Thanks in part to the Winter Olympics; the boxing calendar is looking pretty thin as far as big fights are concerned. Sure, we have Saul Alvarez vs. Alfredo Angulo this March, Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley in April and the semi-annual Floyd Mayweather appearance in May, but even that is running it a bit thin.
While picking the best possible fights is extremely difficult thanks to the politics of the sport and the network/promotional exclusivity of certain fighters, the following fights are not only doable, but have a good shot being made. Without further ado, here are five big fights that we might be seeing by years end:
Peter Quillin vs. Curtis Stevens
The jury is still out on WBO Middleweight champion Peter “Kid Chocolate” Quillin even though he has put together wins over quality contenders such as Jesse Brinkley, Hassan N’Dam and a semi-retired Ronald “Winky” Wright. Last October, Quillin looked like he was going to cough up his title to Gabriel Rosado until a cut over Rosado’s eye called for the end of the fight.
While Stevens hasn’t established himself amongst the best Middleweights in the world, his concussive punching power makes him more than a match for the still emerging Quillin. In his only title fight to date, Gennady Golovkin beat up Stevens in seven rounds, but his ability to score highlight reel knockouts has kept him in line for future fights.
Because Stevens isn’t tied down to a network and Quillin is looking for an opponent this spring, a match between the two power punching Middleweights is easy main event material and an excellent test for both men. Add that both men call New York home; it can top another big night at the massive Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Carl Froch vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Both Froch and Chavez dodged respective bullets in their last fights, each winning by way of controversy more than clarity. Froch narrowly escaped George Groves by a way-too-early stoppage and Chavez scrapped by the tough Brian Vera in a fight very few believe he won. Either way, a fight between these two brawlers is easily the best fight that can be made at the Super Middleweight division.
Chavez has to get by Vera in their upcoming rematch, and also must prove that he can comfortably make the 168-pound limit while Froch has to hope that Groves’ request for an immediate rematch falls by the wayside of the IBF. Both Froch and Chavez promoter Bob Arum are receptive to a Las Vegas clash should their obstacles be cleared.
A mega-event pitting one of Mexico’s most popular fighters against Britain’s most popular fighter would be reason enough to take the weekend off and head to Vegas. The winner of that fight will more than likely have a shot against division kingpin Andre Ward, but the best thing to hope for would be a rematch!
Shawn Porter vs. Keith Thurman
Both Porter and Thurman established themselves as young forces with wins over quality opponents last year. Thurman’s wins over the likes of Jan Zaveck and Jesus Soto-Karass confirmed his arrival to the main stage and Porter’s utter domination of former IBF Welterweight champion Devon Alexander put the whole division on notice.
It’s not often where two young fighters with a lot of potential usually comes off the ground, but Golden Boy Promotions seems interested in matching them together to produce a fight that has fight of the year written all over it. Thurman’s one-punch power and Porter’s aggressive style may make this less of boxing match and more of a brawl, and the bout has significance besides being a title match.
The winner could very well be on the shortlist to fight Mayweather sometime by years end or in 2015. While it’s more than likely that Thurman and Porter will be in separate fights before they face off against each other, the boxing world will have this future blockbuster in its crosshairs when it happens.
Ruslan Provodnikov vs. Brandon Rios
If violence intrigues you, then this fight between two hard-punching brawlers would deliver truckloads of it! Provodnikov and Rios have made their desire to fight public on many occasions, and with mutual promoter Top Rank quickly running out of marquee fights in the 140-147 pound divisions, Rios/Provodnikov might be right around the corner.
Both fighters would be coming into this fight from two entirely different directions as far as their careers are concerned. Provodnikov was narrowly defeated by Timothy Bradley last March only to demolish Mike Alvarado later in the year and winning the WBO title at Junior Welterweight. Rios was soundly outpointed in his rematch with Alvarado and would later get beaten up by Manny Pacquiao; Rios took tremendous amounts of punishment in those fights.
For this fight to happen, Rios has to win a fight (or two) to gauge if he will be ready for the big punching Russian and Provodnikov will have to give up his heated pursuit of Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez. This fight would have fight of the year buzz all over it and with the reputation of both men; it won’t fail to deliver.
Lamont Peterson vs. Danny Garcia
Peterson and Garcia are the two best fighters at 140 pounds both hold titles and are held in high regard due to their excellent skill and ability to fight. With Garcia opting to take care of business at Junior Welterweight instead of moving up to 147 as a future Mayweather opponent and Peterson retaining his title in dominant fashion last month, this fight is a must.
While there are those that will be quick to write off Peterson because of his stoppage loss to Lucas Matthysse, and Matthysse’s subsequent loss at Garcia’s hands, Garcia/Peterson is a compelling fight between two very good boxer-punchers. Garcia struggled at times in victories against Erik Morales, Amir Khan and Zab Judah and Peterson is easily the best fighter he can fight in terms of pure boxing skill.
Should both men continue to compete at Junior Welterweight, a unification match at years end should leave no doubt as to who is the best fighter is in one of boxing’s best divisions.