia’s Daniel Geale, who comfortably outpointed Jarrod Fletcher after his heavy loss to Gennady Golovkin.

The fight takes place this Saturday at the famed Barclays Center in New York and will of course be televised globally. Although the Middleweight limit is normally 160 pounds, the fight has been agreed at a catchweight of 157 pounds. This was at Cotto’s request and it would seem the fight would no happen at all if this was to be at 160.

Fighting at 157 will suit Cotto far better. He is the naturally smaller man and used to fighting at a lower weight; Geale is a natural Middleweight and will possibly be weight drained at this limit. Of course, Geale might potentially feel as fit as ever but he will no doubt feel more sluggish if the fight is dragged into the later rounds. Though Cotto doesn’t go into the latter stages too often (32 of his 39 wins have come by knockout), his power won’t be the same at this weight thus reducing the chances of a KO. Yes, he made Martinez quit but that was more down to his failing knees as opposed to Cotto’s power.

What Cotto is very accomplished at however, is pretty much everything. He is one of the most well-rounded fighters in boxing today; combining excellent technical ability with a strong work rate and astute ring IQ. He possesses a hard jab with exceptional precision. He has a 4″ reach disadvantage against Geale though, so Cotto might find the jab less effective as he normally would. If he can use his jab to get on the inside of Geale, Cotto can use his thunderous body hooks to further tire Geale out which – combined with Geale possibly being weight drained – could leave to a late stoppage in the fight due to his exhaustion. Cotto is also a very tough fight having only been stopped twice: once in the 12th by Pacquiao and also by Margarito, the latter being followed by the infamous handwrap saga…

Though slightly the less accomplished fighter, Geale is still a fine boxer too. His movement is a useful tool and he can prove to be very elusive when he wants to be. Normally Geale likes to move into range, work and then get out of the danger zone pretty quickly. Given his size advantage over Cotto, he could choose to do this whilst fighting on the backfoot and allowing Cotto to walk him down. His movement couldn’t get him out of trouble with Golovkin, but Golovkin’s cutting off of the ring i sone of the best in the game and I’d be surprised to see Cotto landing huge shots on Geale early on. Geale isn’t a particularly powerful puncher – which his record of 16KO’s from 31 wins suggests – but he is able to punch his weight. The style he fights isn’t based around power punches so it’s unlikely the weight issues with adversely affect him in that regard.

The mandatory challenger for the WBC belt is a certain Gennady Golovkin. Both fighters go into this knowing they will most likely have to face him should they come out on top. Geale flat out quit against him. In Geale’s defence he did try to take the fight to Golovkin which was ultimately what ended everything so swiftly for him. Cotto hasn’t exactly given a bullish answer about fighting Golovkin in the future, instead looking to hype up a fight with Canelo Alvarez.

As much as I hate to constantly mention it, the catchweight will play into this. At 160 pounds this is a very different fight. At 157 however, I favour Cotto – just. Geale’s superior defensive footwork should save him from being knocked out, though he’ll start to trail off at the back end of the fight. Cotto on points is the smart bet.

Mayweather – Pacquiao: The Biggest Fight of the Century

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(photo credit: shosports/YouTube)

 

A couple of years ago, you’d have been foolish to even consider betting on this fight actually happening, let alone placing bets on who will win. Now here we are in 2015 looking ahead to May 2nd at the illustrious MGM Grand for the long-awaited match-up between the two best P4P fighters in boxing right now. Floyd Mayweather finally takes on Manny Pacquiao for the WBC, WBA and WBO world Welterweight titles in a bout that’s been exasperatingly anticipated for the last 5 years.

 

Manny Pacquiao v Floyd Mayweather Jr Outright Betting Odds:

Pacquiao win +185

Mayweather win -225

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Mayweather is currently unbeaten and goes into this as the naturally bigger man. He’s an inch and a half taller than Pacquiao whilst also boasting a 5 inch reach advantage other the Filipino. This will be no deterrent to Pacquiao though, who has held world title in a record 8 different weight divisions. Antonio Margarito held a larger size advantage over Pacquiao than Mayweather currently does and he quite comfortably battered the tough Mexican over 12 rounds, so whilst this will play into the fight a little I don’t think it will be a defining disadvantage for Manny.

Kenny Bayliss will be the man in the middle on the night, and this announcement has given rise to some questions from fans in and of  itself. Bayliss is an excellent referee, comfortably one of the best in boxing. Bayliss refereed the Mayweather-Maidana rematch and many were critical of how quickly he wandered in to split up any inside fighting (which was seen to be Mayweather’s weakness in that fight). However, given Pacquiao’s style and – apart from that fight – Bayliss not really having a reputation for that kind of officiating, I don’t see this being an issue either.

