Fighters get avoided for different reasons. Sort of like how we have different seasons based on the time of the year. Not everyone fighter being avoided is the same. Some are avoided because they might “mess up the church's money” ie make a popular fighter unprofitable. Some are on the most avoided list because the fans don’t know how to demand for the right fights, mostly through indoctrination, and some get avoided out of lack of political capital in the sport.
It typically comes down to a fighter not being a big enough draw, a fighter having a ton of power, or a fighter having a flawed record that allows other fighters to go in a different direction, and belittle the flawed record as a reason to fight said fighter.
I have broken this list down into two tiers. The most avoided prospects and the avoided contenders who have lost a couple of times.
The Contenders Who Can’t Get A Fight
Fights He Has Failed To Get: Canelo and Golovkin
Marquee Win: Willie Nelson
Info: Demetrius Andrade’s career is frustrating. Andrade is so good we often hold him to a different standard. Most fighters are vulnerable enough to fall into a big fight in which the marquee fighter will look to face a seemingly well-respected contender based on a glaring flaw. Andrade is a huge southpaw, an awkward fighter, an accomplished amateur, who is undefeated, and now beyond all that is also asked to do more from a fan’s perspective. His reaction is simple: “Why do I have to do more than the other fighters?”
It is a pretty fair question, too.
I think the short answer is, “Boo Boo” Andrade is so good, he has to go above and beyond because most fighters won’t risk facing him, as he tends to be in methodical fights that might dramatically hurt fighters’ earning potential after a potential loss to him. It is a calculated risk no one is willing to take, as Andrade’s biggest win is against Willie Nelson, a great fighter, but we would’ve hoped Andrade would have gotten big opportunities by this point at 34-years-old.
The sad part is as Andrade gets older, he gets more chances; it seems as if Janibek Alimkhanuly was willing to face Demetrius Andrade for the WBO middleweight title, but Andrade punted, looking to secure a big name.
The classic death-knell for a boxing fan is when an avoided fighter uses the learned behavior taught to him by his more famous peers, and is unwilling to allow the younger fighters to face them. Because they’re now hell-bent on pursuing the biggest fights possible, as so much time has been wasted.
I certainly believe Demetrius Andrade is one of the best of his era, but I want him to prove it as well.
Dream Fight For 2023: David Morrell, The Battle of the Boogeymen
Fights He Has Failed To Get: Struggling To Get A Fight At Lightweight
Marquee Win: Oscar Valdez
Info: In terms of skill, very few if any compare to Shakur Stevenson. A veteran coach, Eddie Croft once referred to Stevenson as a wizard in the ring, like the wizard in Super Mario Bros, the ones who disappear and reappear. Stevenson is able to control distance and range as well as any of his peers and is also in tremendous shape to keep it up for all 12 rounds.
Already a two-division world champion, Stevenson is now looking for dancing partners for his WBC lightweight #1 contender bout, as name after name went in a different direction. His upcoming spring bout against Shuichiro Yoshino, expected on April 8, sums up the avoided nature of Stevenson’s career.
Stevenson is now facing a fighter who is very good, one unknown to most fight fans, but willing to take a chance to land a big fight, as more high-profile fighters looked to pursue different bouts.
The problem with avoided fighters is their legacy can get weird as the names we want to see them in with often don’t fight them in the modern era, as we now see people prolong winnable a-side vs. b-side fights, and taking a 50-50 fight only when they’re forced to.
I see Stevenson as the next clear pound-for-pound #1 guy.
Dream Fight For 2023: Vasiliy Lomachenko, two of the most technically sound fighters ever
Fights He Has Failed To Get: Seemingly All The Big Names At 140 Outside Of Josh Taylor and Jose Zepeda
Marquee Win: Jose Zepeda
Info: Regis hits hard, and can box. Beyond that, he is a rhythm fighter, and once he finds his rhythm the combo of power and timing is rather dangerous. Though Regis Prograis might not be unbeatable as Josh Taylor once proved, he is a hard night in the office for any-and-all.
Not unlike Demetrius Andrade, Prograis almost certainly needs a world title as he is the highest-risk, lowest-reward fighter, if no title is up for grabs.
Sadly, we live in an era where money trumps legacy and glory, so even with a world title now fighters will seek fighters who align with the promotional entity they fight for or the most common look for the most vulnerable world champion and prolong a world title reign. So even with the WBC 140 lbs title Prograis recently won over Jose Zepeda, Prograis is still struggling to get fights.
Prograis seemingly has always gotten the small market treatment despite being with some major names in the sport and having a larger-than-life persona.
Dream Fight For 2023: Josh Taylor, rematch.
