Flanagan Favored to Retain WBO Title in Manchester

The boxing world is focussed on the MGM National Harbor this weekend as Vasyl Lomachenko defends his junior lightweight title against Jason Sosa. But across the pond in Manchester, England, two WBO titles are on the line.

On Saturday, April 8, Manchester native Terry Flanagan defends his lightweight title against Petr Petrov, and British boys Liam Smith and Liam Williams fight for the vacant interim light-middleweight title.

Let’s take a closer look at the fights.

Terry Flanagan (-588) vs Petr Petrov (+420), Draw (+2800)

Terry Flanagan (32-0) makes his fifth title defense in his hometown of Manchester against little-known Russian Petr Petrov (38-4-2). Flanagan boasts an unblemished 32-fight record, the longest unbeaten record in British boxing today, but he’s yet to really make a name for himself.

The upcoming fight against Petrov may be his last in the lightweight division. The 5’9″ fighter is currently eyeing a move to light welterweight or even welterweight in order to land some bigger fights. First, he’ll have to defeat Petrov.

Petrov is a seasoned fighter and the former WBA-NABA, WBO-NABO, and NABF lightweight champion. So why does he remain relatively obscure? Because the majority of his fights have been against relative unknowns. Facing Flanagan represents a big jump in class and the Russian is clearly the underdog, especially fighting in Flanagan’s hometown. But Petrov has gone undefeated since making his US debut in 2014.

Flanagan hasn’t exactly fought the best of the best, either. So I think putting Petrov at +420 may be slightly underestimating him. If you’re feeling adventurous, I think he’s worth a small wager.

Pick: Petr Petrov (+420)

Liam Smith (+110) vs Liam Williams (+100), Draw (+2000)

British rivals Liam Smith (24-1-1) and Liam Williams (16-0-1) will co-headline the Manchester event with a bout for the vacant interim WBO light-middleweight title. The title is currently held by Canelo Alvarez, who is expected to move up in weight.

Williams, 24, is the current WBO European, British, and Commonwealth champion, while Smith, 28, is a former WBO light-middleweight champion.

Both of their records are shiny on the surface, but neither has a stunning resume. Smith has the more impressive wins to his name. He defeated John Thompson in 2015 for the vacant WBO title and successfully defended it twice before losing to Canelo. That’s enough for me to roll with the older, more experienced boxer in a pick’em fight.

Pick: Liam Smith (+110)

Photo credit: Martial Arts Nomad [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)]

Eaton Thatcher

Eaton used to write for MTS predominantly about boxing but also about soccer, football, tennis and basketball.

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