The Superfight wish list for the remainder of 2022

The Superfight wish list for the remainder of 2022 01 Jul by Anson Wainwright The first half of 2022 is officially in the books. The first quarter of the boxing calendar was pretty slow but the second quarter more than made up for that. We had a hot stretch of big fights over a five-week period: Errol Spence Jr. claiming his third welterweight title by stopping the valiant Yordenis Ugas in 10 rounds; Tyson Fury hammering Dillian Whyte in six; Shakur Stevenson winning a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision over Oscar Valdez to unify junior lightweight titles; Katie Taylor narrowly defeating Amanda Serrano in an instant classic; Dmitry Bivol upsetting boxing’s biggest star, Canelo Alvarez; Jermell Charlo stopping Brian Castano to become the undisputed 154-pound champion; Devin Haney becoming the undisputed lightweight champion with a clinical display of boxing against George Kambosos; Naoya Inoue scoring a brutal second-round stoppage of Nonito Donaire to add a third bantamweight title and, most recently, Artur Beterbiev showcasing his devastating power with a second-round stoppage over Joe Smith Jr. The best facing the best is a rarity in boxing, but the sport does have a plethora of unified and undisputed champions across the male and female divisions. That’s a very good sign. Here’s hoping these trends continue. What fight do you want to see more than any other in the second half of 2022? I enlisted several of my Ring colleagues and boxing insiders to give their thoughts and musings on the subject. THE RING MAGAZINE/ RINGTV.COM DOUG FISCHER: STEPHEN FULTON Vs. MURODJON AKHMADALIEV “I’m sure most of the folks are going to go with Spence-Crawford or Beterbiev-Bivol, and those are great showdowns for undisputed championships in traditional ‘glamor divisions. But I’m going to go with another undisputed championship in a division known mainly to hardcore fans — the junior featherweight class. I want to see Stephen Fulton vs. Murodjon Akhmadaliev for the vacant Ring Magazine 122-pound championship because A) it’s a fascinating stylistic matchup between two overlooked world-beaters (both of whom possess underrated skill, technique, athleticism and heart), and B) because it will hopefully set up the mega-clash I want to see the most in 2023, which is the winner vs. Naoya Inoue.” TOM GRAY: TYSON FURY Vs. ANTHONY JOSHUA “I know, I know, the stars need to align in a big damn way for this one to happen. Despite the fact that I’m picking Oleksandr Usyk to defeat Anthony Joshua for a second time, I’d love to see AJ get his revenge. It would be great for the sport and – providing we can cut through the political nonsense – an undisputed heavyweight championship fight with Fury would be colossal. When are you ever going to see two Brits throw down for all the marbles again? Exactly!” ANSON WAINWRIGHT: ERROL SPENCE JR. Vs. TERENCE CRAWFORD “My choice would be Spence and Crawford. They’ve circled each other for a couple of years, but there was always promotional and TV networks in the way. However, when Crawford’s contract with Top Rank ended last year, this fight became more realistic than ever. Word is both sides are talking and October had been tabbed for the fight. Here’s to hoping they can get on the same page and we can find out who’s truly the best welterweight in the world. I’ve gone back and forth on this matchup and even as I write this, I don’t have a strong pull either way. Nobody likes a fence sitter, so I’m going with Crawford. Things will be tight in the first half but, as always, Crawford figures things out in the second half to edge the fight by 12-round decision.” MICHAEL MONTERO: ARTUR BETERBIEV Vs. DMITRY BIVOL “If I could get one fight made in the second half of 2022, it would be Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol. The bout would feature a very intriguing contrast of fighter styles, crown an undisputed light heavyweight champion and solidify the winner as one of the top fighters in the world, pound-for-pound. Beterbiev would likely be favored, but I see it as a true 50-50 match up. Bivol has boxed 160 rounds as a professional, double that of Beterbiev. He has also shown the right mix of footwork, angles, straight punching and ring generalship to combat Beterbiev’s style. Last, but certainly not least, he has faced better opposition in his pro career, overall. The question is whether Bivol could keep Beterbiev off of him for 12 highly-competitive rounds. So far, none of the 18 men who have faced the Montreal-based destroyer have been able to do that.” LEE GROVES: SPENCE Vs. CRAWFORD “Since Spence vs. Crawford hasn’t been officially made yet; this would be the fight I would most like to see in the second half of the year. The reasons are obvious: Two of the best welterweights in the world and two of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in boxing meeting for an undisputed championship as undefeated fighters. If ever there was a legacy fight, this is it, and the contrasts in