Fights He Has Failed To Get: Fights So Infrequently
Marquee Win: Oleksandr Gvozdyk
Info: Artur Beterbiev might be the best forgotten fighter. Every one of his fights ended by way of a knockout as the WBO, WBC, and IBF world champion is one of the most fearsome punchers I have ever seen. That said, the fight we want is against the other champion, the WBA light heavyweight Dmitry Bivol—yet politics seemingly always ruin a good thing. Bivol is willing to fight Beterbiev, but Beterbiev has two mandatory defenses to make for the time being, one in January against Anthony Yarde, and another later this year against Callum Smith.
It is hard to point to the reasoning one of the ten best fighters in the world, Artur Beterbiev only fights an average of 1.5 fights a year. One might be a high mandatory minimum, the other could be it is hard to secure an opponent. Beterbiev has fought only seven times in six years with 2019 and 2021 being his most active with two fights a piece in each year.
When Beterbiev stopped Gvozdyk I thought we saw the near era of light heavyweight, yet seemingly nothing followed in terms of his upward trajectory to stardom. It is strange, and I can’t help but think the power and talent of Beterbiev have limited his ability to get fights even as he approaches the later years of his career.
Dream Fight For 2023: Dmitry Bivol, who is the greatest modern light heavyweight since Andre Ward.
Jaron “Boots” Ennis
Fights He Has Failed To Get: Has been put on ice by the slow-moving welterweight division
Best Wins: Sergei Lipinets
Ennis looks to be the next era of the welterweight division and you can somewhat see that no one wants to find out how good he is until paid top dollar. In short, Ennis up until his last fight was humiliating world-class fighters and ruining their economic future in the long run and without sanctioning bodies forcing the issue, Ennis has to wait for other fighters to fight him. Last year, Ennis fought once, a total of one-and-a-half rounds. Far too little, and a big issue could be – it is hard to get him an opponent.
After a letdown in his last fight, hopefully a few fighters will be more willing to face him, but the fact remains Ennis has generational-type power that can humiliate and change the perception of any one fighter. Inevitably all the greats meet a fighter willing to step up but “Boots” Ennis is now getting detractors based on the excitement people like myself have for him compared to his CV.
Dream Fight For 2023: 1a) Roiman Villa, 1b) Vergil Ortiz Jr., to see where “Boots” sits in the division.
Fights He Has Failed To Get: Errol Spence Jr., and Manny Pacquiao
Best Win: Shawn Porter
Info: Terence Crawford’s fight career will be studied for years the way MBA college courses will study the business model of MoviePass. Was Crawford avoided or was it a carefully curated career with minimal risk? Did Crawford fight guys and alter their career forever, or was the opposition less than it should’ve been?
We will never know as fans. I tend to believe Crawford was avoided by many since he has the skillset to trouble all-time great fighters like Floyd Mayweather, in my opinion, but I can’t prove any of that. It is just sad that his biggest fights will probably come closer to when he is 40 years old, as opposed to when he was in his prime, which to me, shows people moved with caution around him.
Dream Fight For 2023: Errol Spence Jr., for legacy.
Fights He Has Failed To Get: Canelo and David Benavidez
Best Win: No Notable Names
Info: Alcoholism comes with time, not just abuse, and so does being avoided as a pro boxer. David Morrell hasn’t been around long enough to truly be avoided, but the man who I hear gym stories of him dropping heavyweights is no joke. Morrell is one of these special Cuban boxers, who is offensively gifted along with his amateur pedigree.
I don’t see very many willingly facing Morrell, which truly is a shame as he should get a chance at being a household name. Morrell is a serious problem, and with less than ten fights already one of the five best super middleweights in the world.
Dream Fight For 2023: Demetrius Andrade, boogeyman vs. boogeyman.
Fights He Has Failed To Get: Canelo
Best Win: Ronald Gavril
Info: A tall, big super middleweight who is one of the most offensively gifted fighters in the world. He has struggled to get fights against high-caliber opponents, not unlike Jaron Ennis, and now the fight we all want to see is Benavidez vs. Canelo Alvarez. Given recent comments from Canelo Alvarez it seems like Canelo might not be keen on the fight.
It is frustrating as a Benavidez fan looking at his career, as year after year, he seemingly faces people that we know the outcome of the fight. That is frustrating for not just the fans, but more than likely Benavidez as well.
Benavidez seemingly is set to face Caleb Plant this year though that battle has not been announced officially, yet. Benavidez is having a frustrating halt to his career as it is clear a lot of fighters are taking other fights over facing him.
