Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Jeff Alexander

Baltimore Orioles -119

Oakland has been a terrible underdog investment of late. It's fallen 9 of the last 10 times it's been valued as an underdog, including 5 straight times when valued as a dog of +110 to +150. The A's have also dropped Game 2 in each of their last 5 series. The Orioles are a perfect 7-0 in Tillman's last 7 starts as a home favorite, and they've won 7 of their last 10 at home versus the A's. Baltimore gets the call.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Wunderdog

Los Angeles Angels at Seattle
Pick: Los Angeles Angels

It has been another season which will end in disappointment for the Los Angeles Angels, who were considered a strong contender back in April. They never got on track, and will not be playing baseball this October, as originally planned. Jason Vargas has pitched very well at 6-5 with a 3.92 ERA, and has done much better against his former club, as he has a 2.40 ERA against the Mariners in his two starts against them. Erasmo Ramirez is 4-0, but his ERA is not becoming of his record, as he has pitched to an ERA of 5.95. The Angels have seen him once (last September), and touched him up for 5 runs. The Mariners are just 1-5 in their last six at home to a total of 7 to 8.5, and 0-4 behind Ramirez in his last four starts when following a quality start in his last outing. Take the Angels.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Craig Davis

Today's free play is on the Atlanta Falcons over the Tennessee Titans in a game of winless teams in the pre-season.

I think the difference is... Atlanta's starters are better than Tennessee's, and considering the Falcons have been blown out in their first two games so far this summer, Mike Smith isn't going to allow the backups to come in any earlier than they have to.

This third game is always the game the starters play the most... and I expect Matt Ryan and company to get as much work as they possibly can.

They're also 5-1 over the last six seasons in the third game of the pre-season which, while it might not be a major relative stat, it does show me that the Falcons like to get after it during this game every year.

Tennessee, on the other hand, could have beaten Washington in Week 1 of the pre-season, but they let the Skins post a late drive and wouldn't be able to muster a rally of their own.

That's because the Tennessee depth is struggling again this year and despite the fact they might jump out to an early lead... it likely won't stand.

I'm thinking the Falcons want this more and will do what it takes.

Take the Falcons plus the points as your free play of the day, and I am instructing all clients to buy the half point up on Atlanta to take them from +3 to +3 1/2 points.

3♦ ATLANTA

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Jeff Benton

Your Saturday freebie will be to take the Browns as the small road underdog as they play at Indianapolis against the Colts.

Major schedule advantage goes to Cleveland in this one, as the Browns played their last exhibition contest on Thursday night in their home 24-6 win and cover over the Detroit Lions. As for the Colts, Indy saw action this past Sunday night in their 20-12 road outright win at the Giants.

Indianapolis had been looking for a better effort after after getting romped 44-20 at home on Sunday the 11th, and they sure got it last Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

Having said that, I cannot believe that on such a short week the Colts are going to risk getting any of their starters injured as we get ready for the real football to be played in September.

Cleveland has gone 5-1 both straight up and against the spread their last 6 preseason games versus the AFC, and I like them to up that mark to 6-1 as they play an Indianapolis team that will be easing off the gas pedal early in this one.

Brownies the call here.

5♦ CLEVELAND

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Brad Wilton

My free play winner for Saturday is to play the total of the Pirates-Giants game to go Over.

While Francisco Liriano has been "lights out" his last pair of starts, allowing just 1 runs to cross in his last 16 innings pitched, the same cannot be said for his counterpart Tim Lincecum. Lincecum does have a no-hitter to his credit this season, but he has been more "hit" than "miss" in his assignments this year.

Lincecum has allowed 11 runs on 16 hits over his last 11 innings, and his home ERA for the year stands at 4.57.

These teams played Over on Thursday night, and held Under last night. Still, the Over is 5-1 the last 6 times the teams have faced one another, and 6-2 overall the last 8 series meetings.

Pittsburgh is on a 5-4 Over clip their last 9, while San Francisco is on a 5-2-1 Over run their last 8 games.

Stick with the offensive numbers even with the stingy Liriano on the hill, as the Bucs are liable to take this one Over the total by themselves.

Pittsburgh-San Francisco Over the total on Saturday night.

