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Benavidez vs Plant | The Best Boxing Picks, Predictions & Odds [Friday, Mar 24th]

TJ Rives:

Well, hey there and welcome back to the BetUS Boxing Show. My goodness. We have a bunch to talk about here. We’ve got March Madness going on. We’ve got baseball about to start up. We’ve got the NBA and the NHL winding down, all kinds of sports that we’re all about on BetUS TV. But we’re not going to forget you Boxing peeps. No, no.

The Sweet Science fans with everything that’s happening in all the other sports we’ve got some very interesting fights from Las Vegas all the way to England and back. Very intriguing stuff. I am the somewhat capable, somewhat rested host.

Do I have very big bags under the eyes yet from all the March Madness? I don’t think so. As long as Dan Rafael, I don’t start saying like Gonzaga or Alabama on the boxing podcast, I think we’re good. It’s good to be with Dan Rafael, our insider, his Fight Freaks Unite, Substack How are you, my friend? We’re ready for some good boxing action this weekend.

Dan Rafael:

Absolutely. We had some lean weeks in the last few weeks. We had some just a fight here, fight there to pick this week, we got a bunch and it’s a good weekend.

TJ Rives:

I’ll be the first one to admit. We’re both disappointed. The audience was disappointed. We sat here and handicapped the Zurdo Ramirez fight a week ago and like an hour and a half, two hours out after the show, we find out that he has blown past the weight limit like three exits past on the interstate.

We don’t have any control over that. We do the best we can. But the good news is multiple important fights in multiple places this week. We got a little … We’ll give them more this week than what you got last week, for sure, here on the show.

Again, probably most prominently in England, they would say the cruiser await world title fight may be a bigger deal. We say in the US that the Benavidez-Plant pay-per-view in Las Vegas is the bigger deal. We’re going to go over both of those fight cards, make some picks and predictions coming up here on the show.

Thank you for fighting us 1:00 Eastern Time Fridays. You can set your watch by it. We are here. We will be here with all the big action coming. I mean we got bigger action coming next week with Anthony Joshua back in the ring, the former unified heavyweight champion. Canelo Alvarez coming in May.

Bigger fights coming. We’re here 1:00 Eastern Time, BetUS TV. Dan puts up with me on the BetUS TV show every Friday, 1:00 Eastern Time. Hit the Like button, make sure you’re subscribed, make sure that you’re here with us. With all that being said, let’s take a look at how we’ve been doing. The theme has been good.

Now last week again, the Zurdo Ramirez fight voided out. Never happened. Then we also had a discrepancy with the undercard fight that JoJo Diaz-Getsta fight had a discrepancy of it not being a 12-round fight. That voided out you and me with the over for the decision.

We didn’t have really much of any result last week. Nonetheless, look at Rafael remains right at 45 picks above 500 right now for the show. Again, we’ve been making you money going all the way back to since last May. We’re in good shape with that, with the predictions. Let’s hope that it continues because you’re going to get four different fights that we’re going to handicap here and we’re going to get some time for your Q&A.

Brother Rafael, are you ready …

Dan Rafael:

I’m ready.

TJ Rives:

… to get things underway? Let’s do it. In Las Vegas on Saturday night, in addition to the basketball, the basketball is on the strip with Gonzaga playing UConn for a spot in the final four. David Benavidez and Caleb Plant though were fighting a pay-per-view at 168 pounds that should be, we think, an engaging, entertaining fight.

All right. Benavidez’s unbeaten has the interim WBC 168-pound title. Plant is a former world champion. Lost to who else? Canelo Alvarez. All right. We see Benavidez’s favored. Interesting on the prop by KO. The boxing odds makers believe this should be a Benavidez’s KO. Very interesting underdog numbers for the former world champion, Plant, over/under nine and a half rounds.

All right. Dan, size this one up. You had a recent conversation with David Benavidez that we’ve been playing on our podcast and this is genuine. There’s a real dislike between these two guys. Sometimes it’s hype. These two guys do not like each other. Set it up more and give me a prediction on David Benavidez and Caleb Plant.

Dan Rafael:

Well, first of all, TJ, you’re right. They do not like each other. It struck me when I asked Benavidez in that interview I had with him. Of course, it’s part of the show to have the bad blood. But I say when it’s all over and somebody’s a winner, there’s going to be a loser. Unless it’s a rare draw.

Are you guys going to … I’m not saying it’d be best buddies. Will you at least be able to hug it out for a second, shake hands, show respect? He interrupted me. He’s like, “No, no, no. None of that. I don’t want any of that. I don’t want to be near this guy.” He said, “This is genuine.”

We’ll take him out his word. We’ll see what happens when the fight is over. But the main thing is for us as fans or anybody who’s a fan, this is a hell of a fight. This is a really good top-notch, 168-pound matchup. Other than Canelo Alvarez, who was the undisputed champion, a status that he gained when he knocked out Caleb Plant back in late 2021 to unify all four belts.

These are the next two best guys in the weight class according to most people’s opinions. There’s no doubt about that. It’s just a tremendous battle. These guys have had that war of words going on for years. They’ve been pointing towards this fight for quite a while.

It now makes sense for everybody and it’s going to show because they’re headlining a big pay-per-view at the MGM Grand, which is one of the great locations for big time boxing in the world. They go into the fight, say, “Well, who’s going to win? How’s it going to play out?”

I mean, I’m of the opinion that this is as going to follow as close to conventional wisdom as I think you can find in a fight. Good matchup, good fight. But you have the very aggressive big punching, iron chinned, David Benavidez big guy, calls himself the Mexican monster from Phoenix, but obviously of Mexican descent.

Caleb Plant, more of a good boxer, good style, good technique, can mix it up, has no problem standing. He did it a little bit with Canelo, gave him some angles. Was losing rounds, but competed throughout the fight. You may look at the scorecards and say, and of course the knockout say that Canelo just blew him away. That wasn’t the case.

He competed very well against the guy that at that moment was considered by pretty much everybody as pound for pound number one. Now he goes in with, what I think, is a bigger and stronger opponent. Benavidez, a younger, fresher opponent than Canelo and even more of an aggressive fighter than Canelo is who really at heart is a counterpuncher.

We’ll see if he can take the heat because David Benavidez is going to be all over this guy. He’s going to pressure him I think from round one because he is not worried about taking some shots. He’s got very good durability. His defense is not bad.

Again, conventional wisdom says that good fight goes deep. In the end, the bigger stronger guy with the bigger punch and the great chin is going to wear him down, break him down and stop him. In my opinion, although I looked at that number, TJ, I saw the plus. What is it? Plus 625 or plus 650 on Plant.

I was sort of like, “Well, maybe I’m going to be a” … I don’t mess around. I mean I was mesmerized for a minute there. But my goal, as I’ve said from day one since we started doing this show, I want to be right. I’ll take the singles and the doubles and the occasional home run is cool too.

In this one, to me, David Benavidez all day long. I’m taking him to win this fight and I’m taking the over which is nine and a half, which means I think it’s going to be exactly what I have thought all along. Break him down, wear them down, stop him late in this fight.

TJ Rives:

Okay. I agree with you that Benavidez seems to have a little more firepower. It’s not that Sweethands Plant, as his nickname is on social media, can’t punch. I just don’t know that he’s as big a puncher.

Now we should say, this is where you give us great insight, you were ringside. It was October. It all runs together for me. It was October where Plant got the knockout over Anthony Dirrell. All right. That’s the good news. But it was a very sloppy, ugly fight, correct? Illuminate more before he landed the big punch, Plant. Illuminate a little more as the background.

Dan Rafael:

You’re going to make me drag up those terrible memories of that fight. Oh, my God. I mean I’ve been to some bad fights. But that was as bad as it gets. It was a terrible fight and it was partly Plant’s fault. Obviously, it takes two to tangle. But it was also partly Dirrell’s fault because he wasn’t really there to be aggressive or to try to do anything.

He was looking to just pick a shot here, pick a shot there. All respect to Dirrell, he’s a former two-time WBC title holder, good guy. Been a good fighter for a long time. But he is a veteran, passed his best days. The one thing if you take a look at the records of Plant and Benavidez, they both have on big major cards. They both have ninth round knockouts of Dirrell.

Benavidez stopped him in 2019 on a cut in a fight that was competitive early. But like I said, he broke him down and was sort of starting to beat him up when the fight was stopped because of the cut that Dirrell suffered.

In the case of the Caleb Plant fight, that was in October, as you mentioned on the undercard of the Deontay Wilder, first round annihilation of Robert Helenius. They were the co-feature and it was a fight that was absolutely horrible that I think I might even stop scoring the fight after three or four rounds because it was so bad.

TJ Rives:

In protest.

Dan Rafael:

Yeah. In protest, exactly. But the thing is most people won’t remember how terrible the fight was. What they’ll remember is Caleb Plant landing a monstrous right hand and turning out the lights on … I think it was a right hand, maybe it was a left.

TJ Rives:

It was a left. He dipped left and boomed with the left hook.

Dan Rafael:


TJ Rives:

It was devastating.

Dan Rafael:

It was one of the … Most people had it on their lists of the knockouts of the year. Some people picked it as the knockout of the year. I think I had a number two on my list behind the Michael Conlan getting knocked out of the ring in the 12th round by Leigh Wood.

But whatever you want to say, it was a tremendous knockout. Caleb Plant does have the … He does have some firepower, obviously. But there’s a difference between the David Benavidez at age 26 and he’s maybe not even in his prime yet compared to a 30 mid to late 30s Dirrell who had been extremely inactive and hadn’t looked very good for quite a while and had been stopped in the past, et cetera.

They have the common opponent. They got the same result. Plant’s was more spectacular. But I don’t think it means a whole lot. I mean Benavidez to try to compare the two is silly at this moment just because of the physicality that Benavidez has compared to Dirrell. Dirrell was a good fighter for a long time, but not at the time when he tangled with these two guys.

