The holiday season is here, and as we approach the end of the year, it was only fitting that I close it with the latest edition of “Around the Curve.” As mentioned throughout different platforms, boxing was riding such a great wave during the first half of the year but fell flat on its face during its second half. With rumors of distribution uncertainty amongst some of the power players, it's hard to say what will or won't happen as nothing is set in stone past February. Regardless, we are going to ‘Spin the Block' and touch on some fights out there that are potentially “Around the Curve.'
“PROBABLY LIKE AROUND APRIL, MAY, OR JUNE”
Unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. was interviewed on a Showtime Boxing telecast and discussed how he was ready to announce a fight. However, that was postponed due to his car accident on December 10th. Life is interesting as Spence Jr. was in an accident that destroyed his vehicle and caused minor injuries just hours before Terence Crawford successfully defended his WBO title. Not implying anything as it is pure coincidence, but that night summed up the history between the two elite welterweights as they both share the blame somehow, some way, for the fight not happening in 2022.
So, what happens next? Crawford seems to be enjoying his new relationship with BLK Prime as they are in their “Honeymoon Phase.” There is a high probability that Crawford's last fight didn't do well for BLK Prime, but they may be okay with it if they are prepared to take some losses upfront to see profits later on. It's a risky approach but not something many businesses haven't tried in the past. I think that BLK Prime will put on another Crawford show in 2023 and it will be against Keith ‘One Time' Thurman. I believe that Al Haymon will have no problem sending Thurman over there. If he wins, the undisputed title fight becomes that much easier to make. Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Jaron Ennis are both in “title” fights, so they will be removed from the WBO rankings if successful, which leaves Thurman being number one.
What about Spence Jr? He has two options: wait for the fallout between the other three welterweight fights or revisit Manny Pacquiao. I know Spence Jr. recently told ESNews that he wouldn't fight Manny because of how Larry Holmes is looked at by beating up an old Muhammad Ali but money talks. Say what you want, but Pacquaio still attracts a ton of attention and Vegas loves having him fight at one of their venues. It was a fight that almost happened but was canceled due to Spence Jr.'s eye injury, so don't completely count that one out. Are we going to get Spence Jr. vs. Crawford in 2023? I think that ship has sailed, and if it does happen, it'll be at 154 in 2024.
LORD OF THE FLYS (FLYWEIGHTS)
The flyweights (Junior, Fly, and SuperFly) never truly get the respect they deserve and are only followed by the hardcore fans. Starting with the junior flyweight division (108 lbs), Kenshiro Teraji had a massive 2022 as he avenged his only loss by knocking out Masamichi Yabuki. Then in November, he defeated Hiroto Kyoguchi by TKO to become the unified champion in the division. Next year, I can see Kenshiro facing WBO champ Jonathan Gonzalez in Japan, resulting in the winner being a title away from undisputed.
The flyweights (112 lbs) have a few names but don't have a true king in that division. It's probably why Jesse ‘Bam' Rodriguez decided to move down to flyweight. He is ranked #1 with the WBO and will likely pursue a title fight while also finishing the year with fights against Sunny Edwards and Julio Cesar Martinez. If successful, that type of run would undoubtedly earn him a hard consideration for Fighter of the Year.
The SuperFly (115 lbs) weight class is the glamour division which usually hosts some of the more intriguing fights. Juan Francisco Estrada is the WBC champ but don't think he isn't eyeing that move to bantamweight as soon as Naoya Inoue vacates those titles. That leaves the winner of Kazuto Ioka and Joshua Franco, who fight on New Year's Eve, to become the new king of the division. But don't forget that guys like Junto Nakatani and Kosei Tanaka are knocking on the door to get their opportunity to shine. Fernando Martinez will also have a case too, but I can see the winner of Franco & Ioka going up against Junto by the summer.
SAUL ‘CANELO' ALVAREZ'S NEXT TWO FIGHTS
The biggest star in the sport was immortalized the other day as a statue of him was built and unveiled in Mexico. An injured wrist which he had surgery on, has kept him out of the ring, but he will be back to fight on his two dates (May & September) next year. The worst-kept secret in boxing is that Canelo will fight in the U.K., and it'll be against John Ryder. That certainly has May written all over it, but the September opponent is interesting.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say he shares the ring with David Benavidez, especially if he looks great against Plant. The comparisons will be there as to who fought Plant better, and it would be a massive fight. By then, if the light heavyweight picture is sorted out, Canelo will move up to 175 in 2024 officially to see if he can strike gold in that division as well.
My Three Cents
There are so many other divisions I could have gone into, but I wanted to keep it short and tight as we roll into 2023. The one thing I am going to ask from boxing is that we spread load the good fights throughout the year and not have a repeat of 2022. For those reading this, I truly appreciate the support you have given NYFights this past year and look out for more of the content you want to consume with some other new wrinkles.