The COVID-19 pandemic made a tough 2020 in boxing. Some of the biggest fights we were hoping to see were canceled entirely or suspended. But with a new year comes a new hope that the virus will be better controlled and keep the sport running as close to normal as possible. If the end of 2020 was any indication, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for fans hoping that the fights that have been provoked can take place over the next 12 months.
Sporting News takes a look at some of the best fights that can be made in boxing and the likelihood of them joining.
Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury
This is an obvious no-brainer as it will determine an undisputed heavyweight champion in a clash of the UK’s biggest stars. The gears have already started as both parties have agreed in principle to a clash for all the marbles. The only thing stopping Joshua-Fury is a couple of opponents who may not be willing to wait their turn. Oleksandr Usyk is Joshua’s agent for the WBO heavyweight title and has not yet agreed to step aside, while Deontay Wilder made it clear that he is willing to take him to court if he cannot get Fury to commit to a third fight.
Assuming both obstacles are overcome, it will be the first time there will be an undisputed heavyweight champion in the four belt era. It’s also a brilliant clash of styles, as Fury’s nimble footwork and exceptional defense will play against Joshua’s impressive offensive firepower. Not to mention, it will serve as the biggest fight in UK history. It is the fight we love the most and the one closest to reality.
Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford
Errol Spence Jr. and Terence Crawford have been on a collision course for the past two years. Unfortunately, boxing politics continues to make this a difficult fight to put together.
Crawford has been the WBO welterweight champion since 2018, but has struggled to land one of the biggest names in the division as they all come under the promotional umbrella of Premier Boxing Champions. The former undisputed junior welterweight champion has remained at the top of the pound-for-pound list of boxing experts for years, but he needs a worthy name to top him.
Spence has been brilliant throughout his professional career and has excelled as IBF and WBC champion. With wins over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia, Spence is getting closer to cleaning up the division. But one man really stands in her way.
Between Crawford’s ruthless finishing skills and Spence’s tactical excellence, this would be an epic showdown between two undefeated champions. But as long as they keep arguing over the money and act like they don’t need each other, we’re dangerously close to this fight not happening.
Hopefully cooler heads will prevail and give boxing fans what they want.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermall charlo
If Canelo Álvarez has something, they are his options. The man recognized by many as the pound-for-pound king of boxing has built an impressive résumé in the hall of fame despite being only 30 years old and continuing to improve. As the WBA (super) and WBC super middleweight champion, Canelo has expressed his desire to capture every title in the 168-pound division. That would mean that fights against IBF champion Caleb Plant and WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders appear to be on the horizon.
But is that the most intriguing fight for Canelo?
While fans want to see a third fight with Gennadiy Golovkin, the fact that there is bad blood and Golovkin campaigns in a weight class next could throw a monkey wrench on those plans. One name that could come up as a possible highly successful PPV showdown is WBC middleweight champion Jermall Charlo, who has stated that he is more than willing to climb to super middleweight to face Canelo.
It’s an extremely commercial fight, as Charlo is coming off a win at a pay-per-view event and has seen his shares rise in recent years. Frankly, Canelo could take on any of the aforementioned names and it would be a big deal. But there is something about the undefeated Charlo that makes a showdown intriguing.
MORE: Will Canelo vs. GGG 3?
Ryan Garcia vs. Gervonta Davis
Both fighters want it and appear on a collision course to make it happen. With Gervonta Davis’ violent knockout of Leo Santa Cruz and Garcia’s claw punch on Luke Campbell behind them, two of boxing’s brightest young stars would be a television must-see.
Garcia has already proven himself to be a main attraction, and his win over Campbell has shown that he is more than an Instagram celebrity, while Davis has demonstrated immense marketability and crushing power.
This may seem hyperbolic, but a Garcia-Davis fight could play out much like a Marvin Hagler vs. Tommy Hearns fight today. They are both extremely offensive minded fighters with life-changing power. Davis, like Hagler, is the most compact power puncher, while Garcia, like Hearns, has a height and reach advantage to match his thunderous left hook.
With Garcia established as the mandatory challenger to Devin Haney and Davis currently competing in a lower weight class, he may not be next. But it is very possible that it will meet at the end of the year.
MORE: Ryan Garcia Has His Definitive Win; boxing has its new hope
Caleb Plant vs. David Benavidez
In the event that Plant can’t get Canelo’s fight, one opponent that makes a lot of sense is undefeated two-time WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez. How is Benavidez a two-time champion without losing a fight in the ring? Well, he was first stripped naked after testing positive for cocaine in 2018. He ended up winning the title in 2019 when he ran over Anthony Dirrell a year later. However, he failed to make weight last August against Roamer Alexis Angulo and was again stripped of the title.
But with the bad blood they have for each other, it makes sense to match Plant and Benavidez sooner rather than later. It’s also a fantastic clash of styles, as Plant’s speed and boxing ability will be put to the test against Benavidez’s hard-hitting combination of punches.
With the winner in line to face Canelo, this is absolutely the fight to be made.
José Ramírez vs. Josh Taylor
A junior welterweight clash between WBC and WBO champion Ramirez and IBF and WBA champion (Super) Taylor already appears to be set in stone as they have eliminated the rest of their rivals in the division and are under Top Rank’s promotional umbrella.
And it’s a showdown that would have fight fans salivating when it happens.
Taylor was excellent in the World Boxing Super Series when he stopped Ryan Martin and got decisions against Ivan Baranchyk and Regis Prograis to come out with two titles. Meanwhile, Ramirez won the vacant WBC title by defeating Amir Imam in 2018 and captured the WBO championship in a fantastic battle with Maurice Hooker in 2019.
With no one to turn to, it looks like we will have this fight sometime this spring.
Teofimo Lopez Jr. vs. Devin Haney
This fight must happen to resolve the controversy over whether or not Teofimo López is the undisputed lightweight champion. After shocking the world by defeating Vasiliy Lomachenko, Lopez was recognized by some as the undisputed champion. However, Devin Haney has held the WBC title since 2019. Things got complicated with the WBC making Lomachenko their “Franchise” champion while elevating Haney to a “complete” champion, which has only confused the fanatics.
Instead of arguing over the distinction, the two sides can also fight and resolve it once and for all. Haney and Lopez are recognized as two of the best under-25 fighters in the world and they would make an excellent showdown.
Both have sought to prove that they are the best fighters in the world and have never shied away from a challenge. If Ryan Garcia opts to fight Davis over Haney, it makes perfect sense for these two young fighters to go head-to-head for all the marbles.
Shakur Stevenson vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko
When it comes to young boxing stars, Shakur Stevenson is often mentioned as the most skilled fighter of all. But with the 135-pound division being where Garcia, Lopez and Haney live (with Davis soon to follow), Stevenson can make his way through the 130-pound division. You have already targeted Miguel Berchelt or the winner of Carl Frampton vs. Jamel Herring, but a fight with Lomachenko could come to fruition by the end of the year.
After losing to Lopez, Lomachenko’s best move is probably back down to 130 pounds, where he once reigned supreme. If both of them must end up fighting at the beginning of the year and emerge victorious, who wouldn’t want these two to face off?
Deontay Wilder vs. Andy Ruiz Jr.
Look, as much as Deontay Wilder wants his third fight with Tyson Fury, it might make more sense to wait to face the winner of Joshua-Fury for all the marbles. In the meantime, why not take on the man who caused the big surprise for Joshua in Andy Ruiz Jr.?
They both have something to prove and they had world championships in their hands. Between Ruiz’s granite chin, quick hands and supposed new commitment to boxing under Eddy Reynoso, and Wilder’s life-changing power, it’s a clash that would set the winner up for an undisputed title fight.
Make it happen!
Manny Pacquiao vs. Mikey Garcia
Everybody wants to fight Manny Pacquiao. From Spence and Crawford to Conor McGregor, the line to face a living legend is long. Considering Pacquiao never showed interest in facing Crawford or Spence and a fight with McGregor is a cash robbery that can happen at any time, perhaps the best fight for Pacquiao is against Mikey Garcia.
Garcia was a pound-for-pound fighter before he bit off more than he could chew against Spence. Outside of that stain, Garcia has had an excellent career as a four-division world champion. He’s slightly smaller than a welterweight, much like Pacquiao, so the showdown is almost on equal footing.
Garcia has openly called for the fight and rumors suggest it came close to happening in the Middle East before COVID and shouldn’t be that difficult to put together.
The styles blend together as Garcia’s is somewhat reminiscent of Juan Manuel Márquez with his kickback and ring IQ, while Pacquiao still has something left in the tank as the only boxing world champion in eight divisions. A wonderful fight that could serve as one of Pacquiao’s last.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.