The Superfight wish list for the remainder of 2022

The Superfight wish list for the remainder of 2022

by Anson Wainwright

The first half of 2022 is officially in the books. The first quarter of the boxing calendar was pretty slow but the second quarter more than made up for that.

We had a hot stretch of big fights over a five-week period: Errol Spence Jr. claiming his third welterweight title by stopping the valiant Yordenis Ugas in 10 rounds; Tyson Fury hammering Dillian Whyte in six; Shakur Stevenson winning a lopsided 12-round unanimous decision over Oscar Valdez to unify junior lightweight titles; Katie Taylor narrowly defeating Amanda Serrano in an instant classic; Dmitry Bivol upsetting boxing’s biggest star, Canelo Alvarez; Jermell Charlo stopping Brian Castano to become the undisputed 154-pound champion; Devin Haney becoming the undisputed lightweight champion with a clinical display of boxing against George Kambosos; Naoya Inoue scoring a brutal second-round stoppage of Nonito Donaire to add a third bantamweight title and, most recently, Artur Beterbiev showcasing his devastating power with a second-round stoppage over Joe Smith Jr.

The best facing the best is a rarity in boxing, but the sport does have a plethora of unified and undisputed champions across the male and female divisions. That’s a very good sign. Here’s hoping these trends continue.

What fight do you want to see more than any other in the second half of 2022?

I enlisted several of my Ring colleagues and boxing insiders to give their thoughts and musings on the subject.

THE RING MAGAZINE/ RINGTV.COM

DOUG FISCHER: STEPHEN FULTON Vs. MURODJON AKHMADALIEV
“I’m sure most of the folks are going to go with Spence-Crawford or Beterbiev-Bivol, and those are great showdowns for undisputed championships in traditional ‘glamor divisions. But I’m going to go with another undisputed championship in a division known mainly to hardcore fans — the junior featherweight class. I want to see Stephen Fulton vs. Murodjon Akhmadaliev for the vacant Ring Magazine 122-pound championship because A) it’s a fascinating stylistic matchup between two overlooked world-beaters (both of whom possess underrated skill, technique, athleticism and heart), and B) because it will hopefully set up the mega-clash I want to see the most in 2023, which is the winner vs. Naoya Inoue.”

TOM GRAY: TYSON FURY Vs. ANTHONY JOSHUA
“I know, I know, the stars need to align in a big damn way for this one to happen. Despite the fact that I’m picking Oleksandr Usyk to defeat Anthony Joshua for a second time, I’d love to see AJ get his revenge. It would be great for the sport and – providing we can cut through the political nonsense – an undisputed heavyweight championship fight with Fury would be colossal. When are you ever going to see two Brits throw down for all the marbles again? Exactly!”

ANSON WAINWRIGHT: ERROL SPENCE JR. Vs. TERENCE CRAWFORD
“My choice would be Spence and Crawford. They’ve circled each other for a couple of years, but there was always promotional and TV networks in the way. However, when Crawford’s contract with Top Rank ended last year, this fight became more realistic than ever. Word is both sides are talking and October had been tabbed for the fight. Here’s to hoping they can get on the same page and we can find out who’s truly the best welterweight in the world. I’ve gone back and forth on this matchup and even as I write this, I don’t have a strong pull either way. Nobody likes a fence sitter, so I’m going with Crawford. Things will be tight in the first half but, as always, Crawford figures things out in the second half to edge the fight by 12-round decision.”

