After a pretty quiet start to April, with the biggest news in boxing last week being that Mairis Briedis of Latvia beat German veteran Marco Huck to claim the WBC cruiserweight world title that Tony Bellew only very recently relinquished, we now have an exciting weekend of fights to look forward to.
British lightweight Terry Flanagan (32-0, 13 KO’s) starts us off in Manchester with a defence of his WBO world title against tough challenger Petr Petrov (38-4, 19 KO’s). This is arguably Flanagan’s toughest test of his career so far. After defending his belt four times against Orlando Cruz, Mzonke Fana, Derry Mathews and Diego Magdaleno, fans have been calling for him to face tougher competition, and Petrov is a slight step up in terms of class.
The Russian, who now resides in Spain, is on a 6-fight win streak since his points loss to former world titlist Dejan Zlaticanin back in April 2013. He also won the ESPN Boxcino lightweight tournament back in 2014, beating a few decent names on the way to the top. Since then he has beaten Gamalial Diaz, Martin Quintero and Michael Perez to become a fringe top ten contender at 135lb.
Flanagan has his sights set on a massive unification match-up with WBA champ Jorge Linares later this year so this is a must-win fight, and surely one he will want to make a statement in. For that reason I expect another dominant victory for Flanagan, most likely via unanimous decision. Petrov does stand a chance, but not a very big one.
On the undercard of this show we have a decent contest for the interim WBO light-middleweight title between Liam Smith (24-1-1, 13 KO’s) & Liam Williams (16-0-1, 11 KO’S). Liam Smith has the chance to win back the title he lost to Mexican superstar Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez back in September 2016, in the only loss of his career.
British Olympian Nicola Adams also appears on the show making her professional debut. The 34-year old was the first ever female to win an Olympic gold medal in boxing in London 2012, and reclaimed her position at the top in Rio 2016.
Over in the States we have another exciting match-up on Saturday night (early Sunday morning in the UK) when pound-for-pound contender and Ukrainian phenomenon Vasyl Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KO’s) defends his WBO super-featherweight world title against a very credible challenger in the shape of Jason Sosa (20-1-4, 15 KO’s).
Lomachenko is obviously the main reason most people will be tuning in. The 29-year old has become one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world today after just 8 fights as a pro so far. The skilful switch-hitter had a fantastic amateur career, winning 396 fights and only losing one so big things were expected from him from the moment he announced he was turning pro.
So obviously Lomachenko will enter as a huge favourite, but he faces a tough, game opponent in Sosa, who has been in good form lately. The 29-year old is extremely tough and packs a lot of power in his punch. He has a no-nonsense sort of style and always fights at a very high work rate. However, although he has big wins against the likes of Stephen Smith and Javier Fortuna, he has never shared the ring with someone of Lomachenko’s calibre.
Sosa will give it a good go and won’t be scared to mix it with the man in front of him but I think it’s just a matter of time till Lomachenko’s class starts to show and he takes control of the fight. I’m expecting a late stoppage victory for the man they call ‘The Matrix.’