Chris Oliver previews Saturday's PPV showdown between Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora and takes the former to come out on top.
3pts Joseph Parker to win by decision at 37/20 (Betfred)
2pts double Taylor by decision/Tennyson by stoppage at 11/10 (Paddy Power, Betfair)
It feels like we've been saying Dereck Chisora is in the last chance saloon for years, but here we are again as he takes on JOSEPH PARKER in Manchester on Sky Box Office.
Following his laboured effort when outpointed by Agit Kabayel in late 2017, not even Chisora himself would have believed he would be headlining pay-per-view shows three and a half years later. He has become a bit of a cult hero in his Indian summer but his career at this sort of level must surely be over if he loses here, although the same may be said of his opponent, and that should make for interesting viewing.
They were originally due to meet 18 months ago before a spider bite turned nasty for Parker and ruled him out. Ahead of that first scheduled date, the New Zealander was a very warm favourite but he can be backed at 4/7 now and Chisora is generally around 6/4, which is much shorter than when they first priced this one up.
That may seem strange given that Parker has won both outings since and Chisora lost last time out. However, the Aucklander failed to impress in stopping the overmatched Shawndell Terell Winters and, despite overcoming fellow Kiwi Junior Fa in February, he emerged with little credit in an ugly, stop-start affair with lots of grappling. Chisora on the other hand lost nothing in defeat against the unbeaten Oleksandr Usyk and, without ever looking like winning, gave the pound-for-pound contender plenty to think about in dropping a unanimous decision.
The main talking point in the build-up has been the new trainers brought in by the two men. Chisora has flown over top American coach Buddy McGirt and Parker has teamed up with former middleweight champion Andy Lee, who knows a bit about big heavyweight fights as a key part of Tyson Fury's team in his brilliant win over Deontay Wilder last year.
'Del Boy' knows only one way of fighting and it's hard to see much of a change under McGirt, but there is scope for improvement in Parker. In recent outings, the visitor hasn't looked anything like the fighter that beat Andy Ruiz for the WBO title in 2016 and successfully defended it twice. Appearing a little disinterested and lazy at times, he has lost the sharpness to his work and, having spent all of his career with Kevin Barry up to this point, the change in set-up and surroundings could rejuvenate him.
The 29-year-old is no stranger to fighting on these shores, having defended his world title in this very arena against Hughie Fury in 2017, before losing back-to-back decisions to Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte the following year. He was a couple of punches away from victory when Whyte was saved by the bell after being dropped heavily in the final round, so there is little between these two on their form with that common opponent. Chisora lost twice to the Brixton man but there was nothing in it on the cards first time, and he was ahead when sparked out by a huge left hook in the 11th round of their return. They have also both fought Carlos Takam, with Chisora taking a beating before a stunning come-from-behind knockout in 2018, while Parker outpointed a better version of the French native two years previous to that.
They both do 12 rounds well and have displayed good chins over the years, so we can expect plenty of rounds and it is a shade of odds-on to go to distance. We know what we are going to get from Chisora, whose bulky physique will be ploughing forward all night long and letting go his thudding overhand right and heavy hooks. With that in mind, the key to this one appears which version of Parker turns up.
The one that laboured to victory over Fa earlier in the year will struggle here, as being flat-footed and fighting in spurts will only invite pressure from Chisora. At his best, though, the favourite is a smart operator with good feet and a very effective jab. He boasts much more variety to his output than Chisora and has enough on his shots to earn the respect of the underdog.
Parker may have needed to shake off the rust in that recent outing and Fa is known as a bit of a spoiler, so maybe he can be forgiven that lacklustre display a little. That will need to be the case, though, as he can't allow Chisora to gain momentum. The Finchley veteran is a hard man to keep off once he gets into a rhythm and he doesn't care where he hits you (arms, body or head), landing the sort of stuff than can really slow you down. So, Parker needs to regain that spring in his step and get his jab going, while sitting down on his shots often enough to make the durable target in front of him think about what is coming back. We know he is capable of doing that and has all the tools to pass this test on his day.
There are going to be some tough moments to overcome, as you can expect when in with Chisora, but Parker should be the fresher man and that is enough for me to side with him. At 37, Chisora (32-10) has had plenty of wars and despite his popularity, he is best known for admirable efforts in defeat, rather than his wins, and this could be just another to add to that long list.
Unless his gruelling career really catches up with him here, which is always possible, you would expect the Brit to see the final bell and a PARKER VICTORY ON THE SCORECARDS rates a very solid bet at 7/4. It won't be easy and there could some debate at the end, but the younger man is fancied to be reinvigorated by his new set up and have the all-round game to see off the relentless, but one-dimensional, Chisora.
There has been plenty of talk about whether the fight is pay-per-view worthy, or whether it should even be top of the bill, as there are two world titles on the card - the most appealing of which is undoubtedly KATIE TAYLOR's defence of her undisputed lightweight crown against Natasha Jonas.
The pair famously served up one of the fights of the 2012 Olympic Games in London, with Taylor prevailing in that thrilling quarter-final bout and going on to pick up gold. Their professional careers have taken very different routes, with Taylor becoming the flag bearer for women's boxing and justifying all the hype in assembling a 17-0 record to date, with world titles at two weights.
Jonas retired to have a daughter before returning in the paid ranks in 2017 and suffering a shock knockout defeat to Viviane Obenauf the following year. However, she earned this lucrative rematch when very unlucky not to take Terri Harper's world title off her as they fought out a draw in an absolute cracker last summer.
However, the opportunity comes at a price for Jonas, who has to step up a weight for her chance for revenge and that makes an already tricky task even tougher. She carries the power to hurt Taylor and has the bigger frame, but this is Taylor's division and she is expected to remind us why.
Ireland's golden girl has had two outings during the pandemic, coming through another war in her return with Delfine Persoon in August before a punch-perfect display in a shut-out points win over the previously undefeated Miriam Gutierrez. She walked the latter on to rapid combinations all night and Jonas, who will be on the front foot, could be in for more of the same. There should be plenty of action and it is by no means a one-sided affair, but it's hard to look past another points victory for the brilliant Taylor, although it is priced accordingly at 8/13.
Craig Richards' reward for winning the British title with a ninth-round stoppage of Shakan Pitters is a surprise shot at WBA light heavyweight ruler Dmitry Bivol.
A standout amateur, Bivol (17-0) has excelled in the pro ranks to date and the Russian should account for the Crystal Palace man with the ease his odds of 1/25 suggest, even accounting for 18 months out of the ring. It's hard to find a way in from a punting perspective in what looks a bit of a mismatch, with similar comments applicable to Chris Eubank Jnr's return against Marcus Morrison.
Eubank (1/40) is being lined up at a world title shot after this and is expected to hand local lad Morrison a fourth career loss, and a first by stoppage, if odds of 2/9 for that outcome are anything to go by.
JAMES TENNYSON has left a trail of destruction behind him since dropping down to lightweight and is fancied to make it seven straight stoppage wins against Jovanni Straffon.
Josh O'Reilly failed to make it out of the first round against Tennyson in December and while this Mexican visitor should be more durable, he will do well to hear the final bell of his 12-rounder.
Straffon rarely ventures out of his native land, but has lost on two of the three occasions he has done so and this trip abroad represents a step up in class for the 27-year-old. Tennyson is a former world title challenger in the form of his life and hitting harder than ever, so a win inside the distance for the Belfast banger could be one for your accumulators at 3/10.
Posted at 1140 BST on 30/04/21
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