This weekend sees the return of ‘Saint’ George Groves as he tops the bill at the Copper Box against Italian Andrea Di Luisa in a 12 round international contest. Groves is returning after dropping a split decision against WBC Super-Middleweight champion Badou Jack on the Mayweather vs Berto undercard in September 2015. I had Groves losing that fight by a couple of rounds, and in addition to the knockdown it was a more comfortable night for Jack than many had predicted.
The Sauerland brothers will be plotting a route for Groves to challenge for a world title again (yes, another) and that route starts here against a limited Di Luisa. His Italian foe brings with him an 18 (14) – 3 (3) record, with all three defeats coming inside the distance against Lucien Bute, Christopher Rebrasse and Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye. Di Luisa once held the WBC International Silver title, which is why I’m not all that surprised he’s fighting on a show that’s co-promoted with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing, as we all know that our Eddie loves an international silver title.
This will be no test for the superior Groves and I expect a more than comfortable night for the Hammersmith man and I see him handing Di Luisa yet another stoppage defeat.
The most intriguing of the night gives us John Ryder against the familiar Sergey Khomitsky for the WBA International middleweight title. This presents the first real fight for Ryder since he lost in 7 rounds against Nick Blackwell last May when challenging the Trowbridge man for the vacant British Middleweight title. Ryder started the fight well and was dominating the early rounds but as Blackwell grew into the fight he caught Ryder with a right hand and then finished in impressive fashion.
We’ve seen Khomitsky on these shores numerous times before when handing first losses to Frank Buglioni and Adam Etches, both of these finishing inside the distance. Let’s have it right, the aforementioned pair are never going to pull up any trees at world level but were both decent favourites going into their matches against the Belarus based Ukranian. The man known as ‘The Ghost’ also holds a win over Jamie Moore in what proved to be Moore’s last outing in a decent career and held the previously mentioned Nick Blackwell to a draw over 6 rounds on the undercard of Randy Caballero vs Stuart Hall IBF Bantamweight world title fight in Monaco back in 2014.
Khomitsky has proven to be a nemesis to plenty of British middleweights and there are a fair few that think he will add Ryder’s name to this list of scalps on Saturday. However, I see Ryder prevailing in what should prove to be a decent fight. Ryder takes a points decision for me if he boxes to a plan and doesn’t get too involved with the older Khomitsky, who certainly has it in him (as we all know) to upset the applecart again if Ryder isn’t at his best.
Next up Tommy Martin challenges John-Wayne Hibbert for Hibbert’s Commonwealth Super-Lightweight title, a title which JWH picked up last time out in a stoppage win over Dave Ryan. The Derby man was comfortably out-boxing Hibbert until a somewhat freak back injury meant he had to effectively retire mid –round, but this of course goes down as a TKO win for Hibbert. This then lead to a rather ridiculous celebration from the Essex native. His post-fight interview left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth when he pretty much ruled out a fourth fight with Ryan, when I would have expected him to offer him an immediate rematch. I see Martin taking a 12 round decision in this one. He survived a small scare last time out when he was dropped early but he came back to take over and run out a quite comfortable winner. Hibbert may cause him a couple of problems early when Martin has a look at him but will take over from round 3.
The final fight I am previewing this week is Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev vs Jean Pascal for Kovalev’s WBA (Super), IBF and WBO world Light-Heavyweight titles. The first fight between these two was a decent enough affair, not got enough to warrant a rematch in my eyes though. Kovalev stopped a quite
competitive Pascal in 8 rounds. I see nothing other than a stoppage win again for the Krusher. However I don’t think see Pascal will see the 8th round this time out. He was poor last time out against the previously unbeaten Yunieski Gonzalez, and Pascal being awarded the decision was arguably the worst decision I saw in 2015. He has said a few things in the build up to this fight that Kovalev will want to punish him for and Kovalev has basically said he wants to end the Canadian’s career. Kovalev within 6 rounds is what I am picking here.
Accumulator for the weekend
Groves to win by TKO @ 1/9
Ryder to win any method @ 4/9
Martin to win @ 1/2
Kovalev to win TKO rounds 1-6 @ evens
£20 pays £96.30 with SkyBet.
Correct round double
Groves win round 7 @ 9/1
Kovalev win round 3 @ 10/1
£2 pays £220 with SkyBet
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