Usyk, Diaz are Big Favorites on Hopkins-Smith Undercard

Earlier this week, we set the odds for tonight’s Bernard Hopkins vs Joe Smith Jr. bout, the retirement fight for the future hall-of-famer. Now it’s time for the odds on the undercard.

The two major undercard fights both have something in common with the Hopkins v Smith match-up — they’re both very imbalanced.

WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk faces an easy first title defense against South African fighter Thabiso Mchunu. American youngster Joseph Diaz faces Horacio Garcia, a little-known and relatively inactive Mexican fighter. 


Oleksandr Usyk (-1600) vs Thabiso Mchunu (+1500), Draw (+3300)

WBO cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (10-0, 9 KO) fights his first title defense against Pan African Cruiserweight champion Thabiso Mchunu (17-2, 11 KO) in a very favorable match-up for the rising Ukrainian star.

Usyk is a former amatuer boxing phenom who decided to turn pro after he won the heavyweight gold at the 2012 London Olympics. After nine easy knockouts against a relatively weak pack of professionals, he was given a title shot against the undefeated Polish boxer Krzysztof Głowacki. Usyk out-boxed Głowacki in 12 rounds and won by unanimous decision, the first time he’s gone the distance as a pro. 

His first title defense against Mchunu will also be his first fight in the United States, and he’ll be looking to use it to set himself up for some big-ticket fights afterward.

The inactive Mchunu only fought once in 2015 and will be making just his second appearance in the ring this year against Usyk. His last fight was a title shot at the WBA Pan African Cruiserweight title, which he won convincingly. But he has never faced a boxer as technically gifted as Oleksandr Usyk. To further complicate things, he stands four inches shorter than Usyk and has a 5.5-inch reach disadvantage.

Ultimately, this is a pairing designed to advance Usyk’s career and float his name in the United States. He’s a massive favorite, and he deserves to be. 

Pick: Oleksandr Usyk (-1600)


Joseph Diaz (-1600) vs Horacio Garcia (+2275), Draw (+3500)

Joseph Diaz (22-0, 13 KO) takes on Horacio Garcia (30-1-1, 22 KO) in the other major undercard fight of the night. Like Usky, Diaz is a former Olympian and the current NABF featherweight champion. Garcia is a little-known fighter who has yet to make a name for himself outside of Mexico. His only fight of 2016 was a bout against fellow Mexican Erik Ruiz, which ended in a draw.

Diaz has already defended his featherweight title three times this year and will be looking to continue his reign against Garcia. He is undefeated after 22 professional fights, but he is yet to land a fight with a noteworthy opponent.

Unfortunately for both of them, Garcia is not a noteworthy opponent. Roll with the heavy favorite once again. 

Pick: Joseph Diaz (-1600)


Photo credit: “Stretching boxer” by Andriy Makukha CC BY-SA 2.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Flickr.