By Paul Webb (@Paul_FCBoxing)
Chris Eubank Jnr (19-1, 14KOs) makes his Sky Sports debut on Saturday night headlining the rather beleaguered looking Sheffield Arena card against little known American Tony Jeter (20-4-1, 14KOs).
The WBA interim middleweight title is on the line but due to the unique way the World Boxing Association operate this belt has already been taken from Eubank Jr. because of “inactivity” and was won by Alfonso Blanco two weeks ago. A sanctioning body stripping a champion for taking a lengthy break is nothing new, in fact it makes total sense. However, allowing the boxer to defend a belt he has already been stripped of is bemusing even by the abysmal Panama-based outfit’s standards. It is almost laughable that as of Saturday they will have four world champions at 160lbs.
The belt is pretty irrelevant in this fight as it is all about Eubank Jnr putting on a “world-class performance” and a “statement of serious intent” to coin a few Sky clichés. Hearn lacks a genuine middleweight contender and with the entertaining sideshow of Eubank Snr or ‘English’, as he now wants to be known, this will likely make for great TV.
Jeter at 39 years old has yet to pick up any win of note and was blasted out by Patrick Nielson in two rounds last year. I expect a similar outcome Saturday with the bookies seeing it very one-sided; Eubank is 1/100 to win and 1/18 to win by stoppage.
Chief support in Sheffield is Gavin McDonnell (13-0-2, 4KOs) making a defense of his EBU super bantamweight title against former Carl Frampton victim Jeremy Parodi (37-2-1, 9KOs). Neither man carries much power and McDonnell’s performances have been inconsistent, but he looks in superb shape and his French opponent may struggle with the pace.
McDonnell’s last three fights have gone the distance and Parodi has seen the final bell in eight of his last nine.
The Doncaster man on points at 4/6 is a reasonably safe bet.
Stateside, Terence Crawford (26-0, 18KOs) defends his 140lb WBO title against the Haitian-born Canadian Dierry Jean (29-1, 20KOs), who gets his second crack at a world strap after falling short against Lamont Peterson in 2014.
It is a strange fight for a HBO headliner but the 140lb division is pretty poor and the WBO rankings are weak to say the least (Bradley Saunders at 14?). Top Rank certainly see Crawford as a potential big star and he has been in some TV friendly fights against Gamboa, Beltran and Dulorme.
There is a lot to like about the two-weight champion; he has built up a big following in his home state of Nebraska and I would expect a decent turn out at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha. Crawford is a slick boxer who has shown decent power and is a huge favourite, out as far as 1/25 with some bookmakers.
The undercard sees unbeaten heavyweight prospect Andy Ruiz Jnr (25-0, 17KOs) take on Raphael Zumbano Love (37-11-1, 30KOs) in what should be a total mismatch.
Love was blasted out by Anthony Joshua in two rounds in May and it will be interesting to see how long he lasts with the powerful but often out-of-shape Ruiz.
Tip of the week: Eubank KO/TKO/DQ Round 5-8 (9/4)by