MICHAEL MONTERO: ARTUR BETERBIEV Vs. DMITRY BIVOL
“If I could get one fight made in the second half of 2022, it would be Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol. The bout would feature a very intriguing contrast of fighter styles, crown an undisputed light heavyweight champion and solidify the winner as one of the top fighters in the world, pound-for-pound. Beterbiev would likely be favored, but I see it as a true 50-50 match up. Bivol has boxed 160 rounds as a professional, double that of Beterbiev. He has also shown the right mix of footwork, angles, straight punching and ring generalship to combat Beterbiev’s style. Last, but certainly not least, he has faced better opposition in his pro career, overall. The question is whether Bivol could keep Beterbiev off of him for 12 highly-competitive rounds. So far, none of the 18 men who have faced the Montreal-based destroyer have been able to do that.”

LEE GROVES: SPENCE Vs. CRAWFORD
“Since Spence vs. Crawford hasn’t been officially made yet; this would be the fight I would most like to see in the second half of the year. The reasons are obvious: Two of the best welterweights in the world and two of the top five pound-for-pound fighters in boxing meeting for an undisputed championship as undefeated fighters. If ever there was a legacy fight, this is it, and the contrasts in styles and temperaments will make for a fascinating and riveting contest.”

DIEGO MORILLA: RYAN GARCIA Vs. TEOFIMO LOPEZ
“It may happen in a few years, or maybe not at all. If it doesn’t, we will be missing a helluva brawl. The buildup alone would be worthy of a separate pay-per-view, and the fight itself would generate multiple visits to the canvas by both parties and some of the best highlights of both fighters’ careers. It will be a crossroads fight any way you look at it by the time it happens, and that will only add to the intensity of the fight, in which I would predict that Garcia could emerge victorious in a De La Hoya-Trinidad throwback of a mega-fight.”

NORM FRAUENHEIM: BETERBIEV Vs. BIVOL
“We’ve heard all the reasons why the fight won’t happen. Start with Bob Arum and Eddie Hearn. Liz Cheney will be Donald Trump’s running mate before Arum and Hearn become promotional partners. Arum says there’s no way he’ll let Beterbiev fight Bivol, Hearn’s client, on DAZN. The Dead Zone, Arum calls it. Too bad. Is there a better fight out there? Bivol is coming off a stunning upset of ex-pound-for-pound king Canelo Alvarez. Beterbiev flashed his own pound-for-pound credentials in his astonishing blowout of a tough Joe Smith Jr. The sad part of this is that Beterbiev is 37. The clock is ticking. Fans just haven’t had a real chance to see how good the light-heavyweight champ really is. Guess here, Beterbiev would beat Bivol, probably by decision. But it would be a classic, a dramatic chess match — a thinking man’s fight featuring Beterbiev’s precise power and Bivol’s clever finesse.”

BOXING INSIDERS

RODNEY BERMAN (PROMOTER, GOLDEN GLOVES): BETERBIEV Vs. BIVOL
“Two superstars. The fight would have everything, for the purist to the bloodthirsty. It would keep boxing on its current high. The best against the best. In my opinion, and I’m probably in the vast minority, I think Bivol is smart enough to eke out a points win.”

WAYNE MCCULLOUGH (FORMER BANTAMWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER/ TRAINER): BETERBIEV Vs. BIVOL
“Artur Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol is the fight I think should be made. Bivol is coming off a magnificent performance when he outboxed Canelo to keep his WBA crown. And then you have Beterbiev coming off his destruction of Joe Smith Jr. to add the WBO title to his WBC and IBF titles. If they fight, then there will be one guy holding all the merchandise. The boxer, Bivol vs. the puncher, Beterbiev. I’m all for one beltholder in each division and this fight, if made, will do that.”

