Saturday's title bout betting previews and picks
By JASON ALBESON
David Diaz +420 (34-1-1, 17 KO’s) vs. Manny Pacquiao -460 (46-3-2, 35 KO’s)
WBC Lightweight champion
Is 135 lbs. too heavy for Manny Pacquiao?
While the question seems fairly cut and dried the answer is multi-faceted.
Let’s look at Pacquiao’s career to this point. He started off as a 106-pound 16-year-old. Thirteen years, three world championships, six weight divisions later, Pacquiao, the reigning WBC Super Featherweight champion, has handled every other weight-class ascension with ease, carrying all his speed, strength, and explosiveness with him. Keeping that in mind, there’s nothing to indicate Saturday’s move up to lightweight will be any different as far as his performance is concerned.
The problem for Pacquiao isn’t so much what he’s able to do in the ring at a bigger weight, it’s what his opposition is able to handle. The bigger Pacquiao gets, the smaller the gap is between what he’s able to dish out and what his opponent can absorb. But make no mistake about it, Diaz is the biggest foe physically that Pacquiao has ever stepped in with.
As big as Diaz is, he’s also a fairly lumbering lightweight, both with his feet and his hands. Where Pacquiao will be trying to get in and get out without incurring too much damage, the swarming Diaz will be out to make the smaller Pacquiao know he’s in over his head when it comes to mass and strength by wearing him down over the course of the fight.
If there’s a component to Pacquiao’s game that has to be as finely tuned as it has always been, it’s his foot speed. Pacquiao isn’t a runner at all, but he’s definitely a closer. He closes the gap between A and B better than any other fighter in the world and he does it in a way that doesn’t leave him exposed to basic aggression. Lose that advantage and Pacquiao could be in for a tough night.
At the end of the day, however, this fight will be defined not by what Pacquiao brings to the ring, but rather about Diaz and what he doesn’t bring.
Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision.
Steven Luevano -380 (35-1, 15 KO’s) vs. Mario Santiago +340 (19-1, 14 KO’s)
WBO Featherweight champion
The southpaw Luevano defends his WBO Featherweight title against the hard-as-nails Mario Santiago in a great looking fight on paper.
Two young, capable fighters squaring off in a significant bout that will help shape a surging division.
As good as Santiago is - and he’s proven himself against a collection of good fighters like Daniel Attah, Cornelius Lock, and Andres Ledesma - he may have too polished a fighter in front of him in Olympian Steven Luevano, who rightfully could be called the second best featherweight in the world behind WBC Champion Jorge Linares and ahead of Indonesian Chris John, who will never defend his title away from home.
Luevano by unanimous decision.
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