Boxing is an international affair once again this weekend… So for those whose brackets have blown up, let's find you something else to watch.
We'll start in Russia.
HUUUUGE mismatch on ESPN early-on tonight… Artur Beterbiev steps back into the ring after a one-and-a-half year layoff due to COVID and some training camp injuries and he takes on what should be a totally overmatched German guy named Adam Deines (19-1-1, 10 KOs) in an IBF and WBC light heavyweight title bout at the Khodynka Ice Palace in Moscow.
Because it's in Russia, the card is set to begin around 1 PM ET, with the Main Event set to go off somewhere around 5 PM ET, and I am going to watch it for the same reason I slow down when driving past car accidents.
In short- Beterbiev is a fucking beast with exceptional punching power.
When Canelo Alvarez decided to ply his wares in the light-heavyweight division back in 2019, Beterbiev's name may have been suggested as a potential challenger, but I can guarantee it wasn't seriously considered… Canelo made a safer (and the correct) choice and wound up knocking out a semi-washed-up Krusher Kovalev in the 11th round.
Beterbiev's record is 15-0 with 15 knockouts, and my only concern is that he just turned 36, so Father Time is waiting in the wings for Artur, but he won't fuck with him tonight.
At -5000 to win, Beterbiev is such an un-bettable heavy favorite that the only reasonable action I can find on the Barstool Sportsbook is trying to pick a round where this thing ends… Essentially a dartboard pick, but assuming Artur needs to knock some carbon off of his engine after the layoff, I will give Adam Deines 6 rounds at +700 before the Russian sends him packing.
(That's "The Russian Nightmare" Nikita Koloff.)
Now, slooooooooowly moving away from Russia and over to the UK (along with Russian long-jumper Darya Klishina)…
DAZN has an early card from Wembley Arena in the UK that is about to go off here at 3 PM ET featuring Lawrence Okolie (15-0, 12 KOs) and #1 WBO Krzysztof Glowacki (31-2, 19 KOs) for the vacant WBO cruiserweight title.
Okolie is the favorite in this fight mainly because of his age (28 years old vs Okolie 34), his height (6'5" to Okolie 6'), and his punching power. But Glowacki is a former 2-time WBO cruiserweight champion who will be looking to recapture his old title for a third time tonight, and I think that old Southpaw sly-fox might still have a little gas in the tank.
In Glowacki's last fight in June 2019, he suffered only his second professional loss (the other coming at the hands of former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk) when Mairis Briedis rocked him with an elbow to the jaw after the bell rang at the end of the second round…
The fight continued but was stopped in the 3rd.
Since I have only seen the younger Okolie fight once before and it was a boring hold-fest, I am going to need a reason to watch this one, and that reason is I will take the old Polish guy in an upset. At last check on the Barstool Sportsbook, I saw Krzysztof Glowacki at +300 to win.
(That is one of my favorite wrestlers growing up- Ivan Putski).
And finally, moving away from the UK and over to the US…
22-year-old Vergil Ortiz Jr. (16-0, 16 KOs) will be traveling 32 miles away from his hometown of Dallas to fight Maurice Hooker (27-1-3, 19 KOs) for the WBO Intercontinental welterweight title at the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas… It will be airing live on DAZN with coverage starting at 8 PM and the Main set to go off around 11 PM ET.
I like the favorite here… Mainly because underdog Maurice Hooker is a very good fighter who is doing something I don't really agree with… EVER… He is fighting at the wrong weight. Hooker is moving up to now being a full-fledged welterweight after competing at a bullshit catchweight bout in his last bout but otherwise at light-welterweight since his pro career started in 2011.
I know fighters get heavier as they age, but I think this step-up into a crowded division like welter is tough enough, and then doing it against an accurate power-puncher that some people think has the chops to be the next "Golden Boy" for De La Hoya?…
I think it's the wrong move.
Hooker won't be as drained from having to cut weight, AND he has a considerable reach advantage, BUT Ortiz is a patient buzzsaw… That record of 16-0 with 16 knockouts usually reflects a fighter who comes out swinging with devastating power, but Ortiz isn't that reckless. For a young fighter, he's patient, and I think once he gets inside on Hooker, he'll win in a firefight.
Enjoy the fights and take a report.
I eulogized Marvelous Marvin Hagler the day after his untimely death last weekend… And today, Barstool's very own 'Vin Dog' penned a blog on Rocky Marciano and Hagler written from the perspective of someone who grew up near Brockton, Mass.
It's long, but worthwhile for boxing fans, and you can check it out here…