It's the first live boxing show from the UK since lockdown and Brad Foster is expected to return with a bang. Betfair's boxing writer Frankie Monkhouse previews fight night...
"the fact Beech has never been 12 rounds suggests the value is in backing Foster for the late stoppage"
Back in business
It's the night all British boxing fans have been longing for. On Friday evening at the BT Sport Studio in Stratford, London, we have the first fight night live on television since lockdown. Frank Warren for Queensberry Promotions presents a five-bout card which includes two title deciders.
Brad Foster takes on James Beech Jnr for the British and Commonwealth super bantamweight crown in a top of the bill tussle that promises to be one for the purists. That comes after Hamzah Sheeraz and Paul Kean dispute the WBO European super welterweight gong.
It's a welcome return for followers of the sport who have been starved of domestic action since early spring. Betfair traders have put the work in to mark the occasion, allowing members to bet on the outcome of each contest on the card with a host of specials markets available. We're back in business.
Foster sets the record straight
Unbeaten Staffordshire fighter Foster brings a professional record detailing a dozen wins against two draws since making his professional debut in 2015. The 22-year-old orthodox boxer is ranked fourth in the UK at a division topped by former world champion Isaac Dogboe after claiming five of his victories inside the distance. The two draws on his card came against the well-travelled Brett Fidoe in 2017 over six rounds and Lucien Reid at the York Hall last summer.
The Reid defeat came via a majority decision with two of the three judges sat at ringside calling it a 114-114 level finish. In what was a bloody battle both fighters picked up cuts above their eyes, but Foster believed he did enough to win. He went on to prove his class with victory over the same opponent in a rematch just five months later at the Bethnal Green venue. In the second fight, with British and Commonwealth titles on the line, 5ft 6inch The Blade cut down his rival in six rounds, forcing experienced referee Victor Loughlin into calling the stoppage.
With the confidence that comes from setting the record straight, Foster now aims to make another successful defence of his titles in front of the live TV cameras. There will be no spectators in attendance as the show takes place behind closed doors, but a sizeable TV audience will follow the action. This is a chance for Brad to announce his talents to the wider public and he's hot favourite to score the win. The Betfair Sportsbook has Foster priced at 1/10. There's better to be had in the method of victory betting with a KO/TKO win available at 8/15 or the points cheer 11/4.
Beech unproven over 12 rounds
Opponent Beech Jnr hails from the West Midlands and he makes this journey also as an undefeated fighter, his card reading 12-0-0 since debuting in 2017. Despite the pristine record he has stopped just two opponents to date and that suggests neither man will be looking to go on the offensive early, aiming to throw big shots. Beech is a well-schooled fighter who prefers to rely on his skills, movement, and boxing brain. Will that be enough to dethrone the champion?
On paper the challenger's record is impressive but on closer inspection we see he has never gone the 12 rounds championship distance and that may be a concern to some. The 5ft 8inch orthodox has campaigned over 10 rounds once before and it came in his most recent start when beating Luke Jones on points in Walsall for the vacant Midlands Area title up at featherweight.
He may have got the decision over Jones back in December, but it was by a margin of just one point and Beech was cut above the eye in the process. He will have to be much better if he is to step up to the level of Foster and leave with the belts. Betfair traders don't fancy his chances much and offer an eye-catching 11/2 on the titles changing hands. The points win is 15/2 with the KO/TKO deemed unlikely at 20/1.
Late night expected in battle of wits
Armchair fans will be keen to see their fair share of upsets on the night, but the betting attached to this fight suggests it's a case of predicting how Foster wins. The inexperience of his opponent over 12 rounds and the fact he has been out of the ring since December works against the challenger.
Picking through the form of the champion we note his last two wins have come by stoppage in the second half of the fight. This is sure to be a battle of wits in the early exchanges and that could mean we are in for another long night. Will this one test the scoring judges? It's possible but the fact Beech has never been 12 rounds suggests the value is in backing Foster for the late stoppage win at a price that's better than it should be.