Although the sport of boxing was tested like never before in 2020, those involved showed a level of resilience that should be applauded by fight fans around the world – we take a look at the top 10 fights on every boxing fan’s wish list for this year.
Not only did the sport come back after COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization, but there were also some very memorable bouts between some of the biggest names in the sport. Even before the pandemic became official, boxing was off to a great start as the sport had returned to a level of mainstream popularity it had not enjoyed since the ’90s.
Ever since the Queensberry Rules were published in 1867, there have always been dream match-ups that fight fans salivated over. As I watched Ryan Garcia overcome the first knockdown of his career to stop Luke Campbell in the 7th round, I asked myself “which fights would I gladly pay top dollar to watch this year?” Without further ado, here are the top 10 fights I would like to see happen in 2021…
Top 10 Fights On Every Boxing Fan’s Wish List in 2021
10. Joe Joyce vs. Andy Ruiz Jr.
I know what you’re thinking: Why do you want to see Andy Ruiz get another payday after he trained for his rematch for Anthony Joshua at the buffet table? I certainly understand boxing fans, who paid to watch the event on Sky Sports, being upset about Ruiz showing up for the fight resembling Pac Man.
However, the fact remains that Ruiz is a former world champion who showed in his first bout with Joshua that he cannot be overlooked. Most governing bodies have him ranked as one of the top five heavyweights in the world. Joe Joyce, on the other hand, deserves a chance to prove himself against one of the biggest names in the sport. Most people, myself included, thought that he would be a stepping stone for Daniel Dubois on his way to becoming a household name.
However, the opposite happened when the two of them met in November. Joyce made Dubois quit while proving that he was not just a subplot; instead, he’s a solid heavyweight who’s looking for an opportunity to get the recognition he feels he deserves.
Ruiz wants to be considered a serious challenger again. Dubois wants to be considered a serious challenger for once. These two should get in the ring and give one another’s career’s a much-needed boost.
9. Gennady Golovkin vs. Demetrius Andrade
Anytime a legend steps into the ring, it’s good for the sport of boxing. “GGG” has certainly achieved legend status. However, fight fans don’t just appreciate him for his long list of accomplishments and past performances; he’s still performing at a very high level. Add to that the fact that he’s currently the reigning IBF and IBO middleweight champion, and any fight he’s involved in draws box office levels of attention.
Andrade, on the other hand, is an undefeated fighter who’s also the reigning WBO middleweight champion. Although he’s already a champion, a match against Golovkin would easily be the biggest fight he’s ever been in. A unification bout between these two warriors would be entertaining for anyone who loves the sport.
8. Deontay Wilder vs. Oleksandr Usyk
Again, I know what you’re thinking. It’s rumored that a certain governing body plans on making Usyk a mandatory challenger for the man affectionately known as “AJ.” (More to come on him later). However, that is not a guarantee and we’ve all heard rumors swirling around boxing that never did come true. A match-up between Olek and “The Bronze Bomber” makes sense for both men. Usyk recently became a heavyweight after dominating the cruiserweight division.
He looked impressive in his first two heavyweight fights but it can be argued that Witherspoon and Chisora are both past their primes.A fight against the former WBC heavyweight champion would serve as an opportunity for Usyk to put pressure on the governing bodies to rank him as a high-level contender for one of the belts. For Wilder’s part, a trilogy fight between him and the Gypsy King is looking more and more unlikely with each passing day.
Wilder should look at a bout with Usyk as a chance to remind boxing fans that he is among the best fighters in the division. A win against a fighter of Olek’s caliber could put Deontay’s name right back near the top of the list of heavyweight contenders.
7. Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia
These two men climbed into the ring together in March of 2017, with Garcia losing a split decision and the WBC welterweight title. They’re both widely respected in the division, but the last time we saw each of them perform they lost to superior fighters. That being said, neither man failed to show up prepared and they both fought admirably.
