Overall, 2016 was somewhat of a disappointment for the boxing world. Sure, we got matches like Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev, as well as the shootout between Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido, but plenty of opportunities were missed due to injuries, promotional politics, and overinflated egos. If 2017 could somehow create an ideal boxing world where none of those things existed, here are some of the fights we hope to see.
Gennady Golovkin vs. Canelo Álvarez
This of course is the fight that the boxing world has been clamoring for. On one side, there is Gennady Golovkin, boxing’s “most feared fighter” relentlessly beating opponents with no formidable adversary in sight. On the other is Canelo Álvarez, this generation’s “Golden Boy” and heir apparent to boxing’s crossover star to the mainstream since the retirement of Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. He’s also soundly beaten most of his opposition, and appears to be one of the only contenders that could give Golovkin a challenge. With Golovkin scheduled to fight Danny Jacobs in March, and Álvarez teetering between a showdown with Julio César Chávez Jr. and WBO champ Bill Joel Saunders, the earliest the two could face off would be late 2017, but in the case of this fight, late is better than never.
Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev II
In perhaps one of the only worthy bouts of 2016, the showdown between the undefeated Andre Ward and boxing’s other “most feared fighter” Sergey Kovalev gave fans plenty of solid fighting, though a controversial outcome as well. Fight fans are just about split between who actually won the bout, and if there’s any fight that warrants a rematch, it’s this one. Though neither camp has made statements of their respective future, both fighters still have enough stock in their names to sell a rematch, and there really isn’t a more enticing matchup in the division. Furthermore, not much has changed since their first encounter. Both fighters are still in their prime, both fighters have enough pride and determination to win. Seems only logical for them to meet again.
Adonis Stevenson vs. Winner of Ward/Kovalev II (and in the meantime, Eleider Alvarez)
The one other opponent that would pose a potential challenge for light heavyweight supremacy is Adonis Stevenson, though in all honesty he’s really only in consideration for the sake of formalities. Technically, Stevenson is the linear champion having wrested the crown from former champion Chad Dawson three years ago, but he also hasn’t really fought anyone meaningful since. It’s true that he’s shown plenty of power in his recent outings, but against top competition, he’s run his mouth more than his fists. A fitting test in the interim would be the undefeated Eleider Alvarez who has his own upcoming test this February against Lucian Bute. Should the Colombian get past Bute, a title shot would certainly be in order, with the winner taking on the winner of the Ward and Kovalev rematch.
Deontay Wilder vs. Joshua/Klitschko winner
Since the departure of former champion Tyson Fury, boxing’s heavyweight division has been left in a state of disarray. Three of the four championship belts are held by three different fighters, and the other left vacant due to Lucas Browne failing a number of drug tests. It is, however, trying to straight itself up. First is the matchup between Anthony Joshua and Wladmir Klitschko. This is perhaps the first fight in a long time that has made actual sense in the heavyweight division. Fitting to follow immediately after is a unification bout with WBC champ Deontay Wilder, who took the rest of 2016 off after suffering a torn bicep and broken right hand in his last outing against Chris Arreola. Regardless of who wins the Joshua vs. Klitschko encounter, a fight with either one against Wilder would be entertaining and warranted.
Vasly Lomachenko vs. Francisco Vargas
One of the best technical fighters in the game right now, Vasly Lomachenko, has absolutely destroyed his competition in meticulously impressive fashion, most recently evidenced by making the rugged Nicholas Walters quit on the stool. When asked who he’d like to face next during the post-fight interview, Lomachenko thought through the list of potential contenders and eventually blurted “Vargas!”, referring of course to the durable Francisco Vargas who gave fans the unforgettable shootout against Takashi Miura in 2015, and the front-running FOTY candidate against Orlando Salido in 2016. Though Lomachenko is likely superior in technique, it will be interesting to see how technical brilliance runs up against an indomitable will and plain ol’ toughness.
Terence Crawford vs. Manny Pacquiao
Some fans might disagree with me here, but we still think that 140lb king Terence Crawford would give Manny Pacquiao a hell of a fight. The Nebraska native has outclassed just about every opponent he’s ever faced and his superior use of angles would be an adequate test for the Filipino legend. While many might argue a matchup with the winner of the Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia is more interesting, Pacquiao is naturally closer to the junior lightweight division (perhaps a few pounds above) and a fight against Crawford would be one instance where a catch-weight might be justified. Though the Filipino senator is in the twilight era of his career, it would be a substantial achievement should he win, and a no shame situation should he lose. For Crawford, a victory would signify a torch passing for the next generation of great fighters.
Roman "Chocolatito" Gonzalez vs. Naoya Inoue
Not much attention is ever paid to the lower weight classes in boxing, but Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez has changed much of that. Occupying the top spot in most experts’ pound-for-pound lists, Gonzalez’s skilled combination of technique and power have awed fans into understanding what elite boxing ability looks like. Since moving up a weight, Gonzalez has shown some slight vulnerability, and if there were anyone in the division to expose them, it would be Japan’s Naoya Inoue. Undefeated 12 fights with 10KOs by, Inoue has blazed through his competition, beating many formidable opponents in surprising fashion. A match between the two would not only be entertaining, but it would force fans to care about the bantamweight division.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor
And of course, no fight wish list would be complete without mention of the most talked about crossover bout in the fighting world. Though there is little to no chance of a fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor actually taking place, it is an event that fans from both sports would watch should terms be somehow negotiated successfully. Should it be a pure boxing match? Absolutely not. Mayweather would massacre McGregor. The reverse could be said about the cage. A healthy agreement should be found somewhere in the middle, but because of this, it’s not really a fight that says anything meaningful for either sport. Instead the interest lies more in the pure novelty of the idea. Fight fans have always been infatuated with debates of MMA vs. Boxing, and though the confines of rules kind of makes that argument sort of pointless, we still think even the biggest naysayers would tune in if the fight ever came to be.
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