By Jazz Gill: 2012 was a superb year of fights for boxing fans, even if it was the year when the dream of Mayweather vs Pacquiao died forever.
The two still had great fights respectively, whilst other veterans like the Klitschko brothers and Sergio Martinez continued to dominate. At the same time, new young stars proved they are capable of going u the next step – Austin Trout and Danny Garcia for example – whilst others proved they are among the elite of today and ready to take the mantle of the aforementioned veterans (Nonito Donaire, Robert Guerrero and Andre Ward).
So after a year of big fights, what fights are out there this year to create new stars, settle old scores and prove who belongs where? Below are 10 fights that must happen to make 2013 another great year of boxing.
Middleweight – Peter Quillin vs Gennady Golovkin
No one would argue that right now, Sergio Martinez is the best middleweight in the world. But at the age of 37 and with a fight against Martin Murray already lined up and a big money rematch against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr certain to happen in the future, the Argentinean may just not have enough time to actually take on either of these two. So the only way to find out which of the two deserves to face Martinez is for them to fight each other.
Both hold world titles (Quillin WBO and Golovkin WBA) and undefeated records with high KO percentages (Quillin 28-0, 20 and Golovkin 24-0, 21) and even more intriguingly the two have sparred many a time at Freddie Roach’s Wildcard gym in LA. An exciting bout that would show the best contender to fight Martinez, this is a fight to make the middleweight division exciting in 2013.
Heavyweight – David Price vs Tyson Fury
A battle of undefeated heavyweight giants, this could be one of the most anticipated matchups in British history when it eventually gets signed. The two have history, with Price having beaten Fury in an amateur contest (even after being floored by Fury) in a bout that helped Price get chosen ahead of Fury to go to the 2008 Olympics.
Both have been vocal about the bout but Fury has been vociferous with it. It would be a grudge match that would be the biggest heavyweight match up in Britain since Lennox Lewis vs Frank Bruno. Both are closing in on world title shots but there is only one way to decide who should fight a Klitschko first. Fury (20-0, 14) has shown a lot more flaws whilst achieving a lot more than David Price (15-0, 13) which is why 29 year old Price would be viewed as the favourite against the 24 year old Fury.
Super-bantamweight – Nonito Donaire vs Guillermo Rigondeaux
Filipino Donaire (31-0, 20) has probably overtaken his countryman Manny Pacquaio in the pound-for-pound rankings in most lists right now with his superb run but hype is building to a Mayweather – Pacquaio-esque peak around him taking a fight against Cuban sensation Guillermo Rigondeaux (11-0, 8).
The Cuban has stormed the pro ranks after a super amateur career that saw him win two Olympic golds. In just his seventh fight Rigondeaux won a world title and has defended it four times successfully, showing no problem whatsoever in adapting to the pro ranks.
Even with Abner Mares doing brilliant things in the division, the Donaire vs Rigondeaux bout is the one everyone wants to see, in a fight that will end one fighter’s aura of invincibility.
Lightweight – Adrien Broner vs Ricky Burns
Most would have probably expected Broner vs Yuriokis Gamboa to be on this list instead of this fight, but Gamboa has shown far too much vulnerability to go up against Broner – a bigger fighter on better form – right now. So instead, Broner (25-0, 21) should look to go outside of his home country to take on the best threat from Europe in Scotland’s Ricky Burns (35-2, 10).
At 5ft 10in Burns is a huge lightweight and is coming off the best performance of his life, after knocking out Kevin Mitchell in just four rounds. Full of self belief and having never been stopped, Burns is the best test for Broner at lightweight right now before he looks to step into super fight territory against one of the big names at light-welterweight.
Light-welterweight – Brandon Rios vs Danny Garcia
Garcia (25-0, 16), a Philadelphian, has had his left-hook compared with that of Joe Frazier’s. Brandon Rios (31-0-1, 23), with his educated pressure and destructive punches, has been compared with Roberto Duran. Logic says that if the two fight it can only be a nailed on classic.
Looking a lot more comfortable at the weight after his spell at lightweight, Rios is coming off a great win against Mike Alvarado and with his real fan pleasing style, he is being sped towards a title shot. Danny Garcia was a contender for 2012 fighter of the year with superb knockout wins against Amir Khan and Erik Morales. With Garcia 24 years old and Rios just 26 the fight could happen more than once but right now the fight doesn’t just make sense, it makes big money for both.
