The earthquake caused by Andy Ruiz and inflicted on the heavyweight landscape continues to reverberate more than a week on from his astonishing triumph. Contenders are renewed and emboldened by Ruiz’s exploits. For a while, there will be a swirl of belief, of daring do to enflame those endowed with a shot at the sport’s leading lights in the months ahead.
Such was the completeness of Anthony Joshua’s denouement to the speed, guile and gumption of Ruiz that practically anything now appears possible.
Could an aftershock unseat another of the would-be trio of Kings? This weekend unheralded German Tom Schwarz will be the first to try as he attempts to fell the towering Tyson Fury at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Boxing bookmakers offer some attractive odds for those willing to dream the impossible dream.
Fury too Skilful for German Scrapper
Fury remains a prohibitive favourite despite the frisson of interest in Schwarz since Ruiz’s victory (1/25 with Bet365 the most generous available). The German, 6’ 5 and typically 240lbs, presents a risk, as any man weighing above the Cruiserweight limit surely does; customarily defined as the puncher’s chance. Footage of his fights illuminate those not previously enthralled by undercard fights in Leipzig and Dresden and reveal an aggressive fighter with decent power in his overhand right. Schwarz is 16/1 for the outright win with Paddy Power, odds that seem a little narrow on the evidence of their respective records.
However revisionist it may seem for a writer who strongly predicted a Joshua victory two weeks ago, it is harder to muster a path to victory for Schwarz than ever it would have for the more talented, if less aesthetic, and greatly more seasoned Ruiz. Schwarz’s success has been enjoyed against fighters of a meager profile and calibre and there is evidence even in those victories that too many flaws exist for him to construct an upset to rival Ruiz’s.
In 24 wins, Schwarz has stopped 16 opponents and boxed into or beyond the 8th round just three times. Those opponents have been recruited from the soft underbelly of the European circuit and few would last with less qualified British fighters than Fury. In his attritional battle with Kosovo born slugger Senad Gashi, a short southpaw with a taste for the darker elements of a fist fight and a looping right hand, Schwarz was caught and hurt several times.
As a form line, Gashi lost every round to a fading Dereck Chisora subsequent to his brawl with Schwarz a year ago. Fury is a canny fighter, maturing and more appreciative of his own strengths in this rebirth into boxing. He will counter Schwarz’ lumbering attack, pivot off either foot to leave his opponent stuck in his pedestrian forward and back rut.
Whilst Fury isn’t a devastating puncher, he can hurt opponents in combinations, belittle their tactics and technique and render capable men broken figures. I predict Fury will box with less respect than he did versus Wilder last November but without the abandon it may be required to halt the brave youngster early. Schwarz, on the rare times he’s been pressed in his pristine career, can also look unqualified and unprepared to ride the storm. He’s accustomed to having things his own way. It leaves him ill-prepared for the adversity he faces on Saturday.
An early stoppage cannot be entirely discounted. However, I’d encourage a modest investment in the 8/5 on Fury to win in rounds 7-12 available with Ladbrokes.
Yorkshire Rivals Going Toe-To-Toe
In the prelude to the heavyweight fixture, Leeds, England will play host to a mouthwatering contest at Featherweight as Yorkshire rivals Josh Warrington and Kid Galahad meet for the IBF world title. There appears to be genuine animosity between the chisel-featured champion and the challenger from Sheffield’s famous Winconbank Gym, previously home to the artistry of Herol Graham, Prince Naseem, and the oft-forgotten Junior Witter. The contrasting styles of the two should ensure a grudge match with plenty of action and atmosphere.
Warrington is a strong favourite having twice defied the bookmakers in 2018, though the 1/3 available with Ladbrokes offers some gain for the most likely outcome. Beating first Lee Selby to win the IBF belt at stake this weekend and then defending it versus the world-class Irishman Frampton in 12 sizzling rounds in December is depth the Sheffield man by way of Yemen and Qatar cannot match. To invest in a Galahad win is a bold step, it is based on the view his style; elusive, awkward, fleet of foot and quick of thought and hand, is the required one to frustrate a busy action fighter like Frampton.
Evidence of Galahad’s ability to deliver 12 rounds of this game plan is scant and it also implies a limitation to Warrington’s style and ability that he spent 2018 disproving. Warrington was wily in disarming Selby, a slick fighter himself with a stronger pedigree than Galahad, and then executing an intoxicating mix of counter punching and blistering attacks to unsettle and ultimately overwhelm a fighter as good as Frampton.
I believe Galahad can have moments of success. Can frustrate Warrington in patches, but I don’t think he can do enough to convince judges in a partisan arena to take a decision. I foresee Warrington winning a clear points decision, 3/10 with 888Sport, or stopping a wilting Galahad in the championship rounds, 20/1 with Bet365 for Rounds 10-12. He is 9/2 on a KO/TKO at any point. All of these bets offer good routes to profit.