It is safe to safe that last week went well for this column as the longshot came in at 20/1, as well as the double at over 4/1.
Let’s see if today’s action can provide more success.
As some of you may be aware, I like to bet on fights involving prospects. I believe that often those matchups provide greater value as we are not entirely sure of a boxer’s strengths and weaknesses while they are in the infancy of their career. All of today’s selections feature fighters with less than 13 professional fights.
First up, Youth Olympic gold medallist Karol Itauma takes on Michal Gazdik over six rounds. Itauma is currently on a three-fight knockout streak and has stopped five out of his seven opponents. As such the bookmakers have the stoppage at odds-on in method of victory markets.
However, Gazdik has only been halted twice in 30 fights. The Slovakian journeyman is only 5’7” and boxes out of crouch, making himself even smaller. It does not leave much of a target to hit due to his tight guard.
In December, Gazdik went the six-round distance against Mark Dickinson. The Ben Davison trained prospect had a similarly distinguished career to Itauma in the unpaid ranks, winning gold at the European Youth Championships and Commonwealth Youth Games. For all of Dickinson’s ability, Gazdik never appeared to be in any real trouble. It is worth remembering that was Dickinson’s second professional bout.
The bookies’ confidence in Itauma securing the stoppage likely stems from the fact that Gazdik was halted in the opening round against Callum Simpson, back in April. I think too much emphasis is being placed on that defeat. Simpson appears to be a devastating puncher, having knocked out several survival specialists; such as Lewis Van Poetsch. For context, Van Poetsch went the distance against Itauma on the 21-year-old’s debut.
Is Itauma now at the level where he can open up the cracks in the defence of men who make a living out of not taking clean punches? It remains to be seen, but I suspect he is not at that level, yet.
Bookmakers often overestimate the punch power of prospects, I suspect they have done so once again, here. The selection is Itauma to win by decision at 5/1.
As stated above, I believe that there is a genuine possibility that Gazdik could hear the final bell against Itauma. As a result, it will come as no surprise that I expect the journeyman to hang around for longer than two-and-a-half rounds. The bookmakers do not. The fight lasting over 2.5 rounds is available at 11/10. In for a penny, in for a pound.
On the same card, Dennis McCann faces James Beech Jr at featherweight. It appears that comparisons between McCann and Naseem Hamed are not convincing anyone, as the prospect is odd-on to win by decision. I get the logic, Beech Jr went the distance with Chris Bourke and Brad Foster, while McCann has only halted six of his twelve opponents as a professional. However, after competing at super-bantamweight, I suspect the move to 126lbs may suit McCann. I like McCann by stoppage, which is currently price at 2/1 with Betfred.
The double is currently available at just under 5/1.
Irish prospect, Pierce O’Leary has his 10th professional bout against Darwin Zamora. The Spain-based Nicaraguan is tough, but can be stopped, having been halted in six of his 14 defeats. I feel he will suffer a similar fate against the Dublin puncher. Zamora likes to throw wide left hooks from the southpaw stance which leaves him open for straight right hands. However, the journeyman may be durable enough to make it into the second half of the fight. The pick here is O’Leary to win between rounds 5-8 at 7/2.
If you like all three selections, the treble is priced at just under 25/1.