Boxing: Benn stepping up take on Algieri
There's a good card from the M & S Bank Arena in Liverpool on Saturday night headlined by Conor Benn and Katie Taylor.
The women's pound-for-pound queen puts her WBA, WBC, WBO and IBF lightweight titles on the line against Firuza Sharipova.
The Kazakhstan fighter lost on debut, but has since put together 14 straight wins and eight of those have come via stoppage.
However, those wins have been low-key events and the fact that Taylor is 1.04 to win tells you the huge step up Sharipova is making.
Benn will no doubt be targeting a world title shot next year and the rapidly-rising welterweight faces the toughest test of his career against Chris Algieri.
The Destroyer is the fancied runner at 1.12, with the former WBO champion a 5.50 shot and the draw is available at 23.00.
Benn facing his biggest test
On paper this represents the biggest test of Benn's career, the Destroyer has been pretty conservatively matched in his 19 bouts to date.
A unanimous decision win over Sebastian Formella at the end of last year is the best piece of form on the Essex puncher's card and there's little to shout about bar that win over the German.
Of course, that doesn't take into account the level of performance and Benn has clearly shown plenty of promise.
The Destroyer is an aggressive high-tempo fighter and it will be interesting to see if he can continue on the upward curve as he steps up in class. A clash against Algieri is certainly that.
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Algieri has plenty of pedigree
The New Yorker has lost only three times in his 28-fight career. Those defeats all came at the hands of world champions, in the shape of Errol Spence, Amir Khan and Manny Pacquiao.
Algieri went 12 rounds with the legendary Pacquiao and he also took Khan the distance. Those fights took place in 2014 and 2015, so both of those fighters were nearer the peak of their powers, rather than what we have seen of late.
Spence took care of the Fighting Collegian in five rounds, but the Truth is an elite-level fighter and there's certainly no shame in that defeat.
Algieri beat Ruslan Provodnikov to claim the WBO super-lightweight belt back in 2014, and clearly a win over a former world champion is a good look for Benn, as he chases some big names next year.
What is Algieri's motivation?
The American's credentials are there for all to see, but at the age of 37 what's less clear is how much is left in Algieri's tank.
That's the key to this fight, because we know what we are going to get from Benn, but it's tricky to get a gauge on what level the New York puncher is at.
Is Algieri just coming for a payday, or does he still has the ambitions needed to upset Benn? The Fighting Collegian has fought just once since he stopped Tommy Coyle nearly two-and-a-half years ago.
That was a low-key bout against Mikkel LesPierre in August and that doesn't really shine any light on the uncertainties. Coyle is a tough and game fighter and it was a strong performance from Algieri to get the Hull man out in eight rounds.
Certainly, the win over Coyle is a good effort and if Algieri is still at that level, he could well prove a tricky opponent. On balance it seems reasonable to think that Algieri still has something to give and perhaps more than the prices give him credit for.
New level uncertain for Benn
When you also consider that Benn has never mixed it at this level there are reasons to believe that the Destroyer is worth opposing.
The Essex puncher is a likable and entertaining fighter, but he seems a little too short in the win market.
Of course, Benn is still likely to prove too sharp, quick and young for Algieri, but perhaps the gulf may not be as pronounced to make the Destroyer an 1.72 shot for a stoppage win.
It's 2.20 that the fight goes the distance and that keeps a Benn points win, as well as an American upset on-side. That looks like the play on Saturday night.
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