TJ Rives:

Interesting. The chats going back and forth. There’s a couple of peeps disagreeing with you and saying, “I like Caleb Plant here for his experience, et cetera.” You and I though, let’s go on the record. We believe this is David Benavidez by knockout.

You’re actually going to mess with the over/under. I am not as a theme here. We both have the Benavidez KO. You’re going to go over nine and a half rounds here. Again is scheduled 12-round bout. Just so that we’re clear on that, you’re going to take the over. I’m going to stay away from the when it happens.

I’m just going for the KO win, W-I-N, for David Benavidez along with you. There is some handicapping and some predictions on fight number one main event, Showtime Premiere Boxing Champions Main Event Las Vegas Saturday Night. We’re anxious to see what will happen with that one.

Immediately preceding that fight is the co-feature fight. It’s interesting because there’s a couple of other names on this fight card, but they elected on the pay-per-view to have this one junior middleweights Jesus Ramos and Joey Spencer be the co-feature fight.

Ramos again is a fantastic prospect that Dan’s going to tell you more about. Take a look at the odds here. Fairly even for both. I mean plus money for both to win by KO or by decision. Ramos, a two to one favorite. Spencer, only a two and a half to one underdog.

A very even fight on the BetUS lines. Eight and a half is the over/under. Dan size it up on what you think will happen here in the co-feature before Benavidez and Plant.

Dan Rafael:

This is a very intriguing fight. This is two of the prospects under the Premier Boxing Champions umbrella that the company has a lot of high hopes for. They’ve both looked good in their young professional careers. They’re very young fighters.

Joey Spencer out of Michigan is only 23 years old. Ramos is 22 years old out of Arizona and it’s an intriguing match and I was sort of like, “I liked when I heard from the people that were making the matchup that both sides very easily and excitedly accepted this fight.”

There was no hemming and hawing and had to have arms twisted. They’re really stepping up against, by far, their best opponent. Well, I shouldn’t say by far their best opponent. I believe it’s Spencer’s best opponent by far.

Ramos has a few better wins at least against some better, like experienced veterans. Luke Santamaria for example, of Vladimir Hernandez, of Brian Mendoza who people will see on Showtime coming up against Sebastian Fundora.

He’s got more of a resume in his 19 and 0 record. Whereas Spencer, who was 16 and 0 has really yet to fight, in my opinion, anybody even remotely on the level of the types of opponents that Ramos has. But Ramos in my opinion, and I had him in my end of the year at 2022 top prospects where I ranked in my mind the top 15 prospects in boxing. Ramos was very high up on that list.

He is a tremendous prospect. He’s got very good offense. Defensively responsible, has a good amateur career, comes from a boxing family. His uncle Abel Ramos is on another fight on this undercard. Abel Ramos has fought for the world title before against Yordenis Ugas in the welterweight division. There is that pedigree, if you will. But Spencer was a good amateur also.

I know that they’re both excited. I know that they both can really launched their careers to a better trajectory with a victory. But I’ve not been overly impressed by Spencer. PBC’s kept trying to jam them down our throats. They put them on a ton of mismatches on their Fox shows and even when he was fighting lesser guys, it was sort of like he left me wanting more, I guess.

Whereas Ramos has pretty much been impressive to me most every time I have seen him. To me, interesting matchup, I’m glad that these guys were willing to take this challenge on against each other. But to me, this is Jesus Ramos’s fight to lose. I think he’s the better prospect. I think he is a little more versatile in most of the categories and I just think he wins this fight.

Now I think that even though he is got a lot of knockouts, I picked this fight, I picked Ramos by a decision, the over/under I believe was eight and a half. Obviously, by that pick of the decision I’m taking over. We’ll see if Spencer can hang in there and vice versa.

I mean I can’t tell you that I would bet the house, so to speak, on this particular outcome. But I’m pretty confident that Ramos is the better pedigree, the better skill, the better talent and is going to get the job done.

TJ Rives:

All right. Interesting. The live chat is all about your angle that Ramos is a contender where Spencer still is a prospect and this is a big step-up. I don’t have as good a feel for this. I’m with you. I’ve heard you preaching this for the last couple of days, including on our podcast that Ramos has faced a better competition. I don’t have a feel for how this is going to end.

Dan Rafael:

It’s … most better competition is the thing.

TJ Rives:

I understand. I understand. I’m going to cop-out in some ways and just take the money line. You’re going to go decision on the how with Ramos. I’m going to cop-out because he may get Spencer out of there in this fight. I’ll go money line and lay the 225 here with Jesus Ramos in this battle.

You are by extension because of the decision also taking the over. You see there that Boxeo Urbano Network thinks it’s going to be a stoppage.

Dan Rafael:

I can see that. I can see that.

TJ Rives:

My namesake …

Dan Rafael:

I can see it. I can see that.

TJ Rives:

My namesake, TJ, in the chat also thinks that Ramos has been in there with much better competition. This is an easy fight for him. We’ll see. We’ll see for this one in the co-feature here …

Dan Rafael:

But listen, that’s what makes intriguing. While I was not thrilled that this was put in the co-feature position, I usually like to see a co-feature on a $75 pay-per-view to be a little more of a higher stakes. Maybe another world title fight, something like that. I have no [inaudible 00:15:51] whatsoever with this fight being on the card.

This is a very interesting fight to me because they are two young guys. The winner of this fight is going to really put himself in a great position. There’s no complaints about the matchup. In fact, every single one of the pay-per-view fights on this card for different reasons is a worthwhile fight. That’s not … None of them look like mismatches, including Ramos’s uncle, Abel who is also on this card. It’s a good show. It’s a good matchups all around.

TJ Rives:

All right. That’s the co-feature fight in Las Vegas Saturday night for Jesus Ramos. Again, Dan and I agree on who’s winning. I’ll just go money line though while Dan goes with the decision. We lock that pick in as well.

Thank you for finding us. I see the live audience growing. Again, we’ve got prominent fights in the US. We’ve got a world title fight, a cruiserweight world title fight in England that you see on our schedule that we’re going to talk about in a couple of moments and we will have time for Q&A. Get us a couple of questions in here.

I know Dan’s ready to launch on the whole Fury-Usyk thing. Again, he did so on the podcast about that fight not getting made. I’m sure it’ll come up in the Q&A a as well. Standby. He’s on launching pad 6A, ready to go, Dan Rafael.

Next fight on the list. This is the ESPN Top Rank Card. Not a pay-per-view. ESPN Top Rank Card Saturday Night in Fresno, California, former world champion, Jose Ramirez and former world champion Richard Commey fighting each other in a crossroads fight for both.

Both need a win here. These are junior welterweights. It’s the ESPN main event. It’s a scheduled 12-round fight. You see fairly even odds including for the knockout. Now interesting that if you’re looking at Commey by decision, look at that payout if it gets the route, if it gets 12 rounds and Commey wins it.

All right. Dan, I can say to the audience, I already know what’s coming here from the Big Fight Weekend podcast. You are not overly thrilled that this is Ramirez’s opponent, albeit a former world champ. But here we are. This is the main event. A lot of people will be able to see this fight on ESPN. Some thoughts, any prediction, please.

Dan Rafael:

Well, I’m not thrilled with the fight. You know what? We’re here to talk about this matchup, not the nonsense about why it’s happening. If they want to hear my railing against why this fight shouldn’t be happening, they can certainly go listen to our podcast plug.

TJ Rives:

Listen to my man with the plug. Now that’s a tease.

Dan Rafael:

There you go.

TJ Rives:

By the way, Rafael is taking two-handed swings like his man Aaron Judge in the batting cage on this fight. Go listen to the podcast for that. But now we’re here to make the pick, the handicap on the fight. I like that. I’ll keep you on track. Go ahead.

Dan Rafael:

I will just say that to make a long story short, that Ramirez should be fighting for the world title of the WBC against Regis Prograis, not a retread former lightweight title holder in Richard Commey.

TJ Rives:

Yeah. I got you.

Dan Rafael:

Now we’ll get to the fight. So Pedraza … I mean not Pedraza. Pedraza is the last opponent that Ramirez fought. That was back in March of last year. He had the opportunity to fight for a world title against Jose Zepeda, a fighter he had already defeated in a very close call when Ramirez was a title holder.

He decided to pass on that fight because he was getting married. His wedding was being … and then he didn’t take another fight with Prograis later in the fall for reasons they can hear me rail about on the podcast.

Anyway, now he was getting back in the ring and if he’s not fighting, Regis Prograis, the guy that was offered to him that’s also with Top Rank, which is his promotion company, is Richard Commey, who Richard Commey has been a good quality fighter for a long, long time.

He, I mentioned, was a former lightweight title holder. He lost his title by a second round knockout a few years ago against Teofimo Lopez in a pretty impressive knockout by Lopez. Commey has fought some good fighters. He’s not been so great lately.

He’s got some losses. He’s got to a draw. He had to draw also against Pedraza in his most recent fight. Before that, he lost, got spanked over 12 rounds by Vasiliy Lomachenko. Has a loss, like I said, against Teofimo Lopez, has just one win since then against Jackson Marinez, which was like an okay win.

But he’s now at a heavier weight. He’s older and he’s taken on Ramirez, who has still been, for a long time, one of the best junior welterweights in boxing and they’re fighting in Fresno at the Save Mart Center, which is the fortress for Jose Ramirez where he sells out and has done many, many fights.

I have been there and seen what it’s like. He is a beloved figure in the Central Valley in California. He walks on water basically is what his people there think. They have a fight here that Richard Commey, he’s a good fighter. He goes around, usually the knockout loss to Lopez is not withstanding.

To me, this is just an absolute mismatch. Jose Ramirez is by far and away the bigger fighter, by far and away the better fighter, more skilled, better amateur background, make the checklist soup to nuts. Ramirez is pretty much better.