Dream Fight For 2023: Canelo Alvarez, a true Mexican clash of a young champion challenging a legend. The stuff we used to get
Fights He Has Failed To Get: Stephen Fulton Jr
Best Win: Vic Pasillas
Info: Aleem is as good of a 122 lbs fighter as I have seen in recent memory. He is calling out Stephen Fulton Jr., and Naoya Inoue, but his political capital and the amount of money he brings to fights limits him. Aleem beat the boogeyman of the division in Vic Pasillas, and in a typical fashion in this list that hurt his chances of big fights rather than advanced him.
I hope Aleem finally gets to see where he shakes out in the division as he is clearly one of the best fighters in the division, but with two world champions, neither being all that active, Aleem is somewhat stuck. I hope this year offers him something because this story is getting old quickly. Aleem has done enough for a big fight and now can he obtain one is the next question?
Dream Fight For 2023: Stephen Fulton Jr., they have bad blood, let’s settle it in the ring.
Fights He's Failed To Get: Struggling to get a fight with a marquee heavyweight
Best Win: Daniel Dubois
Info: If boxing was a video game, you’d probably be working up to face Joe Joyce in one of the last levels of the game. If Tyson Fury was M.Bison in Street Fighter II, then Joyce would be the character Sagat, who you face prior to Bison.
What Joyce does might not be pretty, but it is effective. A ton of pressure from a huge man, who keeps a pace of a marathon runner as much as a professional boxer. I don’t see many heavyweights willingly wanting to face the 37 year old Joyce, because if you can’t hurt him, it will be a very big task to outbox him, as he seemingly has no quit in his engine.
Even in his late 30s, Joyce is not getting many people calling him despite being a top-four heavyweight and pretty obviously better than Anthony Joshua.
Dream Fight For 2023: Anthony Joshua, the battle of two Olympic British medalists.
Arnold Barboza Jr.
Fights He's Failed To Get: Teofimo Lopez or a high-profile 140 lbs opponent
Best Win: Danielito Zorrilla
Info: Barboza Jr. battled his way through the club circuit of the old Top Rank Solo Boxeo cards, he faced Mike Reed, Mike Alvarado, and a slew of other contenders, but every time he seemingly would get a world title shot it didn’t happen.
Now you have fighters like Kenny Sims Jr calling for Barboza Jr., but with Barboza Jr so close to a big fight, he is in the position of denying others as others have denied him. A talented boxer who keeps looking to face the likes of Teofimo Lopez, Jose Ramirez and many others just can’t seem to land a title fight. Hopefully, if he beats Jose Pedraza he can finally land that big fight.
Dream Fight For 2023: Regis Prograis, a great fight for Carson, Ca.
Fights He's Failed To Get: Demetrius Andrade and A Bad Era Of Middleweight
Best Win: No Notable Names
Info: My favorite 154 lbs fighter and one of the toughest men to beat in America just hasn’t gotten the chance to prove himself, yet. You can call it the other side of the street since a lot of his peers are on other forms of networks, but in reality, Conwell beats most 154 lbs and if they don’t have to fight him, they won’t.
Add to the fact that we have Jermell Charlo who holds all four world titles in the division for now, and is fighting at a very slow rate of two fights in three years since COVID-19 hit. Conwell just has to wait for the belts to become open and challenge via the sanctioning bodies as I have yet to hear of one fighter call out Charles Conwell.
Dream Fight For 2023: Errol Spence Jr., I’d like to see Spence face Conwell in his second fight at 154 lbs after fighting Keith Thurman.
Fights He's Failed To Get: Can’t Stay Active
Best Win: Luis Albero Lopez
Info: Villa is as good of a fighter as I have ever seen and despite one loss, I still see him in this tier of a fighter. That said, he just doesn’t fight anymore. It is a shame since he is a top-five fighter in the division, who is now just sitting in Salinas, California, waiting.
Who knows what is going on, but it is a shame when fighters like Ruben Villa are not given a chance in their prime.
Dream Fight For 2023: Robesiy Ramirez, a great chess match.
Fights He's Failed To Get: Demetrius Andrade and A Bad Era Of Middleweight
Info: This one is strange. Janibek has been marketed this way, and the Andrade falling apart plays to this narrative, but he also feels more like a solid world champion such as Viktor Postol than he does the decade long champion, Gennadiy Golovkin. Janibek still feels a bit young in his career to be judged as I think he still needs about five fights before we know where his ceiling is.
Janibek is in one of worst times I can remember the middleweight being in, as the division is in shamble with people chasing Canelo Alvarez to super middleweight. Can Janibek become the guy to be a force in the division, I hope so. We need some stability and youth in that division.
Dream Fight For 2023: Esquiva Falcao, who emerges as the guy of the undefeated middleweights