With a break in the diary, Betfair's boxing correspondent Frankie Monkhouse talks us through his five top fights for 2018, and how you can profit by getting in early...
"AJ – Wilder wouldn’t go the distance. The Englishman by KO/TKO is favourite, 1/2 on the Betfair Sportsbook."
It's fair to say 2017 has been a great year to follow the noble art. We got the big fights, more than a few upsets, saw Anthony Joshua win a world title and the richest sparring session that ever was - Mayweather v McGregor. What's more, just as we thought our luck had run out, we avoided having to sit through Haye - Bellew again. Perfect.
So, what's in store for 2018? More of the same? Well, it's now obvious there's no need for Conor McGregor to take part in another boxing match. He faced the best, but looked so out of place in the squared-circle that there was immediately zero interest in seeing him face the likes of Oscar de la Hoya, Paullie Malignaggi, or any other former big name, for that matter.
We've put together a list of the top-five fights we'd love to see in the coming year, involving, at least, one British representative, and how you can nick a bit of value by playing matchmaker and getting involved in the early betting.
Anthony Joshua v Tyson Fury
Top of the charts, and where else could we start than the potential heavyweight blockbuster that has got everyone talking? Joshua - Fury would have it all. The press want it, the managers are keen, investors and TV suits are falling over each other to get a slice and, most importantly, the fighters would do it tomorrow, if they could. Fury, despite his problems outside of the sport, still sees himself as the rightful, undefeated world heavyweight champion. AJ is the rightful, undefeated world heavyweight champion. That makes one man a pretender, but who? Tyson has been away too long, for my liking, and will have to punish his body to get the weight off, so I'd prefer to have Joshua backed on the Betfair Sportsbook at 8/13. I think that would shorten as the year goes on.
Billy Joe Saunders v Gennady Golovkin
BJS is back to his old self, as we saw in a recent win over David Lemieux. The 28-year-old from Hatfield appeared to have gone off the boil for a period of time, but a change in trainer and break from the spotlight has reinvigorated the WBO middleweight champ. He oozed class when outpointing Lemieux, making a mockery of what was billed as a close match. Golovkin would be a big leap up, but there's no doubt it's a fight that would bring the best out of Billy Joe, and he'd go in with no fear. A sensational boxer against a stalker with damaging power in both hands. This bout pushed AJ - Fury close for top-spot. I'd have it to go to points.
Anthony Joshua v Deontay Wilder
Amongst the biggest punchers in world boxing, fighting for the richest prize in sport. What's not to love? Speaking to the media recently, Joshua thought a clash with Wilder was still some way off, but the Joseph Parker fight would be easier to make, so that looks his next bout. If everything goes to plan, he'd then dethrone Wilder - all the time Fury was getting back to his best - before meeting in an all-British decider. Sounds good, on paper anyway. Wilder is no mere opponent however, and has a perfect 39-fight record, with 38 of those wins coming inside-the-distance. AJ - Wilder wouldn't go the distance. The Englishman by KO/TKO is favourite, 1/2 on the Betfair Sportsbook.
Kell Brook v Amir Khan
This fight probably should have happened already, as interest appears to be waning. Many believe Brook gambled with his career when moving up in weight to face Triple G, a punt that backfired, Special K suffering a broken eye-socket. The same injury saw him stopped in 11 by Errol Spence next time out. So, the former welterweight world champion has now lost each of his last two. While this has been going on, Amir Khan hasn't been seen in a boxing ring since being cut-down in six by Saul Alvarez last May. Since then, the Bolton lad has been messing about on I'm A Celebrity - or so I'm told. If the fight was announced, there would be enough interest from the paying public, but we may just have missed the boat. If we get the go ahead, Khan is a bit fresher, and that would see me lean towards him in the betting.
Callum Smith v Chris Eubank Jnr
A long way to go before we get these two Brits in a ring, but it would make for a thrilling World Boxing Series decider. Eubank must get past George Groves to have any chance - no mean feat in itself - but he's favourite with Betfair to win the fight, and also jolly in the tournament outright betting, 6/4 on the Sportsbook. Difficult to argue against that stance, but plenty in the know would, and I certainly would. Smith is a monster at the weight, and would enjoy a sizeable height and reach advantage over Junior. He's taken in the outright betting at a value [3.40], and I'd have him to deal with Eubank in the final, if it came to it. The Groves clash will be punishing for both men.