STAR PREVIEW: Terence Crawford v Egidijus Kavaliauskas

Big time boxing returns to New York this weekend as Terence Crawford headlines at the famous, Maddison Square Garden. Crawford is a three-division world champion and widely regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet. Currently the WBO world welterweight champion, fans are eager to see him unify the division by fighting Errol Spence Jr or Manny Pacquiao, but these fights are being prevented by politics between rival broadcasters in the USA.

Standing in his way this weekend is mandatory challenger, Egidijus Kavaliauskas. Nicknamed ‘Mean Machine’ Kavaliauskas has made steady progress since turning over to the professional game in 2013 and has some notable wins on his record, particularly his win against current European champion David Avanesyan, who he knocked out in six rounds.

Although he picked up a draw in his last fight, ‘Mean Machine’ warrants plenty of respect in this fight, due to power that he carries. He has knocked out seventeen of his twenty-two opponents to date and will not be taking lightly by Crawford.

Crawford comes into the fight as the heavy (1/16) favourite, which is no real surprise given the reputation that he carries.

Kavaliauskas comes in as a (10/1) underdog and should he win this weekend, it would go down as one of the biggest upsets in recent history. Crawford walks to the ring in fine form, no opponent of his has heard the final bell in his last six fights and he will be looking to close the show early here once again.

In truth, it is hard to see past a Crawford win but with the odds so stacked in his favour, the way to play this fight could be backing him to win on points (11/5). Although Crawford is on a hot KO streak at the moment, Kavaliauskas is a tough pressure fighter and he could well make this a scrappy affair. He has yet to be hurt in his career and although he is fighting at a completely different level here, he may well be tough enough to hear the final bell in New York.

In the chief support, IBF lightweight champion Richard Commey defends his crown against one of the hottest prospects in the division, Teofimo Lopez (pictured). Commey is gaining a reputation as a puncher and has registered twenty-six knockouts in twenty-nine victories. Although he has been beaten twice in his career, both by split decision, the Ghanaian has shown real progress since the defeats and has used them both as a catalyst to become a better, all round fighter.

Lopez has been billed as a potential superstar since a young age. Still just 22, he has already registered some highlight reel knockouts and looks destined to reach the very top of the sport. He brings an extremely exciting, fan friendly style to the ring and should he win here Saturday night, he will truly announce himself as a star of the sport.

Lopez, despite being the challenger, will start the fight as the betting favourite (40/85) with the champion priced at (9/5). This will be a huge step up for ‘El Brooklyn’ who has been impressive as a professional, but he is yet to face a fighter who is close to the level of Richard Commey and it may be worth a siding with the experienced champion in this one. There is little doubt that Lopez will one day be a world champion, but it is still early in his career and Commey could have the ability and experience to overcome Lopez at this stage. At (9/5) outright, it will be worth siding with the champion.

Further down the undercard, Irishman Michael Conlan takes on Vladimir Nikitin in a rematch of their controversial Olympic showdown in 2016. On that occasion, Nikitin beat Conlan but the result was highly criticised. At the time, Conlan was favourite for the gold medal in Rio and many thought he beat his Russian counterpart comfortably on the night. The result led to the infamous photograph of Conlan brandishing his disgust to the ringside judges and subsequently accusing the entire sport of amateur boxing as “rotten to the core”.

Both men are currently undefeated and have made smooth transitions into the paid code. Conlan is the (1/14) favourite this weekend and will be looking for a statement performance to put this long-standing rivalry behind him. He definitely holds a power advantage in the fight, stopping over half of his twelve opponents to date. Nitikin is yet to register a knockout as a professional, something he will be looking to change this weekend.

Interestingly, Nikitin actually holds two victories over Conlan as an amateur and he will be bidding to prove those were not down to luck and he is, in fact, just the better fighter. Either way, Saturday is a pivotal moment in both fighters’ career.

From a betting viewpoint, all the money looks to be for Michael Conlan and as proven so many times in the past, the professional game is a different world to the amateurs. In some respects, it is a different sport. Michael Conlan is tipped by many, to reach the top of the sport and may operate at a few levels above Vladimir Nikitin.

At the prices, it may be worth taking a look at Michael Conlan to get the job done inside the distance via KO/TKO (7/4). Nitikin may not have the power to keep Conlan at bay for the entire fight and with The Irishman has claiming he is ready to announce himself on the world stage, a standout, show stealing performance could be on the cards here. Something that will delight his loyal Irish fan base.

RECOMMENDED BETS (scale of 1-100 points)
BACK Crawford by decision 2 pt at 9/20 with
BACK Commey to win 2.5 pt at 9/5 with
BACK Conlan to win by KO 4 pt at 17/10 with

* There was an error in the recommended bets on the Bayern Munich v Tottenham game. We listed two bets on the 3-1 correct scoreline – a winning recommendation but only one bet was intended on this score. So, in the interest of transparency we are settling as one bet and a second bet as a 1 point loser.

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