AS it stands, we’re already set to see some mouth-watering fights later this year, and we’ve even had some already. As we’re feeling greedy, we’ve come up with a list of the best fight that can be made in each weight division. We have kept out rematches as, technically, those fights have already happened and we aren’t including fights with inactive fighters, despite any speculation that they may be returning to the ring.
Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko winner vs Deontay Wilder
Joshua-Klitschko is a beast of a fight anyway, which will see 90,000 cram into Wembley Stadium and it has HBO and Showtime grappling for the US broadcast rights. The winner will have a strong claim of being the best fighter in the division, though WBC champion Wilder will have something to say about that. He is expected to beat Gerald Washington this month, and could be ringside for Joshua-Klitschko. A unification fight for three belts in the summer would be massive.
Oleksandr Usyk vs Murat Gassiev
WBO champion Usyk sits on top of the pile at the moment but Gassiev, having beaten Denis Lebedev last year, is a potent threat. A gym mate of Gennady Golovkin, the heavy-hitting Russian is only 23 and already considered one of the best in the division. Usyk is a phenomenal fighter with a wildly successful amateur career. They made need a few more fights each to raise their profiles just a little more, but a showdown between them is already unmissable.
Andre Ward vs Adonis Stevenson
A straight-up clash for all the marbles to create an undisputed champion. Ward is coming off a contentious win over former division leader Sergey Kovalev to claim the WBA, WBO and IBF belts while Stevenson owns the WBC strap. A Kovalev-Stevenson fight would, admittedly, ensure more excitement however that saga has gone on long enough. Ward has proven time and again he will accept a challenge and if Stevenson steps up and does the same, we’ve got another superfight on our hands. Small note: Ward has said the only fight he is interested in is a Kovalev rematch. Could be an issue.
James DeGale vs Gilberto Ramirez
Ramirez is still recovering from a hand injury while DeGale is having a well-deserved rest after his January war with Badou Jack. After dominating Arthur Abraham last year, Ramirez announced himself as a leading talent at 168lbs while road warrior DeGale has carved out a reputation as the current man to beat at the weight.
Gennady Golovkin vs Canelo Alvarez
The best fight that can be made in boxing today. Golovkin must get past his toughest test, on paper, to date when he faces Danny Jacobs next month but even for that, he is a heavy favourite. Canelo also has business with Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr in May, but he is also expected to prevail. It would be glorious to see these two elite destroyers finally square off in the summer. Weight can no longer be used as an excuse – Canelo is fighting Chavez Jnr above the middleweight limit, and so would surely be able to fight at 160lbs against Golovkin. Please please please.
Miguel Cotto vs Demetrius Andrade
Andrade is a supreme talent, but circumstances out of his control have hampered his progression and, as it stands, he’s without a world title. Cotto, meanwhile, is winding down his Hall of Fame career but should be looking at challenges such as Andrade. It would be a fascinating test of how much Cotto has left, and how far Andrade could go in the sport.
Manny Pacquiao vs Keith Thurman-Danny Garcia winner
In a recent Twitter poll, Pacquiao listed neither Thurman nor Garcia as an option for his next opponent, perhaps due to promotional/broadcast hurdles. However, the Thurman-Garcia victor will have proven themselves one of the top welterweights in the world while Pacquiao’s incredible body of work – and impressive recent showings against Tim Bradley and Jessie Vargas – prove he is still a force to be reckoned with. Much like Cotto, it would be refreshing to see Pacquiao face some of the new blood.
Terence Crawford vs Adrien Broner
Should Broner get past Adrian Granados this weekend, a clash with WBO and WBC champion Terence Crawford would have huge appeal. For all his talent, Broner has earned himself legions of detractors with his antics outside of the ring. Crawford, also a brilliant fighter, is eager to see his star rise and a win over the villainous Broner would see that happen. Alternatively, Adrien could go a long way to matching his potential if he were to beat Crawford.
Jorge Linares-Anthony Crolla winner vs Mikey Garcia
In destroying WBC champion Dejan Zlaticanin, Mikey Garcia conveyed that his two-and-a-half year layoff did little, if anything, to diminish his extraordinary talents. He launched himself toward the top of the lightweight division and put himself in line to face the Linares-Crolla winner. Linares is top dog at the moment, so it stands to reason that the victor of his fight with Crolla will hold that mantle. A subsequent fight with Garcia would prove, without doubt, who is number one.
Vasyl Lomachenko vs Gervonta Davis
In some people’s opinion, Lomachenko is the best fighter on the planet. He just might be the most talented. Davis, meanwhile, burst onto the scene in January when he stopped IBF champion Jose Pedraza. Backed by Floyd Mayweather, the unbeaten American is tipped for stardom. An all-southpaw clash between these two stylists would be a great spectacle.
Carl Frampton vs Oscar Valdez
In such a stacked division, it’s tough to pick one fight above all others. For example, Leo Santa Cruz against Gary Russell Jnr is another standout match-up, as is Frampton or Santa Cruz against Lee Selby. Frampton fighting WBO champion Valdez would all but guarantee excitement. It’s also a tough fight to call – though Frampton has the better CV, Valdez has looked brilliant and we’re still unsure of just how far he can go.
Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Jessie Magdaleno
A simple case of No 1 vs No 2. Magdaleno dethroned former Rigo victim Nonito Donaire last year, throwing himself into the mix for big fights. Admittedly, the division is suffering due to the likes of Santa Cruz, Frampton and Scott Quigg moving up but Rigondeaux, one of the finest fighters on the planet, against a rising star like Magdaleno would be fascinating.
Shinsuke Yamanaka vs Zhanat Zhakiyanov
Little-known Zhakiyanov stunned Rau’shee Warren last weekend, getting off the canvas twice to do so, to win the WBA title. Yamanaka, who has been in some blood and guts wars lately, has long been the best at the weight. Undoubtedly, this fight would produce some fireworks. “ZZ” is a relentless attacker while Yamanaka has a tendency to get dragged into hard scraps.
Roman Gonzalez vs Naoya Inoue
A momentous battle between two of boxing’s little men. Gonzalez, pound-for-pound the best fighter in the world, moved into the division Inoue rules last year, sparking fervent desire for these two elite operators to collide. For now, it’s not happening but there’s no reason it can’t in the near future. Although he is markedly less experienced than Gonzalez, Inoue has cut a destructive path during his short career. Roman is a four-weight world champion and one of the most exciting fighters around.
Kazuto Ioka vs Donnie Nietes
Former two-weight king Nietes has made a successful move to flyweight and Ioka is one of the most exciting, and talented, fighters in the division. Nietes’ plan was to conquer the flyweight class and he’ll need to go through Ioka to do so.
Ganigan Lopez vs Akira Yaegashi
Yaegashi, a do-or-die warrior, currently holds the IBF title while Lopez is the WBC champion. Lopez bounced back from a 2015 reverse to Pedro Guevara to win his title, while Yaegashi is a former strawweight and flyweight champion. Not only would it be two fighters squaring off at the top end of the division, Yaegashi would likely force Lopez into an enthralling affair.
Knockout CP Freshmart vs Wanheng Menayothin
Freshmart has proven his class with two wins over Carlos Buitrago and victory against Byron Rojas. Though Menayothin’s record is riddled with obscure fighters, he has earned some solid wins and both men are considered two of the best in the division. A winner in a fight between them would produce a clear-cut division leader