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Facing Forward When it Comes To Canastota Enshrinement

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It’s just more than five months away.

That’s 156 days, for you need-to-be-exact types.

Either way, for boxing fans, few weekends on the calendar provide the drama and jubilation as the one in which the International Boxing Hall of Fame's newest class is enshrined.

The Class of 2020 was made public last month – congrats to Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley and Juan Manuel Marquez, by the way – and I've decided to face further forward when it comes to future Canastota revelry.

While we can all agree that guys like Roy Jones Jr., Andre Ward and Floyd Mayweather are locks for the next few years now that they're all officially inactive, it takes a more prospecting roll of the dice when looking beyond, let's say, 2025.

With that in mind, I've assembled my list of the five fighters – all still far from being “late” in their careers – who seem to have the best chance to eventually join the hallowed fraternity.

The list is compiled based on where these relative youngsters stand, what they've already accomplished and what's still needs to happen to guarantee they'll pass muster with the BWAA masses.

Of course, given that it's my name at the top of the article, I'm approaching the project with my own hall voting criteria – perhaps more stringent than others’ – which asks whether the fighter was among the best in his peer group for a prolonged stretch of time?

Not a one-year star or a popular guy who got TV time solely due to persona or style, but was he one of those guys – for at least a handful of years – who were on a short list of the best fighters in the world?

If the answer is yes – think Mayweather and Pacquiao – he’s got my vote.

If the answer is no – think Butterbean and Kardashian – he’s got my apologies.

Without further ado, here's the sure-fire fantastic five, as well as a handful of others who’ll have a trifle more work to do before now and balloting day.

vasiliy-lomachenko (2)_5

FAST-PASS ENTRY

1. Vasiliy Lomachenko
Age: 31
Record: 14-1, 10 KO
What he’s done: Became champion in third pro fight; won titles in three weight classes

Where he’s at: Holds WBA, WBC and WBO lightweight titles, reportedly on the way to firming up a date with newly-crowned IBF champ Teofimo Lopez

What’s still needed: Given the criteria that opened the doors for the limited but adored likes of Arturo Gatti, the man known as “Hi-Tech” is essentially guaranteed already given a prodigious 15-fight resume. But an impressive defeat of Lopez – which I think he’ll get – will surely help sway the remaining holdouts and make it a no-brainer.

When he’ll arrive: Assuming he goes to age 35, look for him in the Class of 2028 or 2029

2. Errol Spence Jr.
Age: 29
Record: 26-0, 21 KO
What he’s done: Stopped 21 of 26 pro opponents, including three of five in title bouts, and added the WBC welterweight title in September to the IBF belt he’d had since 2017

Where he’s at: Holds both 147-pound straps and is inching closer to a comeback following a car accident in which he sustained serious – but apparently not career-threatening – injuries

What’s still needed: He’s off to a great start, but there’s some work to be done. Spence needs a long, successful run at 147 – ideally another unification with the likes of Terence Crawford and a high-profile rematch with Shawn Porter. His skill set should also enable a weight-class climb.

When he’ll arrive: Give him a few years or so to fill out the bio and he’ll slide in with Loma in 2029

3. Mikey Garcia
Age: 32
Record: 39-1, 30 KO
What he’s done: Became a champion at featherweight in 2013, climbed to 130 for a belt later that year and returned from a prolonged layoff to add trinkets at 135 and 140 in 2017 and 2018, respectively

Where he’s at: His chase for greatness pushed him to welterweight last spring and resulted in his first career loss, a one-sided decision against Spence

What’s still needed: Even more so than Lomachenko, Garcia could hang them up tomorrow and have a better case for enshrinement than several who are already in. That said, if he’s able to land and win a big fight with Manny Pacquiao, and perhaps ultimately win a belt at 147, there’ll be no case for dissent.

