Being a boxing fan can be frustrating at times. While a big boxing match is one of the best things in all of sports – especially if you love sports betting – fans rarely get to see the matchups they truly dream of watching. Below is our look at the 10 fights boxing fans are begging for.
Our criteria for this list is as follows: importance within division, pound-for-pound rankings and boxing as a whole, as well as pure entertainment value.
So, without further ado…
10. Adonis Stevenson vs. Sergey Kovalev
Kovalev (20-0-1, 19 KOs), my latest restraining order-worthy man crush, is a balls-to-the-wall pressure fighter who isn’t bashful about putting power shots together in combinations. The 30-year-old rising prospect faces the toughest test of his career in August against WBO champ Nathan Cleverly. Boasting an 86 percent knockout percentage, Kovalev would relish the opportunity to fight a fellow slugger like Stevenson if he can get past Cleverly, who is more of a pure boxer-puncher.
Stevenson’s record (21-1, 18 KOs) – at first glance – makes one think he’s young, but he’s already 35 and the window of his prime is closing. Like Kovalev, Stevenson has destroyed everything in his path of late, as evidenced by his 82 percent knockout percentage and the fact that his last 11 wins have come via stoppage. Fresh off a knockout victory over Chad Dawson that shook up the entire light heavyweight division, Stevenson will be looking to take on the winner of Kovalev-Cleverly. Hopefully it’s Kovalev who emerges, because a potential Stevenson-Kovalev scrap is the kind of fight that will have both casual fans and boxing purists alike glued to the TV.
If it ever happens: Kovalev wins by KO, proving he’s the real deal in a coming-out party of sorts for him on the global stage.
9. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez II
Their first fight was a total snoozefest, so I had reservations about including this rematch on my list, but I’m sticking to my guns. When these two legends met back in 2009, Marquez (55-6-1, 40 KOs) was a mere grasshopper in the welterweight division and had absolutely no business moving up so far in weight to fight Floyd (44-0, 26 KOs).
Marquez has since bulked up and completely transformed his body in 2012, becoming not just a legitimate welterweight, but a welterweight with devastating power. While two counter-punchers in the ring doesn’t often make for an exciting fight, a second bout between these two guys should be much more competitive since Marquez has now properly acclimated his body to the division. Plus, even if the rematch doesn’t deliver in the entertainment department, both guys are universally recognized as top 10 pound-for-pound fighters, so it ranks very high in the importance department.
If it ever happens: Floyd digs deep and wins on points again in a razor-thin decision that is closer than anyone expects.
8. Winner of David Haye vs. Tyson Fury, against the winner of Wladimir Klitschko vs. Alexander Povetkin. Losers fight on the undercard.
Ah, the ol’ “Ring Around the Rosie” in the heavyweight division. Besides Vitali Klitschko, and maybe Deontay Wilder, these are the four best heavyweights on the planet right now. Let’s all sit back and let nature take its course.
I think Haye (26-2, 24 KOs) beats Fury (21-0, 15 KOs) and Wladimir (60-3, 51 KOs) beats Povetkin (26-0, 18 KOs), setting up a Klitschko-Haye rematch which simply must take place in the UK. British boxing fans are the best in the world, plus Haye will need the extra crowd support to have a chance to pull off the upset. The losers can also fight on the undercard. Fury is a polarizing Irish fighter, so a potential matchup in the UK between him and Povetkin would be fan-friendly and intriguing as well. Book it for the O2 Arena and the place will sellout for what will surely be an electric atmosphere and a great night of boxing.
Predictions: Haye beats Fury by KO. Klitschko beats Povetkin by decision.
If it ever happens: Haye nearly shocks the world and defends his home turf, but the younger Klitschko gets up off the canvas and stops Haye late. On the undercard, Povetkin also wins on the road, edging Fury by decision.
7. Lucas Matthysse vs. Marcos Maidana
Casual fight fans and boxing pundits alike have been salivating over the thought of this matchup all summer after both fighters won via spectacular stoppage in recent fights. I’m officially on the bandwagon, too. This slugfest ranks No. 1 in the entertainment department, but lower on the importance scale due to Maidana having three legitimate losses since 2009. Matthysse has two losses of his own, but both decisions were highly disputed.
Matthysse owns a career 86 percent knockout percentage compared to Maidana’s 84 percent. This one will be a barn-burner while it lasts. Then again, both guys have sturdy beards, so this scrap could have all the makings of a 12-round war.
If it ever happens: Both men have comparable power, but Matthysse (34-2, 32 KOs, one no contest) possesses the superior boxing skills while Maidana (34-3, 31 KOs) is more of a pure slugger. Plus, if you’re into the whole “common opponent” thing, it’s noteworthy that Matthysse looked remarkably better against Devon Alexander than Maidana did. Matthysse wins by TKO as Maidana’s granite chin prevents him from ever going down, but he gets helplessly trapped on the ropes sometime in the mid-rounds and the ref has to step in to end this instant Fight of the Year candidate.
