Boxing fans have had quite a remarkable 2023 in seeing some of the biggest fights.
David Benavidez retained his WBC interim super middleweight title against Caleb Plant via a unanimous-decision victory in March. April also threw up a massive clash. Gervonta Davis stopped Ryan Garcia in the seventh round to become the ‘face of boxing.’ And to top it off, Errol Spence Jr. faced off against Terence Crawford as the latter became the first undisputed welterweight champion of the four-belt era. Despite a successful year of big fights, here are four fights that must happen.
Fury Vs. Usyk
Boxing fans have not seen an undisputed heavyweight champion since 1999 when Lennox Lewis beat Evander Holyfield, and so far, they may have to wait a little longer. Talks over a Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk fight at Wembley in April broke down despite the latter agreeing to a 70-30 split. Although Bob Arum remains confident that a fight will get made, Fury’s comments suggest otherwise. As we have reported previously, Fury ruled out facing Usyk by targeting a cage fight with Francis Ngannou and a boxing match with Jon Jones instead. The motivation was clear: to secure the biggest paydays out there. So, as of now, the fight is still some way off.
Beterbiev Vs. Bivol
In another potential undisputed bout, the two undefeated fighters hold all the belts at 175. Beterbiev, the current WBC, WBO, and IBF champion, is set to face Callum Smith on January 13th, 2024. Meanwhile, Bivol has not fought since he overcame Zurdo Ramirez in his last fight, although his return is expected soon. But one thing that has hampered a fight has been the WBC’s ban on Russian fighters fighting for its belts in response to the Ukrainian conflict. Although Bivol can apply for an exemption in that regard, a fight is unlikely to occur until this obstacle is resolved.
Crawford Vs. Ennis
Following Crawford’s win over Spence, Boots became the IBF mandatory to the undisputed welterweight champion. However, Crawford has indicated his desire to move up to junior middleweight. This would require him to vacate the belts at 147, which would make Ennis the full IBF champion by default. Although Crawford is reportedly willing to fight at 147 again in order to face Spence in the rematch, a fight with Ennis does nothing for his legacy. With no belts on the line, Ennis may simply be too much of a risk for Crawford.
Tank Davis Vs. Haney
Gervonta Davis remains the cash cow in the 135-pound division, which may prove problematic in making this fight. Devin Haney is the current undisputed champion at 135, although he has been stripped of his WBC belt and been declared as a champion in recess at lightweight following his decision to move up to 140. Therefore, in a battle of negotiations, the belts could prove to be a factor.
In addition, Davis has shown a tendency to impose rehydration clauses against much bigger fighters, as he did when he faced Ryan Garcia. However, Haney has already made it clear that he would not entertain this, as well as indicating his struggles at making 135. As such, any fight may happen later down the line at 140.
Despite a great 2023 for boxing, there are still plenty of mega fights that could be made. So watch this space!