As we reach the midway point in 2017, Andrew Kang takes a look at five things that still need to happen this year in boxing.
1. Canelo vs. GGG
Golovkin has stepped up the competition his last two fights (against Kell Brook and Daniel Jacobs, respectively) and it showed as he was not the dominant, indestructible fighter many of us thought.
He looked slow afoot, displayed a shaky defense and a propensity to get hit often with heavy punches. Now 35 years old, some believe he is slowing down and just showing his age. Regardless of the reason, boxing’s biggest potential super fight must be made by this fall because most of us feel an upset looms in Golovkin’s future.
Meanwhile, Canelo is seemingly at his peak right now and, should he get past Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. this May, stands a much better chance of beating Gennady than ever before. Judging by their most recent performances, a victory by Alvarez is certainly within the realm of possibility.
Fans have been clamoring for it and Canelo may lose a golden opportunity if he does not sign to make the fight happen this year.
2. Farewell Pacman
Manny Pacquiao needs to retire–for real. The Pacman has cemented his place among the boxing immortals. There is nothing the eight-division world champion could do at this point to add to his legacy, save perhaps a victory over Floyd Mayweather Jr., which he will not do, nor will a rematch ever be made.
The stench of the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight still resonates with all of us who shelled out $100 to watch the fight. He does not seem particularly interested in fighting either Keith Thurman at Welterweight or moving down to fight Terence Crawford at Junior Welterweight. And no one wants to spend pay-per-view money to see Pacquiao beat up another opponent that is not at his talent level.
While he has not completely lost his firepower, the explosiveness and killer instinct are no longer there. It is Pacquiao’s time to ride off into the sunset, hopefully after the Jeff Horn fight. We have grown weary of the same act and his better days are now behind him, while his current options are very limited.
It has been a great, historic run, but now Pacquiao needs to keep his word to his family and fans. Make way for the new blood.
3. Lord of the (Super) Fly’s
Without a title belt strapped around him for the first time in many years, Roman Gonzalez should now be cleared to jump right in and fight the champion Naoya Inoue for the WBO crown (perhaps a tall order because Gonzalez is currently not ranked by any of the other sanctioning bodies at the 115 -pound division that both combatants reside in).
But he is, far and away, the most marquee fighter in the division and a fight with its rising star, Inoue, makes a whole lot of sense.
If Gonzalez wins it, he re-establishes himself as boxing’s premier “little man.” If Inoue takes it, we can then make a new case for who the top pound-for-pound best boxer in the world is.
Either way, it is potentially one of the best and biggest Junior Bantamweight matchups in recent memory and should answer a lot of questions about both fighters. Realistically, Gonzalez probably has revenge on his mind and wants an immediate rematch with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who pulled off a huge upset win earlier this year and unseated Gonzalez as boxing’s long time pound-for-pound king.
He takes a huge risk, however, should he lose again to Rungvisai. Promoters and the management team representing both parties should actively pursue making this fight happen in 2017.
4. The New Heavyweight Kingpin
A Heavyweight unified title clash between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder. The IBF, IBO and WBA champion Anthony Joshua and his WBC counterpart, Deontay Wilder are two huge, powerful and undefeated Heavyweights that have made a strong case for who the No. 1 fighter in the division is since the belts became vacated by Tyson Fury last year.
Joshua, of Great Britain, is cool, calm and calculated. While Wilder, from the United States, is very boisterous, emotional and fights with a rage. Both are extremely talented, possess fast hands and carry deadly punching power in either hand.
In their combined total of 57 wins in as many fights, 56 have been by knockout. Wilder has publicly challenged Joshua on several occasions and Joshua has never shied away from accepting a fight in the foreseeable future.
Should they duke it out, it would unify ¾ of the undisputed Heavyweight crown. There is certainly a lot of intrigue for a potential mega-fight and the fans are generally split as to who would come out the winner, although Joshua seems to be gaining a lot of momentum and, fresh off his dramatic win over the former undisputed champion Wladimar Klitschko in April, garnering huge support with each victory.
This is the super fight between the two baddest big’s that we want. In many ways, this could make up for the Lennox Lewis-Riddick Bowe cross-Atlantic battle that fans were deprived of a generation ago. A unified, dominant and colorful (sorry Wladimir) Heavyweight champion is something fans have been clamoring for.
Wilder seems to have peaked and Joshua is not far off. The timing to make this fight happen this year could not be more perfect for either fighter and the fans. Wilder is coming off a lengthy layoff after tearing his right bicep. He looked tentative and vulnerable in his last outing against Gerald Washington before halting his opponent in five rounds.
Meanwhile, Joshua just scored a career defining win over the long-time Heavyweight king and former lineal champion Klitschko, surviving his first real test as a professional has the 27-year-old’s confidence soaring.
Already 31 years old, Wilder is getting older while Joshua is getting better. The Heavyweight clash needs to happen this year, especially if you are Wilder.
5. PBC on Free TV
More exciting title fights on free TV! Was it not exciting to see champions Keith Thurman and Danny Garcia battle it out in a title unification of the Welterweight crown just this past March?
And, even better, the fight was televised for free on the CBS network through the Premier Boxing Champions series.
Let us hope Al Haymon continues to showcase more of the sport’s top championship-caliber talent on all its major network affiliates like Fox, NBC and CBS. Moreover, why not show a delayed broadcast of some of its Showtime fights on the network channels at a later date as well?
There is still a very large television audience who do not subscribe to the premium cable channels like Showtime and HBO where all the high profile fights are either aired or re-broadcasted (if it is a pay-per-view event).
Reaching a broader audience with a good product–that is, a highly anticipated and entertaining title match–will pay dividends to draw fan interest back to boxing. Fans will be entertained and become more familiar with some of boxing’s rising stars that have not necessarily crossed over as a pay-per-view or cable channel attraction.
It is imperative this trend continues this year and moving forward for the fate of boxing as a major sport and profitable entertainment source.