Light-welterweight – Amir Khan vs Lamont Peterson
This fight would be about redemption for both fighters. Khan (27-3,19) feels the referee and maybe an unidentified man in a bowler hat cost him the win the first time these two met. Peterson (30-1-1, 15) feels that allegations of the judge interference, referee decisions and a subsequent failed drug test have all taken the shine from the biggest win of his career.
Thus, the only way to settle it is to have the rematch. And with the first having been such an entertaining fight, why would the rematch not happen? A win in this bout for either would catapult them right back into the reckoning for a top tier fight against anyone in the division.
Welterweight – Timothy Bradley vs Manny Pacquiao
The truth is, everyone knows Pacquaio (54-5-2, 38) won the first bout, despite what the judges said. But Bradley (29-0,12) went off with the win and Pacquaio headed off to fight Marquez.
After getting knocked out badly in that fight, calls for Pacquiao to retire have come but he has insisted he will fight on. So to see what is left in the tank, there is not a better bout for Pacquiao out there. Anything other than another dominant performance will show Pacquiao himself that he can no longer cut it at the top level. For Bradley, it is a chance to show that he can deserved the first win. Boxing fans still need confirmation Bradley is good enough to fight the very best of today while boxing fans also want to see if Pacquiao can still fight the very best. Both fighters need this fight.
Light-middleweight Floyd Mayweather vs Saul Alvarez
As good as he has looked, right now it is hard to tell how good ‘Canelo’ Alvarez really is because he has not fought anyone that has more than a small chance of winning in a while. Nevertheless, Alvarez can only beat what is in front of him and he has done this in emphatic style.
At the same time, every year Mayweather (43-0, 26) did not fight Pacquiao his stock slowly dropped and even after Pacquiao lost, many are still questioning just how much Mayweather wants to end his career with tough challenges. Fighting Victor Ortiz and a war-torn Miguel Cotto have not added too much to his legacy thus far. The solution to his problem lies in the hulking figure of Alvarez. By simply taking on the Mexican wonder-kid Mayweather can prove he is up for taking on the most daunting challenges. For Alvarez, it is a chance to show just how good he is and even if he falls short, at the age of 22 no one will doubt his ability to comeback and improve.
Mayweather has had a lack of super-fights in a career of someone so talented. Alvarez (41-0, 30) is that super-fight. He is not getting any younger and Alvarez will only get better, so if this highly intriguing fight does not happen now it may never happen.
Super-middleweight – Carl Froch vs Andre Ward (in England)
No one doubts Ward’s greatness. He has beaten everyone he has faced and beaten them well. However, there comes a time in every fighter’s life when he should go outside of his comfort zone to see what he is made of. Ward (26-0,14) is the crowd’s favourite in all fights in the West coast of America, and unless someone like Saul Alvarez jumps up to super-middleweight than he is going to remain so.
Thus, to prove that he can continue to fight in his impeccable manner, even when the crowd are against him, Ward should take on Carl Froch (30-2, 22) – in England. Let’s remember, Ward may have dominated Froch but he did not destroy him when the two fought in the Super 6 final in America. At the same time, Froch has never lost a fight in England and in his last two bouts, he has recorded savage knockout wins before his adoring and roaring fans. There does not seem to be a tougher bout out there for Ward right now and if Froch beats Kessler early this year, it is the most competitive fight in the super-middleweight division for Ward, if it happens in England.
Welterweight – Juan Manuel Marquez vs Roberto Guerrero
Sources indicate that Guerrero is going fight Floyd Mayweather next, and if so, there is nigh on no chance this fight will happen. But it should happen.
A bit less dramatically and perhaps not as impressively, Guerrero (31-1, 18) is doing something very similar to what Marquez (55-6-1, 40) has done. Two Mexicans, one a four weight world champion (Marquez) the other a three weight world champion (Guerrero), it is a legacy sealing fight for both fighters, especially Guerrero who is often accused of not fighting all the best fighters in each weight class he has fought in.
For Marquez, it is a fight that could turn into a barnstormer and give him a chance to become a five weight world champion (at welterweight with Guerrero holding the interim WBC title right now). Unless Marquez takes on Mayweather or Pacquiao again, this fight is the most interesting out there for him right now against a fighter on a great run.