STAR PREVIEW Fri: Saunders vs Murray

World super-middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders takes on veteran Martin Murray in London this weekend in the second defence of his WBO title. These two have been on a collision course for a while and this fight presents the champion with an opportunity to remind everyone just how good he is. For Martin Murray, this is his final chance to become a world champion.

Saunders burst onto the world scene in 2015 when he won the middleweight title against Andy Lee. At that point, the boxing world was on notice and he was tipped to go on dominate at middleweight. However, things didn’t quite work that way and despite one flawless performance against David Lemieux in 2017, his time at middleweight was plagued with inactivity, weight issues and underwhelming performances.

In 2019, he moved to super-middleweight in a bid to rejuvenate his career and in truth, he was gifted a shot at a second world title against the overmatched Shefat Isufi. Saunders won that night but was anything but convincing. Since then, he has fought only once and failed to impress once again. The general feeling around boxing is that we are yet to see the very best of the London based southpaw and time may be running out.

Martin Murray is one of the most unfortunate boxers in British boxing history. The St Helens man has fought for the world title four times and should have won at least two (arguably three) of those fights but for bad decisions on the scorecards. All of his previous world title fights have been outside of the UK but now he finds himself with a chance to realise his dream on home soil. He will be hoping that he can get over the line at the fifth attempt.

Stylistically, these fighters are polar opposites. Saunders is a slick, counter-punching southpaw who thrives on fighters applying pressure and that is exactly what Murray will bring. The challenger is technically sound and proven over the twelve-round distance. He will be hoping that he catches the champion on an off night but on paper, it can’t be overlooked that the clash of styles is a huge benefit for Saunders.

Saunders starts as the big favourite here and odds of (4/11) to win this one by decision suggest this one could head to the scorecards. However, the champion desperately needs a big performance and if he was to amble to a decision victory over a 38-year-old Martin Murray, it would not do a great deal for his reputation as a super middleweight.

The most interesting fight on the undercard involves heavy-handed Irishman James Tennyson as he takes on unknown Canadian Josh O’Reilly over twelve rounds. Tennyson has been a revelation since moving up to lightweight and looks on the verge of challenging for world honours in the new year. His test this weekend is a tricky one due to O’Reilly being largely unknown and it is hard to determine what sort of opposition he has been facing on the small hall circuit in Canada.

Tennyson is a ferocious puncher which makes him unmissable TV and since moving up to lightweight he has registered six straight knockouts. Although O’Reilly is undefeated, he is untested and on his first trip outside of his homeland he looks up against it here. The odds reflect that with Tennyson (1/4) to win this one by knockout. The feeling here is this one could be over within the first half of the fight.

Another fighter to keep an eye on the undercard is undefeated super-middleweight, Zach Parker. Parker has progressed nicely in his nineteen professional fights and finds himself highly ranked by the WBO which means he could be in line to face the winner of the main event in 2021. This is the perfect opportunity for Parker to steal the limelight and get the fans talking about a potential big fight next year and he has an opponent in Cesar Nunes who is well travelled and should ask some questions of Parker.

A bit further down the undercard, Donte Dixon takes on Angelo Dragone over six rounds. Dixon is managed by Billy Joe Saunders and is on a three-fight knockout streak. This is a decent step up against Dragone and it will be interesting to see if Dixon can continue his ascent up the rankings.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Billy Joe Saunders to win in rounds 7-12 1 pt @ 7/2 with
BACK James Tennyson to win in rounds 1-3 1 pt @ 19/10 with
BACK Zach Parker to win on points 1 pt @ 17/4 with

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