There is a lot of action to choose from this weekend. With a bit of luck, this column can return to winning ways.
This column rarely tips an underdog, and with good reason; risk adverse matchmaking is designed to ensure that “home” fighters win. Of course, upsets happen fairly regularly but identifying the correct unfancied boxer to back can be tricky. Today, I’m going to be brave.
On the undercard of the British super-lightweight title fight between Dalton Smith and Sam O’Maison, Jordan Thompson takes on Vasil Ducar. Mancunian Thompson is an interesting prospect; he is a natural athlete, having played elite level tennis as a junior and has made an impressive transition into boxing.
The same attributes that made ‘Troublesome’ successful with a racket and ball have been pivotal to his success in the ring; namely his 6’6” frame and explosive power. In 13 fights, only two opponents have heard the final bell. As a result, Thompson has never been beyond the fourth round.
At 29-years-old, time is not on Thompson’s side. Matchroom have clearly decided to step up the level of opposition their fighter faces. Novices that hit as hard as the Manchester native are difficult to match, as punch power can mask a whole variety of limitations. The only way to truly assess such a boxer’s potential is to find an opponent that is durable enough to withstand the shots.
Vasil Ducar fits that bill. The Czech demonstrated his toughness on his last visit to these shores, taking Chris Billam-Smith the scheduled 10-round distance, in March of last year. Current European and Commonwealth cruiserweight champion, Billam-Smith, possesses a different kind of power to Thompson; the Bournemouth man’s punches are clubbing, while ‘Troublesome’ is explosive. It remains to be seen how Ducar handles the problems posed by Thompson, but he has only been stopped once in five defeats, against Mike Perez. The Cuban is highly skilled and vastly experienced, the latter of which Thompson most certainly is not.
There are many questions surrounding Thompson, but Ducar will provide answers. However, with the fight set to go 10 rounds, this could be too big a step up, too soon. If the Czech can survive the early stanzas, suddenly, outlook of the fight changes. We know Ducar has no issues with stamina and has a good chin, we have no idea if Thompson has those same attributes. Ducar to win is available at 11/1 and is worth a small stake – even if there will likely be some trepidation for backers during the early frames.
Oh, I believe it is also worth backing the draw in the fight between Tyrone McKenna and Chris Jenkins. Both men are prone to cuts and there is always the possibility that the bout is halted as the result of a cut. The draw is priced at 25/1 with Betfred.
Irish prospect, Paddy Donovan, takes on Tom Hill, on the undercard of Michael Conlan’s return to the ring. Donovan, trained by Andy Lee, has hardly put a foot wrong in his eight fights to date and faces a slight step up in the form of Hill. The Yorkshireman has experience of upsetting the Irish, having beaten Rohan Date over eight rounds earlier this year. However, Donovan is a class above. The pick is for the hard-hitting southpaw to stop Hill between rounds 5-8 at 15/8.
Topping the Matchroom bill, Dalton Smith fights, Sheffield rival, Sam O’Maison for the vacant British super-lightweight title. O’Maison was once a touted prospect, but has failed to reach the heights many had hoped he would. Smith on the other hand, has been impressive in his 11 professional fights. O’Maison has been halted in two of his three losses and I believe he will not be able to handle Smith’s power and accuracy. I’m going for Smith to win between rounds 4-6 at 8/5.
The double is priced at over 6/1.
For all the reasons outlined in The Longshot, I believe there is a reasonable chance that Ducar could take Thompson the distance. As this bout is taking place in the United Kingdom, it is always sensible to back the Brit if a fight goes to the scorecards. Thompson by decision is priced at 12/5.
If you like all three selections, this week’s treble is available at just under 25/1.