Josh Warrington v Sofiane Takoucht, IBF WORLD FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE, BT Sport (Saturday) – Josh Warrington (29-0) should be fighting better men than Sofiane Takoucht (35-3-1) at this stage in his career. You could maybe argue that after Selby, Frampton and Galahad he deserves an easy enough fight in Leeds, but he should be trying to build on those wins for me. Whether Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Rusell or Tugstsogt Nyambayar were available for a massive unification fight is a question to be asked, but for now we get Takoucht. Frank Warren likes to keep his world champions as world champions for as long as possible, milking them in fights like this, so he’ll be delighted to get a sell-out First Direct Arena and another win for Warrington. Warrington doesn’t strike me as a fighter who would be happy with Takoucht after 3 brilliant wins, but maybe asking for another is too much and im being too harsh? Takoucht has no one of any relevance on his record, hes 33 year old and has never been stopped in his 3 losses. He’s on a 8 fight winning run since 2014, but only 2 have been scheduled for over 8 rounds. Warrington starts here, as expected a huge 1/50, with Tokoucht 14/1. Warrington has been, from my perspective, punching harder in his last 3 fights, especially Frampton. Im curious to see if that continues and he can get a stoppage win here, which is 8/13. He seems to have realised boxing 12 rounds and winning easily on the cards is not doing him any favours and has really been digging in with more powerful punches recently. No one is complaining. Warrington needs to keep his name out here, so im hoping he manages to get Takoucht out of there in crowd pleasing fashion. Im not so sure tho. A points win for the home fighter is a good value 11/8, with 25/1 for the challenger. Warrington, on paper, cant possibly lose here, its all about how he wins and how comprehensively. I think he will win just about every round, but im not sure if he can get the tough Frenchman out of there. Either way, as Warrington always is, it will be a great night at the First Direct Arena, which will be bouncing from first bell to last.
BNC Tip – Warrington to win on points @ 11/8
Other Notable Fight
Oleksandr Usyk v Chazz Witherspoon, 12 ROUNDS HEAVYWEIGHT, Sky Sports (Saturday/Sunday) – After dominating everyone at Cruiserweight, superstar Oleksandr Usyk (16-0) tries his hand at heavyweight this weekend, taking on late replacement Chazz Witherspoon (38-3). It’s not the greatest fight for Usyk, infact its very very poor, but injury forced his fight against Carlos Takam (a much better fight) to be cancelled earlier this year, and Tyrone Spong failed a drug test earlier this week, so it is what it is on 4 days’ notice. This is up there with the biggest mismatches Eddie Hearn has ever made. This is Usyks first fight since Bellew back in November 2018, so there could be a little ring rust as he adapts to the heavyweight division, but he’s so good I’ll be surprised if that’s the case. Witherspoon is 38 years old, fought 2 times in 3 years and won’t give Usyk any problems here, not even for 1 second. Usyk is going to absolutely destroy this man and it’s going to tell us absolutely nothing about his chances against competent heavyweights. Eddie has blown Bivol-Castillo out of the water when it comes to level of mismatch here. Im not sure how far Usyk can go at heavyweight, he will be by far the best technical boxer of every man in the division, but is he big enough if he ever fights Joshua, Wilder or Fury? Chances are we will eventually find out as im hoping hes fast tracked to the top if hes happy with the new weight. Usyk starts here a massive 1/50 with Witherspoon 12/1, which is quite ridiculous. They shouldn’t of even bothered with any markets for the American. Im not sure Usyk will be a big, heavy puncher at heavyweight, but he will certainly knock out Witherspoon here, which is a poor 1/10. If Usyk just wants 12 rounds at his new weight, to win on points hes 7/1, but if he can’t stop Witherspoon major questions are going to be asked of his chances at heavyweight. I fancy an early-mid rounds stoppage here once Witherspoon has had enough of getting punched in the face.
BNC Tip – Usyk to win in rounds 4-6 @ 15/8
Dmitry Bivol v Lenin Castillo, WBA WORLD LIGHT-HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE, Sky Sports (Saturday/Sunday) – Rising star Bivol (16-0) should, and will smash Castillo (20-2-1) when and how he sees fit. This is a terrible fight for Bivol, I see no point in this at all. He hasn’t had a stoppage win in his last 3 fights so should be looking to get a big one here. I hope to see Bivol in better fights after this, as he looks too talented to be wasting his time, and prime, with the likes of Castillo. Bivol by KO @ a very good 1/2
Zelfa Barrett v Jordan McCorry COMMONWEALTH SUPER-FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE, BT Sport (Saturday) – Barrett (22-1) will be too good for McCorry (18-6-1), who has lost 3 of his last 4. Barrett is rebuilding after his European Title loss to Ronnie Clark back in 2018, and I can’t see McCorry putting a stop to that. Barrett should wear down McCorry by the middle rounds and force a late stoppage. Barrett by KO @ 1/2
Lyndon Arthur v Emmanuel Anim VACANT COMMONWEALTH LIGHT-HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE, BT Sport (Saturday) – Unbeaten Arthur (15-0) should still be unbeaten on Saturday as 33 year old Ghanian Anim (14-2-1) shouldn’t provide too stern a test. This is Arther’s first scheduled 12 rounder and Anim has went 12 a few times before, so the later this goes it could be interesting to see how well Arthur holds up. The bookies fancy an early stoppage however, as I do. My pick is Over 2.5 rounds @ 4/6
Paddy Barnes v Jay Harris VACANT IBF INTER CONTINENTAL FLYWEIGHT TITLE, ESPN+ (Friday) – Its quite amazing to think Barnes (6-2) fought for a world title in his 5th fight. Since that loss, he lost his next fight to a man 11-5-1 and then beat a man who was 4-6-1. Harris (16-0) is coming in on the back of a very good win over Angel Moreno, and should have next to no trouble beating Barnes over the distance. Harris to win on points @ 5/2