Anthony Joshua’s potential fight against Tyson Fury could be the biggest fight of the year, but will it happen? When. And what’s next for lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez? Revenge on Vasyl Lomachenko? United versus Devin Haney?
If these fights have all the ingredients to become major events in 2021, the planned fight between former great Floyd Mayweather, book by book, and YouTube boxing sensation Logan Paul could be one of the most entertaining events in the boxing ring this year.
Angelo Leo is the WBO Junior Welterweight Champion and will be in action on Saturday when he takes on Stephen Fulton. But is he the best fighter in Division? He has a good chance of consolidating his rights by beating Fulton.
Four-time defending champion Adrien Broner announced his return to the ring more than two years after his last fight, which he lost unanimously to Manny Pacquiao in January 2019. Broner has a record of 0-2-1 in his last three fights and has dealt with legal issues outside the ring – just one in November. But in a way, Broner has always been a fighter who needs to win. Can he resume his career and fight for the title by the end of 2021?
ESPN’s Andre Ward, Timothy Bradley Jr., Joe Tessitore, Mark Kriegel and Ben Baby address these issues and share their thoughts.
Actual or not: Anthony Joshua-Tyson Fury will be the biggest fight of 2021.
Fury Tyson, above, could unify the heavyweight division in a mega-fight against Anthony Joshua in 2021. Bradley Necklace/Pa Images via Getty Images
A real one. I don’t like to talk about the fights we’ve been talking about for so long. The idea itself tends to stagnate, and by the time the protagonists fight, they may not be in the prime of life (example A: Mayweather-Pacquiao; example B: Errol Spence Jr-Terrence Crawford, who can be firmly attached to the last year of Biden’s first term). But the Joshua-Fury fight will happen this year (99% sure, according to my sources). Fury Tyson 32, and Anthony Joshua 31; each in the prime of their heavyweight years. The powers-that-be – in this case Bob Arum’s front row, Eddie Hearn’s game room and Tyson’s MTK advisor – are already highly contested. They don’t need a huge stadium full of fans, just a huge entrance from the Middle East, probably Saudi Arabia.
So this is the best fight? On paper, I’m caught with the duo of Josh Taylor and Jose Ramirez, a fight that promises not only championship success or just skill, but relentless brutality.
But this is undoubtedly the most important. Fury-Joshua, or Joshua-Fury, however they analyze it, is not only a four-man show, but also a chance to be crowned the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield in 1999.
To people of a certain age, it may seem strange that it all comes down to the Battle of Britain. But the papers in London’s Fleet Street will be buzzing, which is great, especially when you have the most agile heavyweight champion – physically and verbally – since Muhammad Ali.
Of course, that would be all the rage. And his provocative talent would even attract the attention of the American media.
He wins the second half of the big fight by technical KO, after which he retires to start a new tradition: Fury’s involvement throughout the season as Crooner-In-Residence at the MGM Grand. — Kriegel
Actual or not: Angelo Leo is the best of the 122 books in division.
Angelo Leo, above, defends his Junior World title on Saturday against Stephen Fulton. Jane Kamin-Oncha/Getty Images
No, not really. First, let’s look at the odds of success in this weekend’s 122-pound WBO fight between Leo and Stephen Fulton. While Fulton (-150) is considered a slight favorite in most sportsbooks, this means Leo (+125) is in the odd position of an outsider looking to defend his title.
This gives the winner of the Leo vs. Fulton battle the biggest boost in the entire Junior League. Rey Vargas, the number one wrestler in ESPN’s division, was transferred to the pen, leaving a void in the 122-pound division. Luis Neri (WBC) and Murojon Akhmadaliev (IBF, WBA) have the other main belts.
Akhmadaliyev has not fought since January 2020. Nary’s last fight was in September against Aaron Alameda, who had an undefeated record as thin as a paper pin.
If Fulton beats Leo, it makes sense for him to take on Nary, as they are both under the protection of the First Boxing Champion. Now we need more big fights in the junior division before we can determine who is the best in the world in the junior weight class. — Honey…
Actual or not: Adrian Broner will compete for thetitle in 2021.
Adrien Broner (left) has not fought since losing a unanimous decision to Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas in January 2019. Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Before I answer that question, my first question is this: How heavy? The trailer section is stacked (and dangerous) and the 140-liter road is not easy either. Broner took a break. He hasn’t fought live since his defeat by Pacquiao in January 2019, and no one really knows how he lived in his spare time outside the ring. For a professional boxer, the lifestyle outside the ring during downtime is of utmost importance. It can make the difference between a successful return when people are hungry for more, and a disastrous outcome when people demand the end of your career.
Broner could challenge for the title in late 2021. I don’t think he will, and I don’t think he should. This should be the year Broner gets rid of some rust in the ring, adjusts to this new era of COVID and gives himself time to fall in love with boxing again. If Broner’s ambition is to fight for another belt, 2022 is the year. — Department.
Actual or not: Floyd Mayweather-Logan Paul goes too far in side fights
Ariel Helwani explains why he’s not convinced of the legitimacy of an exhibition fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Logan Paul.
No, not really. In fact, it doesn’t take long! If you go too far, you may think we are applying a certain standard of real boxing.
When Mayweather-Paul happens, there should be oil slicks on the canvas, ring announcers disappearing and a WWE guest referee Braun Strowman beating every contestant hungry for money. I’m serious. I’m serious. Why not? This is a pure fun event, so make the most of it.
I have a lot of respect for the PPV event as a purely capital-intensive opportunity. It’s not like boxing, come on.
Mayweather-Paul only uses dummy boxes. Unlike Nick Wallenda’s anticipatory television, based on fear and volcanism. We all knew that Nick’s safe had not fallen into the lava. But few people of the YouTube generation know that Floyd doesn’t really fight. The event was meant to raise the level of absurdity so that we don’t have to condemn the state sports commission for offending itself by even imposing sanctions on itself. There’s a high-level fight between Miguel Berchelt and Oscar Valdez on ESPN that same night, but if PPV has something more exotic to offer than Floyd wearing Paul and faking a challenge, I’d love to see it after a real fight of champions. — Tessitore.
Actual or not: Devin Haney will be Teofimo Lopez‘s next opponent.
Devin Haynie tells Cameron Wolfe that he doesn’t think Ryan Garcia will fight him and is instead targeting Teofimo Lopez.
Both fighters are young and ambitious, and Lopez has already had an extremely difficult event with his win over Vasyl Lomachenko. If I were in his place (in the driver’s seat), I’d either get revenge on Lomachenko and negotiate a contract for a third fight, but no money limit, just interest, in case it goes wrong the second time.
Second, once Lopez is fully recovered, he will have to fight his commitment, regardless of the first event, according to sanctioning bodies’ expectations. Lopez needs to keep building on what he started and stay relevant by fighting more often. The money will increase with his popularity as he only had 16 fights and was at the top of the heap.
With Haney, I’d like to see him in a fight where you have to think twice about picking a winner. After being raised to WBC champion, Haney has never fought anyone who is recognized. No disrespect to Gamboa, but he’s not at his best anymore. Richard Commey, Masayoshi Nakatani and Felix Verdejo are fighters where I would say hmmm. — Bradley Jr.