Maybe the one spot you could give Commey a little bit of an edge is in the pure power department. But I’m not even so sure about that now that he’s fighting as a junior welterweight. It’s not like Ramirez is a guy that takes massive punishment or anything like that.

To me, all day long, I’m taking Ramirez on the decision, means I’m taking the over, which I want to say was like, what, 9 and a half or 10 and a half. To me, this is as perfunctory as it gets. Write it down. This is going to be like 1-18, 1-10 type of score. It’ll be 10 rounds to 2, 11 rounds to 1. It’s going to be a lopsided win in my mind for Jose Ramirez and we will soon forget about this fight.

TJ Rives:

All right. Well, lock it in. Again, this is the main event. That’s my namesake, TJ, by the way, with that comment down there. That’s not me. It is a 10 and a half over/under. You and I in agreement. I think this is Jose Ramirez. He’s in his home area. Everything he does, the crowd will cheer.

Commey again was blasted by Teofimo Lopez with the one big bomb. I don’t know that he’s been the same fighter since then. You mentioned moving up in weight. You and I agree. You and I agree this is Jose Ramirez winning that main event for Top Rank. We both agree on the over.

Again, you’re not getting great value on the over because the odds makers believe this is going to be a distance fight. We would like to be right on the BetUS Boxing Show. If you’re taking the decision, you might as well double up and take the …

Dan Rafael:

I’m going to tell you, TJ.

TJ Rives:

… here on this. Yeah.

Dan Rafael:

If this doesn’t go the decision, if this does not go the route, that to me, of all the fights we’ve picked in recent times, that would be pretty much the most surprising thing to me. I have a hard time comprehending how this is anything other but a distance fight unless there’s a freakish head-butt that short circuits the fight.

TJ Rives:

But the other thing is, as you mentioned, with Commey moving up in weight, maybe he gets worn down, harder puncher, bigger guy. I don’t know. But you and I agree with decision.

Dan Rafael:

He’s had … fights at 140. This is not his first time in this …

TJ Rives:

Right. Right.

Dan Rafael:

He’s just not established himself in this weight class the way he had previously when he was fighting as a lightweight.

TJ Rives:

All right. We’re both locked in on the decision and on the over for Jose Ramirez, Saturday night, ESPN Top Rank Show, Fresno, California. There you go on that. One fight to go before we get to some Q&A and I see some chat questions coming.

This fight in England earlier in the afternoon, US time in Manchester, England, Dan will give you more on how we see this one. This is the WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie. Okolie fighting a New Zealand fighter in Light for this matchup that is David Light out of New Zealand.

Not a lot known about David Light. All right. On the odds here, it is Okolie favored as an Englander, as a Brit and favored significantly to win by knockout. That’s interesting. Over/under on this title fight. These are cruiserweights, 190 and above before the heavyweight limit or the bridgerweight limit, whichever it is.

Over/under seven and a half for this one. All right. Dan, size it up. Okollie has had some knockouts in some title fights. His most recent fight was a distance fight title defense. But size it up here for this world title fight for the WBO cruiserweight championship.

Dan Rafael:

Sure. A couple things about this. Number one, it’s a mandatory defense. If Lawrence Okolie was not fighting David Light, he would be relieved of his WBO title. Not a problem. Lawrence Okolie did not in any way reject the fight. He has had a longstanding beef with his, some might say former promoter Eddie Hearn from Matchroom boxing may say otherwise believing he still has owed a fight.

In any event, this fight is not on a Matchroom card because the boxer company is the one that made this deal. It’s happening. He’s now fighting on the rival promotion. There’s that sub-story there. But the thing also is because of the issues that he was having with his promoter and Eddie Hearn, he has not been in the ring Okolie. This will be his first fight in 13 months.

I know it’s been very frustrating if you’ve seen his interviews or read anything about him, he’s been anxious to get back in there. He has long been with the management team and part of the Anthony Joshua group of fighters. In any event, he’s taking on David Light.

The one thing that Lawrence Okolie will stand out to you when you see him in the ring against David Light, and by the way, for those who want to watch this fight, it is on Sky Sports in the UK. Here in the United States, it’s part of a subscription from the app called ProBox TV. So there’s that.

But the thing about it is Lawrence Okolie is a big guy. He’ll be a heavyweight at some point. He’s about 6’5″. He’s going to have about a four and a half inch height advantage over David Light. That’s pretty … That’s a kind of … When you’re not at the experience level or the world-class level in terms of your opposition and you haven’t fought that caliber of height before, it can be kind of a shocking thing.

David Light is going to be looking up when he gets in the ring against Lawrence Okolie. Now I’d be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about David Light, haven’t had a chance to watch him fight.

TJ Rives:

You’re not alone.

Dan Rafael:


TJ Rives:

You’re not alone. By the way, if this man, the ultimate insider is saying, I don’t know a lot about him, there’s not a lot to know about him. He’s primarily fought in New Zealand, a little bit in Australia. So there you go, but continue on.

