With all the spectacular knockouts, upsets and great fights that took place last year, 2020 should be as good, if not better, right?
There are some blockbuster and spectacular fights on the horizon through February, with the big one taking place on Feb. 22 between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in Las Vegas.
So what about the rest of 2020? Can there be solid fights that can still be made, especially in some of boxing’s most competitive divisions. Absolutely.
Here are 11 fights that could be made this year, in no particular order. Not mentioned is the Vitaliy Lomachenko-Teofimo Lopez fight, which supposedly a done deal for April. If that was not case, the fight would have been included in this list.
1. Josh Taylor-Jose Ramirez.
Taylor won the World Boxing Super Series with his sensational and exciting decision victory over Regis Prograis on Oct. 26. In the process, Taylor now owns both the IBF and WBA titles. Ramirez, who has held the WBC belt since March of 2018, added the IBF title with his knockout victory over Maurice Hooker on July 27. Ramirez will defend both titles against Viktor Postol in Haikou, China and is favored to win. Taylor and Ramirez is a 50-50 fight with the winner becoming the undisputed champion at 140 pounds. I cannot imagine a reason why either fighter would not want to face each other. This would be a great fight during the summer, whether in Las Vegas or New York City.
2. Regis Prograis-Maurice Hooker.
This would be a great action fight as both their styles compliment one another. Both fight under the DAZN so this fight should not be difficult to make. The winner puts himself in line to fight for a world title shot. If Ramirez is able to defeat Taylor and unify the belts and Prograis wins, how about a Ramirez-Prograis fight in November or December?
3. Terence Crawford-Shawn Porter.
A Crawford-Spence fight is what every boxing fan wants, but the likelihood of that happening this year is very slim. Crawford has been open to facing any Spence, who owns the WBC and IBF titles, WBA titleholder Manny Pacquiao and any top welterweight on the Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) roster. Both Crawford and Spence have been open about fighting one another, and with Bob Arum and Al Haymon working together to make the Fury-Wilder fight, why not keep the momentum going? Crawford facing Porter would shut up those who believe Crawford only fights those under the Top Rank banner. A lot of factors come into play: Can Crawford do better than Spence, with the latter defeating Porter by decision on Sept. 28? Egidijus Kavaliauskas put up a solid performance before losing by knockout to Crawford on Dec. 14. Can Porter take anything away from that fight and pull off an upset win over Crawford?
4. Naoya Inoue-Nordine Oubaali.
Who knows when ‘The Monster’ will move up in weight to 122 pounds. In the meantime, Inoue-Oubaali would do. Inoue recently signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank, which means his upcoming fights, especially in the United States, will air on an ESPN platform. Keep in mind Inoue has already fought in the United States, stopping Antonio Nieves on an HBO telecast in Carson, California. Inoue defeated Nonito Donaire in an action bout in Saitama, Japan in the final of the World Boxing Super Series. Inoue, who holds the IBF title, added the WBA belt, with his win over Donaire. On the same card, Oubaali successfully defended his WBC title against Takuma Inoue, the younger brother of Naoya.
5. Juan Francisco Estrada-Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (aka Wisaksil Wangek).
Estrada was scheduled to fight Kal Yafai in a unification fight on Jan. 30 outside Miami, Florida, but had to withdraw from the fight because of a hand injury. Who knows if that fight will follow through, but a rubber match against Sor Rungvisai would be fire. The action between the heavy-handed fighters would produce great exchanges. Sor Rungvisai has not fought since the loss to Estrada in the rematch on Apr. 26 in Inglewood, California, while Estrada, who owns the WBC title, stopped Dewayne Beamon in his last bout on Aug. 24. If the rubber match cannot be made, why not make a unification fight between Estrada and IBF titleholder Jerwin Ancajas?
6. Miguel Berchelt-Oscar Valdez.
Berchelt, who owns the WBC junior lightweight title, has looked unstoppable in recent fights. Valdez had a rocky junior lightweight debut at 130 pounds, overcoming a knockdown to Adam Lopez to rally and win by knockout. Berchelt-Valdez could have the capability of becoming this generation’s version of Marco Antonio Barrera-Erik Morales. Both are promoted by Top Rank and are familiar with boxing fans as their recent fights have aired on ESPN.
7. Canelo Alvarez-Callum Smith.
It is highly unlikely Alvarez will drop back down to middleweight, but again, never say never. Just as soon as Alvarez knocked out Sergey Kovalev to win the WBO light heavyweight title on Nov. 2, he would vacate the same title belt about three weeks ago. Should Alvarez want to fight at 168 pounds, it would not be a surprise he faces Smith, who owns the WBA title. Smith stopped Hassan N’Dam and defeated John Ryder by decision in 2019, and is regarded in many boxing circles as the best super middleweight in boxing.
8. Julian Williams-Jermell Charlo.
Williams defeated Jarrett Hurd on May 11 to win the IBF, IBO and WBA junior middleweight title belts. In an action-packed rematch, Charlo stopped Tony Harrison on Dec. 21 to win back the WBC title. Should Williams defeat Jeison Rosario on Jan. 18 in his hometown of Philadelphia, this is the fight to make. A unification fight with four belts on the line and it would be the type of fight that could sell at a neutral site like Los Angeles, Las Vegas or Brooklyn, New York.
9. Andy Ruiz-Adam Kownacki.
As many of you know, I teach at Channel Islands High School in Oxnard, California. It is the same high school that produced Robert Garcia, Fernando Vargas, Jose Aguiniga, and David Rodela. I had a colleague ask me about a potential fight between Ruiz and Dominic Breazeale. I told him how about Ruiz and Kownacki. His jaw dropped, which meant to me he liked the fight. Word is Kownacki will fight in March, but how about Ruiz and Kownacki in during August or September in Brooklyn, New York or in Southern California? Sign me up for that.
10. Oleksandr Usyk-any heavyweight.
Anthony Joshua, who won back the IBF, WBA, IBO and WBO titles with his victory over Ruiz on Dec. 7 in Saudi Arabia, has mandatory title obligations against Usyk (WBO) or Kubrat Pulev (IBF). Wouldn’t it be great if he faced Usyk next, but it could likely be Pulev. If that is the route Joshua goes through, could the popular and talented Usyk in the meantime face the likes of Carlos Takam or Dereck Chisora until a fight gets made with Joshua? Or the winner of Fury-Wilder? We shall see.
11. Gennady Golovkin-Demetrius Andrade
Should Golovkin, the IBF titleholder, get by Kamil Szeremeta in March and Andrade get by Luke Keeler on Jan. 30, can a unification fight be made between the two? Belts matter to Golovkin and, as much as it could be a bad style matchup for him, the WBO title could be enticing enough for ‘GGG.’ Or Golovkin could fight secondary titleholder Ryoto Murata in Japan during the summer. Or he could move up to 168 pounds.
11a. Kosei Tanaka-Julio Cesar Martinez.
This is a stretch if this fight could take place this year, but it doesn’t hurt to dream. Tanaka is considered the best flyweight in boxing and owns the WBO title. Martinez won the WBC title by stopping Cristofer Rosales on Dec. 20 and is scheduled to defend the title on Feb. 29 against Jay Harris. Tanaka could face mandatory challenger Giemel Magramo in the spring and have a showdown with Martinez during the late summer or late fall. Maybe even a showdown in 2021. I really like this fight.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September of 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (Calif.) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing