IBHOF inductee and gambling expert Graham Houston seeks the betting value in tonight’s welterweight clash between rising star Conor Benn and former world champion Chris Algieri.

It’s an absolutely stacked Saturday, with a huge raft of boxing odds to look at as 2021 draws to a close. But for British fans the big event takes place in Liverpool, with undefeated welterweight Conor Benn seeking to advance his career and also further his ring education in a 12-round match-up against the skilled and seasoned former 140lbs champion Chris Algieri, from Long Island, New York.

Benn is a 1/7 (-700) favourite at Betfred. He’s facing his stiffest test. Although Algieri is 37 years old he looked in tremendous shape at the weigh-in. And in his last fight, Algieri looked fresh and sharp in winning a lopsided decision over useful Mikkel St Pierre. If you feel that Algieri is bridge too far for Benn you will no doubt like the take-back of 9/2 (+450) for the US visitor.

This is a classic youth vs experience type of fight. Benn is fast, aggressive and has excellent hand speed. He’s shown rapid improvement. And at 25 he is the younger man by 12 years. Algieri has been the full 12 rounds with Manny Pacquiao and Amir Khan but it’s seven years since he pulled off his biggest win by coming back from two knockdowns in the first round and overcoming a badly swollen eye to outbox the heavy handed Ruslan Provodnikov. 

We’re likely to see Benn taking the fight to Algieri from the start. Algieri will be looking to get his jab to work and he’ll be trying to time Benn for crisp counter punches. Algieri is coming to win. This will suit Benn, who was frustrated by Adrian Granados’ constant retreat in his last fight. Algieri is gritty, capable and durable. The formidable Errol Spence Jr is the only fighter to stop him. No shame there, as Spence is one of the world’s best fighters at any weight. But Algieri was down six times against Pacquiao, and the smaller Tommy Coyle buzzed him with a right had in their fight in 2019. Will Benn’s fast pressure have a wearing-down effect on the older man? Twelve rounds is a long way to go against a relentless aggressor such as Benn.

If you feel that Benn will catch up with Algieri you’re looking at  odds of 8/13 (-160) for the KO TKO DQ proposition. Benn to win by decision is offered at 2/1 (+200). 

Algieri’s most likely route to victory, it would seem, is to keep boxing, moving, making Benn miss and popping him with jabs and quick punches. If you think Algieri can pull it off by outboxing Benn, you might be enticed by the odds of 8/1 (+800) on the older man to win by decision/technical decision.

However, Algieri suffered some damage under the eyes in the fight with Tommy Coyle, and he certainly didn’t have it all his own way. So, if Algieri had his work cut out against Coyle two-and-a-half years ago — and he doesn’t figure to have improved in the interim — how is he going to stave off a fired-up Benn?

I’m thinking on the lines of a late stoppage win for Benn. In the round-group markets, Benn to win in rounds 7-12 is available at quite a nice ticket price of 21/10 (+210). It would be a sensational performance by Benn if he could overwhelm Algieri inside six rounds. If the stoppage comes it figures to be in the second half of the bout.

There are meaningful fights in Russia, Dubai, New York and Los Angeles tonight and stretching into the early hours of Sunday morning. I’ll be a tad surprised if all of the favourites come through.

Long-shot bet of the weekend? Taking a chance on Dominican Norbelto Jimenez to spring a shock against Filipino four-weight world champion Donnie Nietes might not be as crazy as it sounds. Nietes is the obvious, clear favourite in this 12-round WBA 115-pound title eliminator on the Dubai show. But Nietes turns 40 in five months and that really is getting up there in age for a fighter in the lighter weight divisions. 

Jimenez, 30, is fast and flashy. Khalid Yafai soundly outpointed him in Jimenez’ only loss in the last decade, but Yafai brought physical strength and pressure, whereas Nietes is a craftsman who relies on skills and smarts. A motivated Jimenez, some nine years the younger man, might be able to use speed and hustle to steal a decision over the ageing South-East Asia great. Betfred offers Jimenez at 6/1 (+600). I thought Nietes looked good on the scales but sometimes these older fighters all of a sudden just can’t pull the trigger once the first bell rings. Sure, Nietes is the likely winner, but a stab on Jimenez at attractive odds is worth considering.

And I think that Cody Crowley, the unbeaten Canadian welterweight, has a decent shot at pulling off the upset over Uzbekistan’s Kudratillo Abdukakhorov, who is also undefeated, on the big show in Los Angeles. I see this as a fight that could go either way. Abdukakhorov is capable for sure, but I could see Crowley outworking him for a close win by decision. Crowley has a ripped physique and he fights at a fast tempo. He relocated to Las Vegas to further his career and I believe he’s sparred many rounds with Floyd Mayweather. Crowley is offered at 7/2 (+350) for those who feel inclined to take the plunge. 

Main image: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing.