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BURNS, CRAWFORD: Emotion-charged atmosphere could be factor.
Burns +150; Crawford -180
Over 10.5 -185; under 10.5 +155

After two struggling performances in a row, Ricky Burns knows he will need to be at his absolute best when he defends his WBO lightweight title against mandatory challenger Terence Crawford in Glasgow on Saturday (TV on Sky Sports in the UK., AWE in the U.S.).
 
This fight is, potentially, about as tough and as tricky as it gets. Burns will have a roaring Scottish crowd behind him at the Scottish National Exhibition Centre, and he’s the more experienced and perhaps the physically stronger fighter; Crawford is unbeaten, fast, clever and a sharp puncher, and, at 26, he’s the younger man by four years.
 

VAZQUEZ (left) is skilled but SHAFIKOV brings pressure. / Photo: SUMIO YAMADA
Vazquez -140; Shafikov +120
Over 11.5 -160; under 11.5 +140

Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez has been an underrated fighter for much of his career, and after seven successful defences of the IBF lightweight title he is finally getting the respect he deserves. However, I believe that Vazquez’s four-year reign as champion is in considerable jeopardy when he meets Russia’s Denis Shafikov on neutral ground in Macau on Saturday — China’s Olympic gold medallist Zou Shiming tops the bill as far as the local populace is concerned but for boxing fans around the world the Vazquez-Shafikov fight is the true main event.
 
Shafikov, a 28-year-old southpaw, is unbeaten in 34 fights. Although held to a draw by Italy’s Brunet Zamora, he beat Zamora quite comfortably on points in a rematch two years later, which indicates to me that Shafikov is an improving fighter.

CHISORA, FURY: Hoping to set the stage for a rematch.
Chisora -500; Johnson +240
Over 9.5 -250; under 9.5 +180

Promoters Frank Warren and Mick Hennessy are joining forces to present British heavyweight rivals Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora in separate bouts in London on Saturday (TV coverage on BoxNation in the U.K., PPV in the U.S. and Fight Network in Canada). The plan is that Fury and Chisora will meet in a rematch later this year. If all works out as planned, Fury and Chisora will win to whet the boxing public’s appetite for the return fight.
 
There is always the risk, though, that something might go wrong.

Pascal -145; Bute +125
Over 10.5 +100; under 10.5 -120

In America they call it “neighbourhood rivalry”, in Britain “local derby”, but whatever you call it, a fight between two boxers with sizeable followings from the same city always attracts keen interest, and such is the case when former champions Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute collide at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Jan. 18.
 
The two meet for the NABF light-heavyweight title, TV coverage on HBO in the U.S., Sky Sports in the U.K., and there are doubts hovering over both men, Pascal due to injury problems, Bute simply because his defeat against Carl Froch in May 2012 was the type of battering that can undermine a boxer's self-belief.

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PACQUIAO ran away with the late rounds. / CHRIS FARINA, Top Rank

It’s a bit late, but here are some thoughts on last weekend’s boxing.
 
I usually jot down the note “Fight over” when I think that a contest has shifted irrevocably in favour of one man.  I made this note in the seventh round of the Manny Pacquiao-Timothy Bradley welterweight title rematch.
 
For six rounds, Bradley was in the fight with a chance of winning. When Bradley went to the ropes in the seventh and Pacquiao unloaded a burst of punches on him, though, to me there was going to be no coming back for Bradley.