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The Opening Round: Natasha Jonas v Mikaela Mayer

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Fabled boxing trainer Al Mitchell has described this weekend’s bill-topping bout between Natasha Jonas and Mikaela Mayer as the modern-day, female equivalent of ‘Hagler-Hearns’!

And I think it’s fair to say that everybody of a boxing persuasion will be keeping everything crossed that the American’s bold prediction rings true come Saturday night.

‘Hagler-Hearns’ may have been short-lived, but my word it was action packed; to such an extent that the now iconic fight – which lasted less than eight minutes – is still, rightly celebrated almost 40 years on.

If this weekend’s hotly-anticipated showdown can deliver half of what the two revered middleweights served up back in 1985, there’s every chance that this bout will live equally as long in the memory too.

All the signs suggest that it will.

Both fighters have remained typically respectful and dignified in the build-up to fight night, but all of those pleasantries will be tossed into the River Mersey when they meet in a true legacy-defining dust-up in Jonas’ home city of Liverpool.

The proud Liverpudlian, vowing to make her biggest statement to date on her M&S Bank Arena homecoming, has more than proven in the past that she has the determination and tenaciousness to dig as deep as anybody when the going gets tough.

The narrow 4/5 pre-fight favourite may well have to do just that once more this weekend if she is to reign supreme in a bout that could well be the most problematic and challenging of her illustrious professional career to date.

Mayer, the ever so slight 1/1 outsider, has all of the tools, schooling and boxing IQ upset the apple cart however, as she bids to follow in Jonas’ footsteps by becoming a two-weight world champion, having previously unified titles a weight class below.

There’s no doubt that Jonas needs to add a fighter of Mayer’s calibre to her own résumé if she is to gain the same adulation as the likes of Katie Taylor and Chantelle Cameron – two other British champions who have overcome proven pound-for-pound stars to cement their elevated status’.

Talk is cheap, we all know that, and whilst there hasn’t been a single ounce of trash-talking in the build-up to Saturday’s mammoth fight, there is one big question that remains unanswered…

Which of the two fighters will be playing the role of 1985 victor Marvin Hagler, and who will take on the role of Thomas Hearns?

bet365’s boxing expert Rob Tebbutt delivers his thoughts…

“So, Natasha Jonas puts her super-welterweight title on the line against former super-featherweight world title holder Mikaela Mayer. This is a really good fight between two naturally lighter fighters who have moved up the ranks in recent times,” he told the bet365 Sports & Betting News site.

“I feel that size could be a factor this weekend, which is why I am going to be edging on the side of Jonas, given that she has been fighting at this higher weight for a significantly longer time than Mayer, who has just the one fight at 140lbs under her belt.

“Jonas, of course, has home field advantage too, which will also benefit her in those close rounds. Speaking of close rounds, this is a close fight, and I fully expect it to go the full distance, with Jonas just out-pointing her American rival, an outcome that is priced up at 21/20.”

Jonas v Mayer tops the bill of a stacked fight card this weekend; one that also includes a huge British and Commonwealth super-middleweight title bout between old foes Jack Cullen (8/11) and Anthony Sims Jr conqueror Zak Chelli (11/10).

“Now, we saw a controversial draw in the initial bout at Fight Camp a couple of years ago, a result that was hugely controversial at the time given that many people, myself included, felt that Chelli had done more than enough to pick up the victory,” Tebbutt added.

“That was four years ago though and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, with both fighters moving on in their careers, picking up wins and suffering losses.

“Cullen, the defending champion, is the narrow favourite here, but Chelli is always a live underdog, which is why, given that this is a 50/50 fight for me, the value, from a betting perspective, lies firmly with Chelli.

“He had that big win over Anthony Sims Jr last year as an underdog, and I just feel that the 4/1 on offer for him to edge this fight via the scorecards is a touch too wide. But, remember, the first fight was close and it ended in draw, and you can get 14/1 on history repeating itself in Liverpool this weekend.”

bet365 are also offering Bet Boosts across all of Saturday night’s BOXXER action, meaning you can take advantage of even BIGGER prices on the headline bout and the full undercard, including BOOSTED Bet Builders on both aforementioned bouts, as well as Mark Jeffers v Germaine Brown – another fight that promises fireworks.

Jeffers is the 2/9 favourite to make a successful first defence of the English and Commonwealth Silver super-middleweight strap that he captured in a dramatic, and surprising, points success over Zak Chelli last year, with Brown a 10/3 outsider.

The bet365 Sports & Betting News site houses plenty of pre-fight content, including a comprehensive All You Need To Know guide for the main event, as well as a detailed Tale of the Tape article which houses all of the vital statistics of both Jonas and Mayer.

View the latest Bet Boosts and odds for the full BOXXER card and all other upcoming boxing at bet365

Bet Boosts and odds displayed within this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time. 

By Mark Mothershaw

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