Lightweight stars Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia announced on Thursday that they intend to fight each other this coming spring if they win interim fights and Davis overcomes legal issues, giving fans one of the most compelling possible matchups in the sport.
That proves that best-vs.-best can be more than just a slogan. And it gets us thinking about more mouth-watering potential matchups as we approach a new year.
Here are five fights we want to see – and two we don’t – in 2023.
WE WANT TO SEE…
Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr.
Don’t hold your breath. This might be the best possible matchup in boxing, two unbeaten, experienced welterweights and top pound-for-pounders in a 50-50 fight. It could be the biggest 147-pound clash since Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao in 2015. Alas, they haven’t been able to come to terms and the window to a deal appears to be closing. It would be a travesty if this fight never happened.
Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk
Boxing fans long for a single heavyweight champion. This matchup would produce one. The unbeaten Fury has been the dominant big man over the past half decade, including two knockouts of Deontay Wilder. The talented Usyk, the former undisputed 200-pound champion, is coming off consecutive victories over the once-feared Anthony Joshua. Fury and Usyk aren’t close to a deal, but the public demand is strong.
Canelo Alvarez vs. David Benavidez
Alvarez seems determined to avenge his upset loss to 175-pound titleholder Dmitry Bivol, but that’s not the most compelling fight for him. Benavidez is an unbeaten, fiery former titleholder who is Alvarez’s weight (168 pounds) and has a style that is more exciting than that of Bivol. Another good option for Alvarez is Jermall Charlo, the unbeaten 160-pound titleholder who seems poised to move up in weight.
Naoya Inoue vs. Stephen Fulton
Inoue might be the best fighter in the world pound for pound, with a lethal combination of ability and knockout power. And there is no obvious threat at or near the 118-pound champion’s weight. The only exception might be the unbeaten Fulton, a 122-pound titleholder with uncommon skill. Inoue is the more complete fighter, but he’d have to move up in weight, which could be the equalizer.
Davis-Garcia winner vs. Devin Haney
If we’re going to crown a true lightweight king – and one of the top fighters pound-for-pound – this would be the path. The Davis-Garcia winner will feel as if he’s on top of the world, but Haney will still be the undisputed 135-pound champion, assuming he gets past Vasiliy Lomachenko in an expected matchup. That could set up an enormous 50-50 showdown in the fall or winter for all the lightweight marbles.
WE DON’T WANT TO SEE …
Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol
Alvarez’s desire to challenge Bivol a second time is understandable. The Russian put a deep dent in his reputation by fairly easily outpointing him this past September. The Mexican star wants to avenge the setback. The problem is that Bivol’s victory was conclusive. There is no good reason to believe that the outcome would be different if they were to fight again.
Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder IV
Fury and Wilder served up the 2021 Fight of the Year, which one could argue is a good reason to do it one more time. At the same time, Fury has a 2-0-1 record in three fights with his rival, including a draw that most observers believe should have gone Fury’s way. It’s clear that the Englishman is the better fighter. And there are other, fresher challenges ahead for Fury: Usyk, Anthony Joshua, Joe Joyce.