2♦ PITTSBURGH-SAN FRANCISCO OVER

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Brett Atkins

My free winner for tonight is on the Houston Astros at home for a second-straight night, against the struggling Toronto Blue Jays, who I told you would have problems in the Houston humidity with this series, after getting stymied in New York in a four-game set. Toronto is road weary and are still on the road.

Don't bother listing either starting pitcher - Toronto right-hander Chien-Ming Wang or Houston righty Brad Peacock - because this looks more like a momentum play and simply going against a travel-weary Toronto team that won't want to deal with the climate. Trust me - that's a big deal in baseball.

And Houston is no fun in the summer months, as it's far too humid.

Toronto's six-game losing streak is extended tonight, as the Astros take Game 2.

3♦ HOUSTON

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Chris Jordan

I can tell you right now that if I wasn't using the preseason tonight as my premium play, I'd have the San Diego Padres a second-straight night in baseball. They made me money last night, and tonight I'm gifting you the Friars once again, as I like them over the Chicago Cubs.

The Cubbies have lost four straight and the last thing they want is to be Southern California to play a spunky Padres team that might not be headed to the postseason, but that is awfully dangerous at home.

Chicago checks into Petco on additional losing streaks of 1-5 against losing teams, 1-6 as an underdog and 0-5 against National League West teams. The Padres, meanwhile, are on winning runs of 15-7 as a home favorite, 4-1 against righties, 9-2 when Eric Stults starts at home and 6-0 when he is installed as the home chalk.

Take the Padres tonight.

3♦ SAN DIEGO

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Scott Delaney

The Oakland Athletics are mired in a mini-losing streak here, having dropped three in a row. I don't think this is the right place to be, and certainly not a good team to go against. The Baltimore Orioles are dangerous at home, and though I think this one can be based on momentum and the fact the O's have it in their favor, I also think Chris Tillman on the bump is a good thing.

I won't list either pitcher in this game, but I can tell you having the right-hander up against Oakland is a good thing. Tillman is one of two pitchers this season to have an ERA below 4.00 despite allowing at least 25 homers, and rolls into this game with a 14-4 mark and 3.79 ERA. He's pitched at least six innings in 11 of his last 14 starts and should have confidence after dominating Oakland earlier this season.

Tillmans allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings while beating the A's back on April 27 and has a 2.61 ERA in 10-1/3 career innings against them.

And lest we forget, this is a battle for the American League wild card, while the O's are just 4-1/2 games behind Boston and Tampa Bay in the AL East. Take the Orioles as my free play tonight and play them straight.

2♦ BALTIMORE

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Jeff Scott Sports

3 UNIT PLAY

Philadelphia -3.5 over JACKSONVILLE: The Jags are just a bad team and will be lucky to win 3 or 4 games all year long. Chip Kelly is looking to build confidence and even though this game is vs the Jags, a win is a win. Vick will be starting a good portion of this game and if the Jags couldn't stop the Jet's pop gun attack, how will they stop this one. Kelly is just licking his chops at turning his offense lose on this porous Jacksonville defense. The Jags offense has nothing at all in the way of punch and will be without Gabbart in this one. Henne threw for just 30 yards last week on 4 of 10 passing and just won't do much vs an eagles defense that played well last week vs Cam Newton. This one should be rather easy for Philadelphia.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

John Ryan

Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers
Prediction: Boston Red Sox

The simulator shows a high probability that Boston will win this game. This matchup of teams could very well be a World Series preview. Supporting this graded play is a proven system posting a 36-14 for 72% winners and has made 24 units/unit wagered since 2007. Play on all teams when the money line is +125 to -125 (BOSTON) with an on base percentage of .260 or worse over their last 3 games and with a well rested bullpen who did not throw an inning last game. Dodgers may have been red hot and have surpassed some amazing long ranging MLB winning records, BUT they are just 3-10 (-12.6 Units) against the money line in home games facing a struggling bullpen that blows 38% or more of their save opportunities this season. Boston is a great team and are a solid 22-11 (+9.1 Units) against the money line after 3 straight games where they committed no errors this season. Both starters are in top form, but looking at the detail reveals that Lester has become extremely difficult to hit of late. He has allowed just 3 ER over his last 3 starts spanning 21 2/3 innings of work. There is a strong likelihood that David Ortiz will out of the lineup and simply getting a day off for rest. Given that Dodger starter Ryu is LH only makes sense to get another RH bat in the Red Sox lineup. Take the Red Sox to roll.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Joe Gavazzi

