Claressa Shields is the smart choice in the title fight despite the power of Savannah Marshall

Claressa Shields has battled the top women in three weight classes since turning pro after winning her second gold medal at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As a pro, Shields has always been a huge favorite.

On Saturday in London, however, she’s only marginally better than a 6-5 favorite against Savannah Marshall, the only woman she’s ever beaten. Marshall scored an amateur win over Shields on May 14, 2012 at the AIBA Women’s World Championships in China ahead of the London Olympics that year.

Marshall is 12-0 with 10 knockouts and meets Shields for the undisputed women’s middleweight title on Saturday at the O2 Arena in London. At BetMGM, Shields is a -130 favourite, with Marshall at +105.

Shields was only 17 when she fought Marshall in the amateurs but still thinks she won. Shields is much better now and unilaterally beat the elite opposition. Marshall’s best hope seems to be a knockout. Her trainer Peter Fury said she was the most powerful woman he had ever seen.

Marshall’s power and amateur win artificially lowered the odds in my opinion. If they hadn’t met in the amateurs, Shields could be a 2-1 or 3-1 favorite. Shields is the better boxer and has a good chin, although it hasn’t been tested often because she’s so skilled she rarely gets clean shots.

Although Fury exaggerates Marshall’s power, she is a very hard hitter and can take advantage when Shields makes a egregious mistake. Considering she has yet to do that in her career, look to Shields to drive to victory. Instead of laying the -130, I’m going to play Shields by decision at +120. I put three units on it, so I’m risking $300 to decide to win $360 on Shields.

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 13: Claressa Shields (L) and Savannah Marshall (R) pose during the press conference ahead of their Undisputed Middleweight Championship bout at Genesis Cinema on October 13, 2022 in London, England.  (Photo by Mark Robinson/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Claressa Shields has the chin and boxing skills to beat Savannah Marshall on Saturday when they meet in London for the undisputed women’s middleweight title. (Photo by Mark Robinson/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)

Deontay Wilder has that power

Former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder returns to the ring for the first time since his loss to Tyson Fury last year in Fight of the Year in Las Vegas on Saturday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Wilder is a big favorite to beat Robert Helenius at BetMGM. Wilder is -900 to win while Helenius is +500. Wilder is 42-1-1 with 41 knockouts, his only win by decision coming in 2015 over Bermane Stiverne. Helenius is 31-3 but was stopped by Gerald Washington and Johann Duhaupas. Neither of these two is in the same stratosphere as Wilder as a puncher.

The big question on Wilder’s side is how he recovered from that brutal fight with Fury in which he took a lot of punishment and was stopped on the 11th. Helenius is a quality opponent, although nothing he does will be too much for Wilder.

Each fighter can only take a certain number of punches before the legs go. I very much doubt Wilder is at that point, but that’s the only way to make a case for putting Helenius.

Instead of putting -900, I put Wilder by KO at -450. I bet two units on it, risking $900 with the possibility of a $200 win if Wilder finishes him off in the distance. Wilder is in a solid position for a massive fight after that and should be motivated. If he’s motivated and doesn’t have any scars from the past, he should get Helenius out somewhere between four and seven rounds.

Expect a replay of Haney vs. Kambosos

Devin Haney clearly outclassed George Kambosos Jr. when they met in June for the undisputed lightweight title and won the WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF belts. They meet in Melbourne, Australia on Saturday (Sunday in Australia) in a rematch and I don’t expect much to change.

At BetMGM, Haney is a favorite to win at -800, Kambosos at +450. Kambosos isn’t even in the same universe as Haney when it comes to boxing sense so Kambosos has to fight aggressively, fight hard and hope to land enough to wear Haney down and both for Kambosos to win and reclaim his title, either stop him or not drop it a few times.

That’s a tough challenge against a man as skilled and quick as Haney. I think this aggressive style could work against Kambosos because it will open him up to shots from Haney that he doesn’t see. These are the ones that hurt a fighter the most.

With that in mind, although Haney -190 by decision would be the smart play, I will play Haney to win by stopping at +250. So I risk $200 hoping to make a $250 profit.

Other games for boxing’s stacked Saturday

  • I like Mikaela Mayer by decision at -160. I bet 2 units on Mayer and risk $320 for a potential gain of $200.

  • I like that Gurgen Hovhannisyan wins against Michael Polite Coffie with -300. I bet half a unit on Hovhannisyan, so I risk $150 to win $50.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - SEPTEMBER 22: Heavyweight boxer Deontay Wilder (L) works on his timing with trainer Malik Scott at UFC APEX on September 22, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Wilder will face Robert Helenius on October 15 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.  (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Expect former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder to stop Robert Helenius when they meet at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Saturday. (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

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