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WagerTalk’s Expert Boxing Picks
Boxing finally returns to Las Vegas on Tuesday, June 9 in what is set to be the first of a jam-packed summer schedule, not only for promoters Top Rank, but boxing as a whole. Tuesday’s headline fight features highly-touted undefeated prospect Shakur Stevenson taking on teak-tough Puerto Rican Felix Caraballo in what should be an interesting matchup for the 22 year old.
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Shakur Stevenson vs. Felix Caraballo [MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Tuesday, June 9th]
The 2016 Olympic silver medallist has promised a great performance on Tuesday night after staying in shape throughout the lockdown after his previous matchup with Miguel Marriaga got cancelled back in March. Meanwhile, this will be Caraballo’s first fight outside of his native Puerto Rico as he comes off a solid stoppage win over Sergio Lopez back in January. Stevenson is a huge favorite on Tuesday night with early odds on him coming in as a -10000 favorite and Caraballo coming back at a +2000.
Pick: Definitely a fight to stay away from betting wise but expect a comfortable Stevenson victory in this one.
Jessie Magdaleno vs. Yenifel Vicente [MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Thursday, June 11th]
Jessie Magdaleno returns to action on Thursday against Dominican veteran Yenifel Vicente. Magdaleno was one of boxing’s up and coming superstars only a few years ago, going on a 24-0 run including a win against last year’s WBSS bantamweight finalist and former unified super-featherweight champion, Nonito Donaire.
However, only 18 months after that impressive win for Magdaleno, he ran into Ghanian buzzsaw Isaac Dogboe, who dispatched Magdaleno with some punishing body blows in the 11th round of their contest back in 2018 and put the Magdaleno hype train on indefinite hiatus as a result. Magadaleno has since moved up to featherweight in an effort to get back on track and has two good wins over Rico Ramos and in his last fight, Rafael Rivera, a fight which he won by technical decision due to a vicious cut opened up Rivera with an elbow during the fight.
Magdaleno is a very technically gifted fighter and is extremely smooth boxing off the back foot also, however the jury remains out on whether he’ll ever find the dominant form that led him on that great run pre-2018. While he looks good at the new weight, he’s also now fighting guys naturally bigger than himself (Rivera was 2 inches taller, Ramos had a 1 inch reach advantage and so on) and Vicente goes into this fight the bigger man also. Rivera really put it on Magdaleno last time out as well, and looked to be on the ascendancy during the middle rounds of that fight before Magdaleno started countering with some crisp hooks to the body late on, before the doctor’s stepped in.
Magdaleno is going off in this one as a -1600 favorite, with the comeback on Vicente at a +650, and while I expect Jessie Magdaleno to win, Vicente has 14 straight stoppages in his last 14 wins, so we know what the Dominican fighters gameplan is going to be heading into this one, and he will no doubt be looking to do what Isaac Dogboe did and put severe pressure on Magdaleno in this one.
Pick: No odds have been posted for the Over/Under as of yet but that’s definitely the way I’d be leaning in this one as I expect a war to break out between these two for as long as it lasts on Thursday night.
Mariusz Wach vs. Kevin Johnson [Konary, Poland, Friday, June 12th]
Heavyweight action tips off in Poland on Friday as Polish native and hometown favorite Mariusz Wach takes on American Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson for the vacant Republic of Poland heavyweight title.
Wach comes in off a highly competitive loss to WBC mandatory contender Dillian Whyte back in December on the undercard of the Ruiz/Joshua heavyweight rematch over in Saudi Arabia. Wach started slowly in that one but really came on strong as the fight wore on, catching Whyte with some hard straight rights that landed flush down the pipe and gave ‘The Bodysnatcher’ a harder than expected nights work over in Riyadh.
Kevin Johnson meanwhile came off his 4th straight loss back in October, a 5th round stoppage to British based fighter, Martin Bakole. The odds for this fight favor Wach heavily, with the Polish heavyweight going off at a -3300 and Johnson coming back at a +1200.
While a quick look at Johnson’s record, a 40 year old journeyman with 8 losses in his last 10 fights, might lead you to assume this may well be a walkover for Wach, Johnson is an incredibly tricky fighter and even at 40, has the kind of inside skills that could seriously trouble Mariusz Wach here.
Johnson has gone the distance against Vitali Klitschko, Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora, Kubrat Pulev, Andy Ruiz, Daniel Dubois and Filip Hrgovic over his career. That’s a pretty star-studded lineup with the last three all coming within the last two years as well. Despite his decent performance against Whyte last time out, that was more a testament to Whyte being completely out of shape and taking the fight too lightly as opposed to Wach being a dominant force in the heavyweight division, with all of the fighters listed above having a far greater technical ability than Mariusz Wach possesses.
The other advantage for Johnson here is rest. Johnson has thrived on activity over his career and is arguably one of the absolute bosses in the sport based on taking on all-comers at a moments notice (ex. beats Radmilovic in Germany on December 1st, flies to Croatia on December 8th to take on Filip Hrgovic, then back to Germany on December 22nd to hand Radmilovic a second KO loss). Johnson really is one of the last of a dying breed of fighters, where fighting two or three times a month is considered normal. However, at 40 years of age rest is definitely needed, and with the break in boxing happening due to the coronavirus, this is Johnson’s longest layoff in the sport since he got knocked out in the 2nd round by Anthony Joshua all the way back in 2015. And after that almost two year layoff, Johnson came back with a solid win over Terrell Woods in March 2017.
Pick: Johnson to me presents the value in this one as he is the much better fighter of the two inside and he can create serious problems in the pocket for Wach if he manages to close the distance. It’s no doubt an uphill battle for the American even before the first bell is rung, as this fight is in Poland against a Polish fighter for the Polish heavyweight title, but at these odds I’d definitely look at backing Johnson here for small stakes to roll back the clock with a potential upset win. I definitely wouldn’t put anyone off having a small stake bet on the Johnson side of the play in this one as at +1200, opposing a fighter as limited as Wach presents great value here.
However, the play I like is ‘Will the fight go the distance? – Yes’ prop at -175, as with the fight only being a 10 rounder, and Wach being achingly slow in his punch delivery, I believe Johnson can hang tough in this one and take the Polish fighter the distance. Take the fight distance yes prop in Friday’s fight between Mariusz Wach and Kevin Johnson with a strong lean to the underdog also.
3% ‘Will the fight go the distance? – Yes’ (-175).
Meet The Experts: Kevin Dolan
Kevin Dolan has been a professional sports bettor since 2011. Originally from Ireland, he made his start betting at a young age, wagering on GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) football, soccer and boxing, all to immense success. After moving to the United States in the mid-2000’s, he applied those same betting principles he had grew up with in Ireland to consistently beat the point spread in NFL, NBA, MLB and College. Since turning pro he has since lit up the sports betting scene in the U.S. and abroad, winning two handicapping awards in MLB and being the first foreigner to ever win the World Series of Handicapping event in Las Vegas in 2015. Currently living back in Ireland with his family, his systematic and analytical approach continually ensure substantial long-term profits for both him and his clients.
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