Dillian Whyte v Jermaine Franklin – Whyte by points
Zach Parker v John Ryder – Ryder by points or decision
Jose Zepeda v Regis Prograis – Prograis by points or decision
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Whyte has been around the top 5-to-10 in the heavyweight division for a few years now, but that ranking was seriously thrown into question when Tyson Fury flattened the ‘Body Snatcher’ back in April. Whyte has kept his head down and got back in the gym, and this weekend he faces Michigan prospect Franklin.
The away fighter was a US amateur champion but as a pro he hasn’t been given the opportunity to fight the top guys. He has decent speed and a solid jab, but at 6’2” and lacking real explosive power no promoter has put their money behind him, and as a result Franklin has only been in the ring once in the last three years.
Dillian has been more active but not more successful – as well as the Fury result, Whyte was stunningly stopped by an aging Alexander Povetkin in 2020. The Londoner has gone transatlantic to work with veteran coach Buddy McGirt, and he hopes the change in trainer will mean a change in fortunes.
Whyte needs a big contest for motivation and I think he could be a bit off the pace on Saturday. Franklin isn’t good enough to win, but he has the skills and resolve to go the distance.
The best bout on the undercard at Wembley is the intriguing match-up between Fabio Wardley and Nathan Gorman for the vacant British heavyweight world title (9pm). Wardley is fast and accurate but unusually comes from a white-collar background, while Gorman is cut from the same cloth as cousin Tyson Fury and has a real pedigree.
In most cases you would pick the skilled and experienced boxer, but in Gorman’s biggest contest he was caught early by Daniel Dubois and never really recovered. Wardley is a natural boxer and I think his power will begin to show later in the fight – I’m backing Wardley to win in rounds 9-12.
The other great scrap on the same bill is between fringe world-level light heavyweights Craig Richards and Richards Bolotniks (8pm). Both are skilled, both are awkward, and both have losses that don’t reflect their real ability – Britain’s Richards is rightly the favorite but the huge odds on the draw is getting my attention.
Derby’s Parker looks like the goods – the rangy super middleweight has been blasting out international boxing folk, but this weekend he’s facing world class Londoner Ryder. The older man is probably a bit miffed that he’s in the away corner, and in the last five years John’s only loss was a highly controversial points defeat against unified champion Callum Smith.
Smith is not dissimilar to Parker in terms of stature and style, and Zach will do well to get his jab pumping to stymie the short and stocky Ryder. Probably the best fighter on Parker’s record is Darryll Williams, and Williams managed to push Parker to a split decision in 2018.
Ryder won a close decision over former champ Daniel Jacobs earlier this year, and lost a close call to future champ Billy Joe Saunders back in 2013 – Parker has real power and he has to hurt his opponent to make this an easy night, but I think the experienced southpaw will know enough to take the win on the cards.
Hamzah Sheerz is another big punching prospect and he has his own acid test against River Wilson-Bent on the undercard in Greenwich (6pm). This bout isn’t world-level but the middleweight Commonwealth strap is the prize for the winner, and I think Sheeraz will have to settle for the belt via a points win.
Scrapping for the Commonwealth super bantamweight championship are Denis McCann and Joe Ham (8pm). Dennis ‘The Menace’ is a top talent and great to watch, but he doesn’t seem to quite have the devastating power of a future champion – this weekend I think McCann will have the class to force a late stoppage in rounds 7-12.
Zepeda and Prograis is a great fight in the super lightweight division, but really all the belts in the division should be on the line in the Josh Taylor and Jack Catterall rematch, instead one sanctioning body has seen fit to move their title on. Anyway, these two Americans are class and neither ever fails to put on a great fight.
Prograis is a special boxer and only lost to Taylor by a hair’s breadth in 2019. Zepeda is probably just a bit slower, less powerful, and less slick, but he has been active against decent opponents, unlike Regis. I think it will be tight, and I think it will be a barnburner, but I think Prograis will get his hand raised.