This weekend promises to be one of the busiest of the domestic calendar with both the Celtic Clash X and the MTK Fight Night going toe to toe on Saturday in Belfast.
Before all that across the Atlantic on Thursday there is plenty of interest for Irish fans with Luke Keeler [15(5)-2(1)-1] squaring off against undefeated WBO middelweight world champion Demetrius Andrade [28(17) – 0].
The undercard also adds extra intrigue with some of Irish boxing’s previous and potential foes packing out the card in Miami, Florida.
Underdog Daniel Roman [27(10)-2(0)-1] will defend the WBA & IBF Super Bantamweight World straps he ripped from TJ Doheny against Uzbek sensation and 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Murodjon Akhmadaliev [7(6)-0].
The much hyped Akhmadaliev was joined on the podium in 2016 by a certain Vladimir Nikitin who Michael Conlan recently exacted revenge over after controversial defeat in the same competition. Further down the card Tevin Farmer [30(6)-4(2)-1], who boasts victories over both Jono Carroll and James Tennyson squares off against Joseph Diaz in what could well be the fight of the night.
Finally potential future Katie Taylor foe Amanda Serrano [37(1)-1-1] is understandably prohibitively priced against unheralded Brazilian Simone Aparecida Da Silva (17-14-0) in an 8 round tick-over contest.
In terms of trying to turn a profit from the main event, one price that caught my eye is the 5/2 about Keeler bringing Andrade the distance, interestingly the same price is available with some bookmakers on Andrade to win via decision.
Slick southpaw Andrade has claimed decision wins in 4 of his last 5 fights with the one stoppage win coming in the 12th round against Akavov.
Although never too pretty on the eye Andrade’s distinctive stick and move approach from his awkward stance has served him well in his previous 7 World title fights. It would be surprising if Andrade doesn’t employ his risk averse approach especially with him looking like he is one win away from a super fight against the likes of Gennady Golovkin.
This will be Keeler’s first 12-round contest and he will be in with an opponent who is arguably the most naturally gifted currently active middleweight. Although Keeler is coming into the fight off the back of his career best performance against world ranked Luis Arias; Andrade represents another significant step up in class for the Ballyfermot man.
Former engineer Keeler appears rejuvenated since packing in the day job 2 years ago and is quick to point to the influence of Coach Pete Taylor who is also on an impressive run of form. Since lining up with Taylor; Keeler looks to have added defensive solidity without compromising his natural come forward aggressive style. The switch to becoming a “full-time” pro has also allowed him to focus on conditioning and Taylor’s legendary gruelling sessions will no doubt have Keeler feeling ready to go 12 rounds if needs be.
Stablemates Tyrone McKenna, Tyrone McCullagh and in particular Tommy McCarthy have taken leaps forward under Taylor’s auspices and there seems to be a really positive buzz coming from the camp of late.
Keeler will also believe he is more comfortable at the weight having campaigned at middleweight almost exclusively since his pro debut in 2013. In contrast “Boo Boo” Andrade moved up from Super Welter in 2017 with question marks lingering over whether he brought his power with him.
Back Keeler to force this one to the scorecards at 5/2.
Of the aforementioned undercard bouts a wager that might offer value is taking on Akhmadaliev who no doubt has the skills but gives up a tonne of experience to his American opponent. Daniel Roman has been around the block and is coming into the fight off the back of 20 straight wins including master classes against world level opponents like Gavin McDonnell and Doheny.
The hype surrounding Akhmadaliev in some circles is reaching early Lomachenko levels but so too must the pressure, particularly with Akhmadaliev knowing a win will see him become the fastest ever unified male world champion in just 8 fights. Back Roman at 2/1 to hand the Uzbek prospect his first defeat in the pros.
Elsewhere the Farmer vs Diaz fight looks destined to go to the judges with the 1/4 on offer reflecting what many feel is close to a foregone conclusion.
Farmer is perhaps best known to Irish fans for repelling Jono Carroll’s record breaking heroics in their World title bout last March. His opponent Joseph Diaz displayed his world level credentials last year when dominating John Joe Nevin’s most recent victim Freddy Fonseca via 7th round corner stoppage.
Farmer who is one of boxing’s most active world champs will enjoy a 3 inch reach advantage and is a completely different prospect to anything Diaz has faced so far.
Farmer also boasts one of the most fascinating and potentially deceiving records in the sport. Having campaigned at a variety of weights he went on to record 4 losses and 1 draw in his first 12 pro fights. Since then he has gone unbeaten in 24 after a link up with promoter Lou Dibella which helped him make a home for himself in the Super Featherweight division.
Farmer’s resurgence has been built largely on one-sided points victories with 11 of his last 13 wins coming by unanimous decision victories and just 6 of his 30 victories coming by KO. In a back and forth contest I would not be surprised to see Diaz to gain the upper hand for some of the early rounds but expect Farmer’s relentless work rate to get him over the line – just! With that in mind a small bet on the 10/1 on offer from both Ladbrokes and Coral on a Majority Decision win for Farmer might allow you to make hay in the Miami sunset.