Through recent years of unpleased boxing fans accusing certain boxers of constant “cherry picking”, 2017 seemed to be the year in which the best stepped up to fight the best in each weight division.
With explosive super flyweight bouts such as Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez’s (46-2, 38 KOs) consecutive losses to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs), to amazing heavyweight matches like the legendary Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 53 KOs) against still undefeated, rising British heavyweight superstar Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20KOs), and the much anticipated Middleweight Supremacy showdown between the top two middleweights Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs), 2017 left boxing fans spoiled and demanding more competitive fights.
Any devoted boxing fan would rave about 2017’s boxing bouts such as Jack vs. DeGale, Bellew vs. Haye, Brook vs. Spence, Groves vs. Chudinov, Thurman vs. Garcia, Ward vs. Kovalev, Vargas vs. Berchelt, Frampton vs. Santa Cruz, and Broner vs. Garcia to name a few. However, 2018 already seems very promising with its current boxing fight lineup and speculations matchup possibilities.
The boxing year will be off to a magnificent start, as Errol Spence Jr. (22-0, 19 KOs) faces off against Lamont Peterson (35-3-1, 17 KOs) for an IBF Welterweight Title, at the Barclays Center in New York on Jan. 12. More exciting than the actual fight, however, is the speculation that Keith “One Time” Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) would face Spence later on in the year if Spence arises victorious.
On Jan. 27, Argentinian welterweight Lucas “La Maquina” Matthysse (38-4, 35 KOs) will step in the ring against undefeated welterweight Tewa Kiram (30-0, 24 KOs) for the vacant WBA World Welterweight Title at The Forum in Inglewood.
The co-main event will feature Venezuelan “Niño de Oro” Jorge Linares (43-3, 27 KOs) defending his WBA World LightweightTitle against Filipino southpaw, Mercito Gesta (31-1-2, 17 KOs). Most fans, expected Linares to fight Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) late 2017, but negotiations fell through in Garcia’s part. This year, however, the WBA has ordered Linares and Mikey Garcia to face off in the ring.
Mikey Garcia will also be fighting on Feb. 10, against undefeated Sergey Lipnets (13-0, 10 KOs) for an IBF World Super Lightweight Title at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Though many boxing fans find this opponent of questionable caliber, the majority of boxing fans fantasize about super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko moving up in weight to face Mikey Garcia later on this 2018.
It may seem Danny “Swift” Garcia (33-1, 19 KOs) has gone back to his old “cherry picking” ways after suffering his first professional career loss to Keith Thurman early 2017, as the Philly native is set to face Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios (34-3-1, 25 KOs) Feb. 17 at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Though most fans predict this will be a one-sided bout due to Rios’ inactivity prior to his comeback in 2017, many fans also believe Rios has a chance for an upset now that he’s back with trainer Robert Garcia.
We may see a possible Fight of the Year contender in the Superfly2 card which will feature Srisaket Sor Rungvisai defending his WBC World Super Flyweight Title against Juan Francisco “El Gallo” Estrada (36-2, 25 KOs). The card will also include a matchup between Carlos Cuadras (36-2-1, 27 KOs) and Puerto Rico’s McWilliams Arroyo (16-3, 14KOs). Carlos Cuadras is coming off a loss against “El Gallo” Estrada from the previous SuperFly card. The event will take place on Feb. 24 at The Forum in Inglewood.
March 3 will bring an interesting light heavyweight card as Sergey “The Krusher” Kovalev (31-2-1, 27 KOs) will defend his newly acquired WBO World Light Heavyweight Title against Russian southpaw Igor Mikhalkin (21-1, 9 KOs) at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The undercard will feature Cuban star Sullivan Barrera (21-1, 14 KOs) against Russia’s Dmitry Bivol (12-0, 10 KOs) for a chance at a WBA World Light Heavyweight Title. According to promoter Kathy Duva, several offers were made to Sullivan Barrera on two separate occasions to face Kovalev for a shot at a world title, but they were both turned down due to purse disagreements.
Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) is looking to defend his WBC World Heavyweight Title against Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (28-0, 24 KOs) after their first bout scheduled for Nov. 4, 2017, was cancelled due to Ortiz testing positive for banned substances. Their overdue heavyweight matchup will take place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY. on Mar. 3.
Fans of the featherweight division will get an exciting matchup as Oscar Valdez (23-0, 19 KOs) defends his WBO World Featherweight Title against Scott Quigg (34-1-2, 25 KOs) on Mar. 10 at the StubHub Center in Carson Ca.
Though these confirmed fights alone are exciting enough to look forward to a great year of boxing, it is the speculation of possible amazing matchups that keep boxing fans hopeful for 2018.
Following an extremely controversial draw between Canelo and GGG this past Sept., the fans heavily anticipate for a rematch to take place on Cinco de Mayo weekend. Though Oscar de la Hoya has expressed urgency is closing a deal for the rematch, no official announcement has been made from either camp. If announced, however, fans can only pray that Judge Adalaide Byrd is banned from the building.
Another fight that would make 2018 a magnificent year for boxing would be the long-awaited matchup between heavyweights Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua. Though some people would rather let the fight marinate, the majority of fans would love to see them face off sooner than later.
Boxing fans would also love to see a British Heavyweight matchup between Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, as they have both exchanged insults through social media following AJ’s impressive victory over Wladimir Klitschko. Though Fury has been inactive for almost three years, many fans believe he’d be a good challenge for AJ, and another opportunity for him to prove his skills.
As arguably the top pound for pound boxer Terece Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) expressed interest in moving up in weight after completely dominating his division, it is likely that he would challenge the winner between Jeff Horn (17-0-1, 11 KOs) and Gary Corcoran (17-1, 7 KOs). Though many fans agree that Crawford would easily dominate either opponent, many are also intrigued on the dent he could do in the welterweight division which already has amazing talent.
Though these are the most anticipated fights for the most part, many fans also hope for the return of Chocolatito Gonzalez and Keith Thurman. Though their returning situations differ, they both have a style that the fans love and miss.
However 2018 plays out for boxing and however many amazing fights are promised, fans can only hope that all the robberies, incompetent judging, biased scorecards, “cherry picking”, “ducking”, and twitter finger boxers stay in 2017.
*Photo Credit: Lester Silva (IG: @LSBoxing) and Kyte Monroe (IG: @KyteMonroe).