No matter how you look at it 2017 was an outstanding year for the sport of boxing. Almost every single weight class put on top-notch fights. We saw a reemergence of the heavyweight division and for the first time in a while, the super flyweight division has been on fire and the little guys are getting some love. Moving into 2018 boxing is in great shape, the money and glamour division is back on top of mind with Joshua, Wilder and the return of Tyson Fury. I can think of no time in recent history where there has so much top loaded talent in so many of the mid-weight classes. All of the weight divisions for 147-168 are absolutely chock-full of world-class and talented fighters and countless excellent fights are on the table in each of these divisions.
Following up 2017 will be no easy task, but 2018 has some great fights already announced and more that are rumored and close to being made official.
Welterweight division- Spence will lock up with two-division champ Lamont Peterson. Keith Thurman is close to agreeing to terms with a fight with Jesse Vargas and Danny Garcia has signed his return fight with Brandon Rios, and say what you will about Garcia being a cherry picker, this will be an entertaining all-action fight. Bob Arum is also ironing out the financials on a Horn/Crawford fight. Setting up a quasi-tournament between the winners which could lead to the talent-loaded division being unified sooner rather than later.
As well as the top four middleweights are also in line for a fight off. Rumors have it that GGG/Canelo the rematch is close to being made and Jacobs has an open date in April and has called out Billy Joe Saunders who is coming off a brilliant performance against David Lemieux. The two winners would be the logical matchup. In addition, Jermall Charlo is waiting in the wings as the mandatory for the winner of the GGG/Canelo, as long as he can get past Huge Centeno, which has just been made official.
Speaking of tournaments the WBSS will continue to hit its stride the super middleweight division is giving us two 50/50 type of fights in an all British duel between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr. Plus Juergen Braehmer who looked outstanding in outpointing Rob Brant will take on Callum Smith.
In additional Super middleweight title fights, David Benavidez will defend his WBC crown in a rematch against Ronald Gravil which was an all action fight.Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez is also set to defend early in 2018.
In the cruiserweight tournament, a dream match is brewing if Oleksandr Usyk can take care of business with Mairis Briedis. As well Yunier Dorticos will need to take care of Murat Gassiev. This would set up a brawl between two of the best Cruiserweights in recent years between Usyk and Dorticos. The winner will have unified the Cruiserweight division and may look to move up to heavyweight and would pose a real threat.
Both Kings of the Heavyweight division, Wilder and AJ have big tests coming up in the first quarter of 2018 which will hopefully set up a unified heavyweight championship fight in the late summer. Although neither fighter should look past the current opponent. Both Luis Ortiz and Joseph Parker pose real threats. The winners would be aligned to fight each other late summer/early fall.
Other confirmed big fights for the new year:
In the lightweight division, the Undefeated IBF champion Robert Easter will defend against Javier Fortuna and Jorge Linares will defend his WBA strap against tough Filipino Mercito Gesta, who is a live underdog. If either Lineares or Easter looks spectacular, they could make a great next opponent for Mikey Garcia who will look to join Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez as the only fighters in history to claim titles from 126 straight up to 140 lbs. When he challenges for Sergey Lipinets’ 140 pound IBF strap. Also on that card, Rances Barthelemy will take on Kiryl Relikh for the vacant WBA 140 pound belt.
The 115-pound weight class is on fire and has two big fights on tap for February Srisaket Sor Rungvisai will take Juan Francisco Estrada on the same card
Carlos Cuadras will face off with. McWilliams Arroyo.
At 126 Carl Frampton will face. Nonito Donaire in what will be an action slugfest.
The Junior Middleweight division is also heating up as Kell Brook moves into the division and has a return fight set up on March 3rd. Also in the weight Class WBA and IBF champs, Erislandy Lara and Jarrett Hurd have called each other and agreed to fight each other let’s see if that can get made as well.
Other Big names rumored to be closing in on an agreement are Adrien Broner who will take on Omar Figueroa, say what you want about AB but he ain’t afraid of taking on big names and hard fights. Tyson Fury is rumored to be returning possibly against Shannon Briggs. Finally in what should be an outstanding scrap Adonis Stevenson and Badou Jack are close to closing in on a Feb. or March date for Stevenson’s WBC light heavyweight strap.