After another successful year of boxing in 2018 there is a sense of optimism for the year ahead among boxing fans that 2019 might just be the year that the top fighters finally step up and fight each other.
Here is a run-down of 19 fights that would shape 2019 into a great year domestically and internationally:
Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21KOs) vs Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39Kos):
Heavyweight kingpin Anthony Joshua taking on WBC champion Deontay Wilder is the biggest fight in boxing now. With all the shenanigans that went on last year this fight lost a bit of sparkle as disgruntled fans started to lose faith. Surely both sides can let bygones be bygones and finally allow this titanic battle to commence for the right to be recognized as the Undisputed Heavyweight Champion of the World.
Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21KOs) vs Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19KOs):
If undisputed can’t be delivered, then the next big fight in the Heavyweight division is AJ verses Tyson Fury. This would be the biggest Heavyweight fight in Britain since Lennox Lewis beat Frank Bruno in 1993. There is even a case to be made that this fight is bigger than that and would in fact be ranked higher than any other British fight in history! A huge claim indeed but this really is a fight of epic proportions and should be the signed this year if all else fails.
Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19KOs) vs Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39Kos) – REMATCH:
After the first controversial matchup between Fury and Wilder a rematch should probably take president over any other. If both feel it necessary to tango again then the winner will be in pole position to face Joshua at the back end of the year.
Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21KOs) vs Dillian Whyte (25-1, 18KOs):
If Fury and Wilder do choose a rematch as their first option, then that leaves the unified world champion without a dance partner. In an ideal world the obvious choice would be Dillian Whyte. Wembley is booked and ready to go for the third encounter between two guys that have had a turbulent history. Ideally Joshua-Whyte and Wilder-Fury 2 in the first half of the year with the winners fighting each other at the end of the year for boxing’s biggest prize, although rematch agreements could end up scarpering this master plan.
Daniel Dubois (9-0, 8KOs) vs Nathan Gorman (15-0, 11KOs):
On the domestic scene a fight between two up and coming Heavyweights Dubois and Gorman is starting to heat up. They have understandably been kept apart by Frank Warren but it’s inevitable that sooner or later they will collide so why not this year?
Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11KOs) vs Artur Beterbiev (13-0, 13KOs):
The WBA Light Heavyweight champion Bivol is a clear talent but is missing that signature fight that he craves. His Russian compatriot and IBF title holder Beterbiev was one of the most avoided fighters in 2018. There is no better time for both guys to establish themselves as the divisions Numero uno. How about from Russia with Love in Moscow?
Joshua Buatsi (9-0, 7KOs) vs Anthony Yarde (17-0, 16KOs):
Here’s another domestic tear-up that will give you the giddies. Olympic bronze medalist in 2016 ‘JB’ has looked impressive with every fight in the pros but needs a tasty and significant opponent. ‘The Beast’ as Yarde likes to be known opted against the big fights turning down Kovalev and Beterbiev last year. If Yarde wants to prove himself then Buatsi would be the perfect fit.
Callum Johnson (17-1, 12KOs) vs Joshua Buatsi (9-0, 7KOs):
Buatsi expressed his desire to fight Yarde last year but the BBBofC are reportedly ready to sanction British Champion Callum ‘The One’ Johnson against Buatsi. If the rumour is correct and the Scottish puncher decides to defend his title, then hold on to your hats fight fans as this one could be an absolute banger!
Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34KOs) vs Saul Alverez (51-1-2, 35KOs) 3:
Many will question if a trilogy between ‘Triple G’ and Canelo is worth stomaching again. Certainly not if they produce another 12-rounds like the 24 we have already witnessed but more to do with the obscene judging. If they do decide to do it again then let’s just hope that this fight isn’t over shadowed with controversy.
Callum Smith (25-0, 18KOs) vs Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34KOs):
If Golovkin he is made to wait, then why not take a step up in the 168-pound division and take on WBA Super Middleweight Champion and Muhammed Ali Trophy winner Callum Smith. The pull of a 50,000 strong Anfield, Liverpool crowd would be appealing for the summer. Triple G has already proven that he is willing to come to England, where as Canelo would demand Vegas.
Billy Joe Saunders (27-0, 13KOs) vs Daniel Jacobs (35-2, 29KOs):
In 2017 Saunders produced a superb performance against David Lemieux on December 16 which should have been the catalyst to push on last year. Instead, a failed drugs test and loss of the WBO Middleweight title has left the 29-year-old in no man’s land. If anyone could give Saunders a lifeline, it would be someone like Jacobs who is keen to prove he is the number one challenger to Triple G and Canelo.
Jarret Hurd (23-0, 16KOs) vs Jaime Munguia (31-0, 26KOs):
WBA ‘Super’ Light Middleweight champ Hurd and WBO holder Munguia were both impressive last year. Many would argue the two best at 154-pounds so what about a unification? Come fight night this would look more like a super middleweight showdown but who cares as this has the markings of a real barnstormer of a bout.
Anthony Fowler (9-0, 8KOs) vs Ted Cheeseman (15-0, 9KOs):
Both Light Middleweights had good years in 2018 and have since been engaged in a social media spat. Londoner Cheeseman has been in the pro game for 2-years longer, but Fowler is the more decorated amateur which makes this an even-steven fight. The Liverpudlian needs to get past Scott Fitzgerald in March first but if he is successful then how about a summer showdown against the British Champion. The ‘Big Cheese’ is a massive Millwall fan so why not headline at The Den in front of 20-15 thousand?
Johnny Garton (23-1-1, 10KOs) vs Conor Benn (13-0, 9KOs):
From one Millwall fan to another, British Welterweight Champion Garton who was in one of the fights of the year in 2018 against Gary Corcoran. ‘The Pexican’ is in fine form since his solitary defeat to Sam Eggington back in 2014 and has shot up the rakings. Josh Kelly was a name that has been mentioned but for pure excitement why not Essex-boy Conor Benn? This would be a contender for domestic fight of the year in a 2019 bloodbath, if it was to happen. Make this a co-main event with Cheeseman-Fowler and we have a brilliant night of boxing, mark my words.
Terrence Crawford (34-0, 25KOs) vs Errol Spence Jr (24-0, 21KOs):
What an unbelievable fight this would be and one that would generate as much money as it would publicity. WBO Welterweight champion Crawford is many boxing observers pound-for-pound number one or at least in the top 3. Spence Jr had a quiet year for a fighter of his standards but starts off 2019 against world-class operator Mikey Garcia in March. This fight should happen at the end of the year but the murmurs of “let it marinade” might put this on ice for another year.
Amir Khan (33-4, 20KOs) vs Kell Brook (38-2, 26KOs):
This will not be the first time this fight has cropped up on many fans wish list, but we are always let down and made to wait. Optimism was in the air when Khan signed with Eddie Hearn but once again we are still no closer to getting what the British public want. Rumor has it that the 32-year-old will fight Crawford instead of Brook early this year. Hearn has since snapped up the signature of former British Light Middleweight World champion Liam Smith with maybe a fight with Brook in-mind. Khan-Brook may still happen later in the year otherwise this fight is dead in the water, that is if it isn’t already.
Vasiliy Lomachenko (12-1, 9KOs) vs Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30KOs):
Ever heard of a saying, “Chance will be a fine thing”? Well, that expression couldn’t be any more fitting when dreaming of Loma and Garcia sharing the same ring at Lightweight. It would be an absolute pleasure watching these two technicians work inside the squared circle. Outside of the Heavyweights this epic bout would be the next big thing. The Ukrainian is running out of opponents to face but you can’t blame Garcia for wanting to challenge himself against not only a guy who is 2-weights above but also against an excellent fighter in Spence Jr. If the current WBC Champion can pull off an upset at 147-pounds, then he may never come back down to 135 leaving all hopes of a fight with Loma in shatters. Where chances are fine there is always hope as “Nothing is impossible, the word itself says ‘I’m possible”?
Josh Warrington (28-0, 6KOs) vs Oscar Valdez (24-0, 19KOs):
There is a number of excellent fighters in the Featherweight division with three world class talents in Valdez, Santa Cruz and Russell Jr but a new star was born last year in Warrington. For a long time Frampton, Quigg and Selby were considered to be Britain’s best but after a super 2018 the ‘Leeds Warrior’ has jumped into the number one spot in the U.K. Warrington would be a tough out for all three of the top guys but imagine the new IBF champion squaring off against the Mexican. Both will want to engage in a toe to toe battle making this one a little more appetising.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (47-4-1, 41KOs) vs Jerwin Ancajas (30-1-2, 20KOs):
WBC Super Flyweight holder Rungvisai against the IBF Champion Ancajas would be a terrific battle of the little men. With 85 fights and 61 knockouts between them this would be a terrific unification fight that has all the ingredients needed to be one of the fights of the year.
Other fights that just miss the list;
Gervonta Davis vs Miguel Berchelt, Santa Cruz vs Russell Jr, Eleider Alvarez vs Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Oleksandr Usyk against any of the top Heavyweights.
Of course these are just my opinions with many more other fights that would also make this year a great one. Boxing is booming right now and we already have the World Boxing Super Series, semifinals to look forward to which could top the lot!
Happy New Year Boxing Fans!