There have been a slew of fights – some we’ve heard about for a while, some not so much – that are now apparently in the works or even on the verge of being signed and announced. So, to keep things fresh, this week we’re going to take a look at each of these fights, the chances of them happening, how they’ve been covered in the media and what they could mean for the sport as a whole. Let’s dive in.
Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk
This is the big one. The one to determine the true heavyweight king and, perhaps, the best heavyweight of this current era. Since his triumphant trilogy with Deontay Wilder and subsequent drubbings of compatriots Dillian Whyte and Dereck Chisora, Fury has become a global star. Not only that, but he’s cemented his status as one of the best fighters on the planet.
Usyk, meanwhile, cleaned up at cruiserweight before storming into the sport’s banner division and twice beating Anthony Joshua with two career-defining performances. He is undoubtedly one of the most gifted fighters in the sport.
This is the only fight to make for either man and is arguably the most important fight that can be made in boxing right now. Some might say Terence Crawford-Errol Spence should claim that title, but nothing can compete with the attraction of the heavyweights, particularly when characters like Fury and Usyk are involved.
According to recent reports, more specifically an interview talkSPORT held with promoter Frank Warren, Fury-Usyk is almost over the line and is targeted for the end of April. We could even hear about a confirmed location in the coming days.
Negotiations for this one have been ongoing for months and we’ve been receiving piecemeal updates in the media the entire time which, at moments, has become quite tiresome. That all becomes irrelevant though if the fight is soon officially announced.
Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia
While Fury and Usyk are two men at the tail-end of their respective careers, having proven themselves time and again at the highest level, we could also soon see a fight between two fighters in a very different phase of their careers. Davis and Garcia, while both already popular attractions, still have something left to prove and could both be on the verge of true superstardom.
So it makes complete sense for the two American lightweights to fight each other, which is apparently the plan. April 15 is reportedly the desired date, somewhere in Las Vegas.
Talks for this one have been going on for a long while, much of it playing out on social media, and it has certainly been more frustrating than the Fury-Usyk updates. A month or so ago it appeared that an official announcement was imminent, but no such news came. Both Davis and Garcia have regularly taken to social media with ‘updates’ that haven’t said much at all.
It’s difficult to know at this point how likely it is that the fight actually happens. All signs point toward a positive outcome, but we’ve had word about this fight being signed and sealed before, only for that to not be the case.
It’s an important fight between two young talents and the victor would surely go on to become one of the sport’s brightest stars. For Garcia in particular, it’s also a fight that perhaps could have waited until later in his career after he had moved through stiffer opposition than he has already faced.
Anthony Joshua vs Jermaine Franklin
Of all the fights discussed in this column, Joshua-Franklin is the closest to being officially announced. According to those involved, including promoter Eddie Hearn, the fight is all but signed and confirmation is imminent (or already occurred, depending on your time of reading).
There have only been a few reports of this fight in the media; most of the attention surrounding Joshua has focused on his new training setup, which will apparently now be relocated to the US under a head coach that is yet to be confirmed.
After his two losses to Usyk, the Londoner is clearly looking to rebuild himself. A new training team – particularly one away from all the distractions he must surely have to endure at home – seems like a smart move. Not only that, but the selection of Franklin as an opponent suggests that Joshua does not want to once again jump back in at the top level.
Franklin’s last fight was a contentious defeat to Dillian Whyte. He is by no means considered a top heavyweight, but he could be just the right opponent for Joshua at this stage.
Conor Benn vs Manny Pacquiao
Yes, you read that right. And no, this almost certainly isn’t going to happen. The idea of this fight only came into existence because Hearn mentioned in a couple of interviews that there have been “minor discussions” with Pacquiao’s team about making this fight. Pacquiao is retired from boxing though has dabbled in exhibition bouts since walking away.
Benn, of course, failed two drug tests last year though proclaims his innocence while two separate investigations are underway to determine whether he knowingly ingested banned substances.
Even without the issue of Benn’s failed tests a fight with Pacquiao would be a depressing matchup. The Filipino icon is not an active fighter and will turn 45 this year. A fight with Benn would be a rather desperate attempt to further pad the Brit’s record.
Benn’s focus should be clearing his name beyond any doubt, if he is in fact innocent. If that happens, he should then be looking at active welterweights who would help him progress what was a very promising career before his failed tests.
Of course in reality Hearn probably mentioned Pacquiao in attempts to drum up more interest for Benn’s eventual return to action, as reports suggest he will be exonerated in at least one of the investigations into his failed drug test results.
Boxing on the Box
Adam Azim-Santos Reyes
Sky Sports Arena
Coverage begins at 6pm