Somewhere, in a galaxy far, far away existed the boxing year of 2016…
‘The Force' was weak with this one, as the ultimate duels pitting Good V Evil had vanished. Canelo Alvarez seemingly did ‘fuck around in Mexico', as fans cried duck over a non-confrontation with Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. The year's Superfight, Andre “S.O.G.” Ward V Sergey Kovalev, was a compelling saga that failed to capture the world's imagination. As Manny Pacquiao searched for redemption lost in 2015 with Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez and Miguel Cotto became faded stars. Guillermo Rigondeaux was seen on milk cartons instead of inside of a ring with Carl Frampton, and Vasyl Lomachenko made foes quit while waiting for the ultimate rival.
Then came 2017.
Gervonta “Tank” Davis ran over and crushed Jose “Sniper” Pedraza to capture the IBF super featherweight strap and emerged as a “High-Tec” threat. Women's Boxing is ready to explode, as 2-Time Olympic Gold Medalist Claressa Shields looks to spark a new era. Brooklyn's own Amanda Serrano and Heather Hardy remain ready; Cecilia Braekhus V Klara Svensson on Friday, February 24; welterweight history on CBS in primetime March 4, as Danny “Swift” Garcia V Keith “One-Time” Thurman will unify the WBC and WBA titles; and then, unified middleweight ruler 3G's takes on WBA champ Danny Jacobs on March 18 at Madison Square Garden. Nobody's putting away the lightsabers this year.
Let's bring in our UK correspondent for NY Fights, Colin Morrison, for a look at what's going on overseas to give fight fans bigger reasons to lose their minds this year.
*** *** ***
At the tail-end of 2016, boxing only broadcaster BoxNation signed a deal to annex into partnership with BT Sport. The added financial muscle will deliver a much broader domestic fight package– which in turn, will produce a broader platform of viewers to boxing. By leveling the playing field with Matchroom/Sky Sports, this should force promoters to consistently give us higher quality fight cards.
The BT Sport/BoxNation era begins with a strong looking show in Manchester on April 8.
An interesting rematch between Anthony Crolla and Jorge Linares will capture the attention of boxing fans on March 25. Can Linares replicate the smooth movement based performance of last year to win in Crolla's hometown of Manchester? Or, will Crolla and his team have adjusted to devise a winning strategy? The victor could then move forward to face Mikey Garcia, in what would be a blockbuster unification fight in the 135lb division.
Unification fights are almost always what boxing fans want promoters to bring to fruition. One such event sees WBA super lightweight champion Ricky Burns take on IBF champion Julius Indongo on April 15. The winner of this fight would be in a strong position to negotiate with the division's premier fighter, WBO/WBC champion Terence “Bud” Crawford.
Finally, we have one confirmed and one pending stadium fight to look forward to. Anthony Joshua will take on Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley Stadium for several portions of the heavyweight pie on April 29. The request for the venue to be configured for 90,000 fans was approved and reports tell us all seats have been sold. The record crowd on site will be joined by a huge TV audience, as fans around the globe watch the latest installment from the sport's glamour division.
Although the details are still sketchy, the Kell Brook vs. Errol Spence Jr. duel looks likely to be a stadium affair also. Of all the fights currently confirmed, this is the one that looks to have the most star quality. A genuine 50/50 rumble. How will Spence — the ridiculously talented young American, fare when he steps up a level and travels to the UK to face an established champion in Brook? Then too, how will Brook perform, having had his right orbital bone broken during his bold step up to middleweight last year to challenge Gennady Golovkin? Dates in late May are being discussed for a bout that no fan of the noble art will want to miss.
*** *** ***
Thanks Morrie ✌
So… Here's a likely scenario of what this all means for fans of “The Sweet Science” in 2017:
Anthony Crolla V Jorge Linares II. >>>> Mikey Garcia
Ricky Burns V Julius Indongo. >>>> Terence Crawford
Anthony Joshua V Wladimir Klitschko >>>> Deontay Wilder
Kell Brook V Errol Spence Jr >>>> Danny “Swift” Garcia / Keith “One-Time” Thurman
Gennady “GGG” Golovkin V Danny Jacobs >>>> Canelo Alvarez
That's absolutely fantabulous! In Vol.II of this series, we'll breakdown the above matchups and how the winners might fare against the fighters waiting for them.