Opinion | Jan 04 2016

The six questions for boxing in 2016

John Dennen ponders what to look out for this year
Saul Alvarez
Saul-Alvarez-training  |  Gene Blevins/Tom Hogan Photography/Golden Boy Promotions

The adviser is hugely influential in the sport thanks to his close, and highly successful, relationship with Floyd Mayweather. His stable of fighters includes many of the best in the sport and last year he also signed some of Britain’s star world champions, Carl Frampton, Lee Selby and James DeGale. His most startling innovation in 2015 was launching Premier Boxing Champions, a series that brought boxing back to free-to-air channels in America. While many of the match ups were underwhelming, and many of the boxers previously unknown, it did produce some good fights, Frampton and Selby for instance had harder than expected tests in the States, DeGale had two exciting world title scraps, with Abner Mares versus Leo Santa Cruz probably being the best pairing. The big question for 2016 is how the PBC will develop. Will it be establish itself in the minds of casual sports fans? Will it be able to stage more memorable fights and will it produce the next generation of boxing stars?

  1. Will the heavyweight division unify?

Whilst Wladimir Klitschko has been a great champion, whose accomplishments merit great respect, the new age for the heavyweight division, heralded by Tyson Fury’s victory over Wladimir in November is going to add a new layer of intrigue to the sport. The big question is will we get a unified world heavyweight champion this year. Fury has been forced to shed one of the three belts he won, Vyacheslav Glazkov and Charles Martin box for that on January 16 and we have to see whether Deontay Widler, the WBC titlist is going to step forward and take on one of the other champions.

  1. Who will star at the Olympic Games?

The Olympic Games so often produces the next wave of talent to blaze a trail through the professional ranks. We’ve seen London 2012 gold medallist Vasyl Lomachenko win a world title and Olympic super-heavyweight Anthony Joshua impress, and become a real draw, on the way to winning the British title in December. Who will follow in their footsteps? Ireland has some real talent on its hands, look out for Michael Conlan and Paddy Barnes among others. Who will carry American hopes? Can Shakur Stevenson for instance step up successfully from Youth level, or will Claressa Shields become a two-time Olympic gold medallist and get the recognition she deserves? Will Nicola Adams and Katie Taylor also be able to fend off their challengers?

  1. How will boxing tackle performance enhancing drugs?