The New Year means another opportunity for boxing fans to become imaginary matchmakers.
Some of the imagined and talked-about fights will occur, thanks to fighters being linked to the same promoter or managerial entity. Bouts also become easier to finalize when fighters are showcased on the same TV network.
Other desired fights are rematches of exciting previous bouts. Additional intrigue is added when the original fights ended in disputed decisions or questionable stoppages.
And in the event that the usual alignments don’t result in the bout, there is hope the must-see event doesn’t take six years to finalize, such as the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao bout that occurred way past the fighters’ primes.
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The following is a wish list of bouts many fight fans should find appealing for 2018:
▪ Gennady Golovkin-Saul “Canelo” Alvarez rematch: Their first bout last May ended in a disputed split draw. Golovkin, whom many considered the winner, retained his middleweight title.
▪ Anthony Joshua-Deontay Wilder: The heavyweight division could have its first rivalry since the early 2000s with a bout featuring the unbeaten titleholders. Joshua already has reached rock star status in his native England and Wilder is becoming the best American heavyweight since the 1990s.
▪ Keith Thurman-Errol Spence: Thurman, a Clearwater resident, unified welterweight titles with a hard-fought victory over Danny Garcia last March. Another unification bout with fellow unbeaten champion Spence would attract attention.
▪ Vasyl Lomachenko-Mikey Garcia: The bout requires multiple compromises, such as Lomachenko moving up to 140 pounds from his current junior-lightweight reign. Another notable concession is Garcia facing an opponent represented by a promotional company he bitterly split from two years ago. This one appears a long shot.
▪ Erislandy Lara-Jermell Charlo: Earlier in their careers, Lara and Charlo fighting didn’t seem likely because both were trained by Ronnie Shields. But Charlo split with Shields two years ago and a possible strain is removed from the equation, creating the possibility of a bout between the super-welterweight champions.
▪ Leo Santa Cruz-Carl Frampton: A tiebreaking third bout seems a natural, especially after Santa Cruz and Frampton split majority decision victories in their two exciting featherweight title fights in 2016 and last year.
▪ Mikey Garcia-Jorge Linares: Linares makes the sixth defense of his lightweight title January 27 against Mercito Gesta. If he wins, will Linares end his three-year reign and move up to 140 pounds? The lucrative opportunity at super-lightweight is a match against the division’s top fighter, Garcia.
▪ Golovkin-Billy Joe Saunders: if Golovkin and Alvarez can’t agree to a rematch, Golovkin could opt for a unification bout against Saunders, who holds the only sanctioning body belt missing from the six-year middleweight champion’s possession.
▪ Sergey Kovalev-Adonis Stevenson: The closest situation currently resembling the Maywether-Pacquiao six-year tease is the prolonged drama involving the light-heavyweight champions. Even before Andre Ward moved up to 175 pounds four years ago and eventually defeated Kovalev twice, Kovalev and Stevenson seemed like a natural match. The fight remains unlikely.
AROUND THE RING
Homestead resident Johnny Torres heads the new class that will be inducted into the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame in June. The 2018 class was officially announced during a ceremony Saturday at the SJC Boxing Club in Fort Myers.
Torres was a frequent attraction in local cards in the 1980s. His career was highlighted by a state junior-welterweight championship in 1981.
Other members of the 2018 class include former world featherweight champion Derrick Gainer, of Pensacola, and Miami resident and trainer Jorge Rubio.
The new Hall of Fame class will be inducted during a ceremony that will culminate three days of events June 22-24 at the Westshore Grand Hotel in Tampa. For information, call 813-884-7711.
Friday (10 p.m., Showtime): Claressa Shields vs. Tori Nelson, 10, for Shields’ WBC and IBF women’s super-middleweight title.