BOXING

AUTHOR: William Kedjanyi

STAR BOXING PREVIEW: Fabio Wardley v Frazer Clarke

Two powerful heavyweights collide at London’s 02 Arena this weekend as reigning British champion Fabio Wardley (17-0 16KO) defends his belt against former Olympian Frazer Clarke (8-0 6KO). Both men carry significant power and with little respect between them this could be a British title classic, writes JORDAN NEILD.

Undefeated through 17 fights, Fabio Wardley has been impressive as a professional and has claimed English, British & Commonwealth titles without looking troubled at any point. His achievements in less than twenty fights are made even more impressive by the fact he turned over without any amateur experience. To enter professional boxing without prior experience and achieve what Wardley has is impressive and must be respected.

Wardley is keen to shift the tag of having no amateur experience and wins over the likes of David Adeleye & Nathan Gorman are helping him do that. Like his opponent this weekend, both of those men had extensive amateur backgrounds and Wardley dismantled both in a handful of rounds.

As well as fighting decent opposition, the reigning British champion is becoming used to fighting on the big stage. In his last fight against Adeleye, he was high on the undercard of Fury vs Ngannou in Saudi Arabia and with experience like that under his belt, he will feel comfortable headlining his own card at the 02 Arena.

In complete contrast, Frazer Clarke couldn’t have had any more experience in the unpaid code. A long-term member of Team GB, he served as back-up to the likes of Anthony Joshua and Joe Joyce before finally getting his opportunity at an Olympic Games in 2020 and eventually came home with a bronze medal.

Due to his commitment to the amateur game, Clarke never turned professional until he was 30 and is therefore on a crash course rather than an apprenticeship. Now 8-0 (6KO) he is hoping to claim a British title before attempting to step up to the world championship level in the next twelve months but skipping the levels in boxing is a dangerous game.

In eight fights, Clarke has fought some notable names but nobody who has entered the ring with ambition. Wins over the likes of Mariusz Wach and Dave Allen look good on paper but both men are now at the tail end of their careers and were happy to play the role of opponent rather than having true belief they could upset the former Olympian. This weekend, Fabio Wardley will be expecting to win and that is a whole new proposition for ‘Big Fraze’.

It’s hard to deny the progress of Fabio Wardley and he has a history of beating former standout amateurs. For everything he may lack in ‘pedigree’, he makes up for in professional experience and that’s what could set him apart this weekend. Frazer Clarke will do everything he can to upset the momentum of the champion but if he doesn’t end this early, he may struggle to keep up with the pace as the fight progresses.

Fabio Wardley to win by KO/TKO is the play here.

There are several interesting fights on the undercard but the one that stands out is between cruiserweights Viddal Riley (10-0 6KO) and Mikael Lawal (17-1 11KO). Both men hail from London and it has created a local derby feel in the build-up and has fans divided on which way it will go.

Riley turned professional under the guidance of Floyd Mayweather in the USA but as his career has progressed, he has laid foundations back in London and is making eye-catching progress. He captured the English title last time out with a career-best performance over formerly undefeated Nathan Quarless and he will be looking to build on that this weekend.

Lawal has been around the professional scene longer than Riley and claimed the British title in 2022 before losing it to former European title challenger Isaac Chamberlain last year and now finds himself on something of a redemption mission.

Riley brings the natural boxing ability to the ring this weekend but Lawal has genuine knockout power, and it will be the first time Riley has faced a threat like that but knowing he can be knocked out at any point should keep the newly crowned English champion laser-focused.

This is a highly competitive match-up but one that Viddal Riley can come through by decision and keep his undefeated professional record intact.


RECOMMENDED BETS
BACK Fabio Wardley to win by TKO 2pts at 5/6 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)
BACK Viddal Riley to win by decision 1pt at 11/8 (⭐ ? CLICK TO BET NOW)


PROFIT/LOSS (MARCH 2024): LOSS -14.37 points


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