Top Rank Boxing best bets: Fury vs. Schwarz 🥊

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Mar 6, 2018
Top Rank Boxing best bets: Fury vs. Schwarz


This weekend brings a rare event for ESPN and worldwide viewers, as it's not often that an Englishman, let alone an English heavyweight, tops a big fight bill in Las Vegas. That rarity has come this week, as the man who holds the lineal claim to the heavyweight crown, Tyson Fury, faces a fellow unbeaten fighter from Germany, the untested Tom Schwarz.

Normally a showdown between unbeaten fighters provides viewers with the burning question: Who is going to win? However, it isn't really the case on this occasion. Although both fighters are unbeaten, that is where the similarity ends.

Let's take a look at where the betting value lies in this fight.

Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) has already signed for a rematch with "Bronze Bomber" Deontay Wilder for the WBC title. The first fight ended with the only blemish on Fury's résumé, a split draw in December in Los Angeles. Many observers, myself included, thought Fury had done enough to win the decision, even if he did receive a slightly long count when after being knocked down by a booming right hand from Wilder. Fury was also down in the ninth round, and though he has visited the boards five times in his career, he has shown remarkable resilience in not only getting back up but also getting back to boxing as if the knockdown never happened.

The 30-year-old is a giant at 6-foot-9, and his 85-inch reach is the largest in professional boxing. For a man of his size, he has always shown surprising hand speed and nimbleness of foot. Allied to his physical advantages is his style, which admittedly is not the prettiest to watch, but it has proven effective time and again, never more so than when he outsmarted longtime champ Wladimir Klitschko on his home turf. Fury's movement totally befuddled the aging Ukrainian, who seemed totally unable to get any kind of meaningful punch to register on the wily Englishman. So even when an opponent thinks he has Fury beat, he doesn't. One moment he is there, then suddenly he isn't. Fury is cagey, awkward and a nightmare against whom to fight.

The much younger German, at 25, Schwarz (24-0, 16 KOs) could still be considered a baby by heavyweight standards. His record is pretty much what it should be, considering the standard of opposition he has faced. He has worked his way through the various journeymen Eastern Europe has to offer. The most well-known name on his log is recent Derek Chisora opponent, the belligerent enigma Senad Gashi. That fight turned out to be a bad-tempered, foul-filled affair, with Gashi being disqualified for use of the head in the sixth, then wanting to continue the fight after proceedings ended. One thing that fight showed was that Schwarz was very open to a right hand, and though he was landing his best punches on Gashi, notably the left hook, it did not seem to perturb the Kosovan-born fighter. Gashi was stopped in seven by top-20-rated Carlos Takam only six months ago, so that suggests that at the top level, Schwarz could be lacking in power.

However, he is not a small guy, at nearly 6-6 and around 240 pounds. Schwarz has never faced a fighter the size of Fury -- his tallest opponent being 6-7 Christian Lewandowski, who was dispatched in six rounds -- but Lewandowski had been stopped twice before. Schwarz's last outing showed that he hasn't really corrected his defensive flaw, but it wasn't an issue against an overmatched 38-year-old Kristijan Krstacic in a win in the second round.

I think it's fairly safe to say that Fury will be the hardest puncher Schwarz has faced, even though I think Fury has lost a little snap from his punches since a 30-month layoff. The German fighter's openness to a right hand is not good news when facing a man with a height and reach advantage and whose best punch comes from his right hand. Fury does have a habit of clowning around, even more so with fighters he knows he can beat. On this occasion, however, I would expect a fitter and more focused Fury to show why there are levels in boxing and put on a performance that will ensure that the rematch with Wilder will be a huge commercial success.

Fury also has the advantage of previously having fought a long way from home, and Schwarz will feel a long way from home when he finds himself on the end of the Fury jab and the right hand that follows. If Schwarz gets too close, Fury will grab him and lean on him. I am sure Schwarz will try to get in close, and who knows if he will manage to connect with a flush shot or a punch to the temple?

Keep an eye on the weigh-in on Friday. If Fury is between 250 and 255 pounds, it's a sign that he is in great shape. Assuming that is the case, I think the play should be in the total rounds market (over/under 9.5) at -140 for under. I expect the lineal champ to land enough punches and drain Schwarz enough to have the fight over before the ninth commences. Any other result would bring more questions about the rematch with Wilder.

Pick: Under 9.5 rounds (Confidence: 7 on a 1-12 scale due to -145 price)
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