DUKE MCKENZIE (FORMER THREE-DIVISION TITLEHOLDER/TV ANALYST): DEVIN HANEY Vs. GERVONTA DAVIS
“If I could make one fight for 2022, the choice is easy – Devin Haney vs. Gervonta Davis for the undisputed lightweight title. They’re both unbeaten world-class fighters. Haney is the classic boxer and Davis is not your stereotypical puncher, but a classy punching machine with a great I.Q. This fight would be a classic, I’m sure. I’m curious to know if Davis can hold his concentration for 12 rounds. And, with equal measure, can Haney stay out of trouble for 12-rounds? Davis would undoubtedly set traps for him, round after round. I see Haney getting a good start but Davis eventually getting on the inside and causing a world of problems that Haney can’t solve. Tank wins by late stoppage.”

ROBERT DIAZ (MATCHMAKER, GOLDEN BOY): FURY Vs. JOSHUA
“That’s a tough one as there are probably a few. After beating Usyk in the rematch, I would really like to see Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury. This would be an exciting buildup to a huge event and a fun fight. It would really be a close one. Chin – Fury. Power- AJ. Boxing IQ- Fury. Fury would be the obvious favorite, but I will go against the odds and say AJ by decision.”

STEVE FARHOOD (TV ANALYST): STEPHEN FULTON Vs. NAOYA INOUE
“The obvious and overwhelming choice is Spence-Crawford, so I’ll go another route to be different. It’s apparent at this point that Naoya Inoue is too much for any bantamweight, so I’d like to see him move up four pounds and challenge unified 122-pound champion Stephen Fulton Jr. Fulton will not only be the bigger fighter, but he’s versatile, strong, mobile, and already accomplished. Inoue needs a challenge, and Fulton is the fighter to provide one.”

BRUCE TRAMPLER (MATCHMAKER, TOP RANK):
“Actually, we’re well into the second half of year planning, so without tipping our hand about the ‘mind matches,’ we have a lot of very talented fighters at almost every level and there are some interesting matchups of the intra-TR variety that we will try to make. A lot of commitments have already been made, so we can’t be bound by time constraints (third quarter, fourth quarter etc.) and for some there are mandatories coming up. Without seeming evasive, we’ll just try to keep doing what we are doing and hope it works out. I wouldn’t want to speculate about a fight (you can do that yourself) and then have you disappointed if, for whatever reason, it doesn’t happen.”

MARC RAMSAY (TRAINER): BETERBIEV Vs. BIVOL
“Without any hesitation, Beterbiev vs Bivol. Seriously, the style of the two boxers guarantees a good fight but also because I would very much like to be involved in a fight of this magnitude.”

SERGIO MORA (FORMER JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER/ COMMENTATOR): SPENCE Vs. CRAWFORD
“Anthony Joshua vs. Deontay Wilder was the BIGGEST fight the world wanted that never happened! I don’t want to see that happen with the second biggest in Spence vs. Crawford. It’s a throwback classic matchup between two elite fighters — shades of Leonard vs Hearns.”

JOLENE MIZZONE (MANAGER): GERVONTA DAVIS Vs. TEOFIMO LOPEZ
“Gervonta Davis vs. Teofimo Lopez – I think this is a great fight in the ring, forget who has what belt and who is with what promoter. The shit talking outside the ring would be fun too. Most importantly with the styles of both guys, I think this would be bombs away, which is a fight I always enjoy. I would pick Davis to win this fight by knockout, but also believe Davis will be on the canvas at some point.”