After a loss to Manny Pacquiao in July of 2019, Thurman has had a long layoff.Sports fans have a “what have you done for me lately” mentality and Thurman needs to remind the world that he is one of the best boxers in the division.
After losing to Errol Spence in December, there have been rumors that it’s time for Danny Garcia to move up to 147 pounds. However, if Garcia chooses to remain in the welterweight division, a rematch against the former world champion Thurman could serve as a precursor to another title shot for the Philadelphia native.
6. Shawn Porter vs. Manny Pacquiao
After two successful WBA welterweight title defenses in 2019, Manny Pacquiao hasn’t fought in nearly a year and a half. After losing a very entertaining fight to Errol Spence in 2019, Shawn Porter bounced back nicely, looking sharp in a win against Sebastian Formella in August of last year.Porter should be eager to take on the 41-year-old Pacquiao for two reasons. Number one, it gives him a chance to become a world champion again. And number two, if he wins he can say he beat a legend inside the ring.
After giving Spence everything he can handle in a split decision loss, Porter has proven he’s among the elite fighters in the division. Pacquiao’s legacy is etched in stone after decades of brilliant performances and multiple world titles. Any fan who misses a bout between these two warriors would surely be doing themselves a disservice.
5. Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia
Gervonta Davis’ 6th round uppercut against Leo Santa Cruz in October was the knockout of the year. On Saturday, Ryan Garcia overcame adversity to stop Luke Campbell in the 7th round during the first big fight of 2021. Davis is a new entry into the lightweight division after dominating the junior lightweight division with relative ease.
Garcia knows that a win against Davis will catapult him into the upper echelon of lightweight boxers and that’s exactly where he wants to be.A match-up between Davis and Garcia would be a showdown between a proven champion and a rising star, something every fight fan should want to see.
4. Canelo Alvarez vs. Jermall Charlo
Callum Smith is a very good fighter yet Canelo Alvarez was dominant against him in a unanimous decision victory last month. Jermall Charlo is the undefeated WBC middleweight champion of the world. At this point, Alvarez has looked so dominant that he’s got to be searching for challenges.
Charlo would be the challenge he needs.The undefeated fighter has won 22 of his bouts by knockout and some pundits may actually pick him to come out victorious if he and Alvarez sign a contract to fight. Both fighters have loyal fan bases and the energy inside the arena combined with the pay-per-view sales would mean large purses for each of them. This would be a must-see fight indeed.
3. Teofimo Lopez vs. Vasyl Lomachenko II.
The first fight between these two lightweights in October was a classic. Lopez showed the world that he is a better boxer than most expected. Fight fans have always known about his punching power, but the fact that he out-boxed “Hi-Tech” in several rounds was impressive.
Any unbiased fan who witnessed their October bout should be clamoring for these two to climb into the ring again. Lomachenko was certainly competitive and a couple of strategic adjustments could easily swing a rematch in his favor.
2. Errol Spence vs. Terence Crawford
This would be more than a unification bout between the best two welterweights in the world. This fight would be billed as the battle for the title of the best pound for pound boxer in the world. Crawford looked impressive in his November win against Kell Brook.
Spence looked impressive in his December win against Danny Garcia. The debate about which one of them is the king of the welterweight division will never stop until they climb in the ring together and settle the score once and for all.
1. Anthony Joshua vs. Tyson Fury
This would be the most heavily anticipated fight since Mayweather vs. Pacquiao in 2015. After dismantling Kubrat Pulev with a vicious ninth-round knockout last month, Joshua appears to have regained his form. The last time fight fans saw Tyson Fury in the ring, he became WBC heavyweight champion in a dominant performance against Deontay Wilder.
Joshua vs. Fury would sell out any venue at which the event is held in a matter of minutes. Pay-per-views records would surely be broken. There’s not a fight fan on the planet that doesn’t want to see this fight happen. We can only hope it actually takes place this year.