Paul Smith vs Andre Ward: Boxing on TV this weekend - Adrien Broner vs Shawn Porter, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan vs Cuba Domadores

The best boxing on TV this weekend

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The Independent Online

Paul Smith vs Andre Ward, Saturday night 1.30am, Sky Sports 1

546 miles away from the bright lights of Vegas, Oakland's own Andre Ward makes his long awaited return to the ring against Britain's Paul Smith.

Much has been made of the proposed bout, with many decrying the concept of an Olympic gold medalist and undefeated World Champion choosing a fighter as his comeback opponent who may not even be the best boxer in his own family at the weight class.

Smith hasn’t beaten a semi-decent opponent since March 2010, and is coming off two defeats to WBO super middleweight champion Arthur Abraham, with the last one a particularly convincing beatdown.

While there are some people who claim that Ward deserves an easy comeback after a year and a half away from the ring, the 31-year-old American is almost universally considered as one of the best boxers on the planet, and his previous two outings before his absence failed to muster much enthusiasm either.

When Floyd Mayweather spent nearly two years away from boxing between 2007 and 2009, he returned to face the legendary Juan Manuel Marquez, while Sugar Ray Leonard’s three year absence from the sport finished with a 1987 meeting with Marvin Hagler.

Mayweather and Leonard are boxers who Ward should be aspiring to follow, but instead he is seemingly content to wile away his career against below average fighters.

Ward is virtually unbettable with his best odds around 1/25, while Smith a monstrous underdog at 16/1.

Expect the American to toy with the Liverpudlian with the first four or five rounds, before stopping Smith between rounds 5-8.

Astana Arlans Kazakhstan vs Cuba Domadores, Saturday and Sunday afternoon 12.30pm, BoxNation

An excellent weekend of televised boxing begins on Saturday afternoon, with the first leg of the World Series of Boxing Season V Finals between Astana Arlans Kazakhstan and Cuba Domadores.

Kazakhstan will be competing in their third WSB Finals, and the Season III Champions have won 15 of their 16 matches this season.

Defending champions Cuba are undefeated in Season V, and have only lost once in WSB history, they must take control of both legs away from home in Kazakhstan to successfully defend their title.

Keep a special eye out for a mouthwatering clash between unbeaten heavyweights Vassiliy Levit (8-0 in Season V, 14-0 overall) and Erislandy Savon (8-0 in Season V, 16-0 overall).

The second leg will follow at the same time on Sunday afternoon.

Adrien Broner vs Shawn Porter, Saturday night 1.30am, Sky Sports 1

Despite only ever weighing in at less than 146 pounds once in his career back in February 2011, former IBF welterweight champion Shawn Porter will compete at a 144 pound catchweight on Saturday night due to the insistence of opponent Adrien Broner.

25-1-1 Porter won his world title in December 2013 after an impressive win over Devon Alexander, but lost the championship to Britain’s Kell Brook eight months later.

Broner enters the match on a three fight winning streak, but many boxing insiders believe his crushing December 2013 defeat to Marcos Maidana severely fractured the belief of the formerly supremely confident fighter.

Although the big talk, and the demands are still publically proficient, Broner’s performances since that fateful December night have lacked the spark and enthusiasm of his earlier bouts.

There is a significant belief that Porter can control the fight if the weight cut has not been too damaging.

The differing styles of each competitor should make for an entertaining bout, and if Porter’s pressure fighting game is at its best, it will cause a lot of anguish for Broner who tends to perform best when his opponents are on the back foot.

This is one of the very few fights where the bookmakers genuinely cannot choose between the boxers, with both available at 10/11.

If you fancy Porter to drop Broner even more convincingly than Maidana achieved, or if you believe that Porter may be too weight drained, the 15/8 on the fight not to go the distance may tempt some fans.

London 2012 Olympian and undefeated 16-0 professional prospect Errol Spence Jr features on the undercard against Phil Lo Greco, who has replaced Roberto Garcia on just two days notice.

David Lemieux vs Hassan N'Dam N’Jikam, Saturday night 2.00am, BoxNation

The last world title match of the weekend could produce fireworks, as Canada’s 33-2 David Lemieux battles France’s 31-1 Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam for the vacant IBF middleweight belt.

Lemieux is one of the most powerful boxers in the world, and has won 31 career fights via knockout.

N’Jikam comfortably defeated Curtis Stevens last October to earn his world title opportunity, with the French star’s lone loss coming against Peter Quillin in 2012.

Quillin dropped N’Jikam six times in that fight, but each time his opponent rose back from the canvas, so Lemieux will need to be wary of wasting energy at the beginning of the contest.

Lemieux’s first career defeat came in 2011 when he was stopped by Marco Antonio Rubio, but it is unlikely he will need to worry about N’Jikam’s power, as the French fighter has only finished one of his last seven victims.

Expect an all-action contest between the two boxers, with the class and power of Lemieux making the ultimate difference.

The Canadian is 11/8 to win via KO or TKO, which represents very good value.