The Cold Hard Truth: On Sports

Boxing at a glance: 2018

Boxing at a glance: 2018

By Terrell Thomas


As we look forward to a new year in the world’s greatest “mano a mano” sport in the world, we look forward to a plethora of new, scintillating fights. This year, we will continue to see the evolving of some of boxing’s glamour divisions piece by piece. It ranges from the ever so hot welterweight division, to the heavyweight division, to the all of a sudden exciting junior middleweight class. Key fights in 2017 have slowly pieced together the puzzle of fights that we will see in 2018.

2017 bought us a worldwide boxing spectacle in the Floyd Mayweather/Connor McGregor matchup on August 26, 2017. We likely will not see such an event like this again in 2018, and there is likely not a current fighter that can generate polarizing interest in an event like Mayweather. We may see that person appear this year, but if not maybe in the near future boxing will have its next superstar.

The year 2017 eschewed an exodus of world class boxers to the retirement stage of their careers, with the biggest retirement announcement coming from Andre Ward (32-0 16 KO’s). There was simply nothing more that Ward could accomplish in boxing after coming off of his two wins over Sergey Kovalev (31-2-1 27 KO’s). Andre Ward is surely a first ballot hall-of-famer after having a storied career with wins against the likes of Mikkel Kessler, Carl Froch, Sullivan Barrera and the aforementioned Sergey Kovalev just to name a few. Timothy Bradley (33-2 13 KO’s), Juan Manuel Marquez (56-7 40 KO’s) are additional world class fighters that have moved to retirement after having been a mainstay in significant fights in the past decade. It would be a crime not to make mention of the great Wladimir Klitschko (64-5 53 KO’s), whom single-handedly dominated the heavyweight division from 2006 to 2015. We last saw Klitschko deliver a courageous, energetic performance against the recognized heavyweight champion of the world, Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18 KO’s), holder of the IBF and WBA “super” championship belts. This certainly marked a “passing of the guard” moment in the heavyweight division and perhaps the face of boxing for the era going forward.

As much as there was an exodus of fighters that have been a mainstay in significant fights, there has been an emergence littered throughout the boxing landscape. Despite the fact that Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1 40 KO’s) held the WBC super flyweight strap from 2013 to 2014, he didn’t gain the notoriety he has now until he defeated the then consensus #1 pound for pound fighter Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez twice in 2017, with the second defeat coming in an emphatic fourth round knockout of Gonzalez. Names like Vasyl Lomachenko, Sadam Ali, Jermall Charlo, Terrence Crawford, Mikey Garcia, Gervonta Davis and Deontay Wilder are all considerable names of interests whose activity will carve out the landscape of boxing in 2018. Of note, Sadam Ali defeated the great Miguel Cotto who also takes a first class seat to the retirement ranks after a long, storied career.

We can expect a sense of clarity in the welterweight division as we will see the recognized #1 fighter in the division, Keith Thurman return to the ring coming off surgery on his right elbow.  The IBF champion, Errol Spence Jr. (22-0 19 KO’s) returns January 20 against the durable, former world champion Lamont Peterson (35-4-1 17 KO’s).  We look forward to the entrance of Terrence Crawford into the welterweight division as he eyes a match-up with Jeff Horn for the WBO strap.  The welterweight class is packed with the usual suspects: Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, Amir Khan and more.  With reluctance between promoters to match their fights up with rivals, it is certainly in doubt that we will see a welterweight championship fight to unify the division.  2018 will bring us a step closer to seeing unification in the heavyweight division as Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker and others such as Dillian Whyte and Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller will shape the heavyweight picture going forward.

This year will also mark the time when we will find out who is among the best in the super middleweight and the cruiserweight divisions, as the World Boxing Super Series will have its semifinals and finals this year. In the super middleweight division, we will see Callum Smith take on Jürgen Brähmer and the highly anticipated matchup between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr. The winners of those fights will go against each other for the Ali Trophy at super middleweight. For the cruiserweight division, all of the major titles will be on the line as Oleksandr Usyk takes on Mairis Breidis and Marat Gassiev will fight Yunier Dorticos within a week of each other. The winner of this tournament will be the undisputed cruiserweight champion and may be one of the best fighters in the world.

In summary, there are numerous stories, fights and content to carry us through this year and going forward, in consideration of the previously mentioned names lost to retirement.

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