OK, so it’s really 10 fights I want to see in 2019. Big whoop, writers have been taking that liberty for years, speaking for others, and I’m going to do it, too, because I can.
These are presented in no particular order.
Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder or Tyson Fury
Both are really intriguing fights. With Joshua and Wilder you have a couple of heavy duty punchers meeting for all the heavyweight marbles. With Joshua and Fury you have a possibly fascinating style matchup between Joshua, a big puncher who can box better than Wilder, and Fury, whose awkward approach has given anyone he’s ever met fits, and I suspect AJ would be no different.
More likely we’ll get AJ against Dillian Whyte in April, and Wilder and Fury rematching at some point, and we could be looking at Joshua against one of these two more likely in 2020, but I’m all about unrealistic ideas right now, so let’s go with this, anyway.
Political Issue: Joshua is with Hearn/DAZN as one of the fledgling service’s top draws, Wilder is PBC and Fury is Fury.
Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jr (or Mikey Garcia)
Speaking of unrealistic — there’s almost no way that Top Rank’s Crawford, tied to ESPN, is going to fight Spence (or Garcia), tied to the PBC TV deals with FOX and Showtime. It’s not such a big fight that someone’s going to want to sacrifice to make it, probably. It’s no guaranteed hit if you stick it on pay-per-view for, in theory, more money to go around.
But Crawford and Spence should really fight. Or Crawford and Garcia, if he upsets Spence in March. I think Mikey’s going to find 147 to be a bridge too far, but he’s so good that I don’t want to count him out entirely, either. There’s also Keith Thurman, and I’d love to see him against Crawford, too. Or Shawn Porter. Those are also PBC guys, and also unlikely.
Political Issue: Crawford is with Top Rank/ESPN, Spence (and Garcia) are with PBC.
Leo Santa Cruz vs Josh Warrington
I have a fun time imagining these two volume punchers coming together. Warrington looked very good this year in wins over Lee Selby and Carl Frampton, both upsets to a degree, and I’d love to see him lock horns with Santa Cruz. Neither are particularly big punchers — Santa Cruz had a bit more pop back when he was a bantamweight, but even then it was more about overwhelming opponents with activity. I just think this would be a really fun fight, and I think they’re the two best featherweights in the sport right now, too, which is a bonus.
Oh, wait, I forgot Gary Russell Jr, who really might be better than both of them. Hm. Oh, well. That’s easy to do, since Russell fights once a year and doesn’t keep himself in headlines for anything but his boxing. He should consider recording a video where he takes a dump at Popeye’s. Or maybe he’s just fine like he is.
Political Issue: Santa Cruz is PBC, Warrington is with Frank Warren, whose fights are part of the ESPN+ package in the States, but this might still be easily doable for the right money.
Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin III
Yeah, again. And I want it May 4. No disrespect to Daniel Jacobs or anyone else at 160, but I still think there’s unsettled business between Alvarez and Golovkin, and I want to do it again immediately. The calls to do it somewhere other than Vegas are kinda silly to me. If you think boxing judges are just, like, bad at their jobs, well, there have been shitty decisions in every state and country you can think of, it’s not just Nevada. And if you think it’s corruption, it’s not like those doing the corrupting would only be able to do it in Nevada.
Part of me does think, “Eh, let’s see something different, Golovkin is turning 37 in April and if he was going to KO Alvarez, he probably would’ve done it by now.” But then I remember that it took Juan Manuel Marquez four fights to knock Manny Pacquiao out cold, and Marquez was 39 when that happened. Yeah, I think there’s still juice here, and it’s still one of the biggest fights in boxing.
Political Issue: Canelo is with DAZN and Golovkin is currently a free agent who probably would have to sign with DAZN to get it done.
Daniel Jacobs vs Jermall Charlo
Charlo struggled a bit against Matt Korobov this past weekend, but sometimes that happens. He had to prepare for a different style of southpaw on a week’s notice after Willie Monroe Jr was ruled out of the originally scheduled fight. And as they always say, and it’s true, styles make fights. Maybe Jacobs would be the right style for Charlo. Maybe not.
All I know is they’re a couple of good fighters who want to earn that true big money fight against Canelo Alvarez. So let Alvarez deal with what remains of the Golovkin issue, if he can, and let these two fight it out for the next crack. Of course, if Golovkin beat Canelo in a third fight, there would be calls for a fourth — though, like Marquez did with Pacquiao, GGG might feel that a single win over Canelo proved him right all along, and wash his hands of the whole thing for good. Either way, I’d like to see Jacobs and Charlo go at it.
Political Issue: Jacobs is with Hearn/DAZN, Charlo is PBC.
Jarrett Hurd vs Jaime Munguia
A division down at 154, we were supposed to be looking forward to Jarrett Hurd against Jermell Charlo in a unification bout in 2019, but then ol’ Tony Harrison and the judges came along on Dec. 22 and knocked Charlo off in New York, followed by much debate and argument. However you slice it, Hurd-Charlo is, for the time being, a dead issue.
So what about Jaime Munguia? I like the idea of two six-foot tall junior middleweights trading leather, and both guys can and will bang. Munguia is 22 so I can imagine matchmakers not wanting to “rush” this in 2019, but to my untrained boxing fan eye, Munguia is probably going to top out with valiant losing efforts in fights at this level, anyway, and has the sort of style that could cause him to drop a lesser money fight before he ever quite gets there, unless you’re overly careful with his matchmaking.
But I’m not a matchmaker and I’m not invested in making money off of Munguia’s labor for as long as I possibly can. I’m just a dumb fight fan and I think this would be an enjoyable slugfest.
Political Issue: Hurd is PBC, Munguia is with DAZN.
Naoya Inoue vs Luis Nery
I have no idea if the World Boxing Super Series will continue. If it does, Inoue is tied up there in the bantamweight tournament. If it doesn’t, Nery has had troubles making 118 before. But of anyone at 118, the only guy I think is any real threat to Inoue is Nery, and I’m not even sure how big a threat Nery is. Basically I want to see Inoue in the biggest fights I can, and I want to see Inoue as often as possible.
Political Issue: I don’t think there really is one?
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs Juan Francisco Estrada II
This one is easy enough to explain. They had a good, very competitive fight on Feb. 24 of this year and they are still the two best 115-pound fighters in the sport. Srisaket has had a couple of easy fights to close out his 2018 and Estrada did pretty much the same. Now it’s time for them to meet again.
Political Issue: One could develop, but for the time being it seems easy enough, at least by boxing standards.
Josh Taylor vs Regis Prograis
This could happen in the WBSS 140-pound tournament, if that actually finishes, or it could happen without the tournament. Prograis has the WBC “diamond” title. Taylor has the WBC “silver” title. Jose Ramirez, meanwhile, is the actual WBC champion. And I’d gladly watch him against either of these guys, too. But I really think Taylor and Prograis are the two best in the division right now. As of this writing, Prograis is tentatively slated to face Kiryl Relikh, and Taylor to take on Ivan Baranchyk. Wins in those fights would set them up for the WBSS final in the summer. And if the tournament falls apart, I say forget those other fights and go right to this one, with due respect to Relikh and Baranchyk, who are good fighters.
Political Issue: Should be fine.
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao II
I know. I really do understand objections here. The first fight in 2015 was past its sell-by date and it sucked. And now it’s going to be 2019, they’re both in their 40s, older and worse and the fight would essentially mean very little to where boxing actually is in today’s real life world.
But I like a good mess once in a while, so let’s see it again. If I’m going to have to keep talking about Floyd Mayweather — and the job requires it any time he does basically anything — I’d rather it be a real actual Pacquiao rematch than a novelty boxing fight with a hopeless MMA superstar or an exhibition with a kickboxer. And from Manny’s side, I’d rather see him get his shot at the thing that still eats away at him than see him likely sacrificed to someone like Keith Thurman or Errol Spence.
Political Issue: None, at the moment. They’re both with PBC, as far as we know. (Pacquiao definitely is, Mayweather probably still is.)
7 More, again in no particular order: Oleksandr Gvozdyk vs Dmitry Bivol, Oleksandr Usyk vs Alexander Povetkin or Joseph Parker, Cecilia Braekhus vs Claressa Shields, Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter II, Kell Brook vs Amir Khan (just settle it), Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Mikey Garcia (this is so unlikely and Garcia so focused on 147 for the time being that I’m putting it down here instead of up there, where it really belongs because it’s a great matchup), Julio Cesar Chavez Jr vs Rocky Fielding.