5 fights we need to see in the second half of 2019
From the most important fight in boxing to a long-awaited meeting of two British rivals, these are the bouts that simply must happen before the end of the year.
Andy Ruiz Jr v Anthony Joshua II
This is the most important fight in boxing.
The heavyweight division cannot move forward until the questions raised by Ruiz’s stunning victory over Joshua are answered.
Is the new champion the real deal? Was Joshua concussed, or has he been exposed? Is the so-called heavyweight ‘big three’ actually a big four? Or even a big two, comprised of just Wilder and Fury?
Joshua will never be viewed as the indestructible force he once was, and he’ll never have the same leverage in negotiations with the other top heavyweights, but beating Ruiz is his fastest route to repairing his reputation.
For Ruiz, it’s the easiest way to cash in quickly, and he’ll be an unquestionable star of the sport if he manages to beat Joshua again.
Eddie Hearn has said that this fight will almost certainly happen at either Wembley, Cardiff or the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in December.
Bring it on.
Tyson Fury v Dillian Whyte
Fury’s rematch with Wilder is lined up for the start of next year, so promoter Frank Warren would probably not want him taking on a dangerous opponent in the interim.
This isn’t Frank Warren’s list, though. It’s ours.
Whyte has done everything possible to earn a world title shot since he was beaten by Joshua back in December 2015.
The Bodysnatcher has beaten two former world champions in Joseph Parker and Lucas Browne, stopping the latter with one of the best violent knockouts of the past two years.
He’s also one of the only fighters who can match Fury for one-liners.
These two sat either side of Johnny Nelson on The Gloves Are Off would be pure box office.
The fight would probably be quite good, too.
Josh Warrington v Oscar Valdez
While GIFs of Fury bobbing and weaving dominated Twitter after his victory over Schwarz, Warrington was arguably the big winner on Saturday night.
The IBF featherweight champion edged a split decision against Kid Galahad, setting him up for a unification bout against either Valdez or Leo Santa Cruz.
Warrington’s all-action style makes him hugely fun to watch, and there’s no chance of a meeting with Valdez being anything other than a cracking fight.
The Mexican just loves a tear up.
He showed his mettle in a brawl against Scott Quigg in March, when the Mancunian came in three pounds overweight but couldn’t overpower the gritty WBO champion.
British fighters in the lower weight classes haven’t fared particularly well against top Latin Americans over the past few years, so there’s no guarantee that Warrington would be able to beat Valdez.
But it’d certainly be fun to see him try.
Callum Smith v Canelo Alvarez
Alvarez is straddling two divisions at the moment, meaning he has options.
He can defend his four middleweight belts in a third fight with Gennady Golovkin, or look to unify super middleweight titles against Smith.
The latter would be the more appealing choice for British fans.
Canelo battered Rocky Fielding to win the WBA super middleweight title last December, but Smith is a much more threatening opponent than his fellow Liverpudlian.
By stopping George Groves last September to win the title, Smith proved he’s the best super middleweight that Britain has to offer, and it’s only a matter of time before he scores a big purse against a top opponent.
He has the height and power to trouble Alvarez, who looks simply unbeatable at middleweight.
And if that isn’t enough, taking on Canelo would also offer the Smith family a chance at revenge, after the Mexican knocked out Callum’s brother Liam back in 2016.
Amir Khan v Kell Brook
Eddie Hearn said it was ‘now or never’ for these two rivals to fight back in September 2018. It wasn’t.
Khan has since been stopped by welterweight king Terence Crawford - a fight in which many believe Khan quit - while Brook has fought once, labouring to a decision win over Michael Zerafa.
The lack of progress either has made over the past nine months means the fight between them is still there.
Both are nearing the end of their careers, but the public interest in this feud is still so great that it guarantees a hefty payday for everyone involved.
When Khan is done with a shameless cash grab against Neeraj Goyat in Saudi Arabia this July, he’ll likely be looking for one more bout before the end of the year.
Brook says he isn’t planning to retire any time soon and wants to take on a big-name opponent by the end of the year.
Perhaps, with their lack of options, they can finally, mercifully, make it happen.
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