On Saturday, December 12th, Matchroom Boxing presents a live boxing card in conjunction with DAZN from Wembley’s SSE Arena in London, UK, that features world champion Anthony Joshua defends his WBA, IBF and WBO titles against Kubrat Pulev.
The main card had a co-featured bout of Lawrence Okolie versus Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO cruiserweight title. Unfortunately, Glowacki was removed from the card due to a positive test. He was replaced by unbeaten and unranked Nikodem Jezewski.
In total, there are seven fights scheduled for this weekend’s lineup with a main card start time of 2 PM ET.
Sites for boxing betting have released their odds for most of the scheduled bouts. Let’s step inside the ring to examine these odds, identify any value, and TKO these predictions with a rabbit punch.
Qais Ashfaq (8-1, 3 KOs) vs Ashley Lane (14-9-2, 1 KO)
Qais Ashfaq (-800)
Ashley Lane (+550)
Qais Ashfaq is a large betting favorite with odds ranging from -770 to -850. He’s been a betting favorite ever since turning professional. It’s actually a surprise that his odds aren’t higher.
Ashley Lane is a larger underdog with odds ranging from +475 to +550. He’s been an underdog in most of his fights the last few years and should probably have odds higher than what they are now.
Ashfaq vs Lane Preview
Ashley Lane is nothing more than a glorified sparring partner in this fight. He’s an opponent to make Ashfaq look good. In fact, this is a “get right” fight since Ashfaq suffered the first loss of his career two months ago. So, he’s back out again in 2020 to get the taste of losing out of his mouth.
For Lane, he’s actually won seven of his last eight fights, with the lone loss coming to Brad Foster for the commonwealth bantamweight title. Despite his overall record, Lane has evolved since his early years where the majority of his losses came.
Ashfaq is a decorated amateur Brit who dismantled his competition all the way up until two months ago when he lost via unanimous decision to Marc Leach. Ashfaq was knocked down twice in that fight. Ironically, Leach and Ashfaq were former sparring partners. For this fight, there’s no reason to think Lane will win. I see Ashfaq bouncing back from his loss in October to get the TKO/KO this weekend. Lane has been stopped five times in his nine pro losses.
Ashfaq vs Lane: Qais Ashfaq (-800)
Florian Marku (7-0, 5 KOs) vs Alex Fearon (9-2, 0 KOs)
Florian Marku (NA)
Alex Fearon (NA)
As of now, there are no betting odds available for this welterweight contest. With that said, Marku will be the betting favorite once betting sites release their odds. He’s the rising prospect in this matchup.
Marku vs Fearon Preview
This welterweight bout is scheduled for eight rounds. It will be the first time that Marku has competed in an eight round contest. However, Fearon has been in three bouts that were eight rounds or longer. He went 1-2 in those fights.
Fearon has dropped two of his last five contests including his bout which came in September. He lost on points to Ben Fields. The defeat snapped a three fight win streak which were all via points in four round contests.
Florian Marku just fought last month and defeated Muma Mweemba via 1st round TKO. Mweemba was knocked down three times before the fight was stopped.
Marku was a decorated MMA fighter before getting into boxing. He turned pro two years ago and has been on a tear ever since. Three of his seven pro wins have come via 1st round TKO/KO.
Marku’s success inside the ring has earned him a contract with Matchroom Boxing. Promoter Eddie Hearn commented on Florian’s signing:
“I’m delighted to welcome Florian to the team. He has an astonishing and loyal fan base that are one of the most fanatical I have seen in boxing and a fan friendly style that is going to light up arenas and front rooms all over the country. I’m looking forward to plenty of fun with Florian and S-JAM, stay tuned for some exciting announcements.”
Fearon will be nothing more than another stepping stone for Marku. I expect the “Albanian King” to roll right over Fearon on his way to bigger and better fights.
I don’t see this contest going the full eight rounds. One of Fearon’s pro losses came via 7th round TKO. I see Marku besting that mark on Saturday.
