By Derek Bilton
Prizefighter returns to our screens this weekend and again it is the turn of the light-middleweights to entertain us.
There is an added twist to this edition with Matchroom supremo Eddie Hearn offering a £2,000 bonus for every stoppage scored. So if a fighter were to win his three bouts by stoppage he would be walking away with £38,000, which is good night's work for anyone who doesn't answer to the name of Bill Gates.
Scotland's Craig McEwan is a 13/8 favourite to win the thing and on paper he certainly has the best credentials. McEwan won a bronze medal for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games in 2002 before deciding to leave his homeland and learn his trade as a professional in America.
He trained under Freddie Roach at the Wildcard Gym in LA and won his first 18 fights before losing to quality Irishman Andy Lee in 2011. In his very next fight he was pitched against brilliant New Yorker Peter 'Kid Chocolate' Quillin and was bombed out in six rounds. That was almost exactly a year ago and after those defeats McEwan moved back to the UK.
He has won two fights since against very modest opposition but his 21-2 (10) record is by far the best in this field.
However, I wonder how easily he will do light-middle and my suspicion is he might be tight at the weight.
Surprisingly Larry Ekundayo is priced up as second favourite with the layers.
'The Natural' has a 100 per cent record so far but he has only boxed twice and he looks very raw for a 30-year-old. Current 100/30 quotes therefore look plenty short. Ekundayo has plenty of potential and is fancied by many to make some waves in the sport but one wonders how he will handle the attention and the razzmatazz so early in his career.
The man I feel it could be worth following, however, is Kris Carslaw. The Paisley puncher has compiled a 16-2 (4) pro record and his two defeats came against good men in Matthew Hall and Brian Rose (for the British light-middleweight title). Carslaw is time served and at 28 still should have plenty of ambition.
He has an awkward style and is something of a pure boxer. Don't be expecting him to pick up many £2,000 KO bonuses en route, but I feel he has the moves and the heart to shock a few in east London.
Of the outsiders, Nottingham puncher Curtis Valentine could be worth a watch. Four of his five wins as a pro have come via fairly violent stoppage and he knows a win in front of the Sky cameras would do wonders for his profile and bank balance.
The draw will take place on the night and of course whoever gets drawn in the first bout will have an advantage in terms of the amount of time he has to recover.
McEwan, on paper, looks the pick but if he has not taken the weight off correctly look for Carslaw to step in and make a mockery of current 9/1 quotes.
Prizefighter is being televised live in the UK on Sky Sports from 2000 GMT on Saturday.
Tags: Craig McEwan