Haye vs Chisora
It's the fight no one takes seriously but everyone wants to see. A loudmouth smack talker and a borderline psychotic grunt face-off on Saturday after a very public set-to involving a bottling, a death threat and a lot of feelings terribly hurt. Who knew that the ritualised celebration of violence we call boxing could turn so ugly?
The first thing you should know about the David Haye vs Dereck Chisora fight is that it is probably going to be boring. If you're expecting a grudge match in the mould of Kaylor vs Christie or Benn vs Eubank then you will likely be disappointed. While Dereck Chisora would love a pub car park dust-up, David Haye will not want to engage. Since moving up to heavyweight Haye has preferred a safety first circle-and-potshot style, low on volume, heavy on feints and evasive action. We saw this approach epitomised in his fight against Nikolai Valuev, a fight that was punishing only for those who viewed it - the lumbering 7 foot monster walking down the twitchy rabbit who threw one flurry a round and edged a majority decision.
As for Chisora he is a decent but erratic pressure fighter with a limited skillset who has lost three of his last four fights. But Del Boy was very unfortunate not to get the decision over the unbeaten Robert Helenius and did much better than most Vitali Klitschko victims last time out, taking the giant Ukrainian to the scorecards. When on his game, such as against Danny Williams, he looks a dangerous opponent. When off it, as we saw against Tyson Fury, he looks embarrassing. There's a wide speed and skill difference between these two and, if both fighters bring their usual game, David Haye wins handily.
But can he stop Chisora? There's no doubt that Haye has significant power at heavyweight. The knockouts of Monte Barrett, John Ruiz and Audley Harrison were emphatic but Ruiz weighed in at 231 lbs and Barrett at 226 lbs. Chisora will come in a good stone heavier than that. He went the distance with Vitali Klitschko, something only four men in 46 fights have done and seems to have a rock for a jaw. With Haye by decision at 2.35, this is the bet to take.
Khan vs Garcia
Over in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, Amir Khan makes his first appearance since his controversial points loss to Lamont Peterson in December. The Bolton fighter is challenging Danny Garcia for his WBA and WBC 140lb straps. The undefeated Garcia is an accurate counterpuncher, good at punishing sloppy work from offensively minded fighters and he believes he has spotted flaws in Khan's style. "He reaches a lot with his punches and I think that's where he goes wrong,” Garcia noted recently. It's certainly true that Amir Khan goes looking for openings for punches that aren't there when he gets frustrated - a dangerous habit in this game. Staying disciplined and not looking to force the action too much are important for him.
The good news for Khan is that, at 25, he still has the exceptional reflexes, speed and power that make him such a difficult opponent. His speed allows him to get away with the technical mistakes that Freddie Roach is gradually beating out of him and we should also remember that Garcia has never faced a fighter in his prime with the power of Khan. It's one thing to counterpunch against the Ashley Theophanes of this world, quite another against the guy who dropped Maidana in the first round, took out Zab Judah in five and blitzed Salita in 90 seconds.
That's why I see Garcia giving away the first few rounds. He is often a slow starter anyway and when he feels Amir Khan’s power he'll become shot shy. If he survives the first third of the fight it will reach the later rounds as Khan's bouts with more technical fighters generally do (think Kotelnyk, Malignaggi and Peterson). When Amir Khan has a few rounds won he starts to box more cautiously, meaning Garcia will have to come looking for him, something counterpunchers are rarely comfortable with. So over 8.5 rounds at 1.6 is the bet I recommend. Garcia is good enough to make this an interesting fight - Amir Khan is good enough to win it.