Dan Rafael:

Sure. I mean he has a couple of, okay guys on his record. Nobody that is super standout. But they’re both undefeated. Lawrence is 18 and 0. Light is 20 and 0. You always have to give credit to the guy who’s traveling halfway across the world to get his opportunity to change his life.

I don’t ever underestimate when a fighter decides to make that long trip into the enemy territory knowing that things are going to be probably against him or her. I always respect that. But I’ve also watched Lawrence Okolie fight a number of times.

He doesn’t always make the most exciting fight. Sometimes it can be absolutely agonizing to watch you want to gouge your eyeballs out. But he’s very effective. He’s got very good defense. He’s got long arms. When he hits you, he can hurt you. He’s a good athlete.

He came to boxing late. I mean he basically discovered it. He had been working in a fast food restaurant and became a boxer and the amount of improvement he made from that level to becoming a world champion is very impressive and not a common thing in the sport.

But look, this is in his home area. He’s the champion. He’s the one that has the, by far, better resume. The other guy’s much smaller in terms of how he’s traveling thousands of miles. It’s just very hard to pick against Okolie, particularly when you know the type of defensive prowess that he has.

I think this is Lawrence Okolie’s fight to lose. I picked him. I took the money line because I have no idea being quite honest with you about the kind of chin that Light has given his competition level. He has never been beaten obviously.

I wasn’t screwing around with knockouts decisions. I took Lawrence Okolie on the money line. But I did take the over because even though Lawrence has had a lot of knockouts recently, I never have really viewed him as a true puncher. He is sometimes tentative with his shots.

I looked in the over/under. It wasn’t like a 10 and a half, it often is in a title fight. It was seven and a half. That made me a little f frisky and I decided to go for the over.

TJ Rives:

All right. Fair enough. I am going to go a step further besides just the Okolie win. I will take the knockout. Again, he has scored some recent knockouts. His last fight was a decision win roughly a year ago in late February of 2022. You mentioned the promoter problem. He is back a year later.

Again this fight in the afternoon, US time, Saturday night primetime in Manchester for WBO cruiserweight champ Lawrence Okolie in the battle with a little known New Zealand opponent. Will he be tough? Will he hang in? Let’s lock it in. Again, I’ve got the knockout. Dan going on the money line.

Dan also going with the over here in this fight. You’ve got several plays on the over for this weekend, over seven and a half in this scheduled 12-rounder coming up. All right. There you go. Little taste of what’s going to happen in the UK. I know we got a lot of fight fans in the UK as well that check the show out, that check out the clips of the different picks.

We appreciate the interaction. Be with us at 1:00 Eastern Time. That’s later in the evening in England or whenever you’re seeing us later on Friday or Saturday. Thank you for finding us here on the BetUS Boxing Show. But there will be interest in this fight in the UK.

By the way, we’ll make one more plug for the podcast. We’ve been plugging the podcast a bunch. You spoke with Anthony Joshua at length about a 12, 13-minute interview. AJ in action next week in England, the former unified heavyweight champ. Hear Dan’s conversation with him right now on the Big Fight Weekend preview podcast that is up.

Wherever you get podcasts, Big Fight Weekend preview, you’ll hear Anthony Joshua. He fights next week. The British fight fans have some cards that are coming of interest and of prominence. All right. There we go with predictions.

Shall we do a little Q&A before we get out of here? Let’s get to that here on a Friday. See what the savages are talking about. All right. My namesake, this is not me, TJ in the live chat says, Dan, tell us any truth to Errol Spence and Bud Crawford being back on potentially for June.

I don’t even know this answer myself. What are we hearing? Or is that just wishing, hoping, speculation right now?

Dan Rafael:

Whether it’s June or some other time, I couldn’t tell you. What I can tell you that is unequivocal. I have talked to multiple people who would know and who were involved to one degree or another. They are absolutely back at the table. They are talking. They are trying to work this fight out and I think everybody doesn’t want to talk, doesn’t want talk and jinx it or say too much.

But there’s no doubt that it has been going on in the background for the last several weeks. They’re trying to make the fight. They’re trying to work it out. Whether it happens in June or later in the summer, who knows if it happens at all. I will just cross my fingers, hope that these men get it done and understand the importance of this fight, both for their sport as also for their careers and for their bank accounts.

Hopefully it will happen. But yes, they are talking. I’ve seen some people comment that maybe June 17th was a date. That I am not convinced of based on the people I have talked to. Maybe after that we’ll see.

TJ Rives:

Okay. Again, you don’t have to reveal everything and we don’t have to go on and on. But the big hang-up appeared to be last fall, not enough guaranteed money, especially for Crawford. I don’t want to say that we’re wasting everybody’s time. But I’m going to say we’re wasting everybody’s time if there’s not going to be enough guaranteed money here because that’s why Terrence Crawford walked away before. Do we have some hope that that gets worked out?

Dan Rafael:

The reason that Terrence had walked away previously was a combination of maybe a guarantee that wasn’t to his liking. But the combination of if you’re not going to pay me the level that I want, you have to at least let my team have access to the books, because I can’t let you control the expenses if I have no idea what’s coming in or out when I am only getting this much money.

