The best need to fight the best this year
Despite the fact it was ultimately a positive year for the sport, 2018 still left a slightly bitter taste in the mouths of many boxing fans.
Plenty of fantastic fights such as Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin II, Vasyl Lomachenko vs Jorge Linares and Oleksandr Usyk vs Murat Gassiev were made within the twelve month calendar, but others outrageously fell by the wayside.
Most notably, negotiations for an undisputed heavyweight title fight between Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder collapsed, while light-heavyweight and welterweight unifications also struggled to make it to fruition.
Below is our list of seven realistic fights, that could *and should* be made in 2019.
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1. Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury II (WBC Heavyweight Title)
The first fight emerged out of the ashes of the failed Joshua v Wilder talks, and became an instant classic. Tyson Fury outboxed Deontay Wilder for the majority, but was then knocked down twice. In the end, their bout was controversially ruled a draw and both men now claim they want to see each other again to settle the score.
2. Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder/Tyson Fury (Undisputed Heavyweight Title)
Assuming Wilder and Fury meet again, Anthony Joshua will have to fight the winner. The unified WBA, IBF and WBO champion has declared on multiple occasions that his ultimate goal is to pick up that elusive final WBC belt and become undisputed king. It’ll be on him to finally make this dream a reality after his two main rivals square off for a second time.
3. Dmitry Bivol vs Artur Beterbiev (WBA and IBF Light-Heavyweight Titles)
These two power-punching Russian light-heavyweight champions could well produce a high-level ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate when matched together. Both Bivol and Beterbiev come from well-schooled amateur backgrounds and have shown both technical ability and knockout strength in the professional ranks. Bivol is currently a US TV free agent, and so should be a key target for Beterbiev’s network, DAZN.
4. Callum Smith vs James DeGale/Chris Eubank Jr (WBA Super-Middleweight Title)
While a fantasy scenario would see either Canelo Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin travel to Anfield for a fight with Liverpool’s Callum Smith next summer, the truth is that this is highly unlikely. A more realistic, achievable goal would be to make a big, domestic super-middleweight showdown for Smith’s first defence, potentially against the winner of James DeGale vs Chris Eubank Jr if it happens in February as expected.
5. Errol Spence vs Shawn Porter (IBF and WBC Welterweight Titles)
This is probably a unification that should already be made for the start of next year, but Errol Spence has been matched with lightweight Mikey Garcia in March, while Shawn Porter defends his belt against mandatory challenger Yordenis Ugas a week prior. Assuming they both come through as planned, the two welterweight champions should unify next. The dream bout at welterweight is of course Spence against Terence Crawford, though this sadly seems unrealistic for 2019, given their promotional/advisory/broadcaster disparities.
6. Oscar Valdez vs Josh Warrington (WBO and IBF Featherweight Titles)
Josh Warrington staged a one-man takeover of the British featherweight scene in 2018, as he beat both Lee Selby and Carl Frampton as underdog to end the year as IBF champion. Now, he must look to take on the world stage, with Mexico’s Oscar Valdez having already declared his willingness to welcome the Leeds man stateside.
7. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Jerwin Ancajas (WBC and IBF Super-Flyweight Titles)
While these two names may not be the most familiar to your average boxing fan, those who know the sport inside out will be foaming at the mouth just thinking about the prospect of this unification. Thailand’s relentless, hard-punching WBC super-flyweight king Srisaket Sor Rungvisai has already beaten top names such as Roman Gonzalez and Juan Estrada, while Filipino Jerwin Ancajas looks to have all the tools, but has not yet been tested at that level. It’s time to find out if he can make the jump to elite class.