Boxing, unlike any other major sport, is a challenge to keep up with.
Rarely will a boxer takes months touring and promoting their upcoming bout. Rogue promoters and their stable of fighters often fall in and out of relationships with cable networks and streaming services. And most memorable battles come and go far away from mainstream television.
For help navigating the sport’s sporadic schedule, look no further. Here are the top 10 boxing matches to watch in the month of April.
10. Caleb Truax vs. Peter Quillin
After a polarizing career at middleweight, Peter Quillin (34-1-1, 23 KO) officially made his presence felt at 168 pounds last year. On national television, “Kid Chocolate” pelted fringe contender J’Leon Love for 10 rounds en route to an unanimous decision victory. Rated No. 3 in the world by the IBF, a fight with beltholder and Premier Boxing Champions stablemate Caleb Plant is firmly within his grasp if he can pull away from Caleb Truax on April 13.
There was no better man than Minnesota’s own Truax (30-4-2, 19 KO) to help bolster the PBC’s visit to the Minneapolis Armory. In 2017, Truax immortalized himself in the history of the sport with a twelve-to-one upset (+1200) of James DeGale. The 35-year-old American would lose the rematch but six months ago returned to the win column with a third-round TKO over the unheralded Fabiano Soares, a Brazilian accustomed to facing the world’s hardest-hitting light heavyweights.
9. Jaime Munguia vs. Dennis Hogan
Jaime Munguia (32-0, 26 KO) refuses to slowdown after a breakout year of 2018. Fighting five times last year, the 22-year-old Munguia already defended his world title in January, battling the hard-nosed Takeshi Inoue over the championship distance. Now he is doing it again. And Golden Boy Promotions is showcasing their young, undefeated bruiser in the front of his countrymen at Arena Monterrey in Mexico on April 13.
Ireland-born, Dennis Hogan (28-1-1, 7 KO) will be standing in front of Munguia after traveling from Queensland, Australia where he is one of Jeff Horn’s primary sparring partners. A workhorse in the ring, Hogan earned the title fight last year in an eliminator with Jimmy Kelly, winning on points over 12 full rounds. Since the lone loss of his career in 2015, a defeat to former world champion Jack Culcay, the Aussie transplant has won six straight fights.
8. Sergiy Derevyanchenko vs. Jack Culcay
Ultimately outmatched last October against Daniel Jacobs, losing by split-decision, Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-1, 10 KO) is again on the precipice of competing for gold. Just 13 bouts into his professional career, the Ukrainian quickly marched up the middleweight rankings following a bid in the 2008 Olympics and falling just short in consecutive world amateur championships. His upcoming match on April 13 with Jack Culcay represents an eliminator for the IBF crown set to be up for grabs between Jacobs and Canelo Alvarez.
Opposite Derevyanchenko, Culcay (25-3, 13 KO) fights stateside for the second time. He rarely left Germany and Scandinavia in a standout career at 154 pounds, where he won European and minor world titles. Now in the middleweight division, Culcay enjoyed an undefeated 2018 campaign, going 3-0, flexing some muscle in his last two outings for back-to-back TKO wins.
7. Shakur Stevenson vs. Christopher Diaz
On April 20, the prodigious Shakur Stevenson (10-0, 6 KO) takes his biggest test to date in support of Top Rank Promotion’s first pay-per-view production with ESPN. In his first action of 2019, Stevenson extended his undefeated ledger with a four-round destruction of Jessie Rosales (who was coming off an upset over former Olympian Ibrahim Balla). The quick knockout was emblematic of the ferocious pace by which the 21-year-old featherweight has cruised past his competition since a second-place finish in the 2016 Olympic Games.
Christopher “Pitufo” Diaz (24-1, 16 KO) was another of Top Rank’s darlings until a tough loss to Masayuki Ito for the WBO belt last year. The failed title bid busted the Puerto Rican’s perfect record. But Diaz’s power-punching made him every bit competitive. To add to his performance, he never wavered after his left eye was swollen shut. Still just 24, Diaz closed out 2018 by ditching Hungarian veteran David Berna in a single round.
6. Terence Crawford vs. Amir Khan
Terence Crawford headlines the action going down on April 20 at the Madison Square Garden. This fight marks his third dance at welterweight-proper. Inviolable and seemingly unbeatable, Crawford is recognized by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (TBRB) as the No. 2 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. As so, he remains a giant betting favorite (-900) over Amir Khan.
A prominent name in his own right, Khan has fought now at the sport’s highest level for a decade. A string of wins over Luis Collazo, Devon Alexander and Chris Algieri make up a sound run in the welterweight division after leaving the super lightweight class for good in 2014. Bombarded at 155 pounds against Canelo Alvarez hardly takes away from that. But, recently, a rough go with Samuel Vargas last September dampens any hopes of pulling one over on a killer like Crawford.
