Sky Sports Card – Previews and Predictions

Sky Sports first televised boxing card of 2016 will feature the return of George Groves vs Italian Andrea Di Luisa, with two solid undercard bouts which feature John Ryder against Sergey Khomitsky and John Wayne Hibbert Vs Tommy Martin.

Here are our previews, predictions and betting recommendations for each of those bouts.

George Groves Vs Andrea Di Luisa

George Groves returns with new trainer Shane McGuigan following his failed attempt at a world title against Badou Jack in September last year, which was his third shot at a world title following his two failed attempts against the now retired Carl Froch.

It has been clear Groves has not been the same fighter since the fateful night he was knocked out by Carl Froch at Wembley stadium in a record breaking all British encounter in May of 2014.

His partnership with trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick failed to get the best out of what is clearly a talented young man, his explosiveness, sharpness and power seemed to diminish under Fitzpatrick.

Whether that is the impact of the two fights with Carl Froch taking their toll or the partnership between fighter and trainer not clicking, this Saturday we will be able to see a glimpse of whether Shane McGuigan is able to lift a fighter with an abundance of talent who is now at a crossroad in his career.

On paper Groves should have no problem with Di Luisa whatsoever, he is an upright come forward fighter with nothing to flash and dash about him, he is a European level fighter and no more than that. If Groves is to be taken seriously as a world champion contender he should be passing the Di Luisa test with relative ease.

Di Luisa was stopped in 4 by former champion Lucian Bute and that is the kind of benchmark Groves needs to be looking at matching, but as we know with Groves post Froch he has made hard work of fights he should be winning with ease, the Rebresse and Douglin fights are worth noting when looking to profit on this fight.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Groves getting tagged a couple of times or having a couple of hairy moments, Di Luisa is a game guy and has a 67% KO ratio albeit against a lot lower opposition, however Groves has been down in fights so don’t be surprised if he has a couple of hairy moments in this one.

This fight all depends on which Groves we see, if his sharpness, explosiveness and power is reignited under Shane McGuigan we could see an explosive early stoppage from Groves, however if its not we could see a laboured win or should I even dare to say it, an absolute shocker of a result.

I think Groves gets it done inside the distance, but whether we will see the Groves we hope to see I am not so sure. The bookmakers are only offering 1/8 on Groves by KO/TKO, there is no value in that whatsoever for me.

The best you can do is delve into the total rounds market but even then, its tough – under 5.5 rounds is just under evens at 20/23 and that could be tight. Like I said we really don’t know what Groves we are going to see under Shane McGuigan.

There is a double I like this weekend down at Sky Bet that involves the Groves fight and the Kovalev Vs Pascal fight, Sky Bet have Groves Vs Di Luisa to go under 8 rounds and the Pascal Vs Kovalev fight to go under 10 rounds at evens. I would say that has an excellent chance of happening, and I will be playing that double this weekend.

PREDICTION: GROVES TKO6 

BETTING TIP: Double – £25 on Groves Vs Di Luisa under 8 rounds + Kovalev Vs Pascal under 10 rounds – Evens at Sky Bet

John Ryder Vs Sergey Khomitsky

John Ryder faces an acid test in tough, durable and underrated Sergey Khomitsky. It is a make or break fight for Ryder after a shock stoppage loss to Nick Blackwell last year for the British middleweight title.

Ryder has talent but if he is not at his best this weekend Sergey Khomitsky is not the kind of guy to hang around to exploit it, this is a tough fight for Ryder make no mistake about it.

I think this is a very close fight and the bookmakers are offering up some value on Khomitsky at 2/1, this is a guy who ran the likes of Martin Murray and Robert Stieglitz extremely close in even type fights, he knocked out prospects Frank Buglioni and Adam Etches on home soil.

However at the age of 41 you do wonder when Khomitsky is going to grow old overnight. he was soundly beaten over 12 rounds by Venezuelan prospect Alfonso Blanco for the WBA world interim middleweight title, however those who know Blanco well will know he is an excellent fighter, An Olympian with a solid amateur pedigree who beat the likes of James DeGale as an amateur.

I think there is value in Sergey Khomitsky at 2/1, and the bookmakers are also offering up 12/1 for Khomitsky to win by decision, I think those are very generous odds, Khomitsky is more than capable of making this fight close on the cards.

I am backing Khomitsky outright with a tickle on a Khomisky decision at a whopping 12/1, make the 2/1 outright play with bet365 as you are covered in the event of a draw.

PREDICTION: KHOMITSKY MD 

BETTING TIP: £20 on Khomitsky to win 2/1 Bet365, £5 on Khomitsky by decision 12/1 Bet365 

Tommy Martin Vs John Wayne Hibbert

This is probably the toughest pick of the weekend, I can see ways in which both guys win this fight. Martin probably has the more refined and sharper boxing skills whereas Hibbert who can also box, is a little bit more rough round the edges and has the edge in power. Hibbert also has that edge in big fight experience having been involved in big undercard fights on PPV cards.

There is actually a 10 year age gap between these two with Martin just 21 and Hibbert 31 years of age, I favour Martin in this one, I believe if he uses his sharper boxing skills he can box his way to a unanimous decision.

Martin is the favourite at 8/15, its a short price but just enough for me to back him outright, again make the play with Bet365 as we are covered in the event of a draw.

PREDICTION: MARTIN UD

BETTING TIP: £20 on Martin to win 8/15 Bet365