Conway was originally scheduled to face Souleymane Cissokho. Unfortunately, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist was forced off the card due to what’s being labeled as “administration issues.”
McGowan vs Conway Preview
McGowan fought one month ago and suffered the first loss of his career via unanimous decision to Turnsynbay Kulakhmet. McGowan was knocked down once in that fight.
This weekend’s contest against Conway is scheduled for 10 rounds. It will be the second time that McGowan fought in a 10 round bout. His first 10 round fight came last month.
Conway has three fights of 10 rounds or longer in his career. His last two contest, and three of the last four, were 10 rounds or longer. He went the distance in both of those contests.
Conway’s last bout was in August and he defeated Navid Mansouri via unanimous decision for the vacant WBA inter-continental super welterweight title.
Conway is on a six fight unbeaten streak having last lost in May 2019 via split decision where he fought twice in the same day.
If this was the original contest of Cissokho vs Conway, I would go with Cissokho to win. But, this bout is more evenly matched and I see it going the distance. Once there, it could go either way.
I’m leaning towards Conway to win, but I would wait to see what the odds are first, just in case one fighter offers more value than the other.
McGowan vs Conway: Kieron Conway (NA)
Martin Bakole vs Sergey Kuzmin
Martin Bakole (-300)
Sergey Kuzmin (+240)
Bakole enters this heavyweight showdown as a sizable betting favorite with odds ranging from -295 to -310. It’s the 4th straight fight where he’s the favorite. Kuzmin enters as an underdog for the second straight contest. His odds range from +225 to +265.
Bakole vs Kuzmin Preview
This heavyweight bout is for the WBC international heavyweight fight. Both men enter with identical 15-1 records. Additionally, both men lost to the same fighter – Michael Hunter.
Kuzmin fought Hunter 15 months ago, which was his last bout, and lost via 12 round unanimous decision. He was knocked down in the 5th round.
Bakole fought Hunter in October 2018 and lost via 10th round TKO. He injured his shoulder in that fight while Hunter had a cut above the right eye.
Kuzmin has been competing in 10 and 12 round fights for the last handful of years. Bakole has yet fought in a 12 round contest. Fortunately, this will be a 10 round bout, but Kuzmin might have the advantage when it gets into the deep waters.
For Kuzmin, he knows what stands before him on Saturday and he’s confident in a victory:
“This fight with Bakole is very important for me, I need to bounce back from my defeat to Michael Hunter last time and get back on track towards a World Title. Martin is big, tall and comes forward, we know his strengths. I come only to win on December 12.”
Since his loss to Hunter, Bakole has won four straight fights all via TKO. He defeated Mariusz Wach who is also on this card. Bakole won that fight via 8th round TKO. His last three fights have all finished within the 6th round. Bakole last fought 13 months ago and win via 2nd round TKO over Rodney Hernandez.
Bakole’s goal is to win this fight on Saturday and then use it as a launching pad towards becoming a world champion:
“I want to be in contention for big fights next year. If I can win this one against Kuzmin then it really pushes me forward. My coach says I am a future world champion and I agree. I want to get all the belts in the next few years and we are working hard towards that. I won’t be satisfied to be No.5 or 6 in the world. I am doing this to be No.1. I am getting there slowly but my time is coming.”
Who Wins this Heavyweight Showdown?
In my opinion, this is the sleeper fight of the card. Two Top 20 heavyweights looking to gain a regional belt and a big step into the Top 15 rankings for at least one of the major organizations.
With that said, I like Bakole in this contest. I believe his size and power will be the difference in this matchup. He’s looked really good over his last four bouts including some solid knockouts.
Yet, I do believe Kuzmin is worthy of a flier as these two fighters are much closer than what oddsmakers have them listed as.
Bakole vs Kuzmin: Martin Bakole (-300)
Hughie Fury vs Mariusz Wach
Hughie Fury (-600)
Mariusz Wach (+400)
Hughie Fury enters as a large betting favorite with odds ranging from -550 to -715. This will be his second straight fight as the favorite. He was an underdog against Povetkin in August 2019.
Once again, Wach is an underdog for the second time in his last three fights. His odds range from +350 to +450.
Fury vs Wach Preview
This fight is all about trying to get Fury back on track in the heavyweight division and possibly higher in the rankings for a proper world title fight. But, before that can happen, he needs to get some wins over recognized fighters in the division.
Fury has three losses in his career with all of them coming to notable fighters: Alexander Povetkin, Kubrat Pulev, and Joseph Parker. Fury is 4-3 in his last sieve pro contests dating back to September 2017.
He last fought in March and defeated Pavel Sour via 3rd round TKO. Prior to that fight, was the bout against Povetkin, which he lost via unanimous decision. In fact, all three of his losses are via decision with the closest coming to Joseph Parker 39 months ago.
Fury had the following comments about this weekend’s fight:
“It’s been a while and I’m ready to show what I’m all about. I’ve been in the gym working on a lot of different aspects of my game, perfecting what I needed to do. Mariusz Wach is a good fighter who’s been in with many top tier fighters including a World Title challenge. He brings power and size, and you can’t switch off for a second. I want these kind of fights as these fights will help me achieve what I need. I’m expecting a tough fight with Wach.”
Who Wins this Heavyweight Bout?
Wach will have the height and reach advantages, but Fury is younger, faster and more athletic than his 40 year old counterpart.
I’m taking Fury to win this bout. I believe he still has another solid run left in him and it begins with a win over Wach this weekend.
Wach has dropped four of his last seven fights with two of them coming via TKO. However, I don’t see Fury getting the TKO/KO in this one. More than likely he takes it via unanimous decision.
Fury vs Wach: Hughie Fury (-600)
Lawrence Okolie (14-0, 11 KO) vs Nikodem Jezewski (19-0-1, 9 KO)
Lawrence Okolie (NA)
Nikodem Jezewski (NA)
As of now, there are no betting odds for this fight. Once available, I expect Okolie to be a large betting favorite probably somewhere in the range of +2000 to +3500 like his fight against Wadi Camacho.
Okolie was the betting favorite against Glowacki who was originally scheduled for this bout, so he will definitely be a large betting favorite over a lesser quality opponent. Prior to the change in opponents, Okolie commented on being a betting favorite:
“Being the bookies’ favourite doesn’t guarantee the victory so I’m still going to make sure I put in the work. I see myself as favourite but I have to go and prove it on fight night.”
Although Jezewski is unbeaten, he hasn’t fought anyone the caliber of Okolie and should be a massive underdog.
Okolie vs Jezewski Preview
This bout was originally scheduled to be Okolie versus Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO cruiserweight title. Unfortunately, Glowacki was forced off the card after testing positive for covid. Even worse, this bout is no longer for the vacant WBO title because Jezewski isn’t ranked with the WBO.
Nikodem Jezewski will not only take this fight on short notice, but he will also take a big step up in competition. The Polish cruiserweight hasn’t fought anyone the caliber of Okolie. In fact, he hasn’t even fought anyone outside of Poland in over seven years. Jezewski’s last bout came in October and he won via unanimous decision. His last four bouts have gone the distance.
Okolie is a fast rising cruiserweight with a lot of potential. In fact, his mentor Anthony Joshua believes that the time is now for Okolie to become a world champion.
That’s a goal that the unbeaten British cruiserweight definitely has on his mind. When he was still on schedule to face Glowacki, Okolie made the following comments about his world title aspirations:
“I win this fight then I go for a unification with either the WBA or WBC champion, then maybe Briedis has another one and there’s all four belts up. I’ve got two, he’s got two, then we have a unification. Briedis has his own life, I don’t know him, if he wants to move up to heavyweight, go into acting, I don’t know, but, for me, I want to unify the belts. Briedis got it done [beating Glowacki] in two rounds but it was a very controversial one. I do expect to stop him.”
Is There Any Chance that Okolie Loses?
Nothing is guaranteed in life, but this is about as close as it gets. I’m 99.99% sure that Okolie wins this weekend. He’s the superior athlete and boxer in this matchup. If anything, this will be more of a glorified sparring session for Okolie.