5. Zolani Tete vs. Nonito Donaire
The World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) bantamweight semifinal between Zolani Tete and Nonito Donaore represents a unification match. Tete (28-3, 21 KO) is the reigning WBO champion, a belt he has held for two years. The No. 3-ranked fighter in the class, his last outing was a supremely classy showing, out-guileing amateur boxing whiz Mikhail Aloyan. The 31-year-old South African has won 12 consecutive bouts since settling for a split-decision loss back in 2012.
Donaire (39-5, 25 KO) holds as esteemed career as any little-weight boxer in recent memory—and as beloved a left hook as there can be. A wonky 2018 puts him in line to reach the finale of the WBSS tournament. A wide loss to Carl Frampton at 126 pounds felt like the end of the road for the “Filipino Flash.” But a surprising drop back down to 118 pounds, as well as a back injury to Ryan Burnett less than halfway into their November 2018 contest, leaves Donaire on April 27 one triumph away from the kind of glory he punched in years ago as a pound-for-pound force.
4. Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Anthony Crolla
Vasyl Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KO) is likely the best gloved fighter on the planet. A three-divisional champion, the Ukrainian maestro returns to California on April 12 to defend his 135-pound belt. He earned the strap last year over the excellent Jorge Linares, trading knockdowns with the smooth Venezuelan before closing the show in Round 10. A less dramatic victory came to follow over Jose Pedraza, winning by unanimous decision.
Anthony Crolla (34-6-3, 13 KO) has the next crack at Lomachenko. The 32-year-old Englishman was not as successful against Linares, dropping two fights as well as his WBA crown. However since then three victories have elevated the pride of Manchester back to the top tier of the weight limit, ranked No. 5 in the world by TBRB. Too much for Ricky Burns to handle in 2017, Crolla’s latest trip to the square-circle saw five months ago saw him outduel the menacing Daud Yordan, snapping the Indonesian tanker’s eight-fight run via a 12-round unanimous decision.
3. Daniel Roman vs. TJ Doheny
With the bright smile and sharp fists of boxing’s typical promising prospect-turned-world champion, Daniel Roman’s record (26-2-1, 10 KO) on paper may not look so sublime, marred here and there by a couple losses and a draw. But fighting out of a cutthroat West Coast circuit more than prepared the Los Angeles native in 2017 to fly out to Kyoko, Japan and pick up the WBA super bantamweight title in enemy territory. Continuing his rise, all in the year 2018, he defended the belt in Tokyo before turning away two other poised challengers, Gavin McDonnell and Chucky Flores, back stateside. On April 26, he has a unification on his hands.
TJ Doheny (21-0, 15 KO) is the unbeaten IBF super bantamweight champ, with his own run-ins with the best Japan has to offer. He won the belt in Tokyo over the hometown, defending titleholder Ryosuke Iwasa. Three months ago, in his first bout under Matchroom Boxing and Eddie Hearn, the Irish-born southpaw never let up for a moment as he punched through Ryohei Takahashi in defense of his 122-pound strap, finally breaking the plucky Japanese in the eleventh period.
2. Kiryl Relikh vs. Regis Prograis
Regis Prograis (23-0, 19 KO) was an easy choice for the top seed in the WBSS junior welterweight tourney. The endearing 30-year-old slugger has found continued success fighting in his local Louisiana. On April 27, he will make it three fights in a row there. Having already hacked away at former world champions Julius Indongo and Terry Flanagan, Prograis is considered the No. 1 boxer in the class by TBRB.
Kiryl Relikh (23-2, 19 KO) is a blue-collar Belarusian who has not relished in such fanfare fighting in foreign land for five years now. He advanced to the semifinals by thwarting off the spindly-punching Eduard Troyanovsky, winning by scores of 115-113 across the board. The judges tally though were topsy-turvy when Relikh got in there with Ricky Burns, horrendously robbed in the latter’s backyard, and to a lesser extent against Rances Barthelemy. Avenging at least the blemish to Barthelemy, TBRB rates Relikh among the Top 5 at 140 pounds.
1. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada II
Since defeating Juan Francisco Estrada the first time around, the super flyweight kingpin Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41 KO) took what might be mistaken as soft touches in his homeland of Thailand. He blew away a middling Young Gil Bae in a matter of three minutes. But his next opponent Iran Diaz beat out shotgun brawlers Luis Concepcion and Tyson Marquez before the two shared a violent 12 rounds in October 2018, where the Thai battler still won nearly every round. Fans should anticipate just as much action come April 26 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.
Estrada (38-3, 26 KO) bounced back from that majority-decision loss to Sor Rungvisai to air his talent on two of HBO’s final shows: first, outworking Felipe Orucuta in the main event of the network’s SuperFly 3 special; then, at the end of the year, he became the first man to stop 34-fight veteran Victor Mendez. Forty-one fights in and somehow just 28, the road has been long for the Mexican boxer-puncher, but anymore than he can handle, surviving years ago what looked like the Golden Age of the flyweight division, and now among the 115-pound pantheon.
Stevenson photo: Mikey Williams/Top Rank
Lomachenko: Steven Ryan/Getty Images/AFP