Boxing had a big year in 2019. Several top prospects graduated to becoming titleholders. Top pound-for-pound superstars further solidified their status and grew their brands. The heavyweight division became even more interesting with some good and not-so-good performances by top names. More and more viewers tuned in to see world championship boxing live on ESPN and FOX, and millions more around the world subscribed to platforms like DAZN. Will the sport maintain its upward trajectory in 2020, or will politics cause boxing to take a disappointing step back?
There are many different factors to take into consideration when discussing matchmaking in boxing. Some fights never happen, while others only materialize years after their “sell by date”. The aforementioned “politics” in boxing involve personal feuds and disagreements on things ranging from fight locations and TV networks to financial details and weight stipulations. In most sports, the best will eventually face the best in some sort of championship match or series. In boxing, this is certainly not always the case. Here are five significant fights (that are not officially scheduled yet) that realistically could actually happen in 2020:
Manny Pacquiao vs. Mikey Garcia
Four-division world champion Mikey Garcia was last seen in the ring against the undefeated Errol Spence Jr. in a fight that turned out to be a complete mismatch. Spence proved too big for the former lightweight champion and cruised to a shutout unanimous decision victory. Garcia has not fought since, but is scheduled to face former WBO welterweight titleholder Jessie Vargas on DAZN on February 29th. Garcia is not locked into a long-term contract with DAZN, and should he return to fighting on FOX/Showtime, he could very well end up facing Manny Pacquiao in the second half of the year. Pacquiao became the WBA “super” welterweight champion when he defeated Keith Thurman back in July.
Errol Spence Jr. vs. Danny Garcia
One of the biggest fights that can be made in boxing is Errol Spence Jr. against Terence Crawford. Both are undefeated, elite welterweight champions who have put on excellent performances against top-level opponents. The issue? Spence is managed by Al Haymon, while Crawford is signed to Bob Arum’s Top Rank. As we have seen in the past, Al Haymon is extremely hesitant to put in any of his world champions with fighters on the “other side of the street”. Could the fight happen in 2020? Possibly, but I highly doubt it. A much more realistic possibility would be to match Spence with former champion Danny Garcia, an A-level welterweight whose only defeats came in close, competitive title bouts with Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman.
While neither of these fighters are considered ‘big names’ in the sport yet, both are extremely talented, undefeated world champions at 168 pounds. Plant, who holds the IBF title, is a technician with high-level boxing skills and fast, accurate hands. Benavidez, the WBC champ, is an unorthodox bruiser with power in both hands and good size for the division. The best part? The two have a real beef. A beef that appears to have started in 2018 when Plant got into a scuffle with Benavidez’s older brother Jose. Both are in the PBC stable and both definitely want the fight. As long as both stay healthy and keep on winning, this is a must-see matchup whether it happens in the coming year or beyond.
Daniel Dubois vs. Joe Joyce
Across the pond, two young up-and-comers at heavyweight have been making waves and reportedly have begun negotiations for a fight this year. Daniel “Dynamite” Dubois is just 22 years old, and at 14-0 with 13 KOs has been tearing through all of his opposition to date. Joyce started boxing when he was 22 and turned professional at 31 a year after winning a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Nicknamed “Juggernaut”, Joyce possesses heavy-handed power in both hands and almost always employs an aggressive, come-forward style. Joyce currently sits at 10-0 with 9 KOs. Both Dubois and Joyce are signed to Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions. The winner of this fight could very well be the next big heavyweight star.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Callum Smith
Canelo is the biggest star in boxing right now. Everyone wants to fight him, but few are worth the risk for a fighter in Alvarez’s position. Callum Smith (27-0, 19 KOs) holds the WBA “super” super middleweight title as well as The Ring title and, like Canelo, fights on DAZN. Smith is best known for winning the WBSS 168lb tournament back in 2018 when he stopped George Groves to become a world champion. Smith won a highly controversial decision over John Ryder this past November to remain undefeated, but he still represents the most-qualified name at 168 pounds. Canelo recently vacated the WBO light heavyweight title he took from Sergey Kovalev, so it is likely he will be moving back down to 160 or 168 for his next fight. A win over Smith would give Alvarez a true world title at 168 pounds (he won the WBA “regular” belt at super middleweight in 2018) and would secure his spot as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
What fights do you think will happen in 2020? What do you think of our picks? Comment below and share!