IBHOF inductee and boxing gambling expert Graham Houston seeks the betting value in this weekend’s action featuring WBO middleweight champ Savannah Marshall vs Belgian challenger Femke Hermans.
Big-punching middleweight Savannah Marshall tops the bill on the Sky Sports show from Newcastle tonight and no doubt she will be looking to become the first to stop Belgium’s Femke Hermans and in the process go one better than Claressa Shields, who won a shutout 10-round decision over Hermans three years ago. (Shields will be at ringside for the Newcastle show.)
Hermans is tough and she is game. She switches between the southpaw and orthodox styles. I don’t think Hermans has been knocked down, but Shields had her going with a left hook in the last round of their bout.
A stoppage win for Marshall looks almost nailed on. Hermans is the naturally smaller woman, she doesn’t have much power and she’s boxed only three times in the past three years. The under/over has been set for 4.5 rounds. Marshall gets right down to business and will usually look to hurt her opponents at the earliest moment. Pride and gameness might carry Hermans past 4.5 rounds but I believe this fight has been made for one reason only, which is for Marshall to get Hermans out of there and create added buzz for the inevitable meeting with Claressa Shields.
Big ticket-seller Florian Marku meets the much more experienced Chris Jenkins in a 10-round welter bout. Marku is the fresher fighter, stronger and heavier-handed. Jenkins had a good win over Julius Indongo in his last bout, but at 33 and after some tough, bloody fights I fear he’s at the tail-end of his career. Jenkins is prone to cuts and swellings around the eyes and even in the win over the ageing Indongo there were hints of vulnerability. I think Marku can win this inside the distance and a small stab at the “Distance — No” proposition at 10/11 (-110) might make sense.
Zak Chelli meets substitute Jack Kilgannon in an eight-round bout in the 168-pound division. Kilgannon is tall and he’s a workmanlike type but Chelli has fought at a higher level and he looks the better fighter and better puncher. I think a Chelli KO win is possible but you’re looking at unattractive odds of about 10/19 (-190) for the stoppage proposition.
Unbeaten middleweight prospect Bradley Rea should get past 36-year-old Namibian opponent Lukas Ndafoluma but the 1/34 odds don’t interest me and the over/under at 5.5 rounds looks a tough call.
For those who like accumulators, Chloe Watson, Luke Cope, Georgia O’Connor, April Hunter and Matty Harris all should come through.
I think there might be a sneaky plus-money shot in the women’s bout between County Durham’s 22-year-old Georgia O’Connor and Erica Alvarez of Argentina. They meet in a scheduled six-round welterweight bout on the Newcastle show.
O’Connor had a solid amateur career. In her only pro bout she was in with an opponent whose sole object was to duck and dive and survive. Alvarez, 31, looks the type of boxer who is much more willing to stand and fight.
Alvarez has a 2-5 (0 KOs record). Although she has never been stopped, four of the five opponents who beat Alvarez did not have a single stoppage win between them. She turned pro as a junior lightweight a year ago but weighed in at 152 pounds for the O’Connor fight and looked soft in the body. Alvarez’ weight for tonight’s bout is 13 pounds more than she weighed for her last fight, which was less than a month ago. Has she had adequate preparation?
Six two-minute rounds is not a lot of time to work with. But O’Connor looked aggressive in her pro debut and seemed frustrated that her opponent wouldn’t make a fight of it. From what I’ve seen of Alvarez she doesn’t move around a lot. I like the idea of a small play on O’Connor vs Alvarez “Distance — No” at general odds of 6/5 (+120). It’s basically a speculative wager but I don’t think it’s a bad look.
Main image: The hard-hitting Marshall (left) is fancied to earn the stoppage tonight. Photo: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER.