Happy New Year to most of our readers.
Only two days into 2023 and we can look forward to some exciting match ups in world rings over the year. The festive period has come and gone and it’s now full steam ahead for the ‘noble art’, both internationally and domestically.
Our appetite was tempered last January by the enforced suspension by the British Boxing Board of Control to relieve the draw on COVID medical response resources. This year, all being well, we’re straight in.
Here are our top five contests with implications and gains for British fighters. A number being of world significance.
- Artur Beterbiev v Anthony Yarde – Scheduled for January 28 for the undefeated Russian, Beterbiev’s light-heavyweight world titles. Both are renowned big punchers and Londoner Yarde is making his second attempt at winning a world title. Fireworks are expected either way.
- Josh Taylor v Jack Catterall – A long awaited Scotland-England rematch for the IBF world super-lightweight title. Taylor (19-0, 13 KO’s) controversially retained his titles against the Englishman, Catterall (26-1, 13 KO’s) last February by split decision and the rematch has been eagerly awaited.
- Tyson Fury v Oleksandr Usyk – The fight the world wants to see. This would mark the unification of the World Heavyweight Championship and crown the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis in 2002. The waiting may soon be over after both sanctioning body champions have removed their immediate obligations and look to have agreed to meet. The most likely date is in March with the Middle East being the frontrunner to host it. London also remains in the equation but looks unlikely.
- Richard Riakporhe v Chris Billam-Smith – another all-British rematch with world consequences. The original fight was won by Riakporhe by split decision in July 2019 and both have looked impressive ever since, racking up undefeated records. Despite both being high in the world rankings and having title aspirations, , the rematch is a natural as both are promoted by BOXXER and need to eliminate each other to secure a world title fight. Waiting in the wings is WBO world champion Lawrence Okolie (18-0, 14 KO’s) who is slightly more advanced with his Olympic pedigree and title defences. 2023 is promising to be a standout year for British cruiserweights on the world stage.
- Joshua Buatsi v Anthony Yarde – at light-heavyweight, this contest is stalled by Yarde’s challenge to Artur Beterbiev, but should he be victorious and enter it with world titles it has the potential to be British fight of the year, and won’t be far off the world’s best. Both Londoners are ‘box office’ and it is again a natural rivalry and match up.
Later we will preview the British prospects for the year and boxing’s biggest potential matches on the world stage for 2023.
This weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the Ringside Charitable Trust.