It will be a moral victory if Jezewski goes the full 12 rounds. However, I’m taking Okolie to win via TKO somewhere before the conclusion of the 10th round.
Watch for Okolie and Glowacki in early 2021.
Okolie vs Jezewski: Lawrence Okolie (NA)
Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev
Anthony Joshua (-1000)
Kubrat Pulev (+600)
Anthony Joshua is the expected betting favorite with odds ranging from -950 to -1600. He’s been a large betting favorite in all of his fights for at least the last handful of years. The closest odds were whe he beat Wladimir Klitschko via 11st round TKO in April 2017.
This will be the first fight that Kubrat Pulev is listed as the underdog since he took on Wladimir Klitscho in November 2014. He lost that fight via 5th round KO. It’s the only loss of his career. Pulev is listed at odds of +550 to +750 for this weekend’s bout.
Joshua vs Pulev Preview
Since Pulev’s lone loss, six years ago, he’s won eight straight fights including beating Hughie Fury who’s on this card. Pulev last fought 13 months ago and defeated Rydell Booker via unanimous decision. That snapped a three fight win streak via TKO/KO.
His last real close fight came in May 2016 when he beat Dereck Chisora via split decision. The judges were all over the place with scores of 116-112, 113-115, and 118-110.
Pulev is giving up a few inches in height and reach. He’s also the slower of the two men and eight years older than Anthony Joshua. If you ask Pulev, he believes that he has a big mental advantage over Joshua:
“Whatever mental toughness he’s got, I know I’m the harder person. This is the difference — my toughness will prevail. This is going to be a mind game and a chess game for as long as it lasts — a master chess game — but the only difference is the end is going to come like lightning. I can tell the fans that I will expose AJ again and prove they have been idolizing the wrong guy. I will expose him to the world for a second time.”
Did Joshua Regain his Mojo?
As Joshua called it, he had a “slip-up” in June 2019 when he lost in one of the biggest boxing upsets to Andy Ruiz Jr. via 7th round TKO. Joshua bounced back six months later and beat Ruiz via unanimous decision with the scores: 118-110, 118-110, and 119-109.
Joshua clearly outworked Ruiz in the second fight and looked every bit the champ. With his focus turned to Pulev, Joshua wants to steamroll his competition this weekend:
“I’m still very hungry and disciplined, so I want to steamroll through him. That’s the fighter’s talk coming out. With that being said, it takes a lot of training in the gym and that is what training camp is about.”
Prior to the loss to Ruiz Jr., Joshua’s toughest fight came against Joseph Parker in March 2018. He went the distance and won via the same scores that be Ruiz by. Otherwise, Joshua has knocked out every other foe that he’s faced.
This fight will prove whether or not Anthony Joshua has really got his momentum back or not.
Joshua vs Pulev Over/Under
There are several Over/Unders for this heavyweight title fight depending on which sports betting website you look at. The most common one is:
Over 6.5 rounds (-115)
Under 6.5 rounds (-105)
Online betting sites have a few more O/U options. Before we look at them, let’s address the O/U of 6.5 rounds first.
For Joshua, eight of his last 10 fights have gone Over 6.5 rounds or within a few seconds of this mark. Pulev has gone over this mark in 17 of his last 22 fights including four in a row and five of the last six.
Just based on their recent trends, I like the Over 6.5 rounds for this wager. If you want the Over at a lower round then online sportsbooks have an O/U of 5.5 rounds with the Over at -175. In fact, they offer O/U’s from round 4.5 to round 10.5.
Joshua vs Pulev Over/Under: Over 6.5 Rounds (-115)
Will This Fight go to a Decision?
In 24 pro fights, Anthony Joshua has gone the distance in just three of them including his last bout. In 29 pro fights, Pulev has gone the distance in 14 of them.
Pulev is a grinder. His ruggedness keeps him in fights even when he’s outclassed. I can see that happening in this bout as well.