Dallas Cowboys -2.5

With a 2-0 SU, ATS August mark, Cincinnati has looked every bit like a 10 win team from last year who has made the Playoffs in consecutive seasons. In defeating Atlanta in Week #1 and Tennessee in Week #2, the Bengals have outscored the opposition 61-29 covering by 32 points. In so doing, they have amassed an NFL best 863 yards in those 2 games. Far more to prove for the Cowboys who play at home for the first time in August! Following an HOF victory vs. Miami 24-20, the Cowboys have lost on the road and lost 19-17 at Oakland and 12-7 at Arizona, a pair of team who combined for just 9 wins last season. At 0-2 SU, ATS of late and having missed the Playoffs each of the last two seasons, be assured that this is more than a dress rehearsal for a Dallas team who has plenty to prove.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

Joe Duffy

Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers    
Play: Pittsburgh Steelers -3½

One of the weapons in our arsenal is a competitor consensus. If we have a lean one way and one of the few sports services or sources we respect has a big pick on a certain side, we pass along as a competitor consensus.

A couple of opinions we respect are on the Steelers and we had several metrics pointing that way as well. Of the three units in football: offense, defense, and special teams, the latter is more fluid and open to random chance.

The Chiefs special teams have been their best unit so far. The offensive line has struggled. Alex Smith was sacked three times last week and heavily pressured the rest of the night notes.

Dwayne Bowe is the only quality receiver they have. Nobody else can get consistent separation. Smith was acquired because he was the best QB available, not because he fits well into new Chiefs head coach Andy Reid’s system. Smith does best in ball-control, run-first offenses. That is not how Reid rolls.

Steelers coach Mike Tomlin expressed urgency for this game saying, “There’s a little edge to our preparation this week.”

Guard Ramon Foster said the team’s uninspired performance has created a sense of urgency. “We’ve done some things that are uncharacteristic of us,” he said. “We aren’t angry, but we want to be on all cylinders. We know we are better, so we’re practicing like it. It’ll show up in the game.”

