2015 gave us some really big, highly-anticipated scraps.
Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally came together in May to put an end to a saga that had lasted for six years, and some probably wished they hadn’t bothered.
Tyson Fury got his shot at Wladimir Klitschko in November, and executed a perfect game plan to swipe the heavyweight championship of the world from the long-reigning Ukrainian. Unfortunately, it too was a bit of an ordeal for the fans.
Saul Alvarez and Miguel Cotto also got it on November, with the WBC middleweight-but-not-quite-middleweight title on the line. This was far from the dull encounter that the previous two mega-fights turned out to be, but considering what was expected of the Puerto Rico vs Mexico battle, it was a tad disappointing.
So it was a year in which the big fights were actually delivered, but alas failed to deliver.
Still, the fact that they happened is a good sign for the sport. All we can hope for in 2016 is that big fights continue to get made, and that a few of them turn out to be entertaining.
So here is a list of 5 fights that we would like to see this year.
Anthony Joshua vs David Haye
This is just one of many intriguing all-British heavyweight clashes that can be made in 2016. But for us at Pundit Arena, it is the most exciting.
Apart from when poorly pinkies perturb his potency, Haye is always exciting. His speed and agility sets him apart from almost every other heavyweight of the giant-filled modern age. To add to this, despite his relatively small-stature, he may also be the most devastating puncher in the division. Or at least he was prior to his retirement.
Joshua is the hottest prospect on the heavyweight landscape, and has been magnetically destructive over the course of his first 15 bouts. Last time out against Dillian Whyte, however, the 2012 Olympic gold medallist displayed some vulnerability. That only makes him more interesting, though.
We aren’t sure how crazy we would be about this fight if we were Joshua’s handlers. In some ways it seems like an ideal stepping stone fight for the big Watford fighter, and one in which there is plenty of money to be made, but it is fraught with danger.
For fans that is a beautiful thing. This would be edge of the seat stuff.
If Haye gets through his January 16th comeback bout with Mark de Mori this has a great chance of coming to fruition.
Kell Brook vs Amir Khan
Another all-British clash, but this one has been brewing for a long time.
Talk of a fight between this welterweight pair has been a constant in British boxing circles for years, but it has never looked particularly close to materializing. Khan was always that little bit ahead of Brook in world terms, and looked to have loftier goals than taking on a domestic rival lacking in name recognition internationally.
Now, however, Brook is the IBF champion, and Khan doesn’t really have any other options that would result in the same sort of remuneration. The Pacquiao fight that he had been chasing has been handed to Timothy Bradley, and the longtime apple of his eye, Floyd Mayweather, has supposedly retired.
Brook’s promoter, Eddie Hearn, has said that he finally believes that Khan wants this fight, and the Matchroom Boxing man is determined to piece together a summer blockbuster.
With Khan’s penchant for drama, and the bad blood that exists between he and Brook this fight couldn’t fail to produce fireworks.
How heated is this rivalry? Just check out this interview, which has to be the most tense in the history of Sky’s Ringside.
Leo Santa Cruz vs Vasyl Lomachenko
Double Olympic champion Lomachenko has only had six professional bouts, but the Ukrainian featherweight has already tested himself against some of the best around. He seems intent on continuing this challenging trend as his team have attempted to make bouts with both the terrifying Nicholas Walters and super-bantamweight slickster Guillermo Rigondeaux over the last year.
Walters has since moved up to super-featherweight, however, and Rigondeaux is only getting his career back on track following a lengthy absence, not to mention that he has plenty of options in his own division.
That’s okay though, because there is an even better fight out there for Lomachenko.
Leo Santa Cruz is coming off a massive win over Abner Mares back in August. It was the biggest of his career and arguably placed him in the number one spot in the division. The other man in that argument is Lomachenko.
Santa Cruz is a whirlwind of incessant power-punches between the ropes, but also possesses underrated boxing skills, which were more apparent than ever in his victory over Mares. He could certainly provide a stern test for the prodigious Lomachenko in what could be a very entertaining fight.
Roman Gonzalez vs Naoya Inoue
Gonzalez is a genius, and probably the best pound for pound fighter in the world right now, but due to his size he is not the star he should be. He is beginning to get more and more exposure, however, since being enlisted to fulfill the role of chief support to Gennady Golovkin as of late.
The flyweight champion has taken that opportunity to build momentum with both hands, looking sensational in dispatching of more than capable veterans Edgar Sosa and Brian Viloria back to back.
It seems likely that “Chocolatito” will be paired with former foe Juan Francisco Estrada at some point this year, in what should be an electric rematch of their 2012 light-flyweight war.
If he comes through that, there wouldn’t be too many exciting fights left for him at flyweight and a move up to super-flyweight would present more interesting options.
This would bring about the possibility of a bout between he and Inoue, who despite being a nine fight novice has beaten some really high-quality position across two weight classes whilst living up to his “Monster” moniker every step of the way.
This is a bit more speculative than most of the other fights on the list, but for the really hardcore fans, it couldn’t get much better. Not only would it be fought at the highest of skill-levels, Gonzalez vs Inoue would also be packed with action.
Gennady Golovkin vs Saul Alvarez
This fight will appear on every list of this nature media-wide, and with good reason. These are two of the most offensively talented fighters in the entire sport, and arguably the two most likely candidates to step into Floyd Mayweather’s shoes as boxing’s biggest superstar.
Alvarez’ massive win over Miguel Cotto last time out earned him both the WBC title and the dubious distinction of being the next man in Golovkin’s firing line. He knew the risks going in, however, as the Kazakh killing machine seems brutally determined to piece together every fragment of the middleweight championship jigsaw.
Arguments over the weight at which the bout is contested may form something of a roadblock along the way, but the pride of the combatants is likely to force the bout through that obstacle.
Inside the ring, this will be a gruelling, thrilling war of attrition that will engross fans for every second that it lasts.
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