AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR PREVIEW: Ruiz Jr vs Joshua Undercard Preview

The clash between Andy Ruiz Jr and Anthony Joshua this weekend, is backed up by an explosive looking support cast. The undercard consists of six bouts with four of the bouts being in the heavyweight division. Featuring two Olympic medallists, a former world champion and two former world title challengers, the undercard looks exceptionally fan friendly.

At the top of the undercard, former WBA Heavyweight champion Alexander Povetkin takes on Michael Hunter over twelve rounds. Povetkin is fast approaching his 41st birthday but looked as sharp as ever when defeating Hughie Fury by unanimous decision in August. Povetkin has seen everything the sport has to offer and has only been beaten by Wladimir Klitschko and Anthony Joshua during a fifteen-year professional career.

His opponent, Michael Hunter, has been a revelation since moving to the heavyweight from cruiserweight. Hunter was a competitive cruiserweight (only losing to Oleksandr Usyk) but since his move up, he has knocked out four of his last five opponents.

Hunter has built up some momentum over the last eighteen months and as a result, enters this fight as the (8/15) favourite with Povetkin priced at (29/20). The fight is tough to predict as Povetkin is arguably not the fighter he once was and there are holes in Hunter’s form, particularly the wins over a shop-worn Ustinov and Maldonado (who is predominately an MMA fighter). Both men have form over twelve rounds and have no issue covering the championship distance. As tough as this one is to predict, the fact remains that Alexander Povetkin has only been beaten by elite-level champions and there is no evidence that Hunter can compete at that level yet. However, he is competent and durable and therefore, Povetkin to win on points at (16/5) may be the most likely outcome here.

The other twelve rounder on the card is between the unbeaten Filip Hrgovic and veteran, Eric Molina. The fight is scheduled for the championship distance but in reality, it has little chance of lasting that long. Eric Molina has fought for the world heavyweight title twice (against Deontay Wilder & Anthony Joshua) but he is now 37 and his last win of any note came back in 2016 against Tomas Adamek. He has been beaten five times in a thirty-two-fight career and all five defeats have came inside the distance.

In the opposite corner, Filip Hrgovic is one of the most highly rated heavyweight prospects in the world. He was a fantastic amateur and won bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics. As a professional, he has racked up nine wins with seven coming inside the distance. Nicknamed ‘El Animal’ the Croatian packs power in both hands and as the (1/33) overwhelming favourite, he will be hunting Molina from the opening bell. The knockout looks extremely likely here and Hrgovic may be too fresh and ultimately too good, against a faded opponent. At the prices, Hrgovic to do the job in rounds 1-3 (17/10) looks a solid bet.

British favourite Dillian Whyte also returns to action on the undercard against his former sparring partner, Mariusz Wach. Whyte has only been beaten by Anthony Joshua and is widely regarded as one of the most improved boxers in the UK, in recent years. He has endured a turbulent year, with a win over Oscar Rivas in July being overshadowed by a failed drugs test, something he denies and is in the process of appealing against.

Mariusz Wach is a man mountain. Standing at 6”7 he holds distinct physical advantages over Whyte who stands at around 6”4. However, Whyte is arguably the best body puncher in the heavyweight division and with a massive frame to aim at, he has the chance to look really good in Saudi Arabia this weekend. Over the last two years, Wach has registered just two wins and both have come against low ranked opponents with losing records and in that time, he has been stopped by both Jarrell Miller and Martin Bakole. Whyte is the (1/33) favourite and will be looking to close the show in style this weekend to put the nightmare of the last six months behind him. We are running a special on “the fastest KO, TKO or Disqualification” and Dillian Whyte at 11/10 looks attractive.

The final heavyweight clash on the bill is between Mahammadrasul Majidov and Tom Little over eight rounds. Majidov is an Olympic medallist and holds a famous win over Anthony Joshua in the amateur code. He has turned over late in his career (aged 33) and this is just his second fight as a professional. Despite picking a win in his first fight, he was dropped by Ed Fountain, who is not noted as a huge puncher. Majidov will need to progress very quickly as a professional, if he is to enjoy the same sort of success he did as an amateur.

His opponent, Tom Little, has a record of 10-7 but he is a lot better than his record suggests. Little is a big personality and has taken a lot of fights whilst being out of shape in the past. He has stepped in at short notice against some of the sport’s brightest prospects (Daniel Dubois and Filip Hrgovic) and he has stated during fight week, that he has had ample time to prepare for this fight and is in Saudi Arabia to beat Mahammadrasul Majidov.

Majidov is a multi-time amateur world champion and deserves to be the favourite but Little is better than he may be expecting and knows how to look after himself in the ring. A price of (7/2) for Majidov to take this one on points is interesting due to the fact is only scheduled for eight rounds. It could be a cagey, slow paced affair and if it is Tom Little should have enough to hear the final bell.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
Back Povetkin to win on points 3 pts @ 16/5
Back Hrgovic to win between rounds 1-3 2 pts @ 17/10
Back Mahammadrasul Majidov to win on points 2 pts @ 7/2
Back Dillian Whyte (Star specials markets fastest KO) 4 pts @ 11/10

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