5 big fights about to be announced: Why they’re intriguing, who wins

Boxing is heating up. And it couldn’t happen soon enough.

The sport has been stagnant the past several months as incessant talks between top fighters have generally failed to produce the fights hardcore fans are dying to see.

That frustration was punctuated by the inability of Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. to reach a deal on a 147-pound super fight.

Well, some of the biggest names in the world are reportedly set to face legitimate tests in the coming months. Here are five fights that are coming up, with background and predictions.

DAVID BENAVIDEZ (26-0, 23 KOs) VS. CALEB PLANT (22-1, 13 KOs)

Status: Set

Date: March 25

Site: MGM Grand, Las Vegas

Division: Super middleweight (168 pounds)

TV/stream: Pay-per-view

Overview: This matchup of the Nos. 2 and 3 168-pounders (after champion Canelo Alvarez) is going to be fun. They genuinely can’t stand one another, which will make the lead-up fun. And each of them brings a high level of ability and fire into the ring. Benavidez has overwhelmed opponents with underappreciated hand speed and punishing combinations that almost always result in knockouts. Plant, an excellent, athletic technician, met his match in Alvarez but bounced by to stop Anthony Dirrell with one epic punch in his most-recent fight.

Prediction: If Plant is a better boxer than Benavidez, it isn’t by much. And the latter is the bigger, stronger, harder-punching fighter. Benavidez’s all-around game will be too much for Plant. Benavidez KO 9.

BRANDON FIGUEROA (23-1-1, 18 KOs) VS. MARK MAGSAYO (24-1, 16 KOs)

Status: Reportedly set

Date: Reportedly March 4

Site: United States

Division: Featherweight (126 pounds)

TV/stream: Not set

Overview: Expect a lot of punches in this battle of former titleholders. Figueroa knows only one way to fight, shift into drive and floor it, although he does it in an intelligent way. That sort of pressure almost earned him a victory over 122-pound champ Stephen Fulton in November 2021, which would’ve been a defining win for him. He moved up to 126 after that fight. Magsayo also is offense minded. And he’s particularly hungry. He made a splash by outpointing Gary Russell Jr. to win a 126-pound title only to lose it to Rey Vargas in his subsequent fight. All these ingredients should make for a fun fight to watch.

Prediction: Figueroa will be too busy, too strong and too good for the limited Magsayo. Figueroa KO 10.

NAOYA INOUE (24-0, 21 KOs) VS. STEPHEN FULTON (21-0, 8 KOs)

Status: Reportedly set

Date: End of May or early June

Site: Japan

Division: Junior featherweight (122 pounds)

TV/stream: Not set

Overview: Inoue has dazzled the boxing world over three divisions with what might be unparalleled all-around ability. Some rank the unified 118-pound titleholder No. 1 pound for pound. Fulton, a 122-pound titleholder, is an excellent boxer and fierce competitor, although his punching power is average at best. Inoue is better than Fulton but the Japanese star is stepping up in weight, which could be an equalizer in this fascinating matchup. Can Inoue, who started as a 108-pounder, hurt Fulton? That could determine the outcome.

Prediction: Inoue has already carried his power up from 108 to 118. The guess here is that he’ll take it up one more division. Inoue KO 9.

GERVONTA DAVIS (28-0, 26 KOs) VS. RYAN GARCIA (23-0, 19 KOs)

Status: Fighters have agreed to bout

Date: Reportedly April 15

Site: United States

Division: Catch weight (136 pounds)

TV/stream: Pay-per-view

Overview: It doesn’t get much better than this battle of two gifted young stars. The thing that stands out is the power of both men, who are among the biggest punchers in the sport pound-for-pound. They are also well-schooled, experienced technicians, which means we’ll witness a high level of boxing until one of them ends matters in an instant or otherwise. And, finally, they both bring massive social media followings into the promotion, which will add to the intensity to what already is a mouth-watering matchup.

Prediction: Garcia might be faster and just as powerful as Davis but “Tank” is the better all-around fighter. He will methodically set up more and more damaging blows as the fight progresses and ultimately land the big one. Davis KO 8.

TYSON FURY (30-0-1, 24 KOs) VS. OLEKSANDR USYK (20-0, 13 KOs)

Status: Reportedly near completion

Date: End of March or early April

Site: Middle East or U.K.

Division: Heavyweight (unlimited)

TV/stream: Pay-per-view

Overview: The matchup would produce the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis. Fury is the top heavyweight of his generation, a 6-foot-9 behemoth with polished skill and athleticism that belies his size. And he’s durable. He’s 2-0-1 against KO artist Deontay Wilder, who has stopped every other opponent he’s faced. Usyk, a boxing wizard, has made a successful transition from cruiserweight to heavyweight by outpointing a much bigger Anthony Joshua in back-to-back fights. No one would dispute that these are the Nos. 1 and 2 big men at the moment.

Prediction: Usyk might be the better boxer but Fury’s own formidable ability and overwhelming size – as well as his fighting spirit – will be too much for the relatively small Ukrainian. Fury KO 10.

Story originally appeared on Boxing Junkie