Solid fights to end 2016, more to come in 2017

WBN 29/11/2016
crawford molina mikey

Boxing followers have been treated to a few nail-biters lately, and there’s more to come.

With some exciting fights on the horizon this season, here’s a look at the latest news as well as a few predictions of how these upcoming fights could stack up.

Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward

Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev stepped into the ring on November 19th at the T-Mobile Arena in Nevada. With both fighters considered to be two of the greatest out there at the moment, it was evident that the fight was going to be a close one. Ward proved himself to be an unstoppable super-middleweight as early as 2013, defeating Carl Froch, Arthur Abraham, Chad Dawson, and Mikkel Kessler in his weight class. Whereas Kovalev won the light-heavyweight title by defeating Nathan Cleverly.

Both men demonstrated admirable and equal performances, delivering punches to the very end of the 12th round. At this point it was still anyone’s guess as to who won once the bell rang. Kovalev landed 126 out of 474 punches including a strong direct face hit in the 2nd round which saw Ward lose his composure, he also weighed more than Ward and delivered surgical strikes and powerful jabs throughout the match. Yet Ward gave him a good run for his money, as it was the American who ended victorious with 116 out 337 punches thrown and a final score by judges of 114-113, making it one of the toughest and closest fights for both men. Naturally the closeness of this fight made some question the decision of the judges and a rematch is already considered.

Terrence Crawford vs. John Molina Jr. 

Another one to watch is Crawford vs. Molina Jr. on December 10th. Terence “Bud” Crawford is an undefeated World Junior Welterweight Champion, and he’ll get the first chance to defend his WBO titles when he takes on former world title challenger John Molina Jr. The match will be televised live from Omaha by HBO, and should build on both contenders’ reputations. Molina’s known for his tough punching style, and has been training hard for the fight. He’s also recently come from a major victory over Ruslan Provodnikov, with many hoping he will be able to build on this momentum to overturn Crawford. At the same time, Terence Crawford has quickly established a strong reputation as a true elite fighter, and the match takes place in his hometown. With local crowds there to cheer him on, the atmosphere should be electric. For that reason, it could be anyone’s game according to most boxing news predictions.

Bernard Hopkins vs. Joe Smith Jr.

On December 17th, legendary fighter Bernard Hopkins will participate in his last fight against Joe Smith Jr. It’s bound to be a poignant celebration of his life and career, billed as “The Final One.” The last time Hopkins ventured into the ring was in 2014, when he lost to Sergey Kovalev. He’ll go by his alias of “The Executioner” for this final game, and the 51-year-old promises to give it his all. Hopkins has had a long and illustrious career, making a record 20 consecutive defences of his middleweight title. He’s the oldest fighter to have won a title, when he knocked out Jean Pascal just a few years ago at the age of 46. Although Hopkins has been away from the ring since his defeat by Kovalev, he’s still the favoured option to win this game. However, Smith is 23 years younger than Hopkins, and has been rated as No. 9 at the 175 weight by Boxing Junkie. He should give Hopkins the chance to flex his muscles and really give it his all.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather?

Manny Pacquiao recently made his return to the ring only seven months after announcing his retirement, in a heavily hyped match against Jesse Vargas. Vargas held his own, particularly in his performance between the fourth and sixth rounds of the match, but in the end Pacquiao claimed the WBO welterweight title. However, what was more intriguing about the match for many was the fact that Floyd Mayweather turned up to watch it. This has helped to spur on existing rumours of a rematch between these two titans of boxing, with promoter Bob Arun claiming that a second fight has a good 75% probability of happening.

Pacquaio and the undefeated Mayweather have unfinished business, according to many, which means that a second contest would be an exciting chance for Pacquaio to show off his chops. To do this, Mayweather will have to be lured out of retirement himself. He’s turning 40 soon, and hasn’t fought since his retirement in 2015. However, Mayweather has still been in training, which indicates he’d consider stepping back into the ring soon for what would surely be a lucrative fight.