Terry Flanagan v Regis Prograis Sunday, 03:00 Live on ITV
Terry Flanagan suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of American Maurice Hooker for the WBO super lightweight world title at the Manchester Arena in June, but he dives back in at the deep end when facing off against hard-hitting Regis Prograis in New Orleans on Sunday morning.
It's another chance for the 29-year-old Lancashire born fighter to capture world honours with the interim WBC strap on the line. The fight also doubles as round one of the World Boxing Super Series 140lb edition. The Brit will be aiming to take a step closer to the Muhammad Ali Trophy, but to do so he will have to defy the betting odds, as well as the expectations of fight fans on both sides of the Atlantic.
Turbo handed a second chance
Stylish southpaw Terry Flanagan makes the trip with a 33-1-0 record behind him, the spare coming against Hooker last time out. Dropping a split decision - scores of 113-115, 111-117, 117-111 - would've been tough to take for all in the 'Turbo' camp, especially with a respected world title at stake, but they must dust themselves down if they are to stand any chance of inflicting a first defeat on Prograis. It's rare to see a fighter get a second crack at the big time in this sport, especially so quickly. Flanagan simply has to make it count.
The Englishman made a name for himself in the lighter divisions and after debuting with a six-round points win back in 2009 he went on a run of form that saw him capture the English super featherweight belt as well as a Prizefighter trophy, British, European and WBO world titles at lightweight. Following an extended stay at the top of the 135lb division, Flanagan relinquished to step up in grade but failed to bring his winning ways with him.
Ending the fight with cuts to his eye and forehead, he lost his proud undefeated record and is now as big as 8.40 on the Betfair Exchange to bounce back with a win. Those hot on the underdog will be delighted to find there's bigger to be had when playing the method of victory market on the Sportsbook. Flanagan by KO/TKO is 17/2, winning on points away from home a real challenge at 16/1.
Prograis on a run of knockout wins
New Orleans born Regis Prograis will enjoy the backing of the majority inside the Lakefront Arena this weekend, the crowds turning out to support one of their own as he bids for a 23rd straight victory. The 29-year-old has beaten each of the 22 men placed in front of him to date, 19 of his victims failing to hear the final bell.
Argentinian Juan Jose Velasco - undefeated going in - joined that club when halted inside eight at this venue in July. The beaten man was dropped in rounds five, seven and eight before being put out of his misery by referee Laurence Cole, extending the victor's knockout average to 86%.
That power won't be lost on the visitors, especially after suffering a couple of nasty looking cuts just four months ago. The hometown hero, nicknamed 'Rougarou', goes into the night on a run of seven stoppage wins, last taken to points in August 2015 by Amos Cowart. Followers of the stats will find four of those seven have been finished in two rounds.
It's little wonder both traders and punters are eager to keep the American close and there's no better than 1.15 available on the Exchange at the time of checking. Another KO/TKO is sure to attract attention at 4/9, the points cheer 3/1.
Clues point to a home win
The fact Prograis is yet to be tested beyond the eighth round will encourage Flanagan and he'll surely aim to drag his opponent into deep water and see how he reacts. Standing with a man on a run of KO wins would be foolish but Turbo hasn't reached this stage of his career taking risks. He'll go to America with a plan to box smart and put the pressure on when it's called for.
Two southpaws rarely make for a blistering start so, despite the favourite's power, this one should progress into the second half of the contest. The cuts picked up by Flanagan last time, the fact it's only his second outing at the weight and because he's in with a man with proven knockout power are all reasons to oppose the Brit.
There's not an awful lot of value floating around, but we have a handy price working in our corner when backing Prograis in rounds 9-12.