Aside from a June upset for the boxing ages, 2019 was certainly a memorable year for the sport.
In one of the most enthralling chapters of the heavyweight division, 2019 gifted us Anthony Joshua against Andy Ruiz Jr in two compelling fights, while Deontay Wilder showcased his devastating power in knockout victories over Dominic Breazeale and Luis Ortiz.
Mexico’s Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez retained his middleweight title with a close decision victory over Daniel Jacobs and then stopped Sergey Kovalev in 11 rounds to win a fourth world title in a separate weight class.
Vasyl Lomachenko remained among the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters with two successful defences of his lightweight title. The Ukrainian stopped Anthony Crolla in four rounds and won a convincing decision against Luke Campbell.
However, fight fans were yet again deprived of numerous bouts between elite fighters because of promotional or TV-linked conflicts.
- Best fights in every weight class in 2020
- Boxer slammed for posting sparring footage online of brutal KO
- Pacquiao only boxer in history to be champ in four different decades
So, as we look to ahead to 2020, the hope is that we will finally get to see some of the mega-fights that have been in the works for years.
Here we take a closer look at ESPN’s top 20 match-ups that fans across the globe are dying to see.
Vasyl Lomachenko vs Teofimo Lopez
Lopez (15-0, 12 KOs) captured the IBF lightweight title in emphatic fashion by dispatching Richard Commey on December 14 at Madison Square Garden with a highlight-reel stoppage.
Lomachenko (14-1, 10 KOs) is currently the unified lightweight champion and holds both the WBO and WBA titles.
Loma-Lopez is a battle between one of the preeminent boxers of the generation and one of the most gifted young fighters boxing has to offer.
Manny Pacquiao vs Shawn Porter
Philippines native Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KOs) continued his Benjamin Button impersonation as he defied the laws of ageing in 2019.
‘Pacman,’ who turned 41 on December 17, began his fourth stint as welterweight champion with a unanimous decision over Adrien Broner on January 19. Six months later, he capitalised on a first-round knockdown and won a split decision against the previously undefeated Keith Thurman.
Back in September, Porter (30-3-1, 17 KOs) pushed Errol Spence Jr like he’d never been pushed before, but came up on the short end of a split decision.
While Manny may have the offensive edge, who has ever had an easy go of it with ‘Showtime?’
Terence Crawford vs Manny Pacquiao
Crawford (36-0, 27 KOs), a three-division champion, is considered one of the most versatile and adaptable fighters in the sport. He is equally adept at dissecting his opponents from the orthodox and southpaw stance.
Pacquiao showed that age is just a number and is still making history, while Crawford is still looking for that star-making victory.
This could be a dream welterweight clash, but is unlikely given that Bob Arum couldn’t make this match-up when they were both promoted by Top Rank.
Canelo Alvarez vs David Benavidez
Fighting at super middleweight, as he did last year in blowing out the overmatched Rocky Fielding, seems to be a good middle-ground for Alvarez, who is at the peak of his career.
In WBC, 168-pound champion David Benavidez (22-0, 1 KOs), he would be facing one of boxing’s youngest belt holders (aged 22), but also a talented all-round fighter with a vast offensive arsenal.
This would be a great match-up of styles and skills, where Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) could claim another impressive win and Benavidez could become a legitimate star in his own right.
Anthony Joshua vs the winner of Wilder-Fury II
‘AJ’ exacted revenge and regained his belts on December 7 and outclassed an out-of-shape Andy Ruiz Jr in their rematch in Saudi Arabia.
No, it wasn’t the most breathtaking effort, but he was efficient and tactically astute and when it was all said and done, Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) once again had possession of the WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles.
On February 22, WBC heavyweight kingpin Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) and lineal champion Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) are scheduled to meet for the second chapter in their rivalry in Las Vegas.
Whoever wins this fight should square off against Joshua to consolidate boxing’s biggest division.
Terence Crawford vs Shawn Porter
Porter is coming off a loss, it was a close split decision to the highly regarded Spence, which actually raised his stock, despite the final result.
