Boxing fans saw memorable bouts in 2017, from Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin. Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor even delivered an exciting fight.
There could be a lot more big fights in 2018. Here are 10 the boxing world wants to see:
10. Naoya Inoue (15-0, 13 KOs) vs. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs), super flyweight
Before the boxing world even attempted to pronounce Sor Rungvisai, the best matchup in the 115-pound division was Inoue against Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez. That bout probably will never take place after Sor Rungvisai exploded onto the scene in 2017 with two wins over Gonzalez. Inoue, a highly skilled technician from Japan, could have trouble against the sturdy boxer from Thailand.
9. Mikey Garcia (37-0, 30 KOs) vs. Jorge Linares (43-3, 27 KOs), lightweight
This potential lightweight unification bout would be the best against the best at 135 pounds. A Garcia-Linares match has been in talks for more than a year, and it could come to fruition soon with the WBC making Linares a mandatory challenger for Garcia if Linares defeats Sergey Lipinets next month. The boxing skill is parallel between the two, but Garcia gets the edge in power.
8. Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs) vs. Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs), welterweight
Crawford probably would pick apart a washed up Pacquiao, but it’s still an intriguing passing-of-the-torch matchup. Top Rank has done a good job of promoting Crawford, and a fight versus Pacquiao could make him a household name. Pacquiao became a star after fighting Oscar De La Hoya in 2008. It’s time for the Filipino senator to return the favor before ending a Hall of Fame career.
7. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-2, 34 KOs) vs. Daniel Jacobs (33-2, 29 KOs), middleweight
These middleweights came close to defeating the division’s kingpin, Gennady Golovkin. If negotiations fall apart between Alvarez and Golovkin for a rematch in May, the Mexican superstar should give Jacobs a call. Jacobs, a top-four middleweight, would push Alvarez and get him ready for a second bout against Golovkin. Both fighters have contracts with HBO, an easy fight to make for Cinco de Mayo.
6. Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs) vs. Billy Joe Saunders (26-0, 12 KOs), middleweight
If Alvarez-Jacobs happens, then let’s crown an undisputed 160-pound champion. Saunders, the WBO champion, has the only middleweight world title Golovkin doesn’t own. Saunders proved he wasn’t holding the title hostage after he crushed David Lemieux last month. Saunders’ awkward style could give the knockout artist from Kazakhstan fits. The winners of Alvarez-Jacobs and Golovkin-Saunders should meet in September.
5. Terence Crawford vs. Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs), welterweight
A classic battle between boxer and puncher. Crawford dominated the 140-pound division with his defensive prowess, but will he have enough power in the 147-pound division? Thurman, the WBC and WBA champion, is arguably the division’s hardest puncher. He stifled Danny Garcia, whose power didn’t go up when he left 140. But Thurman hasn’t faced someone as skilled as Crawford.
4. Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, middleweight
If we didn’t get this matchup last year, this bout would be at the top of the list. The rematch will be just as hyped after Golovkin and Alvarez settled for a draw. Many believed Golovkin won the bout, but the middleweight titlist let Alvarez off the hook in the final three rounds. Alvarez took too many rounds off during the middle of the fight. Adjustments will be key in the second bout.
3. Keith Thurman vs. Errol Spence (22-0, 19 KOs), welterweight
This potential battle would match the two best welterweights. Thurman has more hardware than Spence, the IBF champion, but this would be his toughest test. Spence has the entire package with the way he attacks the body and defends himself. But how will Spence react when getting hit by the fighter known as “One-Time”? This definitely would be one of the biggest fights of the year if Showtime makes it happen.
2. Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs) vs. Mikey Garcia, lightweight
There’s bad blood here, but it’s not between Garcia and Lomachenko. Garcia used to be Bob Arum’s top prospect at Top Rank until the two had a contract dispute that sidelined the boxer for more than two years. Garcia could have a shot at payback by defeating Top Rank’s biggest star. But that will be a tough task for Garcia against Lomachenko, considered the best boxer on the planet by many pundits. The boxing skill would be off the charts if they meet.
1. Deontay Wilder (39-0, 38 KOs) vs. Anthony Joshua (20-0, 20 KOs), heavyweight
There’s always a fight everyone talks about wanting to see. We had it for years with Mayweather and Pacquiao, and recently with Golovkin and Alvarez. This year, the boxing world wants to see the giants go at it. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen a U.S. heavyweight champion in a massive fight. That could occur if Wilder meets British star Joshua. Let’s have a throwback 1990s-style type of heavyweight fight by having Wilder meet Joshua in a Las Vegas ring. If Wilder defeats Luis Ortiz in March and Joshua gets by Joseph Parker in April, we could be a step closer to having a dream heavyweight title fight.