When he’ll arrive: A couple more years sound right for Mikey, so book him a room in Central New York in 2025 or 2026

4. Canelo Alvarez
Age: 29
Record: 53-1-2, 36 KO
What he’s done: Two runs as champion at 154 pounds with six title defenses, alongside a second title at middleweight, a bogus belt at 168 and a jump to 175 to win the WBO crown there

Where he’s at: Most recently separated Sergey Kovalev from his title and his senses last November, and has subsequently been connected to nearly every name fighter between 154 and heavyweight – not to mention an MMA wannabe or two

What’s still needed: How is this guy still just 29 years old? He’s held legit title belts at three weights, rode sidesaddle to Mayweather in one of history’s most lucrative bouts and returned as the A-side in the long-awaited Golovkin showdown and a rematch. He’s got to be a lock at this point, too, but his stock will certainly rise if he’s able to land another GGG fight and finally earn a decisive win – or lure the likes of Andre Ward away from the broadcasting table.

When he’ll arrive: He’s been a pro since 15, but it’s hard to envision him quitting before he’s 32 or 33. Assuming it’s the latter, in 2023 or so, he’ll be another late-2020s class-topper – call it 2029.

5. Anthony Joshua
Age: 30
Record: 23-1, 21 KO
What he’s done: Assembled a collection of four title belts – IBF, IBO and WBA and WBO – at heavyweight, then returned from a stunning loss to win them back six months later

Where he’s at: Basking in the glow of that comeback win over a tubby Andy Ruiz, and back in his hemming and hawing positions with Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury over their futures

What’s still needed: He’s on his way, but not yet a slam dunk. A sought-after unification with WBC champ Wilder is the latest fight to put the heavies back on the mainstream map, and a win in such an event adds an important resume bullet point. He’ll probably that and double-digit defenses to move the enshrinement needle from “maybe” to “likely.”

When he’ll arrive: Two fights a year will extend the time needed to get his Hall pass sufficiently filled out, so we’ll say he goes another seven years and gets his plaque in 2030.

BEST OF THE REST

Leo Santa Cruz
Age: 31
With belts already at 118, 122, 126 and 130, he’s more than likely got a leg up. But it feels like another big fight conquest might be needed to lock things up.
Enshrinement probability: 99 percent

Jermall Charlo
Age: 29
Defended a title at 154 pounds three times before jumping to 160 and becoming a power player in one of the sport’s premier divisions. If he lands a Canelo or a Golovkin and beats them, his stock rises bigly.
Enshrinement probability: 75 percent

Naoya Inoue
Age: 26
Sixteen KOs in 19 fights and three weight-class titles have been an impressive career foundation, and it didn’t hurt that “The Monster” played a starring role in the WBSS tournament at bantamweight.
Enshrinement probability: 75 percent

Gervonta Davis
Age: 25
Speaking of advantages, what’s better than the promotional machine powered by Mayweather and Co.? Davis was a no-show for much of 2018, but three stoppage wins in 2019 re-revved the engines. If he chases the big fights like his mentor did, he’s got a real shot.
Enshrinement probability: 50 percent

Teofimo Lopez
Age: 22
Took the leap from highly-touted prospect to newly-crowned champion with a two-round wipeout of respected IBF title-holder Richard Commey at 135 pounds. Has been talking up a Lomachenko showdown, which would be a career-definer if it happens.
Enshrinement probability: 33 percent

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title-fight schedule:

No title fights scheduled.

Last week's picks: 2-0 (WIN: Tanaka, Ioka)
Final 2019 picks record: 105-22 (82.6 percent)
Overall picks record: 1,116-365 (75.3 percent)

NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.

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User Comments and Feedback
Comment by Shadoww702 on 01-08-2020

Lyle is a good boxing writer don’t know why he gets all these haters???

Comment by Shadoww702 on 01-07-2020

I was going to say what about PAC, Kovalov, GGG but no way do they stay fighting past 2025 like the guy said. Not a bad list at all. I can see most of these guys listed ending up in…

Comment by Pplapu on 01-07-2020

Golovkin should be on this list instead of Spence, Mikey Garcia or Joshua. Spence has a much weaker resume than GGG and yet he is on the list.

Comment by £-4-£ on 01-07-2020

[QUOTE=DeeMoney;20309089]Of your first six fighters listed five of them are older than 35, so probably in the 'late' stage of their career (thus not fitting the criteria). No Crawford is a bit of a surprise relative to the other names…

Comment by ShoulderRoll on 01-07-2020

Just a correction: Lomachenko does not currently hold the WBC belt. He relinquished it after his promoter asked for the Franchise Champion designation when Devin Haney was made the mandatory challenger.

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