What a year 2021 was. Great fights, upsets, one-punch knockout wins, etc. Boxing fans, when they are not bickering with one another on Twitter, really enjoyed the action, whether in person or watching it on television or an app.
As 2022 enters in full swing, there are a lot of potential fights that boxing fans would like to see. Here are 9 fights that could potentially happen this year.
I am not counting fights that have been verbally agreed, mandated by a sanctioning body or are in talks of being signed (ie Tyson Fury-Dillian Whyte, Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano, Canelo Alvarez-Jermall Charlo, etc.).
1. Terence Crawford-Errol Spence:
This fight must happen this year, right? I mean, it has to happen this year. The only opponent Crawford has lined up so far in 2022 is against Top Rank, whom he filed a lawsuit against for ‘racial bias.’ Crawford’s promotional contract with the company expired after he knocked Shawn Porter out in October. When this lawsuit will go through the courts remains to be seen, but it could take several months before an outcome is finalized. Crawford is a promotional free-agent, so a fight with Spence can eventually be made, right? If promoter Bob Arum and Top Rank prevented a Crawford-Spence fight from taking place, then making the fight for this year should be a piece of cake. Spence has not fought since December 2020, when he defeated Danny Garcia. He was scheduled to face Manny Pacquiao in a unification fight in August, but had to withdraw from the fight due to a torn retina in his left eye. Based on what both fighters are currently dealing with, a fight between the two would realistically take place late this year or early next year.
2. David Benavidez-Caleb Plant:
Both fighters don’t like each other. They have exchanged insults on social media and through the press. So, why not fight each other? Both fighters fight under the PBC banner. Rather than wait for a mega-fight against Canelo, why not face Plant, who can be a measuring stick of sorts? If Benavidez wins by knockout, then the pressure could be on Canelo to face Benavidez, who is the mandatory challenger for the WBC world super middleweight title, which Canelo owns.
3. Canelo Alvarez-Dmitry Bivol:
The talk of Canelo moving up to cruiserweight to fight the winner of Saturday’s WBC world title fight between titleholder Ilunga ‘Junior’ Makabu and Thabiso Mchunu in Warren, Ohio has cooled off. The new rumor is Canelo possibly fighting Jermall Charlo at 168 pounds in May. Should those talks fall through, why not fight Bivol? Both fighters have deals with DAZN. Canelo has dealt with Eddie Hearn, who has co-promoted three of Canelo’s four fights. Bivol last defended his WBA world light heavyweight title on December 11, defeating countryman Umar Salamov by decision. From a boxing purist point-of-view, this would be an evenly-matched fight. Both fighters are off the charts in terms of their technical skills and Canelo likes to challenge himself. Canelo will bring out the best in Bivol.
4. Gennady Golovkin-Jaime Munguia:
This fight almost became a reality in May 2018. Golovkin was scheduled to face Canelo in a rematch of their controversial draw in September 2017, but Canelo was suspended for testing positive for low levels of clenbuterol, a banned substance. However, Munguia was not approved by Bob Bennett and the Nevada Athletic Commission. After Munguia was turned down as Golovkin’s opponent, he accepted a fight on two weeks’ notice against then-WBO welterweight titleholder Sadam Ali, whom he stopped in round 4. Golovkin is scheduled to defend his IBF world middleweight title against Ryoko Murata in April after a postponement due to rising cases of COVID-19 in recent weeks. Munguia will face D’Mitrius Ballard on February 19 in his hometown of Tijuana, Mexico. This fight could end up being a ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate, while it lasts.
5. Teofimo Lopez-Arnold Barboza:
Lopez is moving up to 140 pounds after losing his multiple world lightweight title belts to George Kambosos, Jr. on November 27. It would be interesting to see how Top Rank matches Lopez up in his first fight. Lopez has been adamant about fighting for a world title belt right away as a junior welterweight. One fighter who has been patiently his turn is Barboza. He is a legit contender and a fight against Lopez would make sense. Both are promoted by Top Rank and the winner would be at the front of the line for a shot at undisputed champion Josh Taylor, who is co-promoted by Top Rank. Based on styles, this fight is a potential ‘Fight of the Year’ candidate.
6. Angel Acosta-Ricardo Sandoval:
Sunny Edwards will defend his IBF world flyweight title against Muhammad Waseem on March 19 in Dubai on a Probellum card. Sandoval, a once-beaten fighter from Southern California, is his mandatory. Sandoval would love the opportunity to fight for a world title belt, but is not going to wait for Edwards. Why not have him fight Acosta? Both fight under the Golden Boy Promotions banner and the winner would likely have a world title opportunity. Both are boxer-punchers and will have no problem finding each other in the ring.
7. Deontay Wilder-Andy Ruiz:
If there was a fun heavyweight fight with the potential for a lot of action, it is Wilder-Ruiz. Wilder had that insane, action fight against Tyson Fury on October 9, where he went out on his shield in a knockout loss. Wilder dropped Fury twice during the fight. Ruiz returned to the ring on May 1, defeating Chris Arreola in a fun fight between Mexican-American fighters. In his previous fight in December 2019, Ruiz lost the unified heavyweight title to Anthony Joshua. This fight should be easy to make. Both are advised by Al Haymon and fight under the PBC banner.
8. Jermell Charlo-Erickson Lubin II:
Should Charlo get by Castano in March, Lubin should be deserving of fighting for the undisputed junior middleweight championship. Lubin has won his last six fights since losing by knockout in the opening round to Charlo in October 2017. Who knows if one of the sanctioning bodies will allow the winner a voluntary title defense, but if the moons are aligned, and both are also PBC fighters, why not have the WBC mandate Charlo defend the title against Lubin, who is the mandatory challenger of that belt?
9. Jesse Rodriguez against any of the world titleholders at 108 pounds:
Rodriguez is beyond talented. Trainer Robert Garcia raves about, claiming he can win world title belts in four weight classes. The best of the 108-pound world titleholders, in my opinion, is WBA titleholder Hiroto Kyoguchi. Rodriguez is ranked No. 2 for the title, but Kyoguchi is facing ‘Regular’ titleholder Esteban Bermudez of Mexico in the next couple of months. Rodriguez is ranked No. 4 by the WBO. Jonathan Gonzalez is the newly-crowned titleholder after winning the belt from Elwin Soto in October and will likely defend his title in March. Rodriguez will fight a stay-busy bout on February 5 on the Srisaket Sor Rungvisai-Carlos Cuadras card.
Francisco A. Salazar has written for Boxingscene since September 2012 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached by email at email@example.com or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing