Great fights to make: Here's 13 boxing matches we'd love to see within the next year

LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 20: Tyson Fury during the Tyson Fury Press Conference at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on October 20, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
Tyson Fury will fight Derek Chisora on Dec. 3, but there are a lot of great options for him in 2023. (Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside via Getty Images)

The talent level in boxing is extraordinary, and at a point it hasn’t been seen in a quarter of a century, maybe even more. There are big-name fighters who are good enough to have competed with the best throughout history. And there are gifted young fighters on the way up who show a lot of promise.

But while most of the fights that fans want to see get put together on the women’s side get put together in short order, it’s a lot different on the men’s side, where a number of factors converge to make putting together common sense fights difficult.

Here are a baker’s dozen of fights I’m excited to see that have yet to be made, and my analysis of the likelihood we’ll seen them in the next 12 months.

The big boys at heavyweight

It used to be said that as the heavyweight division goes, so goes boxing. That is no longer true, though there are five heavyweight fights that could be exceptional.

1. Tyson Fury, WBC heavyweight champion, versus Oleksandr Usyk, IBF-WBA-WBO champion

Why I want to see it: First, it would be for both the lineal and the undisputed title. There would be a no-doubt champion. And it would be a fascinating bout, given the styles of the 6-9 Fury and the 6-3 Usyk.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 3-1.

Optimistic this one occurs. Fury has fluctuated on whether he wants to keep fighting or retire, but he did challenge Usyk previously but got impatient waiting for a deal to get done. There should be no major impediments and the fight should occur in the first half of 2023.

2. Fury versus Anthony Joshua

Why I want to see it: They are two of the best big men in the history of the game, the rivalry is deep and the fans in the United Kingdom would go wild. It would be a massive fight between two giants with plenty of skill.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 10-1.

If negotiations bog done for Fury and Usyk, this will be the next fight up. Both fighters want it and they nearly came to a deal for a fight in December. This could occur after Fury-Usyk if Fury wins. If he loses, it becomes a longer shot.

3. Deontay Wilder versus Joshua

Why I want to see it: Two of the biggest punchers in the history of the heavyweight division going at it? Yes, please.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 15-1.

Wilder and Joshua have circled each other for years, but when Joshua was the champion and had the juice because of his huge U.K. fan base, he wasn’t in a hurry to make it occur. Now, it’s a fight he’d love to get. There are no major impediments to it, though it’s a PBC versus DAZN thing on the TV where things could get tricky.

4. Joshua versus Joe Joyce

Why I want to see it: This would be kind of a mini Wilder-Joshua fight and a mini Fury-Joshua fight combined. Joyce can punch, though he’s not the quickest guy out there. And they’re both from the U.K. with rabid fan bases. It would be a fun, rock em, sock em-type of fight.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 50-1.

Comment: Joyce doesn’t have the profile and there are other options for Joshua, so I think this is very unlikely, as much as I’d love to see it.

5. Wilder verus Joyce

Why I want to see it: Another bombs away fight between two powerful heavyweights. You’d have to think someone is getting knocked out here. Wilder has the speed/quickness edge, but if he gets clipped on the chin by Joyce, look out.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 25-1.

Wilder wants big fights and this would be a big one, though Joyce again doesn’t have the profile of Wilder. Not as hard to put together as Joshua-Joyce, but Wilder is going to look for bigger names first.

The no-brainer

There are so many terrific non-heavyweight fights to put together. These next few seem to be the ones that are obvious to all.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 18:  Artur Beterbiev celebrates after defeating Joe Smith Jr during the light heavyweight title bout at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on June 18, 2022 in New York City. The fight was stopped in the second round. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev (L) is a great slugger, and a match with super boxer Dmitry Bivol would be outstanding with great significance within the sport. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

6. Artur Beterbiev, IBF-WBC-WBO champion versus Dmitry Bivol, WBA champion

Division: Light heavyweight.

Why I want to see it: It would produce an undisputed champion. More than that, it’s the prototypical boxer versus slugger type of fight. Beterbiev is a huge knockout puncher and Bivol is an extraordinary boxer. Both are on the verge of being in the pound-for-pound Top 10.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 10-1.

It’s no slam dunk, and if Canelo Alvarez makes Bivol a lucrative offer to fight for the undisputed super middleweight title, that could be a problem. But Bivol made clear Saturday after his win over Gilberto Ramirez he’s a light heavyweight, and he said legacy is more important than money. There are no obvious obstacles, though Beterbiev has a defense upcoming against Anthony Yarde (yawn!).

7. Terence Crawford, WBO champion, versus Errol Spence Jr, IBF-WBA-WBC champion

Division: Welterweight.

Why I want to see it: This may be the best fight that could be put together in boxing. It’s two of the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters, they’re both unbeaten and they’re both in their primes. This could be a fight for the ages.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 20-1.

Negotiations have gone badly from the start. The PBC has Spence, and Crawford recently signed with a new entry into boxing, BLK Prime. The fight is lucrative, though is probably not as big PPV-wise as many think. So financial demands could be tough to satisfy. But I do believe both fighters want it and when that’s the case, it usually gets done despite the obstacles.

8. Ryan Garcia versus Gervonta Davis, secondary WBA champion

Division: Super lightweight.

Why I want to see it: Extraordinary matchup of two young stars in their prime, both of whom have speed and power. This has the makings of an Arguello-Pryor kind of fight.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 35-1.

Issues abound in this. Garcia is with Golden Boy, and Golden Boy CEO Oscar De La Hoya doesn’t work well with the PBC’s Al Haymon. Broadcast rights are also an issue, as Showtime has Davis and DAZN has Garcia. Davis may also face jail time for leaving the scene of an accident. For such a great fight, there are a lot of problems to overcome.

The rest that would be fun scraps

These five fights are ones I think make a lot of sense and would be fun, but they’re not top of mind now.

9. Devin Haney, undisputed champion, versus Shakur Stevenson

Division: Lightweight.

Why I want to see it: It’s two of the best fighters in the world with everything anyone would want to see in a fight. It’s one of the best fights that could be made in boxing.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 15-1.

Both are with Top Rank, so it should be easy to get done. But Haney is going to fight Vasiliy Lomachenko next, so who knows what will happen.

10. Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz versus William Zepeda

Division: Lightweight.

Why I want to see it: They are aggressive, high-contact fighters who are looking to establish themselves in the division. Both of them would go for it and it could be a wild fight.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 50-1.

Cruz is with PBC. Zepeda is with Golden Boy. Haymon versus De La Hoya. Enough said.

Japanese boxer and the WBA and IBF bantamweight world champion Naoya Inoue speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in Yokohama, near Tokyo on Nov. 23, 2021. Drawing praise as one of the best
A fight with unified bantamweight champion Naoya Inoue (above) against unified super bantamweight champion Stephen Fulton would be a huge fight in a division that doesn't often get a lot of attention. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

11. Naoya Inoue versus Stephen Fulton

Division: Super bantamweight

Why I want to see it: The best at bantamweight versus the best at super bantamweight? Oh yeah. Inoue is a huge puncher. Fulton is a great boxer. Both have upcoming fights but this is a fun fight that would garner a lot of attention.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 20-1.

Inoue’s main promoter is Teiken Promotions in Japan, but the fight would be in the U.S. with Top Rank as Inoue’s promoter on ESPN. That would make an ESPN versus Showtime battle, since Fulton is with PBC. But they’ve worked together before and this would be a big-money fight in a weight class that doesn’t usually have big-money fights.

12. Jaron Ennis versus Vergil Ortiz

Division: Welterweight.

Why I want to see it: Two of the best in the world, with nothing at stake but pride. It’s a tremendous fight between two of the best in the world.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 100-1

Fantastic fight in the ring, but Haymon and De La Hoya are involved and, without a title, it’s unlikely.

13. Teofimo Lopez versus Josh Taylor, WBO champion

Division: Super lightweight.

Why I want to see it: A former undisputed lightweight champion against a former undisputed super lightweight champion would be a treat. Both have fights scheduled, but if they could fight next, that would be great.

Odds it occurs in 12 months: 15-1.

If both win their fights, theirs is a match that could be made, but more likely in the second half of 2023.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - AUGUST 13: Teofimo Lopez celebrates after defeating Pedro Campa, during their NABF & WBO International junior welterweight fight at Resorts World Las Vegas on August 13, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
Former undisputed lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez (above) against former undisputed super lightweight champion Josh Taylor would be a massive fight in 2023. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images)
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