 

It’d be prudent to say that neither of these guys have fought someone relatively similar to the other. In fact, their two styles are exactly what you need to beat the other. Mayweather comes to put on a clinic and – most crucially – he steps in the ring not to lose. He allows fighters to walk him down and then uses his impressive reflexes to make them miss and then land a few counters.

For his age (38), Mayweather still has remarkably fast hands and will utilise these to jab away at his opponent thus creating an opening to work off of. He’s happy to sit on the ropes and defend with the infamous shoulder roll technique (which he has perfected, but didn’t invent. Ken Norton and Archie Moore both used variants of this), before firing off counters to free up some room to enable him to move away. Maidana found a fair bit of success against Mayweather’s defence, particularly in their first fight. Maidana’s attacks can be somewhat crude at times, so this was most likely indicative of Mayweather starting to look his age as opposed to Maidana sussing him out.

 

Pacquiao, on the other hand, steps through the ropes to win. He’s there to beat you up as opposed to winning rounds, and this approach has cost him in the past. His career briefly took a nose dive when counter-puncher Marquez knocked him out cold in their 4th meeting to date. Pacquiao steps out and back into the action which his impeccable footwork. Adding this to his southpaw stance, he is able to attack the other fighter from a myriad of angles landing flurries to the head and body. He does have a tendency to leave his chin exposed, so it was only a matter of time before he eventually got caught flush.

It’s the shots you don’t see which leave you tasting canvas and this was a perfect example of that. Does Mayweather have the power to do that? Probably not. His last KO was against Victor Ortiz back in 2011 and that was essentially a cheapshot after the two touched gloves (though it was after an intentional headbutt from Ortiz, so morally justified). Prior to that, it was the stoppage of Ricky Hatton in 2007.

 

Two years later, Pacquiao put Hatton out cold to effectively end the Englishman’s career. They share quite a few common opponents and those fights corroborate with the above. Marquez aside (who came up two weights to fight Mayweather, who in turn came in for that fight overweight…), they’ve both beaten their mutual opponents. Mayweather outpointed De La Hoya, Mosley and Cotto (De La Hoya was SD, other 2 were UD) whilst Pacquiao stopped De La Hoya and Cotto before outscoring Mosley. Mayweather’s fights were more of an exhibitionist clinic, whereas Pacquiao’s were wars. One comes to box, the other comes to fight.

Will this go down as one of the all time great fights or something of an anti-climax? The lack of public seating and general cost of even just watching this at home leaves something of an unpleasant avaricious taste in the mouth. There remains a real buzz about this one though; even people who aren’t boxing fans are talking about it. It has the potential to be a defining classic for this generation of boxing, but with such potential comes the cataclysmic chance of sheer and utter disappointment. Either way, both Mayweather and Pacquiao will be spoken about for years to come as the greats of the last decade of boxing.

 

Betting Instinct tip – this could go either way, but we like Mayweather to win on points at -164 with AllYouBet.ag

 JAKE COLLINS  is an avid boxing fan and writer currently living in London. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog, or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.

The Future of Wladimir Klitschko

Heavyweight supremo Wladimir Klitschko puts his vast array of belts (WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO and Ring) on the line this Saturday as he takes on unbeaten American Bryant Jennings. Jennings (19(10)-0-0) earned his shot at the king of the Heavyweight division with a relatively uninspiring split decision win against Mike Perez. Jennings is a very athletic fighter and to some extent still learning his trade in the division.

 

Bryant Jennings v Wladimir Klitschko Betting Odds:

Bryant Jennings +850

Wladimir Klitschko -2500

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

At 6ft3 Jennings is a tall man, but he still lacks in size to Klitschko. Whilst he is a good boxer and capable of keeping busy for the full 12 rounds, he’s little chance of outboxing Klitschko – something which hasn’t ever actually happened. Instead, he will need to take optimism from the various other upsets that have befallen Klitschko in the past. They may have been over a decade ago, but they still happened.

Jennings has an extremely useful uppercut in his arsenal and if there’s one place Klitschko is vulnerable, it’s on the inside. If Jennings can somehow navigate his way past the viciously accurate and powerful jab of Klitschko’s, then he might land a shot and put Klitschko down (providing there’s a ref who is strict on Klitschko’s inside clinching).

Let’s assume the expected happens – as did with the previously unbeaten Pulev – and Jennings gets blasted out of their by one of Klitschko’s ferocious shots. He will only have 1 fight left on his 3 fight deal with HBO, which *should* be against Tyson Fury. Though you can calmly assure yourself that Klitschko will push for a rematch if he is to lose to Fury, is it likely he would have another fight should be become victorious? I certainly think so.

 

The one thing missing from his current setup is that highly venerated WBC crown currently draped around the waist of America’s Deontay Wilder. To unify ALL the boxing divisions – especially at Heavyweight – would be a truly prodigious task and one that would further mark him down in history as one of the greats at Heavyweight. Klitschko sits at 17 defenses currently, which is 3 behind Larry Holmes and 8 behind Joe Louis. Whilst his style of fighting isn’t quite as widely upheld as Louis or Holmes, it’s difficult not to have some appreciation of his effectiveness and discipline within the ring.

Klitschko may well push on to 20 defenses and then call it a day; he may feel old overnight before that and call it a day. One thing that is for certain is Klitschko really has been a magnificently dominant force within the division and – even at 39 – shows the gulf between elite fighters and decent fighters. Boxing is a prime example of class being permanent, though for me the most wonderful thing about boxing is that all it takes is for Bryant Jennings to land one single punch to make almost all of this article completely irrelevant.

 

 JAKE COLLINS  is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in  London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog, or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.

Liverpool signings‏: A second look

New signings are exciting, aren’t they? Very few things divide opinion and generate discussion quite like the world of transfers. Signings are one of the most scrutinised aspects of a manager’s achievements in the Premier League and often hold a strong position in deciding popularity.

 

Liverpool v Manchester City Betting Odds:

Liverpool win 9/5

Manchester City win 27/20

Draw 12/5

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Brendan Rodgers is one such manager. Following Liverpool’s exasperatingly poor start to the season, many were suggesting the new recruits weren’t quite worth the sterling spent on them. Since their turn of form, that opinion has changed somewhat. Since Fernando Torres joined and begun his Liverpool career with what was frankly a phenomenal season, players at Liverpool haven’t been given a fair amount of time to settle in and adjust. Luis Suarez looked merely decent when first signed and then went on to fully illuminate as one of the top players in the world let alone the Premier League. The Premier League is very much unique in its style and culturally the UK is also vastly different to the rest of the world. It’s easy to forget that it can take a painfully long time to adapt to even the most subtle changes. With that in mind, let’s have a brief look into the summer signings brought in by Liverpool and try to fairly assess their performances thus far.

Rickie Lambert
As a Liverpool fan, I was actually quite happy with the signing of Lambert for what was a relatively small fee at £4million. The consensus seemed to be that he was signed as a backup option and not expected to be stealing headlines. That is the role he’s played, but at no point has he looked like a player who should be playing up-top for a team challenging for a Champions League place. He’s chimed in with a couple of league goals in 18 appearances in what has been an uneventful season for the boyhood Liverpool supporter. Given his performances for Southampton last year I think most will agree they’d hoped for a bit more from Lambert.


Adam Lallana
Lallana was the second player poached from the hands of Southampton. His season started late owing to injury, and he initially looked quite mediocre as he got used to the way Rodgers wanted him to play. Since then, Lallana has started to recapture the form that saw Liverpool part with 25 Million for the 26 year old attacking midfielder. He has been a little inconsistent at times, but his intelligent passing and sharp turning have helped restore the missing potency to Liverpool’s attack. If he can get through the rest of the season without injury and with a bit more game time, I’m confident he’ll develop into an important player for Liverpool.


Emre Can
Can’s signing raised a few eyebrows when a few ‘experts’ of the Bundesliga suggested he didn’t have the technical ability to carve a career in the Premier League. Over the course of the season – and indeed the course of Rodgers’ tactical changes – Can has played in midfield and more defensive positions. He’s shown plenty of quality and plays as if he is years beyond the 21 he actually is. His powerful runs from deep have helped create a lot of counter attacks and his physical strength has helped him in massively improve Liverpool’s defence. Whilst the German is prone to the odd mistake, his range of passing and calmness have also been very impressive. Can has the blueprint to become an excellent player and will no doubt be a key figure for his country in the future.


Lazar Markovic
Markovic has been a bit of a strange one. He’s rarely had a constant impression during games but shows glimpses of exceptional talent at points; reminiscent of another former Liverpool cult hero, Luis Garcia, in that sense. He was one of the first to get a lot of criticism from fans despite being just 20 years old and adapting to a new country. Furthermore, Liverpool play a very different brand of football to Benfica. His first few outings were quiet at best, but you could see the things he was trying to do were clever. His control has been quite wonderful at times, and as the season has moved on we have started to see his running with the ball and technique impress also. He glides with the ball in a similar fashion to Messi (please note I am not suggesting in any way, shape or form that he is even moderately close to Messi in terms of ability. I just mean in the actual way he moves at speed with the ball at his feet with no flamboyant step-overs at any given opportunity) and has a genuine bit of class about him. The strike against Sunderland that hit the bar springs to mind. If he is to become a top player at this level though, he needs to improve his consistency and influence games more than he currently does. This will of course come with experience and familiarity with the Premier League.


Dejan Lovren
Lovren has been poor, very poor. Many – myself included – thought he was a sapient addition to the defense, which was something very much required. His distribution hasn’t been good, his decision making questionable at best and he doesn’t seem to instill any confidence in the fans as a consequence of that. He had a good year for Southampton last year. He was composed and brought an element of calmness to the pitch. During his time with Liverpool he’s looked constantly panicked. He needs to replicate his last season in order to have a place in the Liverpool squad over the coming years and cut out the mistakes. I’d expect Rodgers to try and improve the Croatian’s defensive positioning over the remainder of the season as that seems to have contributed to many of his errors.


Alberto Moreno
Moreno caught the eye early in his Premier League career with a spectacular goal against Tottenham. His lightning pace has been vital to Rodgers’ introduction of the wingback role to the formation, while Moreno’s ability to get forward has played a key part in Liverpool’s resurgence this season. Down the other end of the pitch, Moreno has shown to be a very competent defender in 1-on-1 situations also. It’s unfortunate for him that Jordi Alba is his main competition in the Spanish squad as the 22-year-old is proving to be able to play at the highest level.


Javi Manquillo
I’m not going to patronise you and pretend I really knew who Manquillo was prior to his 2 year loan deal. Signed from Atletico Madrid, the young full-back has been a pleasant surprise to most fans. He’s had a few very good moments but nothing spectacular in terms of performances. That being said, he also does very little wrong. He is very mobile, a capable crosser and defensively very sound as well. I’m not sure if this counts as a compliment anymore but he’s shown what a liability Glen Johnson actually is. If Manquillo was British I think he’d have attracted a lot more attention in the press than his performances currently have.


Mario Balotelli
Few players divide opinion quite like Balotelli does. Most seem quite disappointed that he didn’t celebrate his signing with some sort of bunga bunga party. I think the press give him a particularly harsh time and generally seek to make prejudicial comments about the Italian. We know he isn’t someone who plays the game simply and we know he isn’t someone who flamboyantly displays his stable of emotions. That’s who he is. I genuinely heard a commentator suggesting that he should be dropped for not thanking a teammate after a pass, it was shocking. He hasn’t scored anywhere near the amount of goals that was expected and his decision making can very often be frustrating, but we knew what we was getting with Mario. He actually does work quite hard on the pitch despite what some commentators suggest. He hasn’t benefited from being alone up-front and will hopefully start scoring – or at least supplying – more goals now Sturridge is back from injury. It’s been said a plethora of times already but Balotelli does have an abundance of talent; he is someone who is still maturing as both a person and footballer. He hasn’t played as well as his reputation suggested he should but it hasn’t been anywhere near as bad as a lot of people seem to be making out. I think he has a future at Liverpool still and hope he is given further chance to prove me right


 JAKE COLLINS  is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in  London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog, or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.

Hopkins – Kovalev: Pen vs Sword

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Sergey Kovalev should provide a great contrast to Bernard Hopkins’ style

At 49 years of age, Bernard Hopkins has defied both logic and science by being in a position where he could unify the Light-Heavyweight division beyond just 2 world titles. The crafty fighter will be defending his IBF and WBA world titles against hard hitting Russian Sergey Kovalev, who holds the WBO world title. It’s as good an example as you’re ever likely to see of a thinker and a puncher going toe-to-toe this Saturday down in Atlantic City.

 

Bernard Hopkins v Sergey Kovalev Betting Odds:

Hopkins to win +210

Kovalev to win -275

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Hopkins is no stranger to events of this magnitude. He started as a Middleweight – losing his first pro bout in fact – and has worked his way up to Light-Heavyweight. He won his first world title in 1995 in a re-match against Ecuadorian Segundo Mercado. He defended his world Middleweight title a staggering 20 times, before moving up through the rankings at the hight weight classes. Most boxers begin to deteriorate around their mid-30’s, but Hopkins has dynamically adapted his approach to fights with age. This exclusive intellect has enabled him to be in a position where he is still competing at the highest levels of the game. Hopkins has always boxed a smart game, but is now much more economical about his work. He doesn’t have the power he once possessed; his last KO coming a decade ago against a certain Oscar De La Hoya. That said, Hopkins doesn’t go looking to land power shots and put you down. Instead, he will frustrate and steal rounds. Years of boxing have versed him well in the art of dirtier fighting. If you try and trade with Hopkins, he’ll clinch and counter you. He’s astute enough to know he cant go blow-for-blow with fighters any more, especially not at this higher weight.

His last outings have been against ranked – but not necessarily rated – opposition. Shumenov and Murat both made for relatively dull and conclusive fights. He holds notable wins over Tavoris Cloud and Jean Pascal at this weight also, although Hopkins was never able to get the better of the now ineffective Chad Dawson. The rest of his CV is littered with wins over household names, with his record at an impressive 55-6-2. Should ‘The Alien’ add Kovalev to his resume, he’ll be a win against forgotten Light-Heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson away from holding all 4 belts at the weight, further cementing his place as an all-time great.