6. Winner or loser of Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Timothy Bradley, against Adrien Broner
After his unimpressive victory over Paulie Malignaggi, Broner (27-0, 22 KOs) promised his fans that he’d take a poll and let them choose his next opponent. Time will tell if he’s a man of his word or if that was all just talk.
Many still have questions about a few of Broner’s boxing habits, namely standing flat-footed and throwing too few punches. Moreover, some are starting to wonder if his power will translate to the welterweight division after going the distance with Malignaggi. Fighting the winner or loser of Marquez-Bradley would be the perfect barometer for Broner, and would either vindicate or silence his critics.
Between Bradley (30-0, 12 KOs) and Marquez, the winner will want another huge fight against someone like Broner, while the loser will want to get right back to top contender status by beating someone of Broner’s caliber. Whatever happens in Marquez-Bradley, a fight with Broner is the logical next step for either guy, and will serve as the perfect test for the young Broner.
Prediction: Bradley shows sings of wear from his war with Ruslan Provodnikov. Marquez capitalizes, winning by late stoppage.
If it ever happens: Broner silences all his critics by performing well against Marquez, but the Mexican legend ekes out a narrow decision.
5. Danny Garcia vs. Lucas Matthysse
Man, this card is shaping up to be one for the ages. Mayweather-Canelo and Garcia-Matthysse on the same card? I guess Showtime is borrowing a chapter out of the UFC’s book with what might as well be considered a co-main event. Bravo, Showtime, bravo.
This fight fares well in both the importance category and the entertainment category; the winner will be hailed as the alpha male of the light welterweight division, and Matthysse has never been in a boring fight. We’re talking about the epitome of a win-win situation here.
Prediction: Garcia (26-0, 16 KOs) wins a close decision by executing the gameplan that Lamont Peterson should have used against Matthysse but didn’t.
4. Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Nonito Donaire II
Donaire (31-2, 20 KOs), the 2012 Fighter of the Year, is still ranked highly on pound-for-pound lists, so this rematch pretty much has to happen. Donaire lost to Rigondeaux (12-0, eight KOs) via unanimous decision in April, dropping the super bantamweight title in the process. The sequel ranks off the charts on the importance scale, but is severely lacking on the entertainment scale due to Rigondeaux’s surgical, technically-sound style. In fact, rumor has it that major networks practically hang up the phone when Rigondeaux’s name is mentioned.
Despite Rigondeaux’s lack of mainstream appeal, his skill level is undeniable. Fighting a rematch is the best option for both fighters right now since they’re the clear head honchos of their division.
If it ever happens: Donaire takes more chances early in the fight this time around, but once again Rigondeaux’s textbook style wins over the judges’ hearts.
3. Gennady Golovkin vs. Sergio Martinez
Golovkin’s destruction of Matthew Macklin universally solidified the belief that Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs) is the goods. Martinez (51-2-2, 28 KOs), the current king of the middleweight division, has shown signs of a diminishing chin lately, having hit the deck multiple times in his past few fights and nearly getting knocked out in the 12th round of his win over Julio Caesar Chavez, Jr.
This matchup could be the proverbial passing-of-the-torch in the middleweight division if Golovkin can pull out the victory. A slippery target like Martinez – with his superb head movement – will make for an interesting clash of styles against the seek and destroy-minded Golovkin.
If it ever happens: The middleweight torch gets passed. Martinez wins a few rounds before getting stopped in the middle rounds. Martinez then announces his retirement in the post-fight interview, thanks his fans, gives Golovkin his props and rides off into the sunset in classy fashion.
2. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
September 14th. Sep-tem-ber four-teenth. Do not make any plans for that Saturday. Decline all wedding invites. Mayweather vs. Alvarez (42-0-1, 31 KOs) will undoubtedly be the fight of the year hype-wise. Hopefully it lives up to the billing.
Prediction: Mayweather wins an anorexic-thin decision in the toughest fight of his career. Canelo gains confidence from the close loss and doesn’t skip a beat, winning multiple titles in the coming years.
1. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao
Yeah, I know, sorry. If this bout happens, it will shatter every pay-per-view record in the history of boxing. The thought of this matchup still looms large as the “defining fight of our generation” that never was.
The fact that it hasn’t happened by now, and may never, is a black eye on the sport and showcases just how deeply the politics of boxing run. And yes, that is my subtle way of hinting that the main obstacle all these years isn’t anybody ducking anybody, it’s The Money Team not wanting to put a penny into Bob Arum’s coin purse.
If Mayweather beats Canelo and Pacquiao (54-5-2, 38 KOs) gets by Brandon Rios, there may be one final minuscule window of opportunity to make this fight to happen. Cross your fingers, but certainly don’t hold your breath.
If it ever happens: Mayweather wins by decision. If Manny has an Achilles’ heel, it’s counter-punchers, and that’s what Floyd does best.
15. Mike Alvarado vs. Ruslan Provodnikov
14. Manny Pacquiao vs. Adrien Broner
13. Keith Thurman vs. Marcos Maidana
12. Andre Ward vs. Carl Froch II
11. Mikey Garcia vs. Abner Mares