Though we are not optimistic about the Steelers regular season, they are the better team and week 3 NFLX home field advantage is at least three-points. So the line does not reflect the better team, the good fortune of KC on special teams or an enhanced importance on the home team to show some very positive results. Lay the lumber with the Steelers.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Winnipeg +10 over HAMILTONFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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These two played last week in Winnipeg and the Tiger-Cats destroyed the Bombers by 19 points. Hamilton has now won both games versus Winnipeg and they appear to be coming on strong. The ’Cats’ passing game is firing away on all cylinders right now with Henry Burris on pace to break last season’s career mark. Burris is averaging better than 300 yards per games and has not thrown a pick against Winnipeg in eight straight. Additionally, the emergence of RB C.J. Gable last week gave the Tiger-Cats another dimension when he went off for 147 all-purpose yards. The return of receiver Andy Fantuz last week gave Hamilton another weapon, which they are sure to utilize even more this week. Fantuz is one of those impact players that can change a game. Yes indeed, the Hamilton Tigercats are looking better while the Blue Bombers are a train wreck.
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The Bombers have scored the fewest points of any team in the league. In a league built around passing and offense, Winnipeg has a lousy five passing TD’s this year. That’s embarrassing. To make matters worse, Winnipeg has a turnover ratio if -17, which is by far the worst in the league. Just when you think it can’t get worse, it does. Winnipeg was flagged 13 times last week and has a staggering 662 yards in penalties against them, which again, is by far the worst in the league. With Hamilton coming on and with Winnipeg looking more confused than a moth on the Las Vegas Strip, what is so appealing about taking back these points?
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Well, for one, it’s another one of those buy-low, sell high opportunities that we often endorse. No team is as bad as they look (see Montreal) and no team is as good as they look either (see Saskatchewan). Furthermore, Winnipeg made some positive changes this week when they let go offensive idiot (co-ordinator) Gary Crowton in favor of Marcel Bellefeuille, a guy with CFL credentials. Winnipeg has nothing to lose here. They figure to be much looser on the road because in Winnipeg, the fans have understandably turned against them. The Bombers also figure to be much more disciplined and efficient because they simply can’t get worse. Winnipeg does have some talent. They possess an active and very aggressive defense that can come up with a big game if the offense can help out and give them some rest from time to time. The offense has enough weapons to score points and it may even surprise you that Winnipeg, despite all the turnovers and penalties have scored just 13 points less than Hamilton over 7 games.
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Hamilton has been a poor favorite at home for years. When expected to win easily, they seldom do. As an eight-point favorite over Edmonton in Week 2, the Ti-Cats lost by 10. Hamilton’s defense has been atrocious for the most part and that’s after playing the league’s softest schedule to date. Of Hamilton’s seven games so far, five of them have come against Edmonton (twice), Winnipeg (twice) and Montreal once. Breaking it down even more, Hamilton has allowed 205 points against, which is just five less than Winnipeg over seven games. It may seem like Hamilton is the far superior team here but nothing could be further from the truth. Every team has a good game in them and Winnipeg is no different. They’ve made some needed changes and they’re sick of being this league’s whipping boys. These are still pros that hate to be embarrassed every week and it says here that the Bombers leave nothing on the table for this one, as a complacent and over confident Tigercats look forward to back-to-back upcoming games against the Lions.
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EDMONTON +165 over SaskatchewanFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Had this game been played two weeks ago before the Riders lost to Calgary and squeezed by Montreal, this line would be -7½ or -8. Instead it’s -3½ or -4 depending on where you shop and that could be considered an underlay. The Riders stock has sunk in the span of two weeks and that’s usually the right time to be buying. However, we can’t get on board with spotting road points with the Riders, a team that is 0-9 against the spread over its past nine August starts. Additionally, QB Darian Durant, who looked unstoppable in the first five weeks, now looks the complete opposite. Durant is back to making poor decisions. He looks beat up and he looks emotionally spent. He may get it back here but we wouldn’t bet on it. The more likely scenario is that Durant isn’t 100% and may not even play the entire game if he can’t move the offense. Saskatchewan looked dreadful at home last week against Montreal and that was after a rather humiliating loss to Calgary. All of these things should not be ignored.
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The Eskimos come in with one win in seven tries but they are so much better than that record indicates. This Edmonton team is on the verge of an explosion and it would not surprise one bit if it occured here. So, while the Riders stock is lower than it has been all year, Edmonton’s stock is lower because of their 1-6 record. Mike Reilly, a QB with huge talent, is becoming more comfortable with each passing quarter. You can see it. Rarely does a QB come into this league and dominate right from the start. All the greats have struggled in their first few games and Reilly is no exception. That’s not to say he’s great but one can clearly see the huge ceiling this guy has and it’s only a matter of time before he and the Eskies string together some wins. Reilly went off for 511 yards last week on the road and we can assure you he's been looking forwasrd to gettinf back on the field ever since. The kid is finally comfortable out there and he has the protection to thrive. Edmonton is the most underrated team in the CFL and now is the time to capitalize because it’s not going to last much longer. That window of opportunity will close fast and we’re suggesting that Edmonton puts it all together here and wins going away. Keep the points. Edmonton outright.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

