Sanchez vs Kabayel Predictions: A tough fight, to be Frank

 | Tuesday 14th May 2024, 9:48am

Tuesday 14th May 2024, 9:48am

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Frank Sanchez and Agit Kabayel step into the Ring of Fire on Saturday, May 18 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This high-stakes heavyweight showdown takes place on the undercard of a milestone fight for the division. Namely, Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world.

DAZN, TNT Sports Box Office and Sky Sports Box Office are your options to watch the bout live. Here are my Sanchez vs Kabayel predictions for a battle of world-ranked heavyweights.

Sanchez vs Kabayel Tips

  • Sanchez to win @ 1/2

These men are old hands on the Saudi scene-within-a-scene. They both jumped on the Riyadh merry-go-round at December’s Day of Reckoning show, with their victories netting them this high-profile assignment.

Kabayel upset the odds makers by making mincemeat of then-unbeaten Arslanbek Makhmudov in four rounds. Kabayel has also never tasted defeat, but his opponent was adjudged to have mixed at a higher level. Kabayel made a mockery of the assertion. The German was in lethal form as he dismantled Makhmudov for a showpiece finish.

Sanchez’s victory over Junior Fa was more expected. Fa was coming off a loss to ancient contender Lucas Browne, while the Cuban was unbeaten but oft-criticised for a cautious, cerebral style. Sanchez didn’t get the memo though, scoring a spectacular seventh-round TKO that electrified the crowd and restored his reputation.

These in-form heavyweight maestros could compose quite the symphony on Saturday. Sanchez is riding a four-fight stoppage streak while Kabayel’s last three foes have failed to hear the final bell. There is going to be some power in that ring on Saturday. With the all-or-nothing prospect of one man losing his unbeaten record, this will be fascinating.

Sanchez is your classically-schooled Cuban. Technically excellent and supernaturally tough, ‘The Cuban Flash’ emerged from perhaps the most iconic amateur programme in the world. He was denied a chance at Olympic glory despite beating eventual bronze medalist Erislandy Savon to become Cuban National Champion. Sanchez is now determined to make up for that slight as a professional.

The 31-year-old has gone about that the right way. Some have criticised him for being too rigid, but he always gets the job done. Granted, a lot of his record is made up of fodder but a win over then-unbeaten Efe Ajagba in 2022 stands out. Sanchez outboxed the Nigerian on the night, putting his technical qualities to good use to win a unanimous decision. Considering the fact Ajagba is 5-0 since, this was an excellent win.

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Kabayel broke onto the world scene with a win over a very familiar name in Derek Chisora. Some may baulk given the fact Chisora has lost 13 times in his career, but five of those came after the Kabayel victory. At that stage, only the best had beaten ‘Del Boy’. The likes of Tyson Fury, David Haye and Wladimir Klitschko are hardly defeats to be ashamed of.

It was expected that Kabayel’s successful defence of the European title against Chisora would propel him into bigger fights. But he would continue to ply his trade at continental level, defending his belt against solid European contenders like Miljan Rovcanin and Andriy Rudenko. When he moved up, it was into fights with perennial gatekeepers like Kevin Johnson rather than world-ranked stars.

Kabayel did have one near-miss that must rankle to this day. When Fury disputed the rematch clause in his contract for the second Deontay Wilder fight, Kabayel was being lined up to face ‘The Gypsy King’. That WBC title shot evaporated when Wilder won his legal case and Fury was forced to complete the trilogy.

The Makhmudov knockout has put Kabayel back on the path to that lost title shot. He is facing off with one of the world’s best heavyweights for the second fight in a row. Both fighters are in the top 10 of every sanctioning body ranking. The victor here will find themselves very well-placed indeed.

In terms of who is walking away with the victory, I feel this one will be fascinating. Both are well-schooled, though I give the edge to Sanchez in that area. Neither has looked vulnerable for a sustained period of time in their pro career so far. Each is buoyed by fine form.

I can see this one starting cagey. Neither of these men rush things and I think we’ll get a bit of a battle of the jabs early. This will ultimately suit the elusive Sanchez, who will relish a fighter giving him room to work. By the time Kabayel realises he has lost the initiative it will be too late.

I’m going for a Sanchez win at 1/2. ‘The Cuban Flash’ just looks to have more of that world-level polish than Kabayel. It will be a tough night for Sanchez, make no mistake. But by the time all is said and done, the 31-year-old will be eyeing up a date with the winner of the main event. 

You can find all our latest boxing tips and analysis at our Betfred Insights Boxing page

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