Hard to look past Vargas and Wilder

Doncaster’s Gavin McDonnell (28-0 KO22) will challenge Mexican Rey Vargas (16-0-2-KO4) for the vacant WBC super-bantamweight title this weekend.

This famous ‘green belt’ has been held by the likes of Erik Morales, Daniel Zaragoza and Leo Santa Cruz in the past, and was last held by Japan’s Hozumi Hasegawa but became vacant since his recent retirement.

The twin brother of current WBA World bantamweight champion Jamie, will get the chance to follow in his brother’s footsteps, and emerge from his shadow, too.

‘Gav’ has done everything right in his career by winning a regional title, the British, European, WBO Inter-Continental, and, most recently, the WBC Silver. This is a chance that he will not let go easily and I can see his work rate and determination being a big factor in this fight.

Mexican Vargas is the number 1 ranked fighter in the WBC standings, with McDonnell right behind him at number 2.

Both fighters deserve to be fighting for this prestigious belt that once saw Hall of Famers Morales and Barrera go at it for 12 incredible rounds in their epic fight in 2000.

Vargas has only boxed outside of his native lands twice as a professional and worked his way up the WBC rankings by winning the Youth Silver title back in 2013 and the International version in his last fight in September 2016.

The 26-year-old has an impressive knockout ratio of 79 per cent; compared to his opponent’s mere 22 per cent, it’s easy to tell who carries the power.

Eddie Hearn has managed to get the odds stacked in his fighter’s favour by having the bout staged in Britain, something that his opponent has voiced his anger over.

I can see Vargas ruling this division for some time to come

Despite that, I can see Vargas ruling this division for some time to come. He’s a skilful fighter that hits hard, varies his shots, switches from head to body effortlessly, and has quick feet and good head movement, and boxes well from range. He’s intelligent with his shots, doesn’t waste much and knows exactly when to go in for the kill.

I’ll be willing McDonnell to win but I expect it to go the other way to Vargas either on points or via a late stoppage.

Deontay Wilder- RealTime Images

Over in America, Deontay Wilder (37-0 36KOs) is taking on an unbeaten fighter, who could possibly go on to be a world champion himself one day – although I expect only if he improves – but he is still learning, still in development, and I’m sorry to say that I think this will be a step up the ladder too soon for the prospect.

Shared opponent Jason Gavern was blown away in four rounds by Wilder but went the distance with Washington (18-0-1 16KOs). This should tell us all we need to know about who carries the power in this World championship contest.

Full credit for taking the fight at short notice, as a fighter aiming for the top it is hard – almost impossible – to turn those opportunities down.

Personally, I would want to see the 34-year-old Californian involved in a few more fights like that against Amir Mansour, which ended in a very fortunate draw for him – I’d have edged towards Mansour for his workrate.

He does have a very powerful right hand but then so does ‘The Bronze Bomber’ which has been proven, tried and tested, and landed flush on a much better quality of opponent than Washington, who doesn’t really have any scalps of note on his ledger

Although the 31-year-old WBC World champion’s résumé isn’t particularly steeped in quality either and he became a World champ by beating a very poor World champ, in my view – the only fight in his career that went the distance against a tough Bermane Stiverne.

However, I was very impressed with his intelligent and precise knockout of a game, aggressive Artur Szpilka in January last year. He has clearly developed his game, sharpened his tools, and become a solid fighter, who can legitimately claim to be the best heavyweight in the world.

I predict a stoppage win to Wilder in the first half of the fight.

Speaking exclusively to WilliamHill, they gave us their reaction to both fights and their spokesman Jon Ivan-Duke said: “Two big punchers with Wilder being the better. We expect him to win as quickly and as stylishly as possible to set up the big money fight with either Joshua or Klitschko. We’d expect Wilder to wear Washington in the middle rounds if it gets that far.

“As for McDonnell v Vargas, this is obviously the biggest test of McDonnell’s career and he is up against it to join twin Jamie as a World Champion. Ray Vargas is rightly a 2/5 favourite to win as he is undefeated in 28 fights but if the Hull crowd get behind McDonnell then the fight could be a lot closer than the odds might suggest, particularly if McDonnell can take it to a decision.”


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