Which fights would The Boxing Tribune staff make if they had the magic matchmaker power to put together any “doable” bout featuring today’s stars?
(Check out Part One)
Here’s Part Two of our two-part “Pick the Fights” feature :
Mikey Garcia vs. Adrien Broner
At the dawn of Premier Boxing Champions, Adrien Broner was positioned to be the star that the brand was built around provided he could get his act together in and out of the ring. Three years in, it is looking more evident that Broner will never reach those heights, but he deserves a fighting chance against the potential future face of the brand in the resurgent Mikey Garcia. Broner/Garcia at Junior Welterweight or even a few pounds above would be a fight full of subplots and a gripping narrative between two extremely gifted fighters in a high-profile battle on the crossroads.
Badou Jack vs. Sergey Kovalev
If Andre Ward does in fact retire, there is no chance in hell that Adonis Stevenson will step up to fight Sergey Kovalev, but that leaves the door open for a war to behold between Kovalev and Super Middleweight champion Badou Jack. Jack will be heading to 175, and seeing that Kathy Duva and Al Haymon have worked with each other in the past, there shouldn’t be a reason this fight is left off the table if Ward/Kovalev II doesn’t materialize for one reason or another. This fight has bloodbath written all over it with each man being the strongest either have faced and is a war of attrition that will have to be seen to believe.
Anthony Joshua vs. David Haye
Anthony Joshua is the next big thing in boxing, and he’s going to break the stratosphere should he trample former Heavyweight king Wladimir Klitschko this April. With British boxing as hot as it is, the biggest fight to be made in the sport would pit Joshua against David Haye in what could be the biggest fight in the history of British boxing. Though Joshua and Klitschko have been nothing but respectful of each other, Joshua/Haye has the potential to be dynamite from the announcement to the final bell and is a fight that must absolutely happen if both fighters continue their winning ways.
Caryn A. Tate
Cecilia Braekhus vs. Layla McCarter
If one didn’t know anything about these fighters and only looked at their records, they might think it’s a mismatch. The Norwegian Braekhus (30-0, 8 KOs) sports an unusual undefeated record in women’s boxing and currently holds a plethora of titles, while McCarter’s record of 38-13 (9 KOs) is (like many great female fighters) deceptive. People who follow women’s boxing are aware that McCarter is widely considered the pound-for-pound best in the sport; she is a two-time WBA lightweight and super-welterweight world champion, and her record reveals she has always fought the best available in the divisions she’s campaigned in. The majority of her 13 losses were from the very beginning of her career, when she was learning on the job. She’s gone up and down in weight in an effort to face the best options out there, similar to golden age boxers. Braekhus is a very good fighter and carries herself like a champion, and now that McCarter signed with Mayweather Promotions, there should be no problem making this fight happen. A face-off between these two would be a huge deal for the sport, particularly in Europe.
Mikey Garcia vs. Vasyl Lomachenko
While Lomachenko (7-1, 5 KOs) most recently won a title at super featherweight (130 lbs.), he has expressed an interest in fighting someone at lightweight (135 lbs.). That someone should undoubtedly be Mikey Garcia (36-0, 30 KOs). Lomachenko is a two-time Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine, with a jaw-dropping stated amateur record of 396-1—and the single loss was avenged. In the pros, he has looked very good, but his lone loss to the rugged Orlando Salido raises questions about how adept he is at dealing with someone who can make it a rough fight. Garcia, one of the most naturally gifted boxers in recent years, returned in July of 2016 after a two year layoff and has looked perhaps even better than he did before the layoff. This bout would likely be very technical, but any true fan of boxing would eat it up.
Jorge Linares vs. the winner of Garcia-Lomachenko
Linares (41-3, 27 KOs) is, by my estimation, one of the most overlooked, underrated fighters in the sport. The WBA lightweight (135 lbs.) champion moves and boxes beautifully. His combinations are nearly perfect. While many members of the media and some fans get hung up on his 3 losses (all by TKO), it must be noted that not only were those losses caused by cuts, the last one was five years ago. He has continued to improve his technique under the guidance of the superb trainer Ismael Salas, and he just keeps racking up the wins. A bout between Linares and the winner of the Garcia-Lomachenko fight would be a dream come true for students of the game, and one that is perhaps too close to call.
Jermall Charlo vs. Demetrius Andrade
There are times when Andrade looks like the best all-around American fighter in the game and other times where he looks to be just going through the motions. That means, to bring out the best in him, he needs to be facing a degree of danger. Charlo fights with a swagger and confidence that makes him a compelling presence. Both are technically well-rounded boxers, but also willing to let their hands go when the opportunity arises. Andrade-Charlo may run the risk of becoming a tactical battle rather than a Gatti-Ward war. However, pitting the two confident, undefeated, and mega-skilled 20-something junior middleweight standouts against one another in the prime of their career will not only produce a compelling night of high-end action, but also establish the top dog in an increasingly deep and interesting 154 lb. class and if Jermall is serious about leaving 154 behind for good, then middleweight-ready Andrade could meet him there as well.
Chris Arreola vs. Artur Szpilka
There are many better, more meaningful fights in the sport– many already listed by my fellow staffers– but few would deliver on fight fans’ blood lust more than this pairing of heavy-handed big men currently on a downward career spiral. If I had my way, this one would’ve happened three or four years ago, when it still meant a little bit to the heavyweight picture and when the brawl would’ve been able to sell out an arena show in the Polish and Mexican-immigrant heavy Chicago market. Now, Arreola-Szpilka is just a guaranteed war as a co-feature to a bigger bout. But what was true years ago is still true now– the fight would be a big, sloppy, supremely entertaining slugfest for however long it lasts.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Terence Crawford
For me, Manny Pacquiao still deserves to be regarded as a top 3 welterweight and has given the “experts” no reason to be regarded as anything less. Hell, he may even be the rightful no.1 welter in the absence of Floyd Mayweather. Terence Crawford, meanwhile, is the undisputed top junior welterweight in the world and may be the top American fighter in the sport right now. But Crawford will never get the credit he deserves or the box office push he needs without a piggyback ride from someone like Pacquiao. A bout with the Filipino icon will give Crawford the chance to secure his spot among the elites of the sport as well as start drawing the kind of attention he needs to become a star.