It's that time again…Let's look at the highest profile boxing bouts this weekend, and dive into how they are likely to play out, from a betting perspective.
Julian Rodriguez vs. Jose Pedraza, 06/12/2021
Julian Rodriguez (21-0, 14 KOs) will take on former two division world champion Jose Pedraza (28-3, 13 KOs) in a key 140 pound crossroads fight on Saturday from Virgin Hotels in Las Vegas, NV. The bout will be broadcast on ESPN.
As of this writing Rodriguez is listed as the -230 favorite whereas Pedraza can be had for the underdog price tag of +175.
This fight is actually the co-feature to the Shakur Stevenson-Jeremiah Nakathlia main event. But Stevenson is listed as a massive favorite in what appears to be more or less a showcase fight (more on this later). The real main event on this card is this fight between Rodriguez and Pedraza.
Rodriguez was a once highly decorated amateur who had reportedly over 200 wins in his amateur career. He turned pro in 2013 and seemed to be on a fast track toward a title shot. But injuries have set him back and his career trajectory took a backward step.
Rodriguez is a well-schooled fighter with heavy handed power. He is a natural boxer puncher. I really like when he commits to working behind the left jab as it is thrown with good timing and sharp stinging power. Though I wouldn’t characterize him as overly quick he does have some athleticism in his game.
One big question for Rodriguez is the competition he has faced. Let’s just say it has been soft. He did destroy then 13-0 Anthony Laureano in one round this past August but Laureano had also built that record on extremely soft opposition.
In Pedraza, Rodriguez will be facing a very stiff test and probably face at least some adversity for the first time in his pro career.
Pedraza also had quite an impressive amateur run and parlayed that into a very successful pro career that included winning titles in the 130 pound weight class as well as in the lightweight division. He is also a natural boxer puncher who will look to work behind his jab to set up his combinations. Pedraza has earned the nickname “Sniper” for good reason as he is a very sharp, accurate puncher.
So this fight basically comes down to the experience of the 32 year old Pedraza against the youth and skill of the 26 year old Rodriguez. Make no doubt about it, Rodriguez is going from the shallow end of the pool where he has looked good to the deep end of the ocean. He could certainly get drowned in this spot.
But I do like Rodriguez. Why? Well, sometimes size really does matter.
Pedraza started his career in the 130 pound weight division. Rodriguez has fought essentially his entire career at 140. Rodriguez is physically much bigger and stronger. When Pedraza debuted at 140 in September of 2019 against Jose Zepeda he had issues with Zepeda’s physicality in spots. And if Pedraza struggled with Zepeda’s strength I could see something similarly happening when he faces Rodriguez.
This pick is certainly not one with confidence as I can definitely see a scenario where Pedraza asks questions of Rodriguez to which Rodriguez struggles to respond. But my gut tells me Rodriguez’s amateur experience will help him out in this regard and that he passes his first big test as a pro with flying colors.
Shakur Stevenson vs. Jeremiah Nakathila, 06/12/2021
Shakur Stevenson (15-0, 8 KO’s) will face Jeremiah Nakathila (21-1, 17 KO’s) in the headline bout on the aforementioned ESPN card this Saturday. This fight will be for the interim WBO title in the 130 pound weight division.
As of this writing Stevenson is listed as a -5000 favorite whereas Nakathila can be had for the underdog price tag of +1400. The over/under is set at 8.5 rounds with the under sitting at -134 and the over at +100.
I will make this short. First, I want to answer the question: does Nakathila have a chance? Actually, the answer is yes. There is a chance and it’s not entirely unrealistic.
I had to do some digging but found some footage of Nakathila. We’ll get to the flaws in a moment. But he does have real power in the right hand. That’s his chance. Not a great one albeit but the possibility exists.
If I were a matchmaker for Top Rank and looking for an opponent for Stevenson to shine against Nakathila would be option A, B and C. Nakathila is aggressive and comes forward often without working behind the jab, winging wide shots. He stands straight up when doing so with his chin high in the air. There is also zero head movement from Nakathila in the tape I have seen. Yes, there is some danger in his right hand as I noted earlier but I think Stevenson is going to see it coming from a mile away.
Nakathila is going to leave plenty of counter punching opportunities for Stevenson. I see Stevenson tagging him clean early and often. And oh, I didn’t even mention the vast speed advantage for Stevenson. This will be quite the showcase for Stevenson and probably some clips will end up in a highlight reel package.
So the question from a betting prospective is will Stevenson win by ko/tko? I hate to cop out like this but I have no idea. We know absolutely nothing on the chin of Nakathila. Stevenson isn’t the hardest puncher and if Nakathila has a decent chin maybe he can go rounds. And maybe even go the distance.
If I had to make a pick I’d say this fight very closely resembles Stevenson’s fight with Jessie Cris Rosales in January of 2018.
Stevenson landed clean on Rosales time and time again before scoring a spectacular TKO win in the fourth round. Nakathila is going to get hit clean time and time again. My gut says his chin eventually cracks and probably earlier in the fight rather than later. Stevenson TKO 4.
Lewis Ritson vs. Jeremias Nicolas Ponce, 06/12/2021
Lewis Ritson (21-1, 12 KO’s) will face off against Argentina’s Jeremias Nicolas Ponce (27-0, 17 KO’s) on Saturday from Eagles Community Arena in Newcastle, England. This will be a final IBF eliminator in the 140 pound weight division and be broadcast by DAZN in the United States.
As of this writing Ritson is a -240 favorite whereas Ponce can be had for the underdog price tag of +188.
Ah, the unknown from Argentina with the glossy record. Where have we seen this story before? The question of course is can Ponce be the next Lucas Matthysse or Marcos Maidana? Or is his record a mirage?
With Ritson what you see is what you get. He is aggressive from the opening bell looking to unleash combinations to the head and body of his opponents. He has heavy hands and slightly above average hand speed. Defense is not his strength and he is often more than willing to eat a few punches to allow him to get in his own shots.
Where Ritson has struggled is with opponents with a little speed who can box from the outside.
Ponce is not someone who is going to look to box and move. But I wouldn’t necessarily call him an aggressive pressure fighter. He is more like a boxer-puncher who is more comfortable counter punching. He waits, feints and looks for an opening to let his hand go.
I watched Ponce’s last fight against then 25-13-1 Jonathan Jose Eniz this past December. Let’s just say Ponce was less than impressive. Maybe we can give him a pass because Eniz is a bit of a tricky southpaw. But what concerned me is what happened at the end of round three. Ponce was clipped with a straight left from Eniz and went down visibly hurt. Ponce was extremely fortunate this happened with seconds to go in the round, otherwise he may have been stopped.
By the way, Eniz is certainly not a puncher with just 10 KO’s in now 41 professional fights.
Ritson is never a comfortable bet because of his glaring defensive issues. And can I see Ponce landing something that does damage to Ritson? Yes, that could happen. But I think Ritson is a few steps above Ponce and can crack what I think is a very suspect chin of Ponce. My money is on Ritson and I think he gets it done inside the distance.
Final Card (we’ll kick it up to a baseline of $100 as that is usually what I play each week)
Rodriguez to win (-230) – $35 to win $15.40
Ritson to win (-240) – $35 to win $14.70
Ritson to win by KO/TKO/DQ (+250) – $5 to win $12.50
Rodriguez/Ritson to win parlay (+104) – $10 to win $10.45
Stevenson-Nakathila under (-134) – $15 to win $11.25
Good luck to everyone this week.