The Undisputed offers its continued best wishes for the Christmas period, and for those of other religions and cultures, happy holidays and peace as we enter 2021.
2020 has certainly seen a challenging year for the sport of boxing following the lockdown and social distancing measures brought in worldwide as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak in the spring.
Events and fights planned were cancelled overnight, gyms closed and the regular battle rhythm of fight results and deals struck for future fights was severely affected. Promoters worldwide faced a major challenge to remain viable and satisfy the demands of their fighters and the television networks. Not to mention the insatiable appetite and demands of the fight fans.
The ingenuity of the promoters; in particular the main players of Matchroom and Queensberry in the UK, and Top Rank, Golden Boy and PBC stateside, ensured that some events were held in a variety of different and unique situations, predominantly behind closed doors. The major networks ably supported in these ventures and dates were rescheduled and fights transmitted. Other smaller promoters around the world, without the resources and network contracts, struggled to survive but managed to help keep the sport going.
The Matchroom ‘Fight Camp’, BT Sport studio and MGM ‘bubbles’ were prime examples of high profile new initiatives. This effort within the ever changing restrictions kept a small number of elite fighters in work and offered hope to contenders, prospects and journeymen who somehow managed to continue training in their own gyms or other makeshift temporary measures. Pictures of boxers training in parks and garages were a regular occurrence on social media throughout the year.
Back in January we entered the new decade with high hopes that some of the major fights we’d been thirsting for could be made. Whilst some great fights took place before lockdown and were held over the year (Wilder-Fury II, Baranchyk-Zepeda, Dubois-Joyce, Spence-Garcia, Smith-Alvarez) the COVID outbreak obliterated any prospect of the majority of the major fights happening.
The Undisputed chose five ‘dream’ fights in its LunchBox of 5th January 2020:
- Anthony Joshua v the winner of Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury II
- Errol Spence Jr v Terence Crawford
- Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez v Gennadiy Golovkin III
- Vasiliy Lomachenko v Gervonta Davis
- Dmitry Bivol v Artur Beterbiev
Regretfully non of these took place.
However, as we enter a New Year and with the prospect of the roll out of the vaccine to combat the scourge of the COVID pandemic we can hopefully look forward to a resumption of fistic hostilities and some of the really big fights, in some cases ‘superfights’, can be made.
Whilst all combatants are one year further into their prime, many of the above have fought once in 2020. All of those stated contests can still be made. Some will have been replaced by more attractive and lucrative contests as a result of new kids on the block, defeats or below par performances.
In the next LunchBox we will preview the Top Five fights for 2021. Some will be the blatantly obvious, but just as a taster for an optimistic year ahead they will be selected from the following:
- Anthony Joshua v Tyson Fury (heavyweight)
- Olexandr Usyk v Joe Joyce (heavyweight)
- Dmitry Bivol v Artur Beterbiev (light-heavyweight)
- ‘Canelo’ Alvarez v Gennadiy Golovkin III (super-middleweight)
- Errol Spence Jr v Terence Crawford (welterweight)
- Spence or Crawford v Manny Pacquiao (welterweight)
- Josh Taylor v Jose Ramirez (light-welterweight)
- Teofimo Lopez v Vasiliy Lomachenko II (lightweight)
- Naoya Inoue v Anyone (bantamweight)
- Roman Gonzalez v Juan Francisco Estrada II (jr-bantamweight)
2021 looks to be a great year for boxing. Over the next week we will explain why.