As we close out 2020 and all of the negativity surrounding it, everyone is looking forward to and hoping for a much better year in 2021.
The boxing business suffered a slight delay but like the other sports, they found a way to make it work.
We saw the term “bubble” transform into standard protocol and we were also presented with better fights towards the end of the year. 2020 birthed “Around the Curve with Abe” and it is only right that we end the year this way and see what’s to come in 2021.
This is a division that gets me excited because they have so many promising fights that can be made next year. I am really interested to see if we get Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (49-5-1) in a major title fight next year.
I think we do and with a lot of the major players tied up in the first half of the year, do we see Sor land a fight with IBF Champion Jerwin Ancajas (32-1-2)? That fight would quiet some of the criticism Ancajas has received as he hasn’t quite gotten that signature win. That would be an explosive fight and one that is sure to be a headliner. Rungvisai is 34 but as we all know, power is the last thing to go and he certainly has it. Make sure to keep an eye out on this scenario.
This division is starting to get the attention of the boxing purists as one to watch. Shakur Stevenson (14-0) is ready to shake things up at 130. We will certainly see him fight the winner of WBC Champion Miguel Berchelt (37-1) and Oscar Valdez (28-0). That is going to happen in 2021 but do we also get a unification towards the end of the year?
I think so and it’s going to be against the winner between WBO Champion Jamel Herring (22-2) and Carl Frampton (28-2). Let’s just say for arguments sake that it’s Herring vs. Stevenson at the end of 2021. That story writes itself and the lead up to it has plenty to gain the interest of the causal fans along with the purists.
Say what you want but I’m here to let you know, there is only one fighter that can claim being the King of the division and that is Teofimo Lopez (16-0).
Anyone that is going to say any different either has their own agenda or just isn’t that in tune with the boxing world. Now, there is a difference between being the King and being one of the fighters who has the ability to put together the most attractive fights. Next year, Teofimo Lopez will probably spend the better half of 2021 fighting some of his mandatories while waiting to see how the dust settles.
Speaking of which, Ryan Garcia (20-0) has some business to settle with Luke Campbell (20-3) in January. I mentioned this in a previous article but I’ll say it again, if he wins convincingly, the MEGA fight is between him and Tank. (Click HERE to read that article)
I honestly believe that both men want it and both understand how big that fight really is to the sport and pop-culture. Both men also understand that the winner without a doubt becomes a superstar. My guess is that this fight happens at either T-Mobile in Vegas or the Staples Center in L.A. Either way, if allowed, they will sell out the building and it will have a Leonard-Hearns type of feel. Can it be 4th of July 2021 already?
Let’s get this out of the way, Spence vs. Crawford isn’t happening in 2021. I have said it in many articles and next year will be no different. Either one of them with a live dance partner can be a big fight but together, they just won’t generate the buzz or money needed to pay them what they will want. What do I think happens? I think Errol Spence Jr. wins the Manny Pacquiao sweepstakes.
Al Haymon will overpay just to get Manny in with Spence. Manny is a patient man when it comes to these things. He wanted to see if Spence could draw the crowd consecutively before getting in the ring with him. Now that he knows he can, the time for their fight is now. He also may think that he has a better chance at 90% Spence than a 100% Errol. Manny would even do it at Cowboys Stadium as he has drawn large crowds there for his fights. (The Clottey and Margarito fights drew 50,994 and 40,154 respectively) If this fight materializes, I think it will be around early August.
When it comes to MEGA fights and Spence Jr, the only name that can give him real crossover fame is Canelo Alvarez. An all Texas showdown in Cowboy’s stadium under normal circumstances would have 80k in attendance guaranteed. I would bet the house on that and Canelo is certainly monitoring that situation closely.
What weight class? It will be at “Canelo” weight which is any weight he deems as the right one for this fight. When you’re the superstar, you can dictate terms.
Where does that leave Terence “Bud” Crawford? With Spence being occupied, I think Shawn Porter gets the “OK” to fight him. This can potentially bring the last remaining title to the PBC. This fight makes all of the sense in the world. If Porter wins, an undisputed showdown against Spence Jr. is on the horizon. If Crawford wins, it gives him a real signature win, and also the opportunity to explore “free agency” with an added bargaining chip. If he slides over to the PBC, then he will fight a Thurman and then go into a Spence fight which can become a trilogy taking them all the way into 2023.
The other option, Crawford uses his WBO muscles and fights the winner of Patrick Teixeira (31-1) versus Brian Castano (16-0-1) at junior middleweight. That could potentially still lead to a huge undisputed fight for Crawford at junior middleweight in 2022. I have alluded to that in the past and will say again, Crawford vs Jermell Charlo would have the spice meter on 10!
As always, he gets his own section and rightfully so. Canelo should get past Callum Smith and if he does, what awaits him next year? All signs point towards the third GGG fight in May. Then maybe we see a Billy Joe fight in September while reserving the December slot for a huge fight with Caleb Plant. If 2021 produces Canelo fighting those three fights, then let’s get this calendar flipped over right now! Canelo is going to make the fights that will earn him the most money and those three certainly do that. I do not see him signing a multi-fight deal unless it’s a short one for max dollars. Win, lose or draw, Canelo will still be a superstar at the end of 2021.
My Three Cents:
Next year is primed to be probably one of the biggest years the sport has had to offer. This pandemic has shown that nothing is guaranteed and you have to make your money now because tomorrow is not promised. I think there will be more desire to make the biggest fights possible in order to recoup from the losses of 2020.
So when the ball drops in Times Square on December 31st, know that this nightmare called 2020 will be over. Let’s get excited about 2021 and get ready for the slew of “New Year, New Me” tweets.