A lot of what I’m supposed to get is going to be to work for the profits of the event. How can I work for the profits of the event if I’m not aware of every dollar that’s going in and out? That makes sense, I guess. I can’t argue with that. I don’t know where that part of the negotiation stands. But they know what their previous problems were.

What gives me somewhat hope, I guess, to a small degree, is that the athletes themselves are trying to talk to each other about making a deal. That tells me that they’re both serious about it. I don’t think they’d waste each other’s times. For all the people that want to tell me, well, Spence’s ducking or Crawford’s ducking, I don’t believe that for two seconds.

I have known and covered both of these men for their entire careers. They are not guys who are afraid to fight anybody. Terrence Crawford would fight his mother if he had to. Errol Spence would probably do the same. These are guys that will fight whoever, but they also are very stubborn individuals. They want the deal that’s delight …

TJ Rives:

They want this. Exactly.

Dan Rafael:


TJ Rives:

They want to make sure they get as much of that as possible.

Dan Rafael:

I don’t blame them for that. But you have to make a fair and equitable deal.

TJ Rives:


Dan Rafael:

If you’re not going to give the guarantee that Crawford is seeking, maybe he can live with that as long as I can take a look and make sure that this is … the finances are being dealt with appropriately. Like I said, it’s been going on for a few weeks.

Hopefully they’ll get their stuff together and we’ll see this big fight later in the year. I’m not going to commit to June. That’d be nice, but I’m just a little skeptical on the timeframe.

TJ Rives:

Kay Carter is watching us while we have a few more moments on the Friday BetUS Boxing Show and says, are you guys doing any predictions on the Chris Colbert, Jose Valenzuela fight? This is on the undercard of the Benavidez-Plant card in Las Vegas. A quick thought on that one, Dan Rafael.

Dan Rafael:

Yeah. This is also one of those. As I’ve mentioned prior, this is one of the fights on this pay-per-view where I felt like all of the matchups were quality matchups. They maybe not the biggest, sexiest names or world titles and that sort of stuff. But this is a qualified. Chris Colbert with a big giant arrow going up. One of the best young up and coming fighters in the sport.

I mean good skills and a good personality and a New York crowd and all that. He was upset in his fight at 130 pounds. He was already the mandatory challenger to fight for the title. He got upset by Hector Luis Garcia, which was a big shocker. Of course, Garcia then on went to win the title and then after that, didn’t lose the title but lost by stoppage in the heavier weight against Gervonta Tank Davis back in January.

Colbert hasn’t fought for a while since that loss. It’s been a year or so. He is trying to break through once again. He’s now fighting at lightweight, no longer at 130. He’s trying to get back on the winning track.

Valenzuela was a guy that was a monster prospect who was a 12 and 0 undefeated kid that was just looking spectacular every single time out. He got knocked … He didn’t just lose, he got just banged around and stopped in the third round I want to say or something like that. He’s coming back from that type of defeat.

This is an important fight for both of those, because I believe Valenzuela has won since that defeat. But it’s not like he’s taken on a top level opponent. You can maybe tell me if you got the record in front of you.

But the main thing is it’s two guys who are still very young in their careers who have high aspirations who’ve stubbed their toes, so to speak. Now this is an opportunity for them on a undercard of a big fight to get themselves back in front of the public and to reestablish themselves. It’s a good fight.

But if you’re asking me for the pick, I do like Chris Colbert. He’s got tremendous speed and skills and defense and it didn’t show it against Hector Luis Garcia. I don’t know what the heck I saw that night. But that wasn’t the Chris Colbert I have watched for all the years I have seen him. I like Colbert in this fight, but it’s again a good even matchup on the show it seems to me on paper.

TJ Rives:

Again, Colbert lost that fight last February, hasn’t fought in a year. Valenzuela, you’re talking about he was knocked out by Edwin de Los Santos …

Dan Rafael:

Big upset.

TJ Rives:

… in September. Excuse me. He hasn’t fought since.

Dan Rafael:

Right. Okay.

TJ Rives:

His last fight is the knockout loss. Now both guys was something to prove. This is going to be on the undercard of the Benavidez-Plant pay-per-view. We’ll see what happens on that one. All right. Only a couple of minutes left. Again, the fuller answer is on the podcast. Dan’s wrath about the Fury-Usyk fight now apparently not happening because of back and forth over the pay, over the rematch clause.

Michael says, do you think the talks will pick back up? My namesake, TJ, was mentioning the name Deontay Wilder. If they can’t make this fight, what about the Wilder fight? Give them the quick explanation on why this timeline is in place and why Daniel Dubois is likely the next opponent. Go ahead Dan.

Dan Rafael:

Yeah. Usyk is not fighting Deontay Wilder next as much as the Wilder team would probably love to see that happen. But if you go back just about two weeks ago or less, the WBA, which was basically telling both sides to do their thing or get off the pot, because their mandatory is up next.

Usyk is their title holder was saying, “Give us a contract by April 1st.” Obviously that’s not going to happen. They’re no longer having conversations by all accounts. Sometime April 1st and I was told by Gilberto Mendoza who was the president of the WBA asked him, actually we were messaging earlier today and I asked him what was up with that letter. They going to still wait till April 1?

He said they didn’t know when they’re going to send it. But it’s going to be before April 1. Pretty much imminently the letter will go out to Oleksandr Usyk ordering him to make his mandatory WBA defense, which is Daniel Dubois, who has been sidelined with a knee injury but is supposedly, from what I am told, will be available the fight sometime June, July.

Usyk’s team, his promoter, Alex Krassyuk said, “We will comply with our mandatory obligations if this fight with Fury is not happening.” Which he says, “It’s not.” He’s the one that said in the interviews that he did, particularly with top sport in the UK on their big radio programs that this fight was off. They’re going to wait for that letter and then they will engage in negotiations with Dubois.

What I find interesting about that is that they’ve been negotiating the Fury fight with Frank Warren, which is the co-promoter for Tyson Fury. Now when they go to negotiate the Daniel Dubois fight, who is his promoter? It is Frank Warren. Alex Krassyuk and Frank Warren get along fine.

They both made the point on this joint interview that they did that all this stuff that went down, that caused this Fury and Usyk to get sideways was because of their marching orders, so to speak, from their clients, which was Fury and Usyk. It’s no hard feelings, I don’t think, between Krassyuk and Warren.

They’ll get to the bargaining table and this should be honestly a much easier fight to make than Fury and Usyk just because of a few reasons. Number one, not nearly the money at stake.

TJ Rives:


Dan Rafael:

Number two, it’s a mandatory. If they can’t make a deal, it will just go to a purse bid and the percentages are already spelled out if it gets to the purse bid. The bottom line is I believe you will see Oleksandr Usyk fighting against Daniel Dubois, assuming his knee is healthy, sometime this summer.

TJ Rives:

All right. I have said on the podcast I’m saying here he had an ACL injury of some kind and I think it is ambitious if not overly ambitious that he can be ready for June or July. It might be later in the summer and further delays. Let’s see. Will we ever get Fury and Usyk? I don’t know. I don’t know if we’re going to get that.

But for right now it doesn’t look like it’s happening. They were trying to make it happen. All right. Good enough. We’ve got to get out of here. Dan, let’s go over for people that are just joining us.

By the way, thank you on the live audience. Hit the Like button for us. I see more and more of you that have joined the show in the last 10 or 15 minutes. We’re going over the picks that Dan and I have in the Showtime PBC pay-per-view battle between David Benavidez and Caleb Plant.

You and I are in agreement on a Benavidez KO. You like the over a later round KO in the scheduled 12-rounder. The co-feature fight just before that, Jesus Ramos and Joey Spencer, you like Ramos by decision. I will go a step further and take him by on the money line.

I am ambiguous as to does he stop him or not. You also like that fight. Dan’s got an over theme here. He likes that one over eight and a half as well. I like Ramirez, Jose Ramirez to win the ESPN top rank main event by decision so does Dan. We both like the over.

Then as we flip to page two on this, you’ll see that reflected. Dan likes Jose Ramirez and the decision, there it is. We both like Lawrence Okolie of England in the WBO cruiserweight title fight. Lesser known opponent in David Light from New Zealand. You’ll take Okolie on the money line. I’ve got Okolie by knockout.

You’re the only one messing with the over/under in that fight. You’re taking over seven and a half. So a lot. You’ve got eight picks, my man, eight picks this weekend on all of the action. They can’t say that they’re being shortchanged if they’re with us on the BetUS Boxing Show because Dan is going two-fisted attack here with all the predictions.

Dan Rafael:

Hey TJ.

TJ Rives:

Anything else here, my friend, in closing?

Dan Rafael:

Go big or go home.

TJ Rives:

Yeah. Absolutely. Again, we’ve got action in the afternoon, US time, that a fight card in England, in Manchester, England is in the afternoon. Then later in the night, the ESPN top rank card is not a pay-per-view. But the pay-per-view with Plant and Benavidez has, what, four fights on the pay-per-view throughout the night before the main event.

Those two guys genuinely don’t like each other. David Benavidez and Caleb Plant. Let’s see what happens. With that, we have come to the end of another Friday show. My friend, are you ready for the weekend? You all good?

Dan Rafael:

I’m good. I’m ready to go. Can’t wait.

TJ Rives:

We are ready with all of the fight picks. Again, find the Big Fight Weekend podcast to hear Dan’s conversation with Anthony Joshua. He is in action. AJ next weekend. Back in the ring off those losses to Oleksandr Usyk. You’ll hear that conversation. Search where you get podcast Big Fight Weekend podcast. Remember to check out our sportsbook website.

We are here Fridays at 1:00 Eastern Time on BetUS TV. Enjoy the fights this weekend. For Dan Rafael, for everybody at BetUS, Antonio, everybody behind the scenes, great job, great work again this week. Enjoy the fights. We’re back next week for the BetUS Boxing Show.


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