 

Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev first burst onto the scene for the majority of the UK audience by dispatching world champion Nathan Cleverly with absolute ease. Cleverly has since been forced to move up to Cruiserweight and hasn’t looked the same since. Besides that, Kovalev has only really beaten fringe competition. Campillo and Sillakh are perhaps the next best two names on the resume and certainly won’t be known to too many boxing fans, particular the more casual viewer. That said, Kovalev hasn’t just beaten these opponents – he’s flat out destroyed them. He is unbeaten and 23 of his 25 wins have come by knock-out.

 

‘Krusher’ is known and venerated for his punching power. However, he is far more than just a KO artist. Kovalev can also box very well. Before turning pro, he had a strong amateur career which consisted of several medals in the national Russian Championships. Kovalev has adopted parts of this into his pro game; he is exceptionally skilled at cutting off the ring and places his punches very well, often throwing viciously effective combinations. Because he is such a devastating puncher, his ring IQ and footwork can be often overlooked. He does have a tendency to leave his chin exposed when throwing big shots, but Hopkins’ lack of power these days is unlikely to punish that. Kovalev will be hoping to hold all 3 belts by the end of the night in order to force a fight with the aforementioned Adonis Stevenson. Stevenson was called out by Kovalev some time ago and has been accused of changing promoters to avoid the fight with the stone-handed Russian.

Hopkins has the trickery, ability and patience to out-box Kovalev and will most likely approach this as a normal fight. However, only one of Kovalev’s shots needs to land flush and it could well be goodnight to ‘The Alien’. Over 12 rounds and the fact that Hopkins is unlikely to KO Kovalev, you can almost be assured that some of those big shots are going to catch the veteran. I believe Hopkins will last longer than Kovalev’s recent opponents, but don’t see it progressing beyond 8 rounds

 

Betting Instinct tip Kovalev to win in round 7-9 is +450 with AllYouBet.ag

 

 JAKE COLLINS  is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in  London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog, or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.

Mayweather – Maidana II: Beginning of the end or business as usual?

Embed from Getty Images

 

Back on May 3rd, Floyd Mayweather Jr defended his illustrious WBA and WBC Welterweight titles against hard-hitting Argentine Marcos Maidana. Whilst it wasn’t the fight the public asked for, it was to be one of the most entertaining fights that has included Mayweather in recent history. Most people expected another relatively arduous encounter, with Mayweather moving around the ring and countering off the back foot. Whilst there was times where his immense reflexes were on display, we saw Mayweather get caught flush an awful lot more than usual. Furthermore, we were treated to seeing Mayweather forced into trading on the inside for the first time in what feels like forever. To his credit, he battled very well and stood up to Maidana’s power. It had echoes of Mayweather’s previous fight with Castillo which was also a tightly contested battle (And another – including their own encounter and Maidana’s – that Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya believes Mayweather lost).

The contest went the entire 12 rounds with Mayweather deservedly getting the majority decision. Maidana is an exciting fighter, a great pressure fighter and has a puncher’s chance against anyone. Is he a top tier fighter? No. Is he a particularly skilled technician? No. So how was it that he was able to have such a close and visually enjoyable fight with Mayweather?

 

Floyd Mayweather Jr v Marcos Maidana Betting Odds:

Floyd Mayweather Jr -1000

Marcos Maidana +550

Draw +2500

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

It cannot be stressed enough how much styles make fights. Mayweather’s three closest fights (subjectively of course) have been against Castillo, De La Hoya and Maidana. Each one of those fighters is an expert at swarming their opponent and putting them under constant pressure. De La Hoya was obviously far more technically proficient in most areas than the other two, but in terms of style there are some comparisons to be drawn. Even Ricky Hatton caused Mayweather some grief initially, but was soundly outclassed by the end of the fight. Whilst it is clear that Mayweather struggles with pressure fighters, he has ultimately came out on top every time (by the judges scorecards at least).

It is entirely possible that Mayweather is starting to slow up a little, which allowed Maidana to have more success than he was entitled to. Mayweather’s head movement is the best in business, but an awful lot more of those overhand rights from Maidana got in than he would have liked. It’s a scrappy windmill of a swing, but it was getting through where many others have failed. To his credit, Mayweather’s chin withstood the power of Maidana’s (who boasts 31 KO’s from 39 fights). There was of course some controversy on the glove situation. Maidana wears a custom set of Everlast gloves which are built with the intention of projecting power. Mayweather refused to fight if Maidana was to use his standard gloves, so a compromise on non-custom Everlast gloves was suggested. This did little to dissuade Mayweather’s stance however, so Maidana was forced to use different gloves to those he trained with for the fight.

