In boxing, we always look forward to the next fight. Even before an upcoming fight is over, the focus is often on what lies ahead, especially when it comes to the biggest stars in the sport.
While the pressure comes from many quarters — fans, social media posts, or even beat writers — it’s the matchmakers who have the power to decide who meets who, when, and how.
We understand that they are going to act on their own, but this has not stopped us from ordering the game the way we would like it to develop. We gave our team of boxing experts two different opponents for one particular top fighter and let them decide where they would go next.
Deontay Wilder vs Andy Ruiz Jr or Wilder vs Dillian Whyte?
Mike Coppinger: Whoever Wilder fights next, it’s entirely possible that the opponent is a soft touch after he brutally beat Tyson Fury in Sportzshala’s 2021 fight.
But when the Bronze Bomber does take on another Sportzshala top 10 boxer, Ruiz looks like the best option besides Anthony Joshua (regardless of the outcome of the August 20 fight with Oleksandr Usyk). First, Ruiz will face Luis Ortiz on September 4, and if the former heavyweight champion comes out on top, the fight between Wilder and Ruiz will be one of the best fights boxing can have.
Ruiz, who shocked Joshua by winning titles in June 2019, also has super-fast hands and great strength. He is also a pressure fighter who will bring the fight to Wilder. Stylistically, this is a combat fight not to be missed. Wilder is often looking for opportunities to hit back, but in Fury’s third fight, he applied a lot more pressure than usual.
Wilder Ruiz should be easy enough to do too. Both fighters are in PBC and are big names that could team up for a big PPV event.
However, Wilder-White is also an attractive opponent. A pair of punchers have exchanged insults in the past, and stylistically this is another explosive matchup. White wasn’t even remotely competitive with Fury before he was knocked out, but against Wilder he should find more room for his powerful right hand.
Devin Haney vs. George Kambosos Jr. 2 or Haney vs. Vasily Lomachenko?
Michael Rothstein: Without a doubt, the best game here would be Haney-Lomachenko.
Lomachenko, even after losing to Teofimo Lopez Jr in 2020, is one of the best fighters in the sport, regardless of division. Lomachenko has looked good in his last two fights with dominant victories over Masayoshi Nakatani and Richard Commey and could easily claim to be the best lightweight in the world even though he doesn’t have any belts. He is still so good.
For Haney, this would be an even better test for the 23-year-old than for Kambosos. And if Haney beats Lomachenko, it will solidify his status not only as the undisputed champion, but also as a man who can be great for all time. That’s what a win over Lomachenko would have done.
Haney-Kambosos 2, judging by what their first match looked like, won’t change any opinion much. Haney was so dominant against Kambosos the first time – enough to make it look like a rematch wouldn’t even come close to a 50-50 fight or even a 65-35 fight (for Haney).
I understand why Kambosos needs a fight – boxers are confident and this is his chance to stay on the world stage after a surprise win over Lopez – but at the moment this doesn’t seem like the best fight possible. . If that happens, it wouldn’t be surprising if Haney wins a second time and then moves on to Lomachenko, Ryan Garcia, Gervont Davis or whoever comes next at that point.
Whereas the fight with Lomachenko would have been much more intriguing both in terms of plot and rivalry inside the ring.
Terence Crawford vs Jermell Charlo or Crawford vs Jermell Charlo?
Coppinger: Crawford has called for a future fight with undisputed junior middleweight champion Jermell Charlo after looking to take down Errol Spence Jr. for all belts at 147 pounds.
But there is another Charlo who has shown interest in fighting Crawford, even if it seems unlikely. Jermall Charlo, world middleweight title holder, said he would return to 154 to face Crawford. Jermall, Jermell’s twin brother, previously held the world junior middleweight title, but has not competed in the 154-pound division since 2016.
While Crawford vs. either of the Charlo brothers at 154 pounds is intriguing, a fight with Jermell for the undisputed junior middleweight title easily brings in the biggest stakes.
