With boxing enjoying a resurgence, fans are making up wish lists for bouts they’d like to see take place sooner rather than later. But even though the sport’s popularity is growing, there’s still a problem of too many world champions. Most fans would like to see just one champion in each weight division rather than three or four of them.
To achieve this, boxing needs to unify the titles by having the champions square off against each other. While that’s possible in some cases and would lead to some great matchups, there are also some other excellent possibilities between non-champions and those boxers moving up or down in weight. These are 10 great fights we’d like to see either sometime this year or in 2018 at the latest.
10. Vasyl Lomachenko vs Orlando Salido
WBO Super Featherweight Champion Vasyl Lomachenko (8-1, 6Ko’s) of Ukraine tops many pound-for-pound lists as the former two-time Olympic and World Amateur Champion has adapted extremely well to the pro game. There is one blemish on the 29-year-old’s record though and that’s a split decision loss to Mexico’s Orlando Salido (44-13-4, 31Ko’s) in March, 2014. The former featherweight and Jr. lightweight champion edged the young southpaw by scores of 116-112, 115-113 and 113-115. Lomachenko was trying to win a world title in just his second pro fight against Salido and it was a controversial battle. The Mexican came in over the 126 lb. weight limit seemingly on purpose and gave up the title by doing so. This meant Lomachenko could still win the belt, but failed to do so when Salido landed numerous low blows throughout the contest and rehydrated to 147 lbs. while Lomachenko entered the ring at 136 lbs. A rematch with the 36-year-old Salido would enable Lomachenko to avenge his only pro defeat.
9. Gervonta Davis vs Miguel Berchelt
American Gervonta Davis became somewhat of an overnight sensation when he knocked out Jose Pedraza in the seventh round to win the IBF Junior Lightweight Championship on January 14th in Brooklyn. The 22-year-old southpaw is unbeaten with a record of 22-0 with 21Ko’s. He’s got excellent speed and power and is a protégé of Floyd Mayweather Jr. Davis then went to England on May 7th and stopped Liam Walsh in the third round. However, it took the champion three tries to make the 130 lb. weight limit. We’d like to see Davis deal with 25-year-old WBC Champion Miguel Berchelt (31-1, 28Ko’s) of Mexico who won his title in January in an all-time classic by stopping Francisco Vargas in the 11th round. Berchelt is scheduled to meet former champ Takashi Miura of Japan on July 15th. Therefore if Miura beats him we’ll gladly settle for a Davis vs Miura showdown.
8. Amir Khan vs Kell Brook
This would be a huge domestic fight in the UK as it pits two Englishmen against each other. It’s also an excellent matchup generally since it’s no secret these two guys don’t particularly like each other. The 31-year-old Brook (36-2, 25Ko’s) is a former IBF Welterweight Champion who lost his last two fights to Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr. And while Brook suffered a broken eye socket in each fight, he was very competitive, exciting and dangerous being stopped. The 30-year-old Khan (31-4, 19Ko’s) is a former junior welterweight champ with excellent boxing skills, but a bit of a weak chin. He was carrying the action in his fights against Canelo Alvarez and Danny Garcia before being stopped and his decision loss to Lamont Peterson was highly controversial. This is a fight which could probably draw over 50,000 fans in England and would be a treat for fans all over the world.
7. Roman Gonzalez vs Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38Ko’s) of Nicaragua was riding high on the pound-for-pound list until he ran into Srisaket Sor Runvisai (42-4-1, 38Ko’s) of Thailand in March and lost his WBC Super Flyweight Championship by controversial decision. It was the first pro loss for the 29-year-old Gonzalez who has won world titles in four different weight classes. He was dropped in the first round, but recovered well only to lose by scores of 114-112, 114-112 and 113-113. The 30-year-old southpaw Rungvisai was deducted point for a head butt in the sixth round and landed 284 of his 940 punches while Gonzalez threw 1,013 punches and connected on 441 of them. It appears the WBC has ordered a rematch of this action-packed fight and it’s one fans definitely shouldn’t miss when it takes place.
6. Keith Thurman vs Errol Spence Jr.
American Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19Ko’s) just won the IBF Welterweight Championship over in England with a fine performance against hometown hero Kell Brook. The 27-year-old Spence wore the former champ down and eventually stopped him in the 11th round. Since he’s the real deal there’s no point in Spence Jr. waiting around so he might as well face WBA and WBC Welterweight Champion and fellow undefeated American Keith Thurman (28-0, 22Ko’s). The 28-year-old Thurman already has impressive wins over Shawn Porter and Danny Garcia while Spence is a three-time U.S. amateur champ and former Olympian. Both guys have speed, power and solid chins and this should be a fast-paced, fan-friendly fight. It’s one of the best welterweight matchups out there and would unify three of the titles with Manny Pacquiao owning the WBO belt.
5. Mikey Garcia vs Adrien Broner
To put it bluntly, there are a lot of boxing fans out there who simply don’t like the 27-year-old Adrien Broner (33-2, 24Ko’s) the U.S. due to his antics in and out of the ring. They believe he’s a discredit to the sport and certainly not a role model that kids can look up to. For these people, there’s nothing more they’d like to see than Broner get his come-uppance in the ring again. They’d love to see the unbeaten Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30Ko’s) face Broner as soon as possible to put him in his place. Broner has been a world champ in four different weight divisions while Garcia has achieved the feat in three divisions. If they meet it will likely be at the junior welterweight limit of 140 lbs., meaning Garcia will be going up in weight as he’s currently a lightweight titleholder.
4. Leo Santa Cruz vs Carl Frampton
We’ve already seen Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18Ko’s) of Mexico and Northern Ireland’s Carl Frampton (23-1, 14Ko’s) split a pair of fights and a trilogy is needed to break the tie. The 28-year-old Santa Cruz is a four-time world champion in three different weight divisions and is the current WBA (Super) Featherweight titleholder. Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Frampton is a former bantamweight and featherweight champ. Frampton took the first bout and Santa Cruz’s title by majority decision last July in Brooklyn, with scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 114-114. The rematch was held on January 28th in Las Vegas, and Santa Cruz regained the title via a close majority decision by scores of 115-113, 115-113 and 114-114. Both bouts were exciting and delivered edge-of-the-seat action and a third contest should be just the same. However, it looks like Santa Cruz will be meeting Abner Mares first.
3. Gennady Golovkin vs Daniel Jacobs
One of the biggest fights of 2017 will be the Gennady Golovkin vs Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez showdown in Las Vegas on September 16th. We’ll go out on a limb here and assume Golovkin (37-0, 33Ko’s) of Kazakhstan defeats his Mexican opponent and retains his WBC, WBA, IBF, and IBO Middleweight Belts. If he does, then we’d like to see the 35-year-old ‘Triple G’ take on former WBA champ Daniel Jacobs (34-2, 29 Ko’s) again in a rematch. The two met on March 18th of this year and many fans believed the 30-year-old Jacobs of the U.S. deserved the decision. Golovkin got the official nod though by scores of 115-112, 115-112 and 114-113. The champion’s fourth-round knockdown of Jacobs definitely helped him out on the scorecards, but if the fight was that close and controversial then the only way to settle the issue is to do it again.
2. Terence Crawford vs Manny Pacquiao
First things first, Manny Pacquiao (59-6-2, 38Ko’s) of the Philippines needs to get past Australia’s Jeff Horn down in Brisbane before the WBO Welterweight Champion thinks about another fight. If the 38-year-old Pac Man beats Horn impressively then a matchup against WBC and WBO Junior Welterweight Champion Terence Crawford (31-0, 22Ko’s) of the U.S. would be a fine matchup. Yes, the 29-year-old Crawford would have to come up in weight by seven pounds, but that shouldn’t be a problem for him. Pacquiao’s a natural southpaw and Crawford often likes to turn southpaw during his fights and this bout would feature the speed, accuracy and ring generalship of two excellent boxers. Crawford’s one of the top pound-for-pound boxers out there for the moment and Pacquiao’s a legend, so this fight makes sense as long as Pacquiao looks good against Horn.
1. Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder
Fans want to see unified champions in every division, especially when it comes to the heavyweights. England’s Anthony Joshua currently owns the WBA (Super), IBF, and IBO versions of the titles while American Deontay Wilder is the WBC heavyweight king. Joshua will likely be forced into a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko before 2017 is over and assuming he wins, which is actually a big assumption based on their first fight, he needs to meet Wilder to unify the division. The 27-year-old Joshua is 19-0 with 19Ko’s while the 31-year-old Wilder is 38-0 with 37Ko’s. Since Wilder is 6-foot-7 and Joshua is 6-foot-6, boxing logic would lead us to believe this fight will end in a knockout with several knockdowns along the way being a distinct possibility. This fight has the potential to be a dramatic slugfest and it would give everybody what they really want, which is one true heavyweight champion of the world.