Let’s pretend for a moment that the boxing fans were put first for the rest of 2016. The people who work hard all week, keep track of the fighters and give their hard earned money and finite amount of time and attention to this sport get to see the fights they want. The best of the division fight the best of the division, not because it makes the most money for the promotional companies or the networks, but because the fans deserve to be rewarded for their willingness to watch and because it truly only makes sense to have ONE champion per division. For 2016, the promotional companies all decide to work together, the alphabet title organizations decide it’s best to set aside the money and band together, and the fighters abandon the layers of false bravado which take the form of a popularity contest and a shiny accessory worn around the waist. Under that pretense, these are just a few of the fights that we, the fans, could be able to witness.
- Golovkin vs. Alvarez/Saunders: Let’s get the elephant out of the room, and beat a dead horse some more (I’m done with the animal idioms). Whether or not you are a fan of GGG, or you think he is being spoon fed opposition, the fact is he has half of the major titles the middleweight class offers. The other half belongs to Billy Joe Saunders and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. Daniel Jacobs is another title-holder, however his belt is the “junior varsity” version of GGG’s belt. Past that, it’s more or less accepted that the rest of the division doesn’t offer a reasonable test to the aforementioned fighters. In this year without matchmaking hassle, we would see Golovkin vs. Alvarez (or *gasp* Amir Khan) and Saunders vs. Jacobs, with the winners finally unifying the division once again. Wouldn’t that be great?
- Gonzalez vs. Ruenroeng: I know, this one might just be on my wish list, but it’s my article! Roman Gonzalez confirmed after his fight on April 23rd that he will have one more contest at the Flyweight limit before moving up. Now, there are definitely more lucrative options for a final fight in the class, but the fight with the most potential to create an intriguing style match-up is Chocolatito vs. Ruenroeng. Ruenroeng deserves a big fight in his career (as he’s undefeated), and beat McWilliams Arroyo just as handily as Gonzalez did. He has an ability to throw his opponents off their game and to make a fight turn ugly. I think it would be interesting to see if Gonzalez can cope with the unorthodox style the Thai boxer brings, and finish his campaign at Flyweight asserting himself as number one.
- Fury vs. Wilder: Let’s assume that Tyson Fury makes it past Wladimir Klitschko, and Deontay Wilder gets the better of Alexander Povetkin. Then we have two undefeated heavyweight champions of the world! Well, that just won’t do now will it, because we are in the year for the fans, and only one man can be THE man. This fight would be both lucrative and great for the fans, on both sides of the pond. Wilder brings the United States brand and proven power, and Fury brings Europe, charisma and an unorthodox, switch hitting style. This bout has all of the makings of a soap opera ending with a fist fight.
- Kovalev vs. Ward: Perhaps this is the fight closest to fruition in 2016. Sergey Kovalev is a wrecking machine and finds himself in a position where there are few viable opponents willing to fight him (be it because of the fighters doing or the promotional companies doing). Andre Ward brings an Olympic Gold pedigree, an undefeated record, and a resume filled with several top tier fighters (albeit from a lower weight division). I could say Kovalev vs. Stevenson is the wish list fight, but I am far more interested in seeing Kovalev go against a technician like Ward.
- Brook vs. Thurman/Porter winner: Kell Brook is a champion caliber fighter with a major title belt. Because of that, he owes it to the sport to challenge himself before a potential move to Jr. Middleweight. There are lots of good fighters in the Welterweight division, arguably the most of any divisions currently, but in the eyes of many fans, Brook has unfinished business with Shawn Porter. Brook won his title in a bout with Shawn Porter by majority decision and has since faced less than spectacular opposition. Porter on the other hand has continued his career by beating Adrien Broner and now has a fight lined up against undefeated Keith Thurman. In our year of the fans, the winner of Porter vs. Thurman will find themselves in a unification bout against Kell “Special K” Brook.
This list could go on, but I would prefer to leave the rest up to the readers’ imagination. In your world- without the limitations of organizations and promotional companies- what fights would be on your card? If you were the matchmaker with every boxer in your stable, who do you put in the ring together? Let me know on Twitter @TheGreatToddman