9 Fights Boxing Fans Want to See in 2014
9 Fights Boxing Fans Want to See in 2014
Last year, it was Floyd Mayweather versus Canelo Alvarez, but with today’s confirmation that Timothy Bradley and Manny Pacquiao will fight April 12 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the rematch immediately elevated itself to “biggest fight of the year” status. The second go-round features two fighters who are at the very least still in the top-six of boxing’s pound-for-pound ratings, and their prior bout was one of the most memorable in recent memory.
The most intriguing aspect of Pacquaio-Bradley II is that both men are looking for redemption. Bradley, 30, got the first big fight of his career when he stepped into the ring against the "Filipino Flash" in June of 2012. A win by Bradley was to bring superstar status. Rather, the Palm Springs native won a split decision among the most controversial in the sweet science’s history, landing only 159 punches to Pacquiao’s 253. Bradley still believes he won the first bout, but instead of becoming an icon in the sport, Bradley received death threats.
As for Pacquaio, 35, he clearly thought he won, and looks at fight number two as a way to get back his title that he should have never lost. Pacquiao had a rematch clause in the first fight’s contract as the titleholder and bigger draw, but the decision seemed so obvious and so stunning that he decided not to exercise it for his next fight.
Both guys have since taken different routes to get back to one another. Pacquiao fought Juan Manuel Marquez for the fourth time at the tail-end of 2012, suffering a sixth-round knockout that went down as one of the biggest KOs in recent memory. He did not fight again until easily going through Brandon Rios last November.
Bradley took his title and took time off before an all-out brawl against Ruslan Provodnikov last March. Bradley changed his style and came forward like never before, coming close to getting knocked out multiple times before a unanimous decision in the unanimous choice for 2013’s Fight of the Year. Proving his last two wins were no hoax, Bradley put together one of his best boxing performances ever in a unanimous decision win of Marquez last October.
So Pacquiao and Bradley will meet again, and it looks to be as close to a toss-up as a boxing match will be. The choice of a rematch was wise on the part of both fighter’s teams, as each was the biggest name the other could draw (if you are still holding out for Mayweather and Pacquaio to happen, forget about it). It will also be the most anticipated fight of 2014 for both stature and storylines. Pacquiao-Bradley II takes place relatively early in the boxing year and should start a trickle-down effect, kicking off more bouts that the boxing universe wants to see later in the calendar.
9. Nonito Donaire-Mikey Garcia
Featherweight Nonito Donaire and junior featherweight Mikey Garcia would be a tremendous bout, but will never happen. That is because the two are good friends and share the same trainer in Mikey's older brother, 2013 Trainer of the Year,Robert Garcia. If a miracle did happen, it would feature these balanced fighters with top-notch technique and equally high-class speed.
8. Danny Garcia-Ruslan Provodnikov
Danny Garcia established himself as the top junior welterweight in the world after dispatching Lucas Matthysse, considered the best 140-pounder before the fight. Now Garcia may have to move up in weight to find his next opponent. If it was not for boxing's "Cold War," Garcia could face one of the most exciting fighters in the game today, the "Siberian Rocky," Ruslan Provodnikov.
7. Adrien Broner-Keith Thurman
Adrien Broner, 24, already has his brand secured but needs a rebound win after being upset by Marcos Maidana in December. A fight between "Da Problem" and one of Showtime's other young up-and-comers, the exciting Keith Thurman, could come to fruition towards the end of the year.
6. Floyd Mayweather-Gennady Golovkin
Floyd Mayweather has two belts at junior middleweight (154 pounds) and Gennady Golovkin is the future star of the sport at middleweight (160 pounds). The problem is that Mayweather has not fought knockout artists like Golovkin of late and is technically a welterweight at 147 pounds despite his junior middleweight titles. Deep down, it seems like every opponent, Canelo Alvarez included, never has a real chance to defeat the undefeated Mayweather. Golovkin would bring that much-needed buzz.
Adding more reason for this fight not to happen, Golovkin looks like he will move up in weight, not down. But imagine if this bout between HBO and Showtime fighters were to happen. The world would totally be in favor of Golovkin, one of the most popular fighters today, to finally defeat Mayweather, one of the most disliked athletes in America.
5. Sergio Martinez-Gennady Golovkin
Sergio Martinez still is the top gun in the middleweight division, but Gennady Golovkin is making a case to dethrone the Argentine. A fight between the technical Martinez and deadly Kazakhstani would solve all the 160-pound problems and could happen in the later months of 2014.
4. Andre Ward-Gennady Golovkin
Andre Ward has torn apart the 168-pound super middleweight division and now has to look to other divisions for logistical fights. A bout between the television-friendly Gennady Golovkin (yes, I am fully on the Gennady Golovkin train, as he was my 2013 Fighter of the Year) could do wonders to elevate the less television-friendly Ward, the only man behind Floyd Mayweather on the pound-for-pound list.
3. Carl Froch-George Groves
George Groves was dominating his UK counterpart Carl Froch in a November bout in Manchester through eight rounds. In the ninth, "The Cobra" turned it on and clearly had Groves in trouble, but referee Howard John Foster stepped in and stopped the fight. The stoppage was hugely controversial as Groves never got exceedingly wobbly and continued to throw punches Froch's way. A rematch was demanded, but Froch could bypass it and give up one of his belts to cash in on an HBO PPV against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., one of the least professional fighters today.
2. Adonis Stevenson-Sergey Kovalev
This fight is just too obvious to not happen: same division (light heavyweight), same network (HBO) and same 2013 resume (four wins by knockout). The Montreal-trained, Haitian-born Adonis Stevenson and the Florida-trained, Russian-born Sergey Kovalev had 2013s that put them atop the light heavyweight rankings. They are arguably the two most frightening punchers in the sports today. If HBO cannot make this potential Fight of the Year happen in 2014, boxing fans would, and should rightfully feel slighted.
1. Vitali Klitschko-Wladimir Klitschko
The Ukrainian brothers have dominated the heavyweight division, combining for 24 title defenses since gaining their crowns. Vitali, 42, vacated his title to focus on a political career in his native land and Wladimir, 37, still rules. However, a bout between the siblings will never happen because they are best friends and made a promise to their mother to never box against each other.