Boxing in 2019 certainly had its highlights.
Anthony Joshua both lost and then regained his world heavyweight belts against Andy Ruiz Jr in a pair of noteworthy showdowns. Canelo Alvarez jumped up to light-heavyweight to defeat Sergey Kovalev to claim a world title in a fourth weight division.
Standout years were also enjoyed by the likes of Naoya Inoue and Josh Taylor.
However, there are always those fights that we want to see, but for one reason or another, do not end up happening.
As we enter 2020, talkSPORT has put together a wish list of their most-desired fights for the new year – each of which are detailed below.
- Ring Magazine’s 2004 prediction to rule the heavyweight division
- Top 10 heavyweight’s head-to-head record
- Boxing fans vote on what fight they want to see in 2020
The list begins by highlighting a potential unification clash in the minimumweight (105lbs) division between two Thai world champions. Wanheng Menayothin (54-0, 18 KOs) and Knockout CP Freshmart (20-0, 7 KOs)
The minimumweight division is hardly one of the most common weight classes discussed by boxing fans or pundits. The division is, however, the home of the most successful fighter in the sport – at least from a record standpoint. At 54-0, WBC minimumweight champion Wanheng Menayothin holds a record that trumps even that of Floyd Mayweather. A unification clash with WBA champion Freshmart would see the coming together of two undefeated fighters with a remarkable combined record of 74-0.
In the 108-pound light-flyweight division another world championship unification fight between unbeaten countrymen is suggested in the shape of Japanese fighters Kenshiro Teraji (17-0, 10 KOs) and Hiroto Kyoguchi (14-0, 9 KOs). Teraji is the WBC champion of the division, whilst Kyoguchi holds the WBA equivalent.
At flyweight, a bout is suggested between Kosei Tanaka (15-0, 9 KOs) and Julio Cesar Martinez (15-1, 12 KOs). Unbeaten since his pro debut, Martinez enjoyed a stellar 2019, culminating in a WBC championship victory in December. A clash with WBO champion Tanaka is something the Mexican would no doubt relish.
A clash between Juan Francisco Estrada (40-3, 27 KOs) and Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2, 22 KOs) is mooted in the super flyweight division. Both men are champions at 115 lbs and are highly experienced. A unification bout between the pair would seem a logical choice for both.
Last year was a breakout year for Japanese bantamweight phenom Naoya Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs). Firstly, the 26-year-old stopped Emanuel Rodriguez inside two rounds of their World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) semi-final bout in May. Inoue would then go on to claim the WBSS bantamweight trophy outright, outpointing Nonito over 12 brutal rounds in what many consider to have been the fight of the year. According to the list compiled by talkSPORT, they would like to see IBF and WBA champion Inoue take on WBO champion John Riel Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs).
Yet another unification bout is touted in the super-bantamweight division between IBF and WBA king Daniel Roman (27-2-1, 10 KOs) and WBO titleholder Emanuel Navarrete (30-1, 26 KOs), a clash which would determine the best fighter in the 122-pound division.
Leeds’ IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington (30-0, 7 KOs) has been vocal about his desire to fight the best in the division for some time now. A clash with WBO champion Shakur Stevenson has been rumoured for Leeds’ Elland Road stadium in May of this year, but talkSPORT would favour a bout between Warrington and WBC featherweight ruler Gary Russell Junior (30-1, 18 KOs). Whichever route Warrington chooses to take, fans will be hoping that he is able to come away with a statement win on a worldwide stage.
In the super-feather division, a fight between world champions Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1,19 KOs)
and Miguel Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) is put forward. WBA champion Santa Cruz has won championships in four-weight divisions and would be looking to add further lustre to his resume with a win over WBC champion Berchelt.
A much-anticipated lighweight unification bout is hoped for next – in the form of Vasyl Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) versus Gervonta Davis (23-0, 22 KOs). Politically, the bout may be tough to make as Davis’ promoter Mayweather has a long-standing feud with Bob Arum (who promotes Lomachenko). However, fans will be hoping that any such roadblocks can be worked through – in order to deliver a mouthwatering clash to audiences worldwide.
Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs) and Jose Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) each hold two world championships apiece in the super-lightweight. A bout between the two, then, seems inevitable. Both men have recently appeared on shows promoted by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing – and so a bout to determine the true king of the 140-pound division should be one of the easier fights to make at the top level of the sport.
Boxing fans have long been keen to see a welterweight unification bout between Errol Spence Junior (26-0, 21 KOs) and Terence Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs). The pair are the consensus best welterweights in the world. However, this is another potential fight where political issues have reared their head – and prevented the fight from taking place before now. Spence works with Al Haymon, who has for some time had a grudge against Crawford’s promoter Arum. Another factor preventing the fight from becoming a reality are the injuries suffered by Spence in an October 2019 car accident.
An all-American clash between Julian Williams (27-1-1, 16 KOs) and Jermell Charlo (33-1, 17 KOs) is the pick in the super-welterweight division. Between them, Williams and Charlo hold three of four of the division’s world titles. A unification bout would likely be enticing to both men as they seek to establish themselves as the number one fighter in the weight class.
Jermell Charlo’s brother Jermall Charlo (30-0, 22 KOs) features next on the list. The WBC middleweight champion is targeted at a middleweight unification showdown with IBF champion Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs). Golovkin has long been chasing a trilogy fight with Canelo Alvarez – but, in truth, there has not seemed to be much interest from the Mexican’s side in making that fight. Given this fact, Golovkin may well be better served to attempt to once again unify the middleweight division rather than endlessly pursuing another instalment with Canelo. For his part, Charlo will have been encouraged by lacklustre Golovkin performances in his last two fights. The bout seems like the perfect crossroads fight for both men.
At super-middleweight, a clash between Canelo Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) and Billy Joe Saunders (29-0, 14 KOs) is on the most-wanted list. Canelo is the WBC “regular” champion of the weight class, whilst Saunders is the full WBO champion. Both boxers are contractually tied to the DAZN network in the US – meaning that a fight between the pair should be relatively straightforward to put together.
The pick for the light-heavyweight division sees Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) slated to face Dmitry Bivol (17-0, 11 KOs). Both men are unbeaten and hold world champions in the weight class. With fans always clamouring to know which fighter is the best in any given division, the bout would be one to savour if it is indeed made.
Whilst the WBSS has provided some cracking action in the ring, it has not been without its frustrations for both fighters and fans alike. The cruiserweight final of the most recent tournament has still yet to take place due to administrative delays. No date or venue has yet been set for the final between Mairis Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) and Yunier Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs) – but it is absolutely a bout that everyone, including talkSPORT, is keen to see.
The question of whether we would ever get to see Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) face Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) has been on the lips of boxing fans since shortly after Joshua made his professional debut back in October 2013. In the years since, both have gone on to capture multiple versions of the world heavyweight title, and have frequently insisted that they would have no issue facing each other. Despite this, the fight has never seemed as though it was particularly close to coming to fruition. The year 2020, though, could perhaps see that long wait for the fight ending. Joshua defeated Andy Ruiz Jr to regain his WBA, IBF and WBO championships back in December, whilst Fury has his chance to dethrone current WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder on February 22 in Las Vegas.
Assuming that Fury defeats Wilder, both he and Joshua would hold each piece of the world heavyweight championship puzzle between them.
In that case, a showdown between the pair makes all the sense in the world.