Tony Bellew vs Nathan Cleverly 2 and Manny Pacquiao vs Chris Algieri: Boxing on TV this weekend

A hectic Saturday night is in store

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This Saturday night is one of the busiest boxing events of the year, but many are questioning whether it is one of the best, as Sky Boxing offers its second Pay-Pay-View event of 2014, while on BoxNation, one of the greatest fighters in living memory competes against an unheralded American with a fascinating backstory.

For the majority of sports consumers in Britain, being able to watch the most important moments in their chosen fandom is a straightforward situation. They subscribe to a sports channel, where for a monthly fee they are treated to everything they need to watch. Football fans can watch the Premier League and Champions League, cricket fans have access to every test match on the calendar, while Formula One fanatics have access to a whole channel dedicated to cars racing round a track.

Boxing connoisseurs however do not have it so easy. While the concept of Pay-Per-View television is nowhere near as prevalent over here as it is in America, there are still certain boxing cards in which the viewing public are forced to hand over money on top of the already hefty fee they pay for sports channels.

Sometimes a PPV just works - Ricky Hatton vs Floyd Mayweather and Carl Froch vs George Groves both caught the public’s imagination, and indeed all of those PPVs displayed meaningful and well crafted main events.

But then sometimes, you get Amir Khan vs Dimitry Salita, or David Haye vs Audley Harrison, and the entire show seems like a money grabbing opportunity.

What of Tony Bellew vs Nathan Cleverly fighting on PPV then? Three years ago, both men fought each other on the then fledgling BoxNation channel, with two undefeated records on the line, and a world title up for grabs. The cost? £10 for a monthly subscription to the channel. Now, for £16.95, we have two boxers fighting at a higher weight class, with no titles here or on the horizon, and both just two fights removed from devastating knockout defeats.

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Bellew holds two inflatable plastic sheep at the weigh-in

An undercard of excellence was promised, but instead has delivered eight fights where if you were to put a ten pound accumulator bet including each favourite to win, you would earn just £3.75 and your stake back, a return that wouldn’t even enable you to make back the cost of paying for the PPV in the first place.

From the perspective of value for money, this card certainly doesn’t offer that, but the consistent hype of the main event has piqued the interest of many, and it isn’t hard to see why. In boxing, as in all sports, characters matter, and Bellew (22-2-1) has certainly created a Marmite persona over the past few months, while Cleverly (28-1) has seemed more relaxed in the build-up.

The fight is full of questions, with nobody really sure the answers just yet. This will be the third fight at Cruiserweight for both men, and the 200lb opposition of both men has been fairly substandard so far. Who truly is the more natural man at the weight? Has Nathan Cleverly fully exercised the demons of his savage knockout defeat to Sergey Kovalev last year, and does Bellew truly believe he belongs at the world-class level after his lacklustre performance against Adonis Stevenson?

Cleverly has offered his opinion that Bellew will ‘crumble’ in the ring, while the brash Liverpudlian Bellew has consistently maintained that his Welsh rival is set for a ‘devastating’ defeat. The first fight between the two was a fairly cagey affair, with Cleverly winning a majority decision, and the rivalry has grown ever more since that night in Liverpool.

 

The bookies can’t separate the two, with both hovering around the 10/11 margin, while the draw could tempt some punters at at 22/1. One thing is for sure, if the fight was on regular Sky Sports, the anticipation amongst both pugilistic patrons and casual fans alike would be much greater.

An undercard that features the likes of Scott Quigg, James DeGale, George Groves and Anthony Joshua would usually indicate some exciting action, but all bar DeGale are in very average bouts.

Quigg defends his WBA super bantamweight title against Japan’s Hidenori Otake, Groves faces America’s Denis Douglin, Joshua is in a mis-match against Michael Sprott, while DeGale faces former world title challenger Marco Antonio Periban.

Elsewhere, Jamie McDonnell faces late replacement Javier Chacon for the WBA Bantamweight title, Callum Smith is against Nikola Sjekloca, and Bradley Saunders makes his debut for Matchroom.

Pacquiao vs Algieri, Saturday night 2.00am, BoxNation

Macao, China is the host for Manny Pacquiao’s 64th professional fight, and the Filipino icon puts his WBO welterweight title on the line against New York’s undefeated 20-0 Chris Algieri, who came from nowhere to sensationally defeat Ruslan Provodnikov back in June, despite being knocked down twice in round one.

Algieri is a former world class kickboxer, has a bachelor’s degree in healthcare science from Stony Brook University and a master’s from the New York Institute of Technology, and has aspirations to go to medical school after his boxing career finishes. He will hope that the end of his time in the ring is not nigh, despite the daunting task of facing Manny Pacquiao, who has lost just two bouts in the past nine years.

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Manny Pacquiao trains in Hong Kong

Pacquiao has not won by knockout since he stopped Miguel Cotto in 2009, but he has looked near to his best recently with wins against Timothy Bradley and Brandon Rios over the past 12 months. The 56-5-2 star has been hyping up a proposed clash with Floyd Mayweather following this contest, but he will have to be wary against the taller American, who despite stepping up a weight class, is coming off a career best performance, offers a classic boxing style, and a tremendous will to win.

Neither man would have expected this fight to happen a year ago, but the bookies seem fairly certain of the end result, with Pacquiao ⅛, and Algieri a massive 7/1. Those looking for a small bit of value might fancy the Filipino at 8/11 to stop the American with many insiders tipping that Pacquiao to want the finish the fight early and emphatically.

The undercard features 2-1 WBO featherweight champion (yes you read that record right) and two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko who defends his title against 52-1 Chonlatarn Piriyapinyo, while another two-time Olympic Champion and local hero Zou Shiming looks for his sixth win as a professional.

25-0 WBA light welterweight champion Jessie Vargas also defends his championship, and undefeated record against Mexico’s tough 31-3-1 Antonio DeMarco.

In non televised action this weekend, British heavyweight Dillian Whyte returns from a two-year drugs ban on Friday night with hopes for a 2015 clash vs Anthony Joshua who he famously beat in the amateur ranks, and there are also cards taking place in Belfast, Birmingham and Blackburn.

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