Welcome to the new ‘Roaring Twenties’ and the first LunchBox of the new decade. I hope all our readers had a fantastic festive holiday period and those of other religious beliefs and cultures a restful end to the year.
Now, the boxing season resumes in earnest as we enter the first year of the decade. Today we take a look at what The Undisputed considers the top five fights we believe most boxing fans want to see in 2020. A tough call, but here goes:-
1. Anthony Joshua v the winner of Wilder-Fury II – We had to start at the top of the food chain. Whilst all eyes will be on the Feb 22nd rematch between Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KO’s) and Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KO’s) for the WBC and ‘lineal’ title, we still lament for an undisputed heavyweight champion. That can only happen if a) Joshua (23-1, 21 KO’s) meets his mandatory obligations (Kubrat Pulev IBF and/or Oleksandr Usyk WBO) and therefore avoids getting stripped of any of the four straps he currently holds and, b) the winner of Wilder-Fury II avoids a trilogy fight (which they are both understood to be contractually obligated to) and meets Joshua before year end.
If it does miraculously materialise in 2020 (assuming Joshua wins his mandatory/ies) we’re in for a barnstormer either way – the shootout with the ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder or a potential boxing masterclass with ‘Gypsy King’ Fury.
We can only pray for this outcome but it’s realistically unlikely to happen until mid/late 2021.
2. Errol Spence Jnr v Terence Crawford – even more difficult contractually to make than the above, largely due to different and hostile promotional ties, this would be a welterweight unification fight between two undefeated stars in their prime. Think Leonard-Hearns I, Curry-McCrory, Trinidad-De La Hoya. This has all the makings of a 147lb fight to savour and one for the ages.
Both Americans are supreme boxing technicians with respectable power and both rated in The Ring magazine pound-for-pound top six. That says it all.
The key to the outcome could be Spence’s (26-0, 21 KO’s) enforced layoff due to a major car accident in which he was lucky to escape with his life. This followed a career defining split decision win against Shawn Porter to unify the IBF and WBC titles.
Could this accident and layoff play on his mind and therefore lead to a difficult pre-fight camp and performance on the night ?
Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s) on the other hand has just come off a win versus tough Egidijus Kavaliauskas to retain his WBO title but it was a drawn out performance which may even things up on the pre-fight betting. One to savour though should it happen.
3. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez v Gennadiy Golovkin III – The final fight in the trilogy that will bring to an end the debates on who is the better middle/super-middleweight, and in doing so, the better fighter.
The Undisputed firmly believes that the Kazakh Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KO’s) won the first fight (despite being deemed a draw) and the second fight was indeed a draw (the decision being given to the Mexican). Opinions are still split throughout the boxing business, with Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KO’s) subsequently ranked Ring magazine pound-for-pound king, and only a third fight will finally end the argument.
This could happen at 160lbs (middleweight), catchweight, or anything up to 168lbs (super-middleweight). The Mexican superstar will call the shots on if, and when, this fight happens.
4. Vasily Lomachenko v Gervonta Davis – the recently demoted Ring magazine pound-for-pound king with outstanding amateur and professional pedigree versus the young, brash and pugilistically vicious upstart.
Can the Ukrainian Lomachenko (14-1-0, 10 KO’s) add to his legend by pushing back the challenge from the Floyd Mayweather promoted kid from the ‘hood ? An intriguing proposition as Lomachenko’s advancing years mean that big fights have to be made in the next 18 months to define his greatness.
The American, Davis (23-0, 22 KO’s) has just moved up and won the WBA world title at lightweight – Lomachenko’s current predatory habitat.
5. Dmitri Bivol v Artur Beterbiev – a light-heavyweight unification between two Russians – Bivol (17-0, 11 KO’s) the WBA Champ and Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO’s) the IBF & WBC Champ. Both undefeated, both supreme amateurs and both with concussive power. Arguably both in their prime. A mouthwatering cocktail and proposition.
Honourable mentions go to potential super-matchups – Josh Taylor v Jose Ramirez, Callum Smith v Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao v Vasily Lomachenko, and Naoya Inoue v Anyone . If we get only three or four of these fights, this year will be one to remember. Enjoy !