Joshua is the better overall boxer, but he might not be able to put away Pulev. And, if he does, then it probably won’t be until he tires out the Bulgarian in the latter rounds.
In the previous boxing wager, I said to take the Over 6.5 rounds. In this Joshua vs Pulev wager, the safe play is on this fight to end inside the distance. However, the “yes” option is worthy of a small flier for the risk takers out there.
Will This Fight go to a Decision?: No (-345)
Who Wins and How?
So, we are ruling out this fight going the distance, which means we won’t be betting on Joshua (+447) or Pulev (+2300) to win this fight via decision.
If you ask promoter Bob Arum, he believes that Pulev can win this fight via knockout:
“Pulev has the ability to corner Joshua and to take him out. I believe not only is Pulev going to win the fight, but he’s going to win it by knockout.”
I don’t believe Joshua is the best heavyweight in the sport today. That title is for Tyson Fury only. But, I also don’t see Pulev being able to knockout Joshua.
Instead, I like Joshua to win this fight via late round TKO. I believe he will wear down the Bulgarian and use his superior athletic advantage to pick apart Pulev. Joshua will retain his titles and all eyes will then turn to the inevitable Fury vs Joshua unification fight.
Joshua vs Pulev: Anthony Joshua (-1000)
When Will the Fight End?
We’ve gone with Over 6.5 rounds and for the fight to end inside the distance. So, that leaves us with a finish between round 7 and the conclusion of round 12. We also have Joshua winning via TKO/KO, so that gives us the following prop bets to look at via the best betting sites: Joshua wins in what round:
Round 7 (+900)
Round 8 (+900)
Round 9 (+1000)
Round 10 (+1400)
Round 11 (+2000)
Round 12 (+3000)
If you prefer, you can go with the round betting option for this boxing match:
Joshua wins in round 7-9 (+300)
Joshua wins in round 10-12 (+600)
Of these wagers, I like Joshua to win in round 10-12 at +600 odds. I think Pulev can make it to the latter portions of this contest before tasting the canvas. Both options are worthy a wager. If I had to pick a specific round, I would say he doesn’t get out of the 10th round. Boxing bets: Joshua wins in round 10 (+1400), Joshua wins in round 10-12 (+600)
Will We See Joshua vs Fury Next?
Joshua promoter Eddie Hearn believes that Tyson Fury should come to the fight on Saturday especially if he wants to take on Joshua next. Hearn made the following comments about Fury:
“If he wants to fight Anthony Joshua, it’s not a case of calling him out, it’s called doing his research and building the fight. Tyson Fury is more than welcome to come down. I only live 45 minutes away from Wembley. He can come around on Sunday afternoon for a roast as well, if he wants and a cuppa.”
There’s no other fight in the heavyweight division to make other than Joshua and Fury. If Joshua wins, and he should, then both sides need to come together to make the fight happen.
The one potential hurdle could be Oleksandr Usyk who has made it clear that he will go after his mandatory title shot against Joshua for the WBO belt. And, the unbeaten heavyweight wants that shot by April 2021.
If the WBO was smart, they would do what the WBC did and allow Joshua to skip the mandatory fight to take on Fury. Otherwise, Joshua would vacate the belt to go after the big money fight against Fury.
Complete Joshua vs Pulev Fight Card
(c)Anthony Joshua vs Kubrat Pulev in a 12 round heavyweight world title fight
Lawrence Okolie vs Nikodem Jezewski in a 10 round cruiserweight bout
Hughie Fury vs Mariusz Wach in a 10 rounds heavyweight battle
Martin Bakole vs Sergey Kuzmin in a 10 round heavyweight contest
Macaulay McGowen vs Kieron Conway in a 10 round junior middleweight fight
Florian Marku vs Alex Fearon in an 8 round welterweight bout
Qais Ashfaq vs Ashley Lane in junior featherweight contest
As a longtime freelance writer, avid sports fan, former athlete, and experienced sports bettor, Rick Rockwell has risen up the ranks at GamblingSites.org to become the self-professed “King of the Blog” in his first year with the site. …