Boxing, sport’s oldest show girl, remains stubbornly inconsistent. Subject to source, she is in both rude health and her final death throes. One of the most pointed criticisms is her perceived inability to pitch the best fighters against each other often enough.
It is an accusation with foundation, but one which also romanticises preceding generations in which similar complications occurred too. For all the Ali v Frazier trilogies and tales of Sugar Ray and the Raging Bull, there remained the lost classics of Holmes and Foreman, Lewis and Bowe and a whole generation of fighters denied world title shots.
The second season of the innovative World Boxing Super Series format, guided by Kalle Sauerland and lavishly financed, aims to address this failing.
Fight fans are particularly excited about the Bantamweight version that began last week and there is growing belief it could eclipse the thrills provided by the Cruiser and Super-Middleweight editions of season one.
There are a host of betting opportunities available for those willing to invest.
Following the opening weekend’s chilling knockout victory for Naoya Inoue, his opponent was left prone from a crushing right cross in the first round, the Japanese fighter’s odds with the best boxing bookmakers to win the eight-man tournament shortened to 1/2 with most bookmakers.
Attention now turns to Zolani Tete, a man with a fearsome reputation of his own and one of the pre-tournament favourites.
South African Tete, 27-3 (21 KOs), is a rare sight in the 118 pound division. Incredibly tall, he is listed as 5-9 but often appears taller when towering over diminutive opponents.
He brings the WBO’s Bantamweight world title to the tournament and a reputation enhanced last November when he knocked out Siboniso Gonya in a world record 11 seconds.
It was arguably six seconds, as Gonya was finished the moment the finishing punch landed.
A 12-year pro, he was previously the IBF Super Flyweight champion in 2014 and also won the WBO version in 2015. The fact he was able to compete at such a low weight class is miraculous enough and he beat good fighters there too, notably the then unbeaten Brit Paul Butler.
Of his three losses, two came on points by narrow margins and a solitary stoppage defeat. And it is those distance defeats where there may be scope for an alternative bet for those not enamoured by the prohibitive 1/5 offered by Bet365 on a Tete win.
As for his opponent, this is only Aloyan’s fifth professional fight, but to dismiss his prospects on that metric alone is to ignore the depth of his amateur experience.
Despite turning professional late, such is the depth of his amateur experience, the Russian (born in Armenia) has already won and ‘defended’ an International title, fought 42 rounds across his opening four fights and secured a WBC Silver belt in the professional ranks.
For whatever value those baubles offer, it highlights how quickly he has adapted.
A southpaw like Tete, he will present a busy and skilful foe who has gone the distance frequently and can lean on an amateur pedigree which included gold medals at the World Championships in 2011 and 2013 and a Bronze at the London Olympics alongside Michael Conlan.
On route to some of those high points he collected victories over Khalid Yafai, Andrew Selby and Rau’shee Warren.
In short, your view shouldn’t be based on his professional record alone, his best results have been secured within the old Soviet block and with this contest occurring in Ekaterinburg there is scope to wonder whether he could secure a distance win. William Hill are offering 5/1 for those willing to believe.
The most prudent investment remains a Tete victory. Review of his record shows there are first round victories, when the power he generates from his elongated frame shocks opponents, but also a collection of wins in rounds 7-8.
This is my proposed value pick for this bout; it respects Aloyan’s experience, desire and durability but proposes the naturally bigger man discourages and eventually forces a stoppage.
For those not customarily drawn to boxing. I encourage you to embrace the World Boxing Super Series and the too often overlooked Bantamweights.