Danny Flexen looks through the early 2021 cards from Eddie Hearn and Matchroom, and picks out the betting underdogs most likely to triumph
Eddie Hearn and Matchroom’s early 2021 line-up was announced en masse and consists of five shows, with fights ranging from the apparently predictable to the far harder to call. When quality matchmaking is allied to a lack of knowledge from bookmakers on boxing compared to other, more mainstream sports, there is usually value to be found. With that in mind, I have picked out the top 5 most likely ‘upsets’ (from a bookies’ odds perspective) out of these bills. Bear in mind, these are not predictions, merely where you may be able to extract some value (get tips on how to pick a bookmaker via our friends at askbettors.com/bookmakers). Odds presented are the best available at time of writing. Disclaimer duly offered, here we go:
5. Reece Mould (7/4) to defeat Leigh Wood
This in an intriguing battle for the vacant British featherweight title between a man in Leigh Wood who has been around this level before and a younger co-challenger in Reece Mould. This could be make or break for the talented 32-year-old favourite, the Commonwealth king who fell to eventual winner Jazza Dickens in the semi-finals of the Golden Contract tournament. Mould, 26, is the English champ, unbeaten in 13 contests and has been awaiting his shot for some time. The aggressive Mould, if not intimidated by his more experienced opponent or the occasion, has a solid chance here.
4. Ted Cheeseman (11/8) to defeat James Metcalf
I am honestly a little surprised that Cheeseman is the outsider here. The former British super-welterweight champion is looking to regain the vacant Lonsdale Belt here against the Commonwealth boss who gets his biggest showcase to date, despite being the older man. Both are come-forward operators, with Metcalf’s extra freshness offset by the greater level of opposition faced by Cheeseman. If they go to war, as seems likely, the Londoner has more experienced of the trenches.
3. Carly Skelly (7/4) to defeat Amy Timlin
This is a rematch from a cracking draw for the vacant Commonwealth super-bantamweight title back in October. The harder hitting Skelly appeared to start and finish better but was pegged back in the middle rounds by the much younger Timlin, who is the finer technician. I expect another exciting tussle but while Skelly is the older, she has less experience amateur and pro, so in theory could have more improvement in her.
2. Rylan Charlton (11/10) to defeat Florian Marku
“Pint Size Powerhouse” Rylan Charlton hammered the hyped Joe Laws in October, getting his big break after two years of toiling on the small-hall circuit. He was rewarded not only with a Matchroom contract but a shot at another highly touted and unbeaten operator, “Albanian King” Florian Marku, who laboured against Jamie Stewart in December but still appeared unlucky to only draw. This one virtually guarantees fireworks, with aggressive Marku, a quality body puncher against the powerful and accurate Charlton.
1. Rachel Ball (5/4) to defeat Shannon Courtenay
Likeable Midlander Ball dropped and narrowly outscored previously undefeated Courtenay back in August at Fight Camp but, for many observers, looked a little fortunate to get the verdict. Ball, however, has grown with the upset, picking up the WBC Interim super-bantam strap with a complete performance versus Jorgelina Guanini in November. Courtenay has had a facile win since Ball and is out again in 11 days. The move down to bantam for this vacant WBA title fight may suit her more given she is four inches the shorter lady, but Ball looks to be improving and will be fired up to prove her first triumph was no fluke.