From a Tyson Fury masterclass in front of over 90,000 at Wembley, to Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano rocking MSG in New York – boxing has delivered in the first six months of 2022.
But there’s still plenty we want to see before the end of the year.
Some fights, such as a third bout in the epic Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin rivalry, are signed and sealed, so we’re not counting those.
No, these are six fights that could still realistically be made in the second half of this year – and each is exactly what fight fans crave.
From mouth-watering heavyweight showdowns to unbeaten rivals facing off, to undisputed champions being crowned: these are THE six fights to put together before the start of 2023.
Deontay Wilder vs Joe Joyce
Bomb Squad vs. Big Juggernaut. Wilder has now had nine months to recover from his war with Fury and, as the American insists he’s going to fight again, there’s no point in him blasting out yet another journeyman.
Joyce looked set for an intriguing Joe-off with Joseph Parker, but with that frustratingly falling through [for now] he needs an elite opponent.
Both men will justifiably fancy their chances. Wilder will see a solid but hittable heavyweight, and anything Wilder can hit, he can hurt. Joyce – with his rich amateur pedigree – will see a dangerous but damaged foe he can outbox to finally get a big name on his record.
With both men aged 36, there’s no point in waiting around. Make it happen.
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Devin Haney vs. Gervonta Davis
The definition of boxer vs puncher. Plenty of terrific fights can be made in the red-hot lightweight division, but this one appeals most of all.
Haney is fresh from his dominant paint job on George Kambosos in Australia and is the new No.1 at 135lb. ‘Tank’ is the division’s biggest draw, however, and he added to his list of eye-catching KOs by taking out Rolly Romero.
You can see exactly how this would go down, with the tall and quick Haney looking to box from the outside. But we have seen Devin switch off, get clipped, and be wobbled in the past – and Davis is no crude slugger but rather a patient predator, setting up his devastating hooks and uppercuts.
A can’t-miss clash between two undefeated Americans at their peak.
Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence
Cynics can say that this delayed welterweight bout, which has turned into a modern-day Mayweather-Pacquiao tribute act, has been on boxing wish lists for years and might continue to be there until the end of time.
The good news is there has actually been movement of late; signs since Spence’s KO of Yordenis Ugas that the two rivals are finally ready to leave ego and unreasonable demands at the door to make this fight.
To recap: both are unbeaten, pound-for-pound talents who own sharp boxing skills and fine finishing power.
Switch-hitting Crawford is the more versatile boxer, the younger Spence has the higher work rate, but this is a contest we really need to see in 2022 – or at the start of next year at a push – before it really does fulfill its May -Pac destiny and takes place far too late.
Dmitry Bivol vs Artur Beterbiev
If ‘King Artur’ comes through his test against hard-punching Joe Smith Jr, this is the only fight to make at 175lb.
Bivol’s upset of Canelo has just added to the intrigue, because Beterbiev – who reached a perfect 17-0 [17 KOs] before the Smith bout – was widely seen as the division’s clear No.1 beforehand.
Now there is a genuine dispute as to who is the top dog at 175lb.
Alvarez opting to complete his trilogy with ‘Triple G’ rather than make an instant rematch leaves Bivol without an elite opponent, nicely setting up this all-Russian clash.
It may look like a classic boxer/puncher showdown, but Bivol has shown power in the past – and hurt Canelo – while Beterbiev has a terrific amateur background.
A fantastic fight to crown a clear 175lb champ.
Naoya Inoue vs. Paul Butler
No, we’re not just trying to serve Butler to Japan’s premier demolition expert. And, yes, neutrals might argue that Inoue vs. John Riel Casimero – or Inoue stepping up to fight Steph Fulton – are better bouts on paper. But all in good time.
Boxing is on a great run of crowning undisputed champions in what we must depressingly call the four-belt era – and Inoue vs. Butler would do this at bantamweight.
Plus it might get Inoue over to Britain, which would be a treat for raucous UK fans after his dazzling destruction of Nonito Donaire. Admittedly, this isn’t a 50-50 match unlike the bouts above. But boxing loves a David vs Goliath bout – or, in this case, ‘Paul vs The Monster’.
We can see the posters now.
Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua
Or, of course, Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk. But let us expand.
Despite insisting he is retired for good, it appears Fury can’t quite make up his mind, telling talk SPORT he WOULD return to the ring… if the price is right.
That sum, he says, is to the tune of what would be a record £500million [or ‘half a billi’ as he repeatedly told White and Jordan] purse – but let’s be honest, it would come as a shock to absolutely nobody is Fury declares he is ready to fight again.
And with AJ’s rematch against Usyk looking set for August, the winner should have enough time to fight again before the end of the year against ‘The Gypsy King’.
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Usyk is a favorite to repeat his win over Joshua – and Fury’s digs at ‘the middleweight’ suggest he is mentally gearing himself up to face either man. However, you get the feeling that someway, somehow, Fury vs. AJ is destined to happen.
No matter the belts, the odds, the win-loss record, it’s simply too big in Britain – with too much money, pride and history on the table – for it to never take place.
The bet here is that we’ll see Fury and AJ in the same ring, swapping blows, at some point before they both men really retire. It could just be in 2022.
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