Anthony Joshua vs Jason Gavern; Adonis Stevenson vs Sakio Bika - boxing on TV this weekend

Great Britain's Olympic gold medallist returns to the ring

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The Independent Online

Petr Petrov vs Gamaliel Diaz, Friday night 2.00am, ESPN

The first of three live boxing cards this weekend takes place on Friday night as ESPN’S Friday Night Fights series continues in California.

An intriguing Lightweight main event headlines the show between 35-4-2 Russian Petr Petrov, and 38-11-3 Gamaliel Diaz.

32-year-old Petrov has won six of his last seven fights, but his career has been defined by his losses, most recently to Dejan Zlaticanin in March 2013.

Perhaps his most famous setback was to Marcos Maidana 2011 when he was knocked out in four rounds.

Despite his defeats, the Russian is a wide 2/9 favourite over former World Champion Gamaliel Diaz, who faced Anthony Crolla last September.

Although Diaz has lost 11 times, five of those defeats occurred in his first eight fights, while his other failures have come against very respectable opposition.

Chief support on the undercard is a Welterweight contest as 11-0 Olympic bronze medalist Taras Shelestyuk meets 12-1 Juan Rodriguez Jr.

Anthony Joshua vs Jason Gavern and Adonis Stevenson vs Sakio Bika, Saturday night 8.00pm, Sky Sports 2

Olympic gold medalist Anthony Joshua competes for the first time since November as he travels to Newcastle to fight Jason Gavern.

Joshua has won all ten of his professional contests via stoppage, and is unlikely to face much opposition from the 37-year-old American who features in his 50th match having lost three of his last four fights.

Although an appearance from Joshua in Newcastle has been scheduled for months, Gavern only had a weeks notice for the bout, and though he impressed in London 18 months ago when he reached the finals of Prizefighter, this is a huge step up in class.

Barring Joshua not entering the ring, it’s difficult to imagine a world where he doesn’t win - he’s bigger, stronger, faster, and already has a psychological edge over Gavern having sparred him last year.

The bookmakers agree, with Joshua available at 1/100, and Gavern at 33/1. Such is the confidence of the betting industry in the power of the Englishman, Joshua on points can be had at 10/1.

One of the poorest Sky televised cards in years features a lacklustre undercard, with the highlight perhaps being a Cruiserweight bout between 11-0 Stephen Simmons and former British Champion Jon-Lewis Dickinson.

Now aged 30, Simmons possesses power which belies his fairly modest record of five stoppages, and will fancy his chances against Dickinson who has lost his last two fights.

The Commonwealth Super flyweight title is also fought for in Newcastle, where 9-0 Anthony Nelson faces 5-0 Jamie Wilson.

In better news for boxing fans, an afternoon show in Canada means an evening television slot for Britain where Adonis Stevenson defends his WBC Light heavyweight title against former Super middleweight World Champion Sakio Bika.

Stevenson has stopped 21 of his 25 career opponents, and is the overwhelming favourite to defeat Bika who has never been stopped across a 41 fight career.

Bika started his career at Middleweight, but makes the jump to Light heavyweight for the first time in his career, and the 35-year-old has gone the distance with the likes of Anthony Dirrell, Andre Ward, Lucian Bute and Joe Calzaghe in the past.

Canada’s favourite son Stevenson has shared his desire to be the first man to stop Bika however, and the best odds for that are around 8/11.

Keep an eye out on the undercard for the exciting 7-0 Artur Beterbiev who meets former WBA Champion Gabriel Campillo.

The highlight of the non televised action this weekend comes from Blackburn where Liam Cameron and Luke Blackledge compete for the Commonwealth Super middleweight title.

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