It’s been some time since we posted an “Around the Curve,” as there wasn’t much going on with boxing and all sporting events were on hold.
Last month, Top Rank were the first boxing promotion company to come out with live shows and they continue to do so, placing all the fare on ESPN’s main cable channel.
As promoters continue to familiarize themselves with the new required protocols so that they can put on a show, fights are being discussed and made. Everyone can see “the light at the end of the tunnel,” so to speak, now, right?
Let’s take a trip around some of the weight divisions to see what is going on and what we can possibly expect in the future.
Things are starting to sizzle in the super bantamweight division as Zanfer/Top Rank fighter and WBO Champion Emmanuel Navarrete (in action, landing heavy leather, below) looks to be heading north to the featherweight division, which means his belt will be vacated.
Per a tweet by the Athletic’s Mike Coppinger, that WBO crown will be up for grabs on August 1st when Stephen Fulton Jr. fights Angelo Leo. If Fulton Jr. wins that fight, just imagine how big of a unification bout it will be to face Brandon Figueroa (who Fulton Jr has been seen calling out on a Fox telecast). I can definitely see that fight happening next summer if both men are victorious in the coming months.
With news of Navarrete moving up and Shakur Stevenson also moving up, the WBO featherweight crown will be up for grabs. Navarrete will be the mandatory right away (as per WBO rules) and will probably face Michael Conlan (13-0) in NYC around St Patrick’s Day if it is allowed by then. The winner of that fight will certainly have the opportunity of fighting Josh Warrington, in what would be a huge unification bout for the summer of 2021.
Shakur Stevenson is guaranteed to create some noise at the super featherweight division. Which direction will he more than likely go as far as a title fight? Andre Ward recently mentioned on ESPN that although WBO champ Jamel Herring (below) is a friend to him and Shakur, this is about business and that leads me to believe that fight happens late 2021.
Think about the back story to that one as both are former Olympians and are fighters that always come prepared and focused on the task at hand. The hardcore fans will definitely want that if Herring can get past his opponent next week and a fight with Frampton either this year or early next year.
The never ending saga of a fight date for Vasiliy Lomachenko versus Teofimo Lopez (pictured below) keeps changing by the day and I’m sure it has been a frustrating thing for both fighters. Some months ago, I mentioned that this fight would probably take place Super Bowl weekend and with COVID cases rising, the fight may very well get delayed to that date. No one wants to even say anything like that because of the uproar it will cause but it’s a strong possibility. Let’s hope that isn’t the case but don’t be surprised either if it does get delayed that far down the calendar.
Ryan Garcia has been ordered to fight Luke Campbell by the WBC and involved parties are supposed to be negotiating as we speak. Ryan has also been given the opportunity to face Emmanuel Tagoe for the interim WBO title. So which fight does he take? I think he will go the WBO route as the winner of Loma versus Lopez will see both men leaving that division which makes Ryan (if successful) full champ with the WBO. Let’s see how this all plays out as things between him and Golden Boy Promotions aren’t exactly great at this time.
Ah yes, the welterweight division that has been dominated by the PBC fighters for the last few years will soon see a change. There is one common thing amongst Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, Keith Thurman and that is they are all over the age of thirty and are past their peak years so they are bound to get knocked off sooner than later.
Then comes the interesting story of the unified welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. Back in December, he mentioned to Brian Kenny that he would be back in the ring within a “May/June time frame.” Then a few months later, it was reported that he was set to be back in September against Danny Garcia. About a month ago, Spence Jr. went on social media saying that he won’t be able to spar for the first time until August. That doesn’t sound like he will be ready until October at the earliest barring any setbacks. In hearing the latest, if we do see the champ this year, it’ll be November/December time frame. Or maybe later…
Until then, plenty of young guns, like Vergil Ortiz Jr. will keep developing their game in an effort to get a crack at one of those titles as early as 2021.
Let’s not forget about WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford, who will more than likely get his dose of Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor at welterweight before a Spence Jr. fight gets discussed, pushing that fight even further down the line.
You can’t talk about this division without mentioning the name Canelo Alvarez. Next week, we will be within sixty days of what has been a penciled in date for Canelo to fight with no opponent in site.
We are getting close to the window where some quick decisions on an opponent will have to be made so that the September fight becomes a reality. This is an interesting situation and I would recommend you paying attention to it to see what happens in the coming weeks. One thing is for sure, he will be fighting GGG in May 2021. You can count on that!
Boxing is back and that is a good thing for fans and media. The frustrating thing for promoters will continue to be the obstacle of planning an event that can be cancelled at any moment. Let’s hope things get better in regards to COVID-19 and we can get back to enjoying live events in the sport we love.