Meanwhile, Crawford wouldn’t just be trying to beat the always difficult Porter, he would be looking to surpass the efforts of Kell Brook, Keith Thurman, and Errol Spence, who thus far are the only men to defeat ‘Showtime’.
Will these close friends end up as foes in 2020?
Joe Ramirez vs Josh Taylor
Currently there are two unified belt holders at 140lbs. Jose Ramirez (25-0, 17 KOs) stopped Maurice Hooker in six rounds in late July to consolidate the WBC and WBO titles. Now, Ramirez will head to China in February to face his WBC mandatory Viktor Postol.
Taylor (16-0, 12 KOs), the WBA and IBF belt holder, scored a majority decision victory over Regis Prograis in one of the best fights of 2019.
Both fighters are in their physical primes, but they could very well be growing out of the division and heading up to 147lbs, so this fight needs to happen this year.
Gervonta Davis vs Devin Haney
Both men have gone back-and-forth on social media with great vigor in the past, and perhaps now they should do something about it in the ring.
‘Tank’ Davis (22-0, 21 KOs) is a former two-time belt holder at 130lbs and has now moved up to lightweight. Outside of his title-winning fight against Jose Pedraza in 2017, Davis has faced mediocre opposition which has frustrated the fans who want to see his talent on show against real competition.
Haney (24-0, 15 KOs), is one of the sport’s youngest world belt holders at age 21. He just made his first defence of that belt by defeating Alfredo Santiago on November 9.
Davis and Haney would be an interesting clash of styles as ‘Tank’ is a hard-punching southpaw, while ‘The Dream’ is a well-schooled boxer with technical brilliance.
Mikey Garcia vs Regis Prograis
Garcia’s optimal weight class is 140lbs and there are viable options for him. He lost by shutout over 12 rounds against Spence in March at welterweight, and while he may have outgrown 135lbs, junior welterweight provides a reasonable middle ground for Garcia (39-1, 30 KOs).
Prograis is an elite boxer/puncher who is coming off a tough decision loss to Taylor. ‘Rougarou’ (24-1, 20 KOs) employs smart, intelligent aggression and has a solid set of fundamentals. His style would mesh very well with the counterpunching tactics of Garcia.
Naoya Inoue vs John Riel Casimero
Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) has gained notoriety as one of the best fighters on the planet, and he recently captured the Muhammed Ali Trophy by beating Nonito Donaire in early November to win the World Boxing Super Series batamweight tournament.
‘The Monster’ holds both the WBA and IBF titles and is now associated with Top Rank and his first couple of fights in the upcoming year will take place in the US.
Casimero (29-4, 20 KOs) is a three-time world champion with a heavy punch. He knocked out Zolani Tete on November 30 for the WBO crown and he is the consummate road warrior, having won bouts in seven different countries.
The final 10 fights are highlighted with potential clashes between Danny Roman (27-2-1, 10 KOs) and Emanuel Navarette (29-1, 25 KOs) which would unify the division at bantamweight.
Vergil Ortiz vs Maurice Hooker would certainly draw a huge crowd in Texas as a battle between two fighters from the Dallas area who have had bad blood in the past.
Miguel Berchelt (37-1, 33 KOs) and Jamel Herring (21-2, 10 KOs) would be a classic contrast of styles with Herring’s defensive prowess potentially neutralising the swarming, fast-paced attack of Berchelt.
Jermell Charlo and Julian Williams are two boxers at the peak of their physical primes and the winner would certainly establish themselves as the dominant force within the light middleweight division.
Ryan Garcia vs Jorge Linares is an intriguing match-up between a seasoned veteran and a rising star in the lightweight division.
The list is rounded off with the following match-ups: Leo Santa Cruz vs Oscar Valdez, Shakur Stevenson vs Josh Warrington, Gennady Golovkin vs Jermell Charlo, Artur Beterbiev vs Dmitry Bivol and Luis Ortiz vs Adam Kownacki.News Now - Sport News