Leading boxing expert Chris Oliver looks ahead to the weekend's action with Dillian Whyte v Oscar Rivas backed to go the distance.
Dillian Whyte’s long wait for an overdue title shot continues and he bids to take his frustrations out on Oscar Rivas at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday.
'The Body Snatcher' has been ranked number one by the WBC for over 600 days without even a hint of a shot at champion Deontay Wilder, and just when he looked certain to get his much-anticipated rematch with Anthony Joshua earlier in the year, AJ left his bitter rival high and dry.
Therefore, it seems fitting that he takes on a man who has also been avoided in the shape of Rivas, an unbeaten Colombian who brings plenty of risk to the table but not the high profile in order to make him financially attractive. Whyte has everything to lose here and little to gain, other than staying busy as he waits for his turn against the big boys.
Saturday fight night
- When: Saturday, June 15.
- Time: Undercard from 6pm, Main Event Around 10pm
- Where: O2 Arena in London
- TV Channel: Sky Sports Box Office (£19.95)
- Main Event: Dillian Whyte v Oscar Rivas
- Key undercard bouts: Dave Allen v David Price, Dereck Chisora v Artur Szpilka & Lawrence Okolie v Mariano Angel Gudino
- Elsewhere in boxing? Manny Pacquiao v Keith Thurman, MGM Grand, Las Vegas (ITV Box Office, £12.95, around 4am UK time)
How tough a fight this is for the Brixton native is certainly not reflected in the prices, with the local man a best price of 2/9 and quotes of 7/2 about the visitor looking a little disrespectful.
Winning nine on the spin since his sole loss to Joshua, Whyte has improved markedly and enjoyed a fantastic 2018 with big wins against Lucas Browne, former WBO champion Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora.
However, Rivas is also on a roll, having recorded a shut-out points victory over the previously unbeaten Fabio Maldonado in December before a spectacular 12th round stoppage of former challenger Bryant Jennings just six weeks later. Add to that his impressive amateur CV, which includes reaching the quarter-finals of the 2008 Olympics (lost to eventual winner Roberto Cammarelle), and you can't be blamed for wondering why their prices are so far apart.
Whyte enjoys a big size advantage, being four inches taller and considerably heavier, but the musclebound Rivas uses his squat physique to his advantage, with a high guard and fast hands when he lets them go. While he is not a one-punch knockout artist at this sort of level, he does crack with authority, especially early doors, and Whyte would be best served by sticking to his boxing and keeping out of danger in the first third of the fight.
While Rivas doesn't look like he is built for stamina, he does the 12 rounds well and, with Whyte also proven over the championship distance, this closely-matched affair looks likely to go deep and most probably to the scorecards. The underdog is 8/1 about getting a decision, which is tempting, although Whyte getting the nod on the cards rates the most likely outcome. He has mixed in better company and looks to have a bit more variety to his game, while home advantage could prove crucial in a close fight down the stretch.
However, this represents little value at 11/10 in what is a tough fight to call and the safer option is the 8/11 for it to go the full 12 rounds, with the closely-matched pair possessing sturdy chins.
Allen to take care of business
If the headline is the serious stuff, the 'fun' fight of the night is a clash of popular heavyweights David Allen and David Price on the undercard.
In a bout not expected to go the distance, one man is very much at the back end of a career that never lived up to expectations and the other is beginning to exceed all that was expected of him.
Allen, a 4/9 favourite, falls into the latter category and since taking the sport seriously, he has seen a change in fortunes as well as his physical appearance. The new, lighter version of the 'White Rhino' has racked up four straight stoppage wins since losing to Olympic champion Tony Yoka in France. Price can be backed at 15/8, having recorded two wins, albeit in strange circumstances, since back-to-back stoppage defeats to Alexander Povetkin and Sergey Kuzmin.
Both men really fancy this and a sound case can be put forward for either fighter. Allen has never been hard to hit and Price still has dynamite in his right hand, so will expect to find a home for it early doors and get his man out of there. Allen, on the other hand, will know how quickly Price fades after four or five rounds and will expect his infamous toughness and durability to see him through the storm and catch up his tiring opponent.
Neither result would surprise, but they are travelling on different trajectories and the momentum of Allen earns him the vote to hand Price his seventh stoppage loss. He is only 8/13 to do so, though, and of more appeal his the Yorkshireman to get the win after halfway at 3/1.
Thurman the bet of the night
The best bet of the night could be in America where Manny Pacquiao aims to add to his legacy by beating Keith Thurman.
A wave of money for the Filipino legend sees him now only a best price of 8/11, with Thurman, who started out as favourite, as big as 11/8. That is largely down to the future Hall of Famer looking good in easily outpointing Adrien Broner in January, just a week before Thurman returned from injury with a lacklustre points win over Josesito Lopez.
However, Broner is nowhere near as capable (especially at welterweight) as his high profile suggests, while Thurman was perfectly entitled to have some ring-rust after nearly two years out of the ring and should be much sharper now. Prior to the layoff he was rated the division’s number one, thanks to decision wins over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia in a unification bout, and would be a hot favourite without that layoff.
Perhaps crucially, Thurman also has a good record against southpaws, having looked excellent against Robert Guerrero and Luis Collazo in 2015, so, at 40 years old and in his 71st fight, Pacquiao certainly has plenty on his plate. It is 2/5 for it go the distance, which looks fair, with neither man noted for stoppage wins these days, and the 9/4 about Thurman looks generous.
Whereas Broner and Matthysse couldn’t match the speed and tempo of Pacquiao, the agile and dynamic Thurman should be able to do so and the size and mobility of the younger man can enable him to get the nod from the judges.