 

It’s likely that Mayweather signed the re-match believing he has worked out his way to a much easier victory against Maidana, with a more concise and effective game plan. Evidently, Maidana knows he can his Mayweather and thinks he can make those hard-swinging right hands count for a bit more. The smart money says this will be more like Castillo’s second match with Mayweather; a standard 12 round unanimous decision. However, Mayweather looked vulnerable last time out and can only remain athletically sharp for so long. If anyone is going to knock-out Mayweather, Maidana could be the man to do it.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Another points victory for Mayweather is -250 with Intertops.eu

 

 JAKE COLLINS  is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in  London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog, or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.

Former Chelsea strikers could come back to haunt Mourinho

Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto'o may feel they have unfinished business against Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku and Samuel Eto’o may feel they have unfinished business against Chelsea

Romelu Lukaku will be looking to make his mark against former club Chelsea when his current side goes head to head with the West London outfit this Saturday. Many questioned Mourinho when he sold the exceptionally promising 21 year old to Everton, however with the arrival of Diego Costa after his scintillating season in Spain last year, it makes sense economically for Chelsea and also for the sake of Lukaku’s personal development. The Belgian is yet to get off the mark yet this season and has perhaps looked a little rusty in his opening two games. His ‘replacement’ of sorts has scored in both of his competitive games, helping to win over the Chelsea fans early on in his career in England. Costa’s two goals have – with the greatest respect – only come against newly promoted teams, so it’ll be interesting to see how he copes against a more organised and disciplined defence in the shape of Everton. The likes of Sylvain Distin and Leighton Baines have played against the top players the Premier League has to offer for years (with varying success), so we can help gauge how successful the tenacious Costa is likely to be over the rest of the season.

 

Everton v Chelsea Betting Odds:

Everton win – 5/2

Chelsea win – Evens

Draw – 47/20

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Everton also made the move of Gareth Barry permanent after his promising loan spell for The Toffees last season. Though he doesn’t have too many seasons left in the tank, Barry is a dependable and consistent performer who also boasts European and International experience. It must be said, he is more of a ‘7/10′ in most areas, as opposed to being someone who particularly excels at any one part of the game. He managed to bag 3 goals last year (his highest tally for the last 5 seasons), but used to score more freely in his time at Aston Villa and will certainly hope to improve on that this year. Everton’s other acquisitions are 18 year old Brendan Galloway from MK Dons and highly rated Bosnian midfielder Muhamed Besic, while they were joined last night by another former Chelsea frontman, Samuel Eto’o. The Cameroonian found the net nine times in the Premier League last season, and while at 33 years of age and with no goals away from Stamford Bridge last year,  he will hope to thrive on Merseyside in a similar manner to experienced strikers like Louis Saha in the past.  With Lukaku looking to match or improve upon his 15 league goals last year and Arouna Kone close to a return from injury, a potentially uninspiring transfer window is now looking far more positive for the Toffees.

Unsurprisingly, Chelsea have invested the money made from the extortionate sale of David Luiz and the aforementioned Lukaku. Costa was the real marquee signing, despite last season being his first real prolific campaign in terms of his goal return. Another forward who has already won the Chelsea faithful a thousand times over also returns. Getting Dider Drogba in on a free could turn out to be a spectacular piece of business. He won’t be expected to weigh in with breathtaking performances, but the guidance he can offer to the younger players in the squad – and even the more senior ones – will be profusely beneficial going forward. Chelsea also raided Atletico Madrid for their left-back Filipe Luis. With the departure of neutral fan favourite (ahem) Ashley Cole, another top class left-back was required. Luis had a great season last year and was instrumental in Atletico’s transformation into a major contender at European level. There’s also the small matter of Cesc Fabregas’ return to the Premier League. Whilst he had some fiercely positive displays for Barca, he was never really able to assert himself as a consistent regular. Already providing a spectacular pass in the opening game to help create a goal against Burnley, Fabregas is another top class option to have within Chelsea’s midfield. This may disjoint the progression of Oscar, or it may spurn him on to try harder to reclaim his place in the middle of the park for Chelsea.

Out of the two clubs, Chelsea’s signings naturally stand out more. They have already hit the ground running in their opening games and will be expecting stellar performances like that for the rest of this year. However, places are far less secure at Stamford Bridge and the demand is much higher; being a big name doesn’t ensure you’ll live up to the hype. Everton have helped secure the future of their squad and have invested sagaciously. Time will tell if either overpaid for their famed strikers or if they have turned out to be an absolute steal.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Romelu Lukaku to score the first goal against Chelsea is 7/1 with Coral.

 

 JAKE COLLINS  is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in  London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog, or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.

Germany’s Miroslav Klose chasing a second World Cup Golden Boot

Klose, who top-scored in 2002, is back in the Germany squad for this summer's tournament

Klose, who top-scored in 2002, is back in the Germany squad for this summer’s tournament

The sought after Golden Boot is perhaps the most prestigious and well-known of the individual awards handed out the World Cup. Current holder – Thomas Muller – will be looking to add to his 13 league goals this club season in an effort to retain the cherish Golden Boot. He won the award with a respectable but not quite emphatic 5 goal haul last time. David Villa, Wesley Sneijder and Diego Forlan all matched the German’s tally, but Muller was awarded the prize based on having a higher number of assists (3).