Jermell has established himself as one of the best fighters in the world by knocking out Brian Castano in a rematch last month. Can Crawford, Sportzshala’s #1 135lb fighter who won his first world title at 135lb, take on an elite 154lb boxer? First, he needs to make a deal with Spence and become undisputed at 147 pounds.
Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Roman “Chocolateto” Gonzalez 3 or Estrada vs. Naoya Inoue at 118 pounds?
Nick Parkinson: There’s nothing wrong with Estrada and Gonzalez meeting for the third time, but Estrada moving up in weight to face “The Monster” Inoue has more meaning and intrigue.
The Estrada-“Chocolato” 3 would guarantee thrilling excitement and resolve any debate over who is the true ruler of the junior bantamweight division. In their most recent meeting in March 2021, Estrada won the WBC and WBA junior bantamweight titles in a controversial split decision in a fight in which they landed a combined 2,529 punches. This followed another classic fight 10 years ago that Gonzalez (51-3, 41 KOs) won by unanimous decision for the Estrada 108 lb title.
But Estrada (42-3, 28 KOs) is moving up in the division to take on Inoue at bantamweight, a more compelling fight that could attract the interest of more than just hardcore boxing fans.
WBC, WBA, IBF bantamweight champion Inoue (23-0, 0), as his nickname suggests, is a knockout monster. He is currently one of the most exciting, progressive and sought-after boxers in the sport following a two-round loss to Nonito Donaire in a rematch earlier this month. The 29-year-old boxer needs a challenge so that we can appreciate how good he is and keep the current fervent interest alive.
And, if Inoue is going to stay at 118 pounds, the biggest challenge available to him is the Estrada fight. Like Inoue, Estrada is a three-weight world champion and his incessant aggression could potentially turn the fight into a close fight.
Estrada is a better contender than other contenders for Inoue in the 118-pound weight class, and the 32-year-old Mexican boxer has enough experience – victories over Gonzalez and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai among other top fighters – to question Inoue, just like Donaire did. the first time they met was in 2019 (Sportzshala Fight of the Year). Donaire pulled Inoue into an entertaining fight, which Inoue won by an overly generous margin after Donaire wounded him with a hook over his left eye early on. Donaire then got off the canvas to hurt Inoue in the 11th round. Donaire is the first to show how the monster can be tamed to a certain degree, and Estrada may find it worth the risk.
For Estrada, the Inoue fight is a life-changing chance to get himself back on the roster no matter what weight class he is. And for Inoue, beating another division No. 1 reinforces his case that he should be number one in the pound-for-pound rankings, not second to Terence Crawford at welterweight.
Establishing himself as one of the best fighters in the world, which may not be possible due to the re-fight with Gonzalez, may be enough to tempt Estrada into taking a riskier line against Inoue. Let’s hope he rolls the dice.
Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia or Davis vs Teofimo Lopez Jr?
Ben Baby: I’m going to choose option #3 – none of the above.
When boxing had the “Four Princes” at lightweight, any combination of “Tank” Davis, Haney, Lopez and Garcia made sense. This is no longer the case, because some are more ready for a coronation than others.
Davis, while not a legitimate champion because he has a minor WBA belt, is the group’s biggest star and is able to sell pay-per-views. And even despite the weak competition based on soft matchmaking, it is clear that his skills have improved over the past couple of years.
Haney also has exceptional qualifications. He recently emerged as a true undisputed champion after easily beating Kambosos, who held three of his four belts after an unfortunate win over Lopez in 2021. Haney, who isn’t the most exciting fighter in the ring and doesn’t have significant strength, is the man to beat.
Lopez, who hasn’t fought since losing to Kambosos, needs to prove that he still belongs in the lightweight division. The same applies to Garcia, who will face Javier Fortuna on July 16. The Lopez-Garcia match could be a real knockout fight for the right to face Haney or Davis. — Ben Baby