Aleksandr Usyk

The 5 Best Matchups That Were on the Boxing Calendar Before COVID-19

Amanda Westcott/DAZN

Before the horrific Coronavirus pressed an indefinite pause on the sport of boxing, 2020 was gearing up to be one of the most memorable in recent memory.

We were fresh off Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 2, Tevin Farmer fought for what feels like the millionth time, Jesse Hart came up woefully short in his bid to gain revenge for his Philly hero Bernard Hopkins against Joe Smith and Danny Garcia showed that he’s still one of the best fighters in the world. 

Those fights were just the appetizers as the main course was just about to be thrown on our plate. But then, the Coronavirus hit and changed everything. Although nothing feels quite normal right now, eventually, hopefully, things will return back to normal. 

When boxing does return from its forced hiatus, there will be a ton of matchups that the fans want to see. With so many good one’s already on the table, let’s rank which matchups are the most anticipated.

5. Regis Prograis vs. Maurice Hooker

It’s a battle of two former champions in this one. Regis Prograis (24-1, 20 KOs) and Maurice Hooker (27-1-3, 18 KOs) are great fighters that always look for the knockout.

On paper, this should be a fun contest and in the ring, there is no reason why it shouldn’t live up to expectations. But for as good as this contest actually is, they are essentially fighting for second place. 

Prograis came up just short in his bid to become a unified champion against Josh Taylor back in October of 2019. Hooker on the other hand lost his own contest with Jose Ramirez in the same year as well.

The winner of this one will be in line for a huge fight, but no one will mistake them for the best in the division. It’s a great matchup, but they’re only fighting for second place.

4. Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury 3

Placing Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) vs. Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) at No. 4 seems a bit low. Especially when you consider that they have one of the better rivalries in recent memory. But here’s the problem. Not many believe Wilder will win their third contest. 

When Wilder and Fury first faced off in 2018, most observers gave Fury the victory, but for some reason the judges ruled it a draw. The second contest was a complete whitewash as Fury stopped Wilder in the seventh.

So if we’re counting, it should be 2-0 in favor of Fury. So, while on paper it should be a pretty good fight, the results are likely to be the same. 

3. Miguel Berchelt vs. Oscar Valdez

Both Miguel Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) and Oscar Valdez (27-0, 21 KOs) have very little in terms of fanfare.

You can catch yourself sitting right next to either man at your local bar and not even notice. Their personalities might be mundane, but their fighting styles are the exact opposite. 

Every single fight on this list should be a great one, but if you want action from start to finish, then you’ve come to the right place.

For three years, Valdez held the WBO Featherweight title. When he vacated, everyone knew a matchup with Berchelt was coming sooner rather than later. 

If you have any doubts about the kind of action you’ll see, then sit back and think about this–Berchelt has knocked out his past five opponents and 23 of his last 24. 

In short, don’t blink.

2. Aleksandr Usyk vs. Dereck Chisora

Too high on the list? Not at all. 

Aleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KOs) has been painfully inactive. It hasn’t been his fault. He stepped into the ring just once in 2019, and unfortunately he has become a case of out of sight, out of mind. But since you forgot, here’s a quick reminder. 

From 2016-2018, Usyk defeated everyone in the Cruiserweight division. Nobody really came close to beating him either. Before he disappeared due to injury, many were interested in seeing what exactly he would do on the Heavyweight scene.

His stoppage win over Chazz Witherspoon wasn’t exactly impressive, but his upcoming fight with Derek Chisora (32-9, 23 KOs) is going to answer a lot of questions. 

Chisora has always been a brides maid, but never the bride. So here’s his chance to jump right into the spotlight. 

1. Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez

Vasiliy Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) vs. Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) is the sort of matchup that fans dream of. Lomachenko has looked great in his short time as a pro.

It’s an expression that’s used far too often, but he is truly a once in a generation sort of fighter.

With that being said, Teofimo Lopez is a once in a generation talent. These two haven’t officially signed on the dotted line, but everyone knows this is the next fight for both men. 

When they do decide to jump inside of the ring against one another, it’ll be for all of the Lightweight marbles.

Lomachenko is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world in the eyes of most, but you would be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t think Lopez will find himself on that list very soon. 

There are just so many different ways that this contest can go. And that is exactly why this is No. 1 on the list.

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