Top goalscorer is always difficult to gauge at major tournaments as a player is only as strong as the whole team. The opening games have a massive impact on this too; a hat-trick in the first couple of games makes you – statistically, based on the last 6 tournaments – already at least halfway to the required number of goals to top the charts.

 

World Cup top scorer betting odds:

Lionel Messi – 8.00

Neymar – 11.00

Cristiano Ronaldo – 15.00

Sergio Aguero – 15.00

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

So, let’s look at our favourites. Unsurprisingly, Leo Messi is most people’s tip to be the top scorer this year. Last season was widely considered to be his worst in years, yet the mercurial Argentine still bagged 41 goals in all competitions. His form at international level has been questioned, but the Argentinian team itself has a desultory rhythm in terms of form. I’m not going to waste anyone’s time by describing how he plays or what he is good at; it’s very much public knowledge. With 10 goals during the qualifying campaign, this could be Messi’s best chance of international glory at a personal and a team level.

Messi’s esteemed fellow countryman Sergio Aguero will also be looking to make his mark. Despite suffering a few injuries during the season, Aguero produced a host of fantastic displays in the Premier League and showed to the English audience that he has a lot more to his game than sheer goalscoring and dribbling. His vision and general awareness of teammates was pivotal in Manchester City’s re-capturing of the league title this year, whilst also showing that he can handle the more potent physical side that the Premier League offers.

 

Another player whom once famously showcased similar attributes and has yet to receive full recognition for his international work is, of course, everyone’s favourite personification of modesty – Cristiano Ronaldo! The Portuguese star was in fine form once again this year for Real Madrid, ending the season by netting a goal in their Champions League final victory against Ateltico Madrid. He even earned a round of applause from fellow shy person Zlatan Ibrahimovic after his hat-trick against Sweden sealed Portugal’s qualification into the world cup. At the ripe age of 29, CR7 won’t have his devastating pace come the next World Cup (though I dare say he will be no slouch) and will look to add to his ever growing catalogue of individual awards with a WC Golden Boot trophy. It’s unlikely that Portugal will progress to the latter stages of the tournament and with Ghana, USA and Germany in their group, they are far from promised a place out of the group stages at all. That being said, Ronaldo can change games on his own and will be looking to exploit any weakness shown by the two weaker sides (USA and Ghana respectively).

After a relatively expensive and somewhat unremarkable opening season for Barcelona, Neymar will be hoping to continue producing his scintillating displays for the Brazilian national team. The youngster has 31 goals in 49 games for his country already, which is impressive however you look at it. A lot of them are quite spectacular too. He will flourish playing in his homeland and with said host nation being frontrunners to win the tournament, it’s quite easy to deduce that Neymar is likely to score a lot of goals this tournament.

 

Quite often, it can be a bit of s surprise name as to who scores the most goals in a tournament. Particularly at international level. An erudite outside bet can prove very profitable, so let’s analyse some of the players who aren’t quite expected to produce a magnanimous amount of goals. I’ll start with Belgian giant Romelu Lukaku, who showed this season that he has an extremely well rounded set of skills, more so than most other 21 year old strikers. He bagged 15 league goals and orchestrated some fantastic performances for Everton. He is exceptionally strong, but – unlike most powerful strikers – is also very quick to move across the ground. His ability is only going to improve over the next decade, will this year be the year he announces himself amongst the best forwards in the world?

Germany’s all-time leading scorer Miroslav Klose joins us for another World Cup, no doubt eliminating some poor team’s hopes with an obligatory headed goal. Klose has been prolific at international level and is truly one of the those players that can score from any situation. His World Cup experience will be crucial to the younger German players and might well prove to be the differnce in a close match against similarly top opposition. A lot of this depends on how the team is lined up, but you can be sure that Klose will be having his say at some point.

 

For the patriotic English readers, I feel obliged to include an English player. Who better than the highest scoring English player in the Premier League last year? Daniel Sturridge has been a revelation since signing for Liverpool. He’s been prolific, consistent and has scored a lot of said goals in spectacular fashion. His curling effort against Peru a reminder as to what he can produce from outside the box. England have a tough group in the shape of Uruguay, Italy and Cost Rica; they will be relying on Sturridge’s performances to help them proceed into the knockout stages. He certainly is capable of scoring against venerable opposition, if he finds his form from the first game in then he could certainly be worth an outsider’s bet.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Romelu Lukaku to top-score offers value at 26.00 with AllYouBet.ag, while Klose (33.00) and Sturridge (51.00) could also be worth a punt

Not used to decimal betting odds? Check out Betting Instinct’s brand new odds calculation guide.

