WITH promoter Eddie Hearn and his Matchroom boxing stable now officially exclusive to streaming channel DAZN, Sky Sports pick up the pieces of their pro boxing coverage on Saturday by handing Chris Eubank Jr a sure-fire knockout return.
The former British middleweight champion and super-middleweight world title challenger takes on late stand-in Anatoli Muratov at Wembley Arena after original foe Sven Elbir tested positive for Coronavirus at the start of the week.
Both largely unknown Germans, at least Elbir had a chin on him. Muratov’s two knockout defeats and penchant for padding his record against opponents with more losses than wins suggest he’s completely out of his depth.
But all is not lost. The co-main event features a compelling European welterweight title clash between champion David Avanesyan and contender Liam Taylor, two of the most avoided boxers at 147lb.
The Russian champion has become a fan favourite in the UK after a succession of big performances on TV cards. His 2016 win over Hall of Famer Shane Mosley led to an unsuccessful world title shot, but he has bounced back in style under Newark coach Carl Greaves.
If you don't earn @DavidAvaBoxer's respect he's a nightmare in the ring
Avanesyan v Taylor | Saturday | 7.30pm pic.twitter.com/Pz5Tj4lguV
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) September 29, 2021
In 2019, a hat-trick of knockouts in Spain kicked off his coronation as European champ. While February’s sixth round TKO of fancied former GB Olympian Josh Kelly cemented his European reign and extended his record to 27-3-1.
“We are desperate to land David another world title opportunity,” says manager Neil Marsh. “For that to happen we have to make another statement on Saturday, but we also know Liam Taylor has nothing to lose and is coming to try and change his life.”
Lancashire ‘Dynamo’ Taylor was on course to be crowned British and Commonwealth champion back in 2019 before a clash of heads saw his fight with Chris Jenkins ruled a technical draw.
The 30-year-old from Middleton has scored a couple of good wins since, boasts a 23-1-1 record and has spent time sparring with former world champion Liam Smith in the build-up to Saturday’s European title shot.
“I’m single-minded and I know I am good enough to win this title,” Taylor told SSN.
Two formidable punchers, the 33-year-old champion has knocked out all of his last four opponents at this level, while the challenger’s 50% KO ratio is dwarfed by the number of opponents he’s dropped to the canvas during his rise.
Taylor also avenged his sole defeat (against Tyrone Nurse), has good balanced footwork, heavy front foot pressure and revels in the trenches, dropping bombs to the body and leading with right hands.
However, that kind of aggression will likely play into the hands of Avanesyan, whose similar all-action style has found success at levels far beyond Taylor’s career to date.
And with big money fights against American names like Adrien Broner and Virgil Ortiz on the horizon the champion has more than enough incentive to not lose focus.
TIPS: Eubank KO 1-3 and Avanesyan on Points – 11/10 – 7/2 – 8/1 the double!