IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston looks for the betting value amid a packed weekend of world class boxing including Inoue-Moloney, Davis-Santa Cruz and, of course, Usyk-Chisora.

It’s a huge evening of boxing with many fights on the betting boards. Let’s look at the three biggest fights.

In London, Oleksandr Usyk has his second bout in the heavyweight division when he meets Dereck Chisora in a 12-rounder.

Chisora will be bringing pressure in his usual way. He has some momentum going for him, with KO wins in his last two fights. The undefeated Usyk will box and move, seeking to befuddle Chisora with speed and angles.

Usyk is a 1/6 (-600) favourite at Betfred. Usyk to win by decision or technical decision is priced at 11/8 [+138]. If you think Usyk can win inside the distance the price for the KO TKO proposition is even money. It’s surprising that the better price is for a Usyk decision. But on closer inspection, maybe it makes sense. 

An Usyk stoppage is favoured by the bookies tonight.
Photo: Mark Robinson.

If Usyk’s movement has Chisora swinging and missing, there is a chance that Londoner could start to get tired and discouraged. If Chisora slows down, Usyk might be able to pepper him with quick punches from out of his southpaw stance. A stoppage on punch-accumulation for the Ukrainian fighter starts to make sense when you look at it that way. It’s 8/13 (-162) that the fight won’t go the distance. If you like the idea of the fight going the distance, the price is 5/4.

The “distance/not distance” is tricky. While Chisora is usually durable, he turns 37 in December and he has been in a lot of wars. One of his three stoppage losses came when Tyson Fury broke him down in their rematch. If you remember, Fury boxed most of that fight in the southpaw stance. Fury is a much bigger man than Usyk, obviously. Still, those fancying Usyk to get the stoppage might get encouragement from the way Fury was able to pick off Chisora all night. Usyk isn’t considered a big puncher, but he is sharp and accurate, and he looks in tremendous condition at 215 pounds.

Over in the States, Gervonta “Tank” Davis defends his lightweight title against Leo Santa Cruz at the Alamodome in San Antonio. It will be a two-title affair, because Santa Cruz will be defending his 130-pound championship. Tank made the required weight limit of 130 and I thought he looked pretty good on the scales.

As I understand it, there will be a crowd at the Alamodome but Covid-19 protocols will be in place. This a PPV event in North America but UK fans can watch it on Channel 5.

Tank is obviously a big favourite (1/6 at Betfred). This fight is intended to launch Tank as a PPV superstar. The betting public feels he will be just too powerful for the 32-year-old Santa Cruz. Those who think Santa Cruz’s high punch-output can win him the fight can get a nice price of 9/2 (+450). 

While Tank has scored some impressive KO wins (such as his  three-round destruction of Liam Walsh in the UK three years ago) he laboured against Francisco Fonseca and was frankly unimpressive in his last fight, against the ageing Yuriorkis Gamboa. Yet Tank has apparently had a 15-week training camp in Las Vegas for this fight, away from distractions at home in Baltimore. I believe that his mentor, Floyd Mayweather, has been quite hands-on with advice and motivation.

Champions Davis and Santa Cruz clash tonight – with ‘Tank’ (left) widely favoured.
Photo: Esther Lin/Showtime.

Santa Cruz is tough and he has a great engine. The Mexican-born fighter from southern California is as game as they come. He will never give in. Yet Santa Cruz has never faced a puncher such as Davis who, at 25, is the younger man by some seven years. 

Clearly, Santa Cruz will not look to go toe-to-toe. He says he will box a smart fight, and he does have the height and reach advantages. But will he able to keep the fight on the outside? Tank is adept at closing the distance and packs power in either the left hand or the right hook from his southpaw stance.

If you feel that Tank is indeed the machine of destruction that Floyd Mayweather believes him to be, you will be interested in the 10/11 (-110) offered on the KO TKO prop. 

The other big fight tonight is at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, when Japanese “Monster” Naoya Inoue defends his bantamweight titles against Australia’s Jason Moloney.

On form, this is a mismatch. Moloney lost a split decision to Emmanuel Rodriguez, whereas Inoue demolished the Puerto Rican boxer in two rounds. However, form guides are not always accurate. Moloney looks up for the task at hand.  Apparently Moloney has been asking for this fight for some time. Now he’s got it. Be careful what you wish for?

Yet while Moloney seems genuinely confident, it is hard to go against the powerful Inoue. The Inoue KO TKO proposition is understandably highly priced at 1/3 (-300). This seems the likely result. 

However, Moloney knows how to box and move, he’s fast and he has enough pop on his punches to get respect. This is Inoue’s first fight since his gruelling win over Nonito Donaire, when the Japanese fighter suffered a fractured orbital bone. Perhaps Inoue’s aggression will be restrained in the Moloney fight, at least initially.

The “over 6.5 rounds” proposition at slightly better than even money might have some value. But the problem here is that Inoue can get an opponent out of the fight with just one punch, should he find the opening for his right hand or left hook. His left hook to the body is a wickedly effective blow — he actually seemed to KO Donaire with the left hook underneath in the 11th round but the referee seemed to hesitate instead of completing the count and the courageous Filipino veteran got up and survived to  the final bell.

Inoue makes his Top Rank debut tonight.
Photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank.

On the face of it, Moloney just seems outgunned, but he appears to have steeled himself to go through hell to win this fight. I think the gritty Aussie can give a good account of himself and it wouldn’t shock me if he made it past six and a half rounds. But anyone betting on the “over” will no doubt be on tenterhooks every second the fight lasts. Who needs that sort of strain on the heart?

The bet I like most out of the three big fights is the Tank Davis KO TKO prop at 10/11 (-110). I can’t get the Liam Walsh fight out of my mind. Liam is a good, game fighter but Tank blew right through him. Yes, Santa Cruz is on a much higher level than Walsh, but Leo is hittable. I’m going with the narrative here, which is that Tank is going to give a special type of performance.