SPORTS WAGERSFOR FREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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Washington -107 over KANSAS CITYFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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The Royals have dropped six in a row and nine of their past 11. They seemed well on their way to snapping that ugly streak last night with an early 6-0 lead but then Bruce Chen happened. The result was a seven-run fourth inning by the Nationals, who went on to win 11-10. Demoralized and playing themselves right out of playoff contention, the Royals will now have to rely on another stiff, Wade Davis to get them right-sided. That’s unlikely to occur. Those who pegged Wade Davis as a sleeper entering 2013 probably hoped he'd make a seamless transition from relief to rotation, a story we've become accustomed to in recent years. However, Davis already has a history of mediocre results as a starter and his return to the rotation has basically been a bust. Davis has been unable to maintain his strikeout gains from 2012 and while it's still above his previous norms in 2013, it hasn't been enough to offset his poor control. His four-seam fastball velocity has fallen from 93 mph to 91, where it was during his starting days in Tampa. Davis’s ERA has taken a beating thanks to an abnormally high hit % but it's partially a product of batters making strong contact off him (30% line-drive rate). Davis failed to make it to the sixth inning in nine of his first 13 starts. He’s been better over his past 10 starts but six of those have come against the White Sox (twice), the Mets, A’s, Marlins and Twins. He was bombed in three of his other four starts over that stretch. This season, Davis has a 1.75 WHIP, an ERA of 5.43 and the Royals have dropped 10 of his last 14 starts. Wade Davis is unfit to make it as a starter in the majors and he’ll now face a Nationals lineup that has suddenly come alive.
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Washington has won four in a row and may not be dead just yet. They are now just 8½-games out of a Wild-Card birth and have momentum and some very hot bats working in its favor. The Nats have scored 31 times over their current four-game winning streak and have been in double-digits in hits in every game over that span for a total of 49 hits. This dangerous guest is seeing beach balls at the moment. Jordan Zimmerman has had a rough August (22 IP, 17/10 K/BB, 4.50 ERA) and that’s why he’s not a bigger favorite. That only works in our favor because Zimmerman is having an almost identical season as the last two, if not slightly better. The differences in dominance and control are minimal but over the last three years, Zimmerman has turned himself into more of a groundball pitcher (2011-13 GB%:  39%, 43%, 48%). He has walked just 33 batters in 163 frames. His difficult August has been because of bad luck and nothing more. In fact, Zimmerman’s line-drive rate of 15% over his past five starts confirms just how difficult he’s been to square up against. He's already set a career high in wins with 14 and that’s with the Nationals struggling to score almost the entire season. Hot versus cold with the vastly superior starter going gets the nod in this one.
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Arizona -106 over PHILADELPHIAFREE SERVICE PLAYS VISIT THESPREAD.COM
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What a great buy low opportunity on Randall Delgado and the Diamondbacks. On paper, Delgado is struggling. He has seen his ERA balloon from 2.85 to 3.82 over his last four starts. When previewing “today’s starters” most sites and newspapers show a pitchers last three starts and what they are going to see regarding Delgado is an 0-1 record with an ERA of 6.00. What it doesn’t show is that Delgado has faced three teams from the AL East (Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Boston) and the Reds in Cincinnati over those four games. It also does not show that the D-Backs won three of those four games and overall, Arizona has won seven of Delgado’s past eight starts. Delgado logged a sub-3.00 ERA in seven starts as a 21-year-old rookie. He's only been up for 12 weeks but Delgado's skills are encouraging. He's experienced a huge improvement in control (16 BB in 78 IP), which has driven his improved command. Despite four tough opponents over his last four games, his WHIP over that span was just 1.09. This kid is just 23-years old and he takes a giant step down in class when facing these Phillies here. In fact, Philadelphia is batting .215 over their past 10 games, which is the worst mark in the majors over that span.
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In four starts since his call-up on August 2, Ethan Martin has one quality start. In 20.2 innings, he’s walked 10 batters and that should come as no surprise since he’s always struggled with control. Martin has also been tagged for five jacks and that’s due to a 29%/50% groundball/fly-ball ratio. He’s allowed at least one home-run in every start so far and that doesn’t exactly instill confidence. Martin certainly has strikeout ability but he throws too many pitches per at bat because he’s often behind in the count. His pitch count rises quickly and by the second and third time through the line-up, if he gets that far, batters have seen a ton of his pitches already. He can get away with that at the minor-league level but he cannot at this level. Too many walks, too many fly-balls, too many jacks and too many pitches per AB make Ethan Martin a huge risk pitching for a team that is seeing marbles right now.

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Re: Free Picks: Service Plays for Saturday, August 24

SPORTS WAGERS

Tony Thompson +417 over Kubret Pulev

Kubret Pulev seems to make a lot of people nervous as Tomasz Adamek and a few others have balked at facing the burly Bulgarian. Pulev had an extensive international amateur career and at 31, is looking to put his stake into the heavyweight division. Pulev has been solid, if not impressive in his first 17 bouts as a pro. He’s a big man at 6’5 and 250 lbs. He is technically sound with an excellent jab and can win fights with that punch alone. But while undefeated, he has had modest struggles with some European caliber heavyweights such as Michael Sprott, who was out of shape, and Alexander Dimitrenko. He stopped both men but labored a bit and didn’t really run away with things. And in spite of his size and strength, he’s not a huge puncher. Pulev couldn’t stop Travis Walker, who has been stopped seven times, in their 12-round bout. He doesn’t appear to have a devastating right hand.

