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Contrasting Main Events On Saturday Night

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Boxing offers us a trans-Atlantic double header on Saturday as London and New York play host to sold out shows headlined by very different feature attractions.

First up is the event from the O2 Arena where David Haye vs. Tony Bellew is top of the bill.  Several hours later Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman will step into the ring at Barclays Center to decide welterweight superiority.

Full disclosure – Haye vs. Bellew is not my cup of tea.  A blatant money grab between two fighters whose best days are behind them.  On the other hand Garcia vs. Thurman is exactly the type of fight we want to see.  Two undefeated title holders, in their respective primes, facing off in a hard to call unification fight.

Let’s look at both main events in a bit more detail.

David “Hayemaker” Haye and Tony “Bomber” Bellew will clash in a heavyweight fight that will provide both men with a significant pay day.  Tickets sold out quickly as Haye and Bellew worked tirelessly to convince fight fans that there is actual bad feeling between them.  Being based in the UK if I want to watch live I need to fork out for Sky’s PPV channel.  No thanks!

Although this fight has failed to convince me to jump on board there is clearly a market for it.  Stellar promotion has brought this scrap to the attention of the masses and I’m sure the number of PPV buys will satisfy all involved.

The fight has been sold on the basis that both boxers have a genuine hatred of one another.  Sorry, not buying it.  Beginning as soon as Bellew (28-2-1, 18KOs) had dispatched the woeful BJ Flores in October, Haye (28-2-0, 26KOs) was ringside commentating, both men became involved in what felt like a pre-scripted war of words. Perfect execution of your lines boys, the public bought it.

After this the sniping shifted to social media before the fight was confirmed.  At the official announcement press conference in November the boxers got into a scuffle, mayhem ensued and headlines were generated. No such thing as bad publicity; the promotional plan was being executed perfectly.

Since then the “bad feelings” have continued to be expressed via Twitter and Instagram.  One main theme has been the criticism of one another’s training camp: Haye ripped Bellew for remaining in the cold UK winter and using basic training methods; Bellew questioned Haye’s commitment to his camp as his social media output looked more like advertising for Miami tourism and the playboy lifestyle.

As for the fight, Haye should win easily.  Come fight night there may not be too much difference in weight but Bellew will be the slower and less powerful boxer in the ring.  Haye should get the job done early and hopefully then we will see a bit of real sportsmanship between the two.

Moving forward from Saturday, Bellew will hopefully be able to resume his campaign at cruiserweight.  Plenty of challenges now exist in that division with Murat Gassiev and Oleksandr Usyk also holding titles. Haye, if he is serious, should fight a proper heavyweight contender such as Luis Ortiz or Jarrell Miller.

Now to Garcia vs. Thurman.  The fight should be immense and will leave the winner in a strong position within the welterweight division.

Danny “Swift” Garcia (33-0-0, 19KOs) holds the WBC welterweight title and finds himself in the role of underdog going into this clash.  Garcia has been in this position previously, written off before facing Amir Khan in 2012 and Lucas Matthysse in 2013, “Swift” won both of those bouts in good fashion and is confident he can do the same on Saturday.

Most boxing fans consider Garcia fortunate to have been awarded majority decision victories over Mauricio Herrera in 2014 and Lamont Peterson in 2015.  I suspect these were encounters Garcia may not have taken as seriously as he should have and I expect a fully prepared Garcia to be at his very best this weekend.

Garcia’s signature punch is his left hook.  He may possibly look to box and move, similar to the game plan he employed against Matthysse, and use the left hook as a counter when the opportunity presents itself.

Keith “One Time” Thurman (27-0-0, 22KOs) is the WBA “Super” welterweight champion and perhaps the hardest hitter in the division.  Naturally the bigger man, Thurman has campaigned at 147lbs his entire career.  His thrilling battle with Shawn Porter last year was a contender for fight of the year and his victory underlined his status as an upper echelon welterweight.

Thurman boxes well behind his effective jab.  “One Time” will be looking to use the jab to set up his power shots on Saturday.  If Garcia is looking to move, Keith will need to use his footwork to close the gap in order to be in range to land his arsenal of hurtful punches.

Garcia vs. Thurman should be a thrilling encounter in which both men will enjoy periods of domination.  It is clear that the fighters respect one another but each man holds a strong belief that they will find a way to win.  It may come down to who has the greater will to win.  I think that Garcia will use the fact that he has been underestimated again as fuel and his determination, along with that beautiful left hook, will be the key factor to “Swift” taking a close decision on the cards.

Two venues and two main events of varying importance and quality.  One fight an example of how far accomplished promotion can carry an event, the other so strong in its own right that it effectively promotes itself.  There should be something on offer for all tastes between these two clashes so whatever main event you decide to watch, or if you tune in for both, enjoy the fights.

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