RUDY HERNANDEZ (TRAINER): NAOYA INOUE Vs. PAUL BUTLER/ SPENCE Vs. CRAWFORD
“I would like to see two fights. Firstly, Naoya Inoue vs Paul Butler. Inoue holds three world titles in the bantamweight division. To be undisputed champion he’d have to fight Paul Butler to get the one remaining title. The fight will be a cat and mouse type of fight. Butler will box to survive and will make the fight go longer than we’d like. But Inoue, being the monster that he is, will catch up to Butler in the late rounds and will KO him leaving no doubt why he’s been my pound-for-pound fighter the last couple of years. It’s Inoue time. One of the greatest Japanese and bantamweight champions of all time.

“My second fight I’d like for it to happen would be Spence vs. Crawford. It’s a match the boxing fans in the States gave been waiting on. It’s a tough fight for both. They’re both solid champions and are about as even as they can be. The edge in my opinion goes to Crawford. He’s a bit more evil in the ring. His timing, his ring smarts and desire to be GREAT (which both have and want) gives Crawford a slight edge. Crawford is a dog, a big dog in a fight. He walks the world by himself, isn’t afraid of no one. Spence stayed behind his promoter and stayed safe. Crawford is the welterweights boogie man today. If these fights happen this year, boxing and boxing fans are the winners.”

ERIC BOTTJER (MATCHMAKER): SPENCE Vs. CRAWFORD
“The obvious fight to make is Errol Spence v. Terence Crawford at welterweight. They are two great talents and I suspect both will raise their games and produce a fantastic fight. I think they are so closely matched that either can win, and, if they fought multiple times, I believe it’s likely they would split honors. It’s an indictment on 21st century boxing – on the current business of boxing – that these two haven’t fought yet. And it will be a stain on both of their careers if they don’t fight each other. I’m spotty at picking mega fights (Hearns over Leonard, Trinidad over De La Hoya, Chavez over Whitaker), so bet Crawford (cause I’m picking Spence).”

VADIM KORNILOV (MANAGER): BETERBIEV Vs. BIVOL
“I would like to see Bivol vs. Beterbiev. Two undefeated champions, both have fought and beaten most top guys in their division and whoever was put in front of them. The fight between these two would be very intriguing. It can definitely happen, but some obstacles are still there to be overcome.”

KATHY DUVA (PROMOTER, MAIN EVENTS): BETERBIEV Vs. BIVOL
“Well, I have a personal connection to this one. And I doubt it will happen, as Top Rank has made it clear that they are not interested. But I would love to see a unification fight between Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev before the end of the year. I know that Dmitry very much wants to unify his title. Beterbiev had expressed the same desire. So why shouldn’t we get this great fight? While this bout is clearly a pick ’em fight on paper, I have great faith that Dmitry will prevail—probably on points. He will not stand right in front of Beterbiev and let him tee off. He will remain as disciplined as he did with Canelo. He will jab, throw combinations, move and give the relatively slower Beterbiev fits. On the rare occasions when Beterbiev lands, Dmitry will make him pay. While Beterbiev’s power has served him well in his previous fights, he has never faced anyone who can box and bang like Bivol. Beterbiev’s ‘come forward’ style is exactly what a great counterpuncher like Dmitry will be well prepared to exploit. We will see what happens to the 37-year-old Beterbiev’s vaunted power after he endures around eight or nine rounds of Bivol’s counters. Bivol is still young. He wasn’t even winded after 12 rounds with Canelo. In that fight, Bivol also established, if anyone doubted it, that he has extraordinary ring intelligence and a great chin. It is going to take a lot more than power to defeat him. Of course, Top Rank’s matchmakers, who are rarely, if ever, wrong, know this too. And that is most likely why they will continue to do everything in their power to avoid pitting Beterbiev against Bivol.”

RAUL MARQUEZ (FORMER JUNIOR MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLEHOLDER/ COMMENTATOR): CANELO ALVAREZ Vs. DAVID BENAVIDEZ
“I would love to see Canelo vs David Benavidez. Honestly this fight needs no explanation. Boxing needs it. The fans want it. That’s the only fight that matters at 168 pounds. Let’s make it happen.”

Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright