The biggest common complaint amongst boxing fans has remained the same for the last 20+ years. The fights that they want to see don’t seem to be made. And when they do, they often come long after the primes of those whose careers have been dictated by those that write the checks. Blame it on the fighters, promoters or the networks- the story, in large part remains the same. Boxing fans don’t get to see the fights they desire.
2019 finds many still collectively stewing over the sloth-like pace of matchmaking with some of the biggest bouts. Crawford vs. Spence. Wilder vs. Fury. Lomachenko vs. Garcia. Some may still matriculate. Some, like many before it, will fall by the wayside of what ifs and whys.
With 6 months until the 20 doubles down, I decided not to focus on the main fights that seem stuck in neutral (If not reverse). Instead, think on some matches that may not be any more feasible monetarily, but perhaps could get networks and promoters to work on lower levels together in order to grease the wheels of progress. After all, when everyone seems confined by a box- thinking outside of it can’t cause any harm.
So I give you some fights that I would like to see made. One for the storyline that couldn’t be written in Hollywood. Another that could help define two careers at a standstill. And lastly, one that could rocket fuel the winner to international stardom.
Zolani Tete Vs. Nayoa Inoue
Apologies to an all-time legend of the sport and a personal favorite to watch, Nonito Donaire. But I was salivating at what could be in the potential finale of the World Boxing Super Series. An injury to Tete derailed his opportunity to face Donaire with a championship against Inoue at risk. And while the injury may have delayed what could have been, it may serve to build a future bout even further.
The finals of the WBSS, rumored to be in September, will soon see Nayoa “The Monster” Inoue facing the longtime legend Donaire in a highly anticipated, if not foregone conclusion, of a championship. Unless Nonito has one more legendary left hook to dispense, Inoue will be adding the Ali trophy to his case and an attention-grabbing name to his already impressive resume.
Many already consider Inoue a top 10 Pound for Pound fighter, some elevating him every day closer to the top of the list. Tete is seen as one of the highest skill sets in his weight division, winning 12 in a row and buckling the WBO Bantamweight title around his waist. Putting the two together would provide yet another opportunity for the world to see what the buzz is all about. And for Inoue to add another belt and a quality top notch competitor to his rocket-fueled like rise as one of the best fighters in the world.
Jaime Munguia vs. Jarret Hurd
Both fighters would love to press the reset button on 2019. Jarrett Hurd was coming in 2019 needing only one more fight to have a chance to put his name amongst legends as the undisputed Super Welterweight Champion. Meanwhile, Golden Boy continuing along with their plans to build Jaime Munguia up after a breakthrough against Saddam Ali in 2018. If all goes to plan, a potential fight against Canelo down the road. A Mexican Superfight with massive paydays for all involved.
So far this year, both fighters have been exposed for flaws that only a few seemed to want to shine a light on. Hurd being shown to have an inability to handle a stronger, more adept inside fighter in Julian Williams, losing a unanimous decision in what was his homecoming. Munguia exposed as a fighter that would benefit from embracing his build instead of fighting a style that leaves his left hand facing the ground and his chin on a platter.
While a rematch between Hurd and Williams seems to be on its way, and a fight with the likes of GGG or Canelo seems to be the cash out for Munguia- this would be a fight that could serve both fighters well if fought first.
The combination of names would sell the fight. Their flaws teasing views with the promise of consequence. And the outcome allowing the victor to demonstrate the ability to evolve. Hurd once again becoming a belt holder with a chance to re-steady himself after the upset. Munguia being able to finally find victory against someone established, and not at the hands of suspect judges cards in Mexico.
Jamel Herring vs. Andrew Cancio
Outside of a left hook that toppled the heavyweight dominoes in Madison Square Garden, it is hard to find two more inspirational and moving stories than Herring and Cancio this year.
“Semper Fi” Herring, winning the Super Featherweight title on the anniversary of his daughters passing, crying in the ring with family and fellow soldiers in celebration.
El Chango Cancio, the jack hamming-full-timer who came out of retirement at his children’s behest to win, and successfully defend against a heavily favored Machado in front of his hometown.
While screenwriters angle for their positioning in Hollywood, Promoters should see the benefit of these stories facing off against each other in what would be a boost for a sport that tends to have so many negative headlines and flashy if not forgettable headliners. While Gervonta Davis and Tevin Farmer continue to fight on social media, Cancio continues his 9-5 grind waiting for a bigger check in the mail to come. While Miguel Berchelt gets more of the “4 letter” network attention, Herring continues to wait with a cool patience that his life of service has given him.
Cancio vs. Herring, to me, seems like one of the most easily marketed championship fights in years. Appealing to mass markets and writing its own stories. The winner only building on the fairy tale. The other never to be regarded as a loser in the manner in which he obtained his belt and how he acted afterward.
Many a fight has not been made so far this year. And these may not be any more realistic than the ones we’ve hoped for. But thinking outside the box may perhaps bring us some incredibly entertaining fights in the ring during the second half of 2019.