By Cliff Rold
Yuandale Evans-Luis Rosa was one hell of a fight last Friday night.
It was also 2017 in microcosm. Boxing is a gambler’s sport and many a gambler has enjoyed the thrill of the hot hand. There are times when the dice just keep coming up sevens, the Aces keep dropping on the Kings, and the slots keep coming up cherries.
Hot hands don’t last but they’re a hell of a ride until they finish. In 2017, boxing has had a hot hand. Who thought they were sitting down last weekend for a bit of a classic? The answer is probably not many but it shouldn’t have been a surprise.
This has been that sort of year.
It’s a shame it’s almost over. We’ve seen stellar action in multiple weight classes, from the excitement at 115 lbs. to the birth of a potential superstar in Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko. While there may be another Evans-Rosa along the way, looking at the remainder of the year it’s fair to wonder if we’re already entering the reset mode and gearing up for 2018.
In a year this loaded, it’s almost like we’ve almost run out of fights. The reset is creeping upon us.
It’s not a criticism and there are some gems still out there. Vasyl Lomachenko-Guillermo Rigondeaux may or may not be entertaining. The hardcore fans are going to have a blast breaking it down up to the opening bell. Billy Joe Saunders-David Lemiuex is a very interesting middleweight fight. Sergey Kovalev and Orlando Salido have dates coming up as well, though both may ultimately be more about what most of the remainder of the year will be.
Setting the table for 2018.
Assume another barnburner or two is coming. The hot hand isn’t extinguished but the bigger question is whether boxing can put together another year like this one.
It looks good.
The World Boxing Super Series semi-finals and finals at super middleweight and cruiserweight are set. If super middleweight titlist James DeGale’s December appearance is about getting him in position, it might well be for the winner of the tournament. Three of the four remaining WBSS fighters at 168 lbs. are from the UK.
The winner versus DeGale is big business.
The cruiserweight field is going to give us a tri-belted kingpin of the class for the first time since David Haye. Whoever that might be could stick around at 200 lbs. for a while or push themselves up a few pounds and chase the giant dollars Joshua represents.
Everything about the appearances of Joshua and fellow heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder felt like table setting in October. Stateside, it’s getting bigger and the only heavyweight tussle that might make more money at the moment is if Tyson Fury magically got back in shape and took Joshua on first.
Since it might take Fury a moment, Joshua can rest on two very lucrative possibilities.
The SuperFly card in September of this year set the stage for more in the year ahead with signs pointing favorably to a Srisaket Sor Rungvisai-Juan Francisco Estrada showdown to kick things into gear.
As interesting as Lemieux-Saunders is, that fight along with the fall HBO return of Demetrius Andrade and Daniel Jacobs beating Luis Arias last week really feel more like setting up the post-Alvarez-Golovkin world. That rematch appears inevitable for 2018. The winner will need someone to fight, assuming they don’t wind up right back with each other again.
Showtime’s investment at welterweight and Jr. middleweight is going to be thrilling. Their stacked Jr. middleweight card in October made room for possible unification matches including Jermell Charlo, Jarrett Hurd, and Erislandy Lara. Mix them in any combination and it’s solid. One class below, Errol Spence and Keith Thurman feels like a genuine showdown. The winner against whoever emerges at 154 lbs. could be relevant before next year is out.
And that’s not even taking into consideration that Top Rank still has an aged Manny Pacquiao and a prime Terence Crawford out there at welterweight as well.
All those names, all those fights made and looking likely, sound like a wealth of things to be excited about. If right now feels like the beginnings of a reset period, it’s because very little of what remains in 2017 sounds as exciting as what might be right around the corner.
2017 has been one hell of a year for boxing. It won’t be long before we find out if 2018 can keep pace.
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Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]