 

 JAKE COLLINS (jcollins91) is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in  London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog, or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.

Mayweather: An all time great or overrated?

Will Mayweather's ultimate legacy suffer from a lack of elite opposition?

Will Mayweather’s ultimate legacy suffer from a lack of elite opposition?

The vast majority of boxing fans sit in one of two camps when forming a judgement on Floyd Mayweather Jr. There’s the more sincere fans, who firmly see Mayweather as one of the defining icons of the sport and up there with the very greatest. Opposing that view, are those who believe Mayweather has had things arranged in auspicious circumstances and has never beaten a ‘peak’ top fighter himself. Wherever you see yourself, credit where credit is due; the man is unbeaten regardless and continues to fight at a high standard even at the age of 37.

His next defence of  his WBC Welterweight belt (and for the WBA equivalent, belonging to the challenger) is against the aggressive Argentine Marcos Maidana. Despite losing in the fan poll on who Mayweather should fight next, Maidana was eventually chosen as the next contender against the unbeaten Mayweather. The fight is scheduled for the 3rd of May and is being hosted at the illustrious MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas – where Mayweather’s previous 8 fights have all been held.

 

Floyd Mayweather Jr v Marcos Maidana Betting Odds:

Floyd Mayweather Jr -1429

Marcos Maidana +700

(All odds provided by AllYouBet.ag are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Mayweather is expected to dominate the fight against Maidana, who many see as a lacklustre appointment at this level of boxing with three losses to his name (one of which was against Amir Khan, who was hotly tipped to have a tough style for Mayweather to battle against) and only a few victories of note to his name. This adds to the argument of Mayweather’s critics, who have often accused him of ‘cherry picking’ his fights, choosing the easier of two options.

Many felt that the sleek and sharp Khan would prove a different test for Mayweather, and – despite the aforementioned poll – Maidana was chosen. Maidana has some real power behind his gloves and is always a threat to knock a fighter out, but he isn’t the fastest or neatest boxer in the world and this is certainly the style of fighter that suits Mayweather perfectly. On the flip side, Maidana has recently embarrassed the somewhat opulent Adrien Broner who fights in a similar manner to Mayweather. He won on a unanimous points decision over 12 rounds after battering Broner without looking to be in trouble a any point. The problem there being that Broner isn’t anywhere near as good as ‘Money’.

 

So, let’s look at Mayweather’s CV. There’s a cornucopia of household names, some of which would be considered ‘greats’ by a lot of venerable boxing pundits. The likes of De La Hoya, Moseley, Hatton, Marquez, Ortiz, Cotto and even the young Alvarez have all been dispatched by Mayweather. Out of those names – and ALL of the names of the fighters he has beaten – only one of those came down to a split decision, which was the fight against De La Hoya.

Typically, Mayweather fights come down to a unanimous decision; he isn’t a KO artist and will generally prefer to wear opponents down throughout the the 12 rounds. In fact, only 26 of his 45 victories have come by way of knockout. In fairness, there are a plethora of fighters who would be very happy with that percentage but you would expect a little higher from the number 1 pound for pound fighter. He perfected the somewhat infamous shoulder roll technique and operates a defensive fight. An expert at fighting on the back foot, Mayweather works best when the ring is spacious and offers him plenty of room to manoeuvre around and avoid attacks.

 

Now, you’d generally consider De La Hoya and Moseley as the highest ranked in terms of overall quality against those other names there. It cannot honestly be said that Mayweather defeated a prime De La Hoya or a prime Moseley, and there is a case for claiming he has never beaten an in-form fighter who will be considered ‘one of the best’ – the arguable exception is Marquez, though many would not put him in the De La Hoya/Moseley bracket.

This isn’t Mayweather’s fault of course; he can only fight who is put in front of him. It would have been great to see him go toe to toe with a certain Filipino, but for reasons owing no doubt to both sides, that has yet to materialise. This is the main criticism against Mayweather and it’s a difficult one to argue. Look back to the days of Marvin Hagler. He had the likes of Duran, Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard  in contention. Four absolutely world class boxers who all operated on a platform most fighters could and can only dream of. The fight with Pacquiao that was first discussed a few years ago might turn out to be the biggest loss Mayweather will ever suffer.

 

However you look at it, Mayweather is an objectively polished fighter and certainly knows how to sell his fights. His talent is undeniable and I can’t think of a fight he’d currently go into without being the absolute favourite. That being said, to quote Carl Froch “If you retire undefeated it means you didn’t fight everyone you were supposed to”.

 

Betting Instinct tip – Floyd Mayweather Jr to win by decision or technical decision is -161 with Intertops.eu

 

 JAKE COLLINS (jcollins91) is passionate about literature, music and sports. He currently works in  London and lives in Essex. Read more of his work in Jake’s blog, or follow Jake on Twitter and Google+.