We continue our in-depth look at some of the possible, if not probable, high-stakes matches which may happen before the end of 2018, a year which is already one of the best in recent memory for boxing in terms of compelling and action-packed battles. Yesterday Rafa broke down Usyk vs Gassiev, Sor Rungvisai vs Estrada II, and Santa Cruz vs Russell Jr., one of those matches certain to happen, the other two less so. Today, three more fights we can’t wait to see and we’re thrilled to be able to say that at least one of them is a sure thing.
Jermell Charlo vs Jarrett Hurd
Why does it matter? The smaller of the Charlo twins and Jarrett Hurd have recently confirmed their standing atop the super welterweight division. Just days ago, Charlo decisively outpointed Austin Trout, a crafty southpaw who has been considered a top 154-pounder for over half a decade. Meanwhile, a few weeks ago, Hurd earned a dramatic decision in a thrilling battle against the talented Erislandy Lara. Ranked by most as the two top super welterweights in the world, Charlo vs Hurd could not only crown the first undisputed champion at this weight since Floyd Mayweather Jr., but it could also unify three of the four major alphabet belts.
How likely is it to happen? Under normal circumstances, it’s relatively easy to put together a high-stakes fight between guys working under the same promotional banner, especially when neither is a mega-star and so there’s no clear A-side/B-side dynamic. Granted, Charlo is probably the better known of these two, since he gets extra publicity by virtue of being one-half of the “Charlo Twins” duo. But given that both Charlo and Hurd fight for Al “I’m Not A Promoter” Haymon, they are both stuck at the status of cult-favorites. Plus, there’s no alternative with whom either guy could conceivably make more money. In short, chances are pretty good we’ll see Charlo vs Hurd before 2019.
Will it give us fireworks? The best part about talking about Charlo vs Hurd is that their styles promise to meld in a most excellent way. Charlo is a boxer-puncher with hands as quick as they are powerful, adept at both leading and countering, always looking to hurt his opponent. Hurd, on the other hand, is a come-forward, high-volume slugger with a solid chin and feet as heavy as his fists, not afraid of getting tagged in order to dish out his own punishing blows. All the ingredients are there for this one to turn into a toe-to-toe battle in which the punching stats explode through the roof. The sooner this one gets signed, the happier we’ll all be.
Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder
Why does it matter? You know as well as we do this is the big one. No matter what Tyson Fury’s fans say, the Gypsy King’s most recent outing confirmed that Joshua and Wilder are the top two active heavyweights in the world, and so a fight between them would yield an undisputed answer as to who is the man. Both took significant steps in enhancing the magnitude of their imminent clash in the first half of the year: Wilder successfully defended his WBC strap with a dramatic stoppage of talented Cuban Luis Ortiz, while Joshua claimed a third belt in front of a packed football stadium by outpointing Joseph Parker. Joshua vs Wilder is the biggest fight to be made in boxing right now.
How likely is it to happen? The negotiating saga that is Joshua vs Wilder is already a couple of chapters long, and the drama continues with almost daily developments. However, signs are positive that both fighters want this bout to happen, and the latest news is that The Bronze Bomber has acquiesced to Joshua’s terms and is willing to travel to the UK for the unification bout. The contract hasn’t been signed, but even if Anthony and Deontay end up fighting different opponents next, there’s a sense of inevitability to their showdown. Moreover, both fighters’ teams are aware of the tremendous amount of money at stake, and are likely to push for this showdown sooner rather than later. It’s not a given, but there’s still a chance we’ll see this one sometime in the fall of 2018.
Will it give us fireworks? Last year, Joshua starred in a Fight of the Year candidate against—of all people—Wladimir Klitschko. And back in March, Wilder scored an exciting come-from-behind stoppage of a skilled southpaw who was supposed to outclass him. This is all you need to know about the likelihood of Joshua vs Wilder delivering the goods: both can turn tactical matches into thrilling, see-saw battles. And even though Joshua is the more well-rounded boxer, Wilder’s most recent outing proves that if his punching power is the ultimate equalizer, his heart and determination allow him to weather storms while waiting for the right moment to strike. Joshua vs Wilder promises to be intense and thrilling as long as it lasts.
Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin 2
Why does it matter? There’s a short answer and a long answer to this question. The short is that the Mexican redhead and the Kazakh beast are two of the most recognized names in boxing and two of the most talented and accomplished prizefighters in the sport, and so it just makes sense for them to fight each other to determine who’s the boss at middleweight. The long answer is that Canelo vs Golovkin matters because after the long, winding road of mamadas we’ve all had to travel to get to the rematch—including, but not limited to, sanctioning organization shenanigans, failed PEDs tests, fight cancellations, bullshit scorecards, stay-busy fights and shameless money-grabbers against lesser opponents, all resulting in some genuine heat between the two combatants, not to mention a hell of a boost to this fight’s profitability—we all need some goddamn closure on this clusterfuck of a rivalry.
How likely is it to happen? Under most circumstances, we would take it as a given that this bout will happen next September 15 at Las Vegas’ T-Mobile Arena—after all, the bout was signed and announced last week under those terms. However, given what happened the last time #CaneloGGG2 was signed, it can be argued there’s still a chance for some random, bizarre occurrence to derail the biggest rematch in boxing. Let’s just say that if Canelo can keep away from his favorite taco truck, the rematch between Alvarez and Golovkin should be a go.
Will it give us fireworks? This is by far the most interesting question regarding Canelo vs Golovkin 2. For the most part, the first bout was more of the intense/intriguing variety than a balls-to-the-wall all-action affair. But since then, there’s no doubt that the animosity has ramped up significantly between Canelo and Gennady. This is because, despite all opinions and facts to the contrary, Canelo still sees himself as one of boxing’s heroes, and the fact that Gennady, the media and the fans keep taunting and ridiculing him every chance they get seems to strike a nerve in him.
On the other hand, to get the rematch done, Golden Boy Promotions had to yield a significantly higher purse split to Gennady than they were originally willing to part with, and the fact Golovkin was willing to walk away from the rematch out of principle shows just how little respect he has for Canelo and his team at this point. The short of it is, all this points to the accumulated tension of the past year or so resolving itself into unadulterated ring violence, which is what fans should ultimately really care about it. Bring it on! — Rafael Garcia