American Tony Thompson has had a busy and successful 2013 as an underdog; he stopped dangerous giant David Price twice to set up this title elimination bout with Kubret Pulev. Thomson is equally as big and is a southpaw. He has been beating everyone not named Wladimir Klitschko for the last 13 years. Thompson stared his career very late at age 27 without too much amateur experience but he is an excellent technician. He is a relaxed fighter that does not get too flustered in the ring. He works an excellent jab and fights very well on the inside. He has a good body attack and a solid defense. He can sometimes look slow and cumbersome but he simply wins round after round in his fights.
Pulev is a rugged guy, but he has nowhere near the fire power, athleticism and offensive tools that Klitschko has. Pulev isn’t going to bring anything that will take Thompson off his game. Pulev is better than Price overall but he doesn’t bring the dangerous punch of Price either, who is a devastating puncher. Thompson as clearly the best that Pulev has faced while Thompson has faced Klitschko twice and a bevy of fringe contenders that Thompson handled with ease. The fight is in Pulev’s backyard in Germany so there’s always a chance he gets shafted on the scorecards but in no way is this a mismatch. Thompson is a massive underdog that has won many times on the road as the B fighter. He has the tools to hand Pulev a loss and so we’re going with Thompson to pull it off. Huge overlay.


Jhonny Gonzalez +868 over Abner Mares

Abner Mares is a guy that has seemingly grown up and improved before our eyes. He was always considered a prospect and future champion but has really picked it up as of late. It was only three years ago that Mares was held to a draw by then IBF bantamweight Champion Yhonny Perez. Mares then nipped Vic Darchinyan. Then came his low blow filled fight with Joseph Agbeko. Mares was awarded two bogus knockdowns and seemed to lose the fight but was awarded the win. Most people viewed him as a solid, aggressive young fighter with some limitations. But Mares turned things around in a rematch with Agbeko, legitimately beating him, then moved up to 122 and manhandled superb southpaw stylist Anselmo Moreno for a win. In Mare’s last fight, all the way up at 126, he stopped the dangerous and usually granite chinned Daniel Ponce De Leon. De Leon you may remember gave young Adrien Broner a very difficult fight at 130 and now Broner holds a portion of the 147 pound title. Mares looked exceptionally strong at 126 and obviously worked with a conditioning person. So basically the boxing world has crowned Mares the next great thing and it’s hard to disagree, as he has progressively looked better in each outing.

Jhonny Gonzalez is a two time world champion at 118 and 126 and has had tremendous success over the past five years. Gonzalez is a tall, rangy fighter that has faced all kinds of styles and real iron over the years. He is a battle tested veteran. Gonzalez is excellent at making the ring really small for moving boxers and has been a fierce finisher and offensive force. Since he’s moved to featherweight in 2009, he has gone 15-1, with the lone loss a dreary technical decision to Daniel Ponce De Leon. But admittedly, with the De Leon loss and a lackluster decision win over modest Eusebio Osejo, perhaps the bloom is coming off the rose. Gonzalez was once killing himself to make 118 and perhaps now making 126 is a burden. When he 1st got to 126, he was fresh and fierce and in a recent interview, he stated he’d like to move up to 130, so 126 might be an issue. But he did score a stoppage win in his last bout over a tough Japanese fighter, in a stay busy type of fight that had never been previously stopped, albeit he was somewhat inexperienced.

Despite Gonzalez’s run over the past few years it’s possible that these two fighters are going in different directions. It’s obvious Mares has improved and gotten stronger, while Gonzalez’s 2011 form may not be there. There’s no hard evidence to back it up, but we expect a more vintage performance from Gonzalez. He is training in earnest with the great trainer Nacho Beristain (See Juan Manuel Marquez) and a win in this fight could really thrust Gonzalez quickly back to the top and to a level he’s never been. Mares may just explode on him and perhaps score a second straight stoppage of a veteran champion. But Gonzalez can box and punch and Mares with all his success, is no defensive wizard. We also remember the weigh in with Mares and Ponce and thought that Ponce didn’t have his usual carved in iron physique. It was a subtle difference that many might not notice but we saw it as a big red flag. Mares may be the real deal but we’re not quite ready to crown him just yet. Mare’s is in tough and if Gonzalez can reach back to circa 2010-11 form he might just pull a shocker and at this price the risk is worth the reward.

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