Selecting one preferred contest in each division, the list below is a compilation of clashes that should happen in 2016 for the benefit of the sport.
These are the fights that have the potential to be classics, and based on the calibre of the fighters involved, will excite the fans in the coming months.
Last year, three of the seventeen listed made it across the line, with Cotto v Canelo, Mayweather v Pacquiao and McDonnell v Kameda all taking place in 2015.
Here are this year’s hopefuls:
HEAVYWEIGHT (200 LBS +) – TYSON FURY v DEONTAY WILDER
Fury won a collection of belts from Wladimir Klitschko in November by shocking the Ukrainian in Germany and will make his first defense against his old rival in the spring. If successful, it could be debated that Fury would then opt to face a mandatory challenger instead of heading straight into a unification with WBC champion Wilder. That doesn’t stop us adding the fight to our wishlist.
Noted that the fight is more likely to take place in 2017, although for the good of the sport let’s hope Fury and Wilder decide to fight it out at the back end of 2016 should Klitschko once again be defeated.
CRUISERWEIGHT (200 LBS) – KRZYSZTOF GLOWACKI V MARCO HUCK II
Huck made last year’s ‘Seventeen Fights’ as a clash with Tony Bellew would have been a mouth-watering affair, but the German is here once again for his sterling efforts against Glowacki in their first fight. Seemingly on his way to a US debut victory against the Pole in August, Huck was subsequently knocked out spectacularly in the eleventh round and a rematch would be most welcome.
LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT (175 LBS) – SERGEY KOVALEV v ANDRE WARD
With a clash against Adonis Stevenson in the balance and off the boil, Sergey Kovalev seems more likely to share the ring with former super middleweight king Andre Ward, which is a fight that everyone would mark their calendar for.
SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT (168 LBS) – JAMES DEGALE v BADOU JACK
In a division thinning out since the departure of Andre Ward, a unification between IBF and WBC champions DeGale and Jack seems the obvious choice at 168 pounds. The weight class is wide open at the moment and looking for the next dominant force to take over.
MIDDLEWEIGHT (160 LBS) – GENNADY GOLOVKIN v CANELO ALVAREZ
Only one fight that stands out at middleweight and it’s an encounter that the WBC are fighting tooth and nail to put together. Canelo needed a few more months to fill out at 160 following his jump in weight and it’s assumed the mammoth PPV clash will happen by the end of the year.
SUPER WELTERWEIGHT (154 LBS) – MARCOS MAIDANA v MIGUEL COTTO
No word yet on a return to action for Maidana, although judging by the excess poundage the Argentinian has put on since fighting Floyd Mayweather, any comeback would certainly be above the welterweight limit. Cotto’s loss to Canelo could mean a move back down and putting these two forces together – even at a slightly higher catchweight – would be good business.
WELTERWEIGHT (147 LBS) – KELL BROOK V AMIR KHAN
An all-British barnstormer is the most logical choice, slightly ahead a unification between Brook and Keith Thurman. Brook’s rivalry with Khan has been simmering for years and promoter Eddie Hearn is keen to get the fight on at Wembley Stadium in the summer. Let’s cross our fingers that he does.
SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT (140 LBS) –TERENCE CRAWFORD V ADRIEN BRONER
A two-belt battle between WBO title holder Crawford and WBA champion Broner would certainly grab the attention. Other than that, either American opposite Viktor Postol would also be sufficient to whet the appetite.
LIGHTWEIGHT (135 LBS) – JORGE LINARES V RANCES BARTHELEMY
Linares is currently the most exciting champion in the division, whilst Barthelemy is yet to taste defeat. If the pair were put together in the ring there would surely be fireworks to follow.
SUPER FEATHERWEIGHT (130 LBS) – NICHOLAS WALTERS V FRANCISCO VARGAS
New to the division, Walters is set to wreak havoc at 130 as he did at the lower weight. Jamaican Walters versus South American Vargas would be a nailed on Fight of the Year contender following on from the Mexican’s eye-catching battle with Takashi Miura last year.
FEATHERWEIGHT (126 LBS) – VASYL LOMACHENKO V GUILLERMO RIGONDEAUX
Lomachenko is now firmly established in the pro ranks despite having just six contests, whilst fellow Amateur legend Rigondeaux really needs to move up in order to be challenged after completely dominating at 122. They’d be queueing around the block for this one, even with Rigo’s reputation for being involved in dull bouts.
SUPER BANTAMWEIGHT (122 LBS) – NONITO DONAIRE V CARL FRAMPTON / SCOTT QUIGG
With this year’s first choice bout already made for February 27 between Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg, the winner against a rejuvenated Nonito Donaire is a mouth-watering prospect.
BANTAMWEIGHT (118 LBS) – JAMIE MCDONNELL V LEE HASKINS
Two reasons for this fight being the number one choice at 118. Firstly, as both currently holding world title belts of sorts, and secondly due to the fact that the fight would be an all-UK affair to add considerably more spice.
SUPER FLYWEIGHT (115 LBS) – NAOYA INOUE V ROMAN GONZALEZ
Inoue is already the standout fighter at 115 following only nine bouts as a pro, and with Gonzalez on the verge of moving up in weight this contest would be a no-brainer.
FLYWEIGHT (112 LBS) – KAZUTO IOKA V JUAN ESTRADA
Should Estrada miss out on fighting Gonzalez before he moves up, Ioka would be a suitable alternative for the number one spot in the division.
LIGHT FLYWEIGHT (108 LBS) – YU KIMORA V PEDRO GUEVARA II
Kimora shocked Guevara via a split decision last November and the pair fighting for a second time is only fair on the former champion.
MINIMUMWEIGHT (105 LBS) – WANHENG MENAYOTHIN V KOSEI TANAKA
WBC title holder Menayothin, who holds an impressive 40-0 record, is still quizzed on what seems a padded record on paper, and pitching him in against the WBN Young Fighter of the Year in Tanaka would be a sufficient test for his C.V.
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