THE first half of 2018 has produced some marvellous moments but there is still much more to look forward to this year.
To start, the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) has been an exciting and refreshing addition to the boxing calendar of 2017 and 2018 and with both the super-middleweight and cruiserweight finals yet to resolve themselves fans can look forward to two great fights.
Firstly, in the super-middleweight final a matchup between WBA ‘super’ titlist George Groves and the promising Callum Smith is everything boxing fans should adore.
It’s a classic 50-50 fight, something boxing is shy to offer in this day and age, between two highly talented boxers. The element of Groves’ experience opposing Smith’s clear potential makes for a highly anticipated final. This could be the fight Smith truly announces himself as a world class fighter, while for Groves it’s another opportunity for the Hammersmith champion to cement his claim as the best 168lbs fighter around, as he shows no sign of slowing down at the age of 30.
The fight date is yet to be announced however, although an August/September time scale is probable, the cruiserweight final on the other hand takes place on Saturday July 21 at the Olimpiysky Sports Complex in Moscow, Russia.
Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk meets Russian Murat Gassiev for all four of the major organisations world titles (WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF). Usyk looked almost unblemished in his 14 straight wins however, after Mairis Briedis pushed the 31 year-old all the way in their semi-final many have suggested Gassiev, who beat Yunier Dorticos to earn his spot in the final, can match the Ukrainian for skill.
Carl Frampton made a successful start to 2018 as he beat former four-weight world champion Nonito Donaire in April. The Irishman has finally been handed his dream of headlining a card at Windsor Park stadium.
Frampton takes on undefeated Aussie Luke Jackson, a 2012 Olympic captain, and fans can look forward to what promises to be an electric atmosphere and an inspired performance by the two-weight world champion.
Also on the card is countrymen Paddy Barnes who in only his sixth professional fight challenges for the WBC flyweight world title against champion Cristofer Rosales.
Former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury competes for the second time since he returned to action after a near three year hiatus, fans will be hoping for a more challenging test this time around as the “Gypsy King” beat Sefer Seferi in comical fashion on his return bout.
British rivals Amir Khan and Kell Brook compete for the second time this year after they both won their return bouts since suffering defeats. For Khan he returned from his 2016 knockout loss to Saul Alvarez with a 39 second stoppage of Phil Lo Greco in April, while Brook bounced back from consecutive defeats he suffered against Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jnr with a first round knockout of Sergey Rabchenko in March.
Khan takes on Samuel Vargas in a welterweight matchup in September at the Birmingham Arena whereas Brook will take to the ring first, on July 28 at the O2 Arena, London, where he meets Brandon Cook at super-welterweight.
Headlining that card is a brilliant matchup between heavyweights Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker, who both hold one sole loss in their careers, coming against the same opponent in Anthony Joshua.
This fight could hand Whyte the big name win he needs on his record to establish himself as one of the world’s best heavyweights, as “The Body Snatcher” looks to improve on his seven straight wins since his 2015 loss.
A win for the former WBO world champion Parker will boost his chances of fighting for a world title again as his British opponent finds himself highly ranked with all four of the major organisations.
Finally, in a saga that has plagued the boxing world for the best part of a year looks set to add another chapter on September 15, as Gennady Golovkin meets Canelo Alvarez for the second time.
The two treated boxing fans to a fight of the year contender in May 2017 however, a more than questionable scorecard that heavily favoured Canelo cast a dark cloud on the fight. After Canelo failed two drug tests in early 2018 the scheduled May rematch was cancelled. Rescheduling a date to fit the Mexican’s six month ban the fight looked to be in jeopardy as the two could have gone in separate directions after failed negotiations and squabbles over the terms.
However, on June 13 Golden Boy Promotions and promoter Oscar De La Hoya announced the rematch was on, at last.
Although there are many talking points going into this blockbuster rematch, mostly negative ones at that, this is still a great fight.
If the Canelo-Golovkin saga looks set to end, boxing has already began to introduce the latest version – Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. Two unbeaten, world heavyweight champions who share 59 knockouts with a combined 61 wins in their careers.
In a history making fight that would see boxing crown its first unified heavyweight champion to hold all four of the major organisation world titles, Joshua and Wilder looked bound to meet, and then negotiations broke down. With contacts reportedly sent, and remaining unsigned, time has run out for this bout to take place next for Joshua, as the Brit is mandated by the WBA to face Russian Alexander Povetkin.
Promoter Eddie Hearn expressed his desire to sign Wilder to a two-fight deal that would see the American compete on the newly announced DAZN platform before meeting Joshua in the unification bout everyone wants to see.
However, Wilder put an abrupt end to this idea as he publicly turned down the proposed offer, leaving this fight to be the latest addition to the shelf of fights fans must wait to happen.
In better news pound-for-pound contender Vasyl Lomachenko is slated for a December return to action after shoulder injury which he obtained when beating Jorge Linares to win the WBA lightweight title becoming a three-weight world champion in the process.
Newly crowned WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford and IBF titlist Errol Spence Jnr have talked up the possibility of colliding in what would promise to be a talent packed fight of the year contender.