What better way to kick off a new column for a new site than with a look ahead to what hopefully, for us fight fans, is going to be a fantastic year of boxing.
I have been met with mixed opinions about 2016; on one hand we were treated to some fantastic fights between Frampton-Santa Cruz, Salido-Vargas and Whyte-Chisora, as well as a few more but on the flip side there was the disappointing Tyson Fury debacle, the continuing game of hide and seek between Canelo and Golovkin and just the WBA in general.
We lost The Greatest back in June but his memory and the legacy he left behind will live forever. Life threatening injuries suffered by Nick Blackwell and Eduard Gutneckht as well as unfortunate and tragic death of Mike Towell in October reaffirmed the seriousness of the sport but yet in those darkest hours the boxing family shone bright with their benevolence and compassion.
But a new year means renewed belief that over the next twelve months we will bare witness to the kinds of clashes that keep our interest peaked in the sport we love. Already the signs are good with match ups between Badou Jack-James DeGale (IBF & WBC Super Middleweight Unification), Carl Frampton-Leo Santa Cruz II (WBA Feathwerweight) David Haye-Tony Bellew, Anthony Joshua-Wladimir Klitschko (IBF Heavyweight), Golovkin-Jacobs (WBA, IBF, WBC Middleweight) and Thurman-Garcia (WBC & WBA Welterweight Unification).
There are some sleepers thrown in amongst them like Dejan Zlatacanin-Mikey Garcia (WBC Lightweight), Jose Pedraza-Gervonta Davis (IBF Super Feather) and Francisco Vargas-Miguel Berchelt (WBC Super Feather) which gives indications that the front end of 2017, at least, will bring some edge of the seat action along with it.
The rumour mills are circling for a potential dust up between Kell Brook and Amir Khan, finally, whilst Oscar De La Hoya continues to tell us Canelo isn’t ducking GGG and they will fight in 2017, despite going to 165lbs to fight Chavez Jnr (you know that big one we’ve all been waiting for!)
It would be nice to think that the governing bodies will pull their fingers out in the new year, perhaps the WBA will only crown one world champion per weight instead of seven or eight, and harsher sanctions will be brought against the drug cheats that not only make a mockery of the sport but put the lives of their opponents in jeopardy.
There are still some horrendous cases of matchmaking, I cite Cotto-Kirkland (on PPV? Really), Eubank Jnr-Quinlan (I had to pause to look this guy’s name up again. ITV really think people will pay £20 for that garbage?) and Lara-Foreman. I have no doubts by time we reach this time next year there’ll be a few more to join this list but the optimist in me hopes the positives will outweigh them when all is said and done.
I have my wish list (which I’ve included below, taking into account domestic and international boxing) and whilst I don’t expect to hit the jackpot on every single one of them it would be a brilliant for the majority to hit our screens at some point in the next year.
In the UK we have BT moving into the market to join forces with Boxnation whilst Matchroom continue to monopolise on Sky. Hopefully with BT’s backing we can get fighters moving on both sides of the fence to give fans the kinds of clashes we desire (Terry Flanagan-Anthony Crolla is a domestic blockbuster). Whilst across the Atlantic if Mr Haymon and Mr Arum can continue to thaw their differences then there are innumerable cross-brand fights to be had.
I don’t want to get ahead of myself, we’ve been in this boat before and paid the price, but so far I’m sensing a wind of change. I could be writing an apology letter come December of next year but I’m nailing my colours to the mast and declaring that 2017 will be a year to remember.
2017 Wish List
Deontay Wilder vs The winner of Joshua-Klitschko
The return of Tyson Fury
Dereck Chisora vs Dillian Whyte II (Domestic)
Oleksandr Usyk vs Murat Gassiev
Tony Bellew vs Mairis Breidis
Stephen Simmons vs Matty Askin (domestic)
Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev II (Has to happen!)
Adonis Stevenson vs Artur Beterbiev/Joe Smith Jnr
Frank Buglioni vs Callum Johnson (Domestic)
Callum Smith vs winner of DeGale-Jack
George Groves vs Gilberto Ramirez
Martin Murray vs Chris Eubank Jnr (Domestic)
Gennady Golovkin vs Canelo Alvarez (is there any point in putting this here?)
Billy Joe Saunders vs Jorge Sebastien Heiland
Tommy Langford vs Craig Cunningham (domestic)
Demetrius Andrade vs Jermall Charlo
Jermell Charlo vs Erislandy Lara
Liam Williams vs Liam Smith (domestic)
Kell Brook vs Amir Khan
Errol Spence Jnr vs winner of Thurman/Garcia
Sam Eggington vs Bradley Skeete II (domestic)
Terence Crawford vs Adrien Broner
Ricky Burns vs vs Julius Indongo
Josh Taylor vs Ohara Davies (domestic)
Terry Flanagan vs Anthony Crolla
Felix Verdejo vs Mikey Garcia
Scott Cardle vs Luke Campbell (domestic)
Vasyl Lomachenko vs Guillermo Rigondeaux (Catchweight)
Jason Sosa vs Francisco Vargas
Stephen Smith vs Liam Walsh (domestic)
Carl Frampton vs Lee Selby
Leo Santa Cruz vs Scott Quigg
Ryan Walsh vs Isaac Lowe (domestic)
Jessie Magdaleno vs Jonathan Guzman
Gavin McDonnell vs Nonito Donaire
Gamal Yafai vs Jazza Dickens (domestic)
Jamie McDonnel vs Lee Haskins
Zolani Tete vs Shinsuke Yamanaka
Stuart Hall vs Ryan Burnett (domestic)
Any combination of Chocolatito/Naoya Inoue/Juan Estrada/Carlos Cuadras (all potential FOTY candidates)
Kal Yafai vs Jamie Conlan (domestic and world)
I’m no expert on the divisions below this although I would like to see Kazuto Ioka vs Donnie Nietes at Fly, Ganigan Lopez vs Pedro Guevara II at Light Fly and Chayaphon Moonsri vs Thammanoon Niyomtron at Minimum