Ranking 10 must-see fights on the boxing schedule

From a long-awaited trilogy fight between Canelo Alvarez and Gennadiy Golovkin for all the marbles at 168lbs to a heavyweight rematch between unified champion Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua, the second half of the year already has several fights to watch got to. While these are two of the best fights in boxing, there are other matchups of great importance – to their divisions and to the fighters themselves.

Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall will finally bury their animosity in a women’s middleweight match for all four major world titles. Ryan Garcia, one of the sport’s most talented young boxers, returns to the ring for the first time in 17 months in a crucial bout against another top contender in Javier Fortuna.

Then you have the Jake Paul vs. Hasim Rahman Jr. fight at Madison Square Garden. While the boxing world will not see Paul as a “real fighter,” the entertainment Paul brings to his events is second to none.

With a stacked worldwide boxing schedule through the end of September, ESPN is helping you save some data by ranking the 10 must-see matchups.


1. Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennadiy Golovkin – September 17 in Las Vegas – DAZN

Boxing fans have been waiting four years for this trilogy fight, and the resolution of this smoldering feud is one you just can’t miss. Aside from Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence and possibly Tyson Fury vs either Anthony Joshua or Oleksandr Usyk, this is still the biggest fight in boxing.

Golovkin, from Kazakhstan but based in California, may be 40 years or less strong than 23 consecutive KO wins between 2008 and 2016, but this is the boxing equivalent of the final series of your favorite box set.

What makes this perfect is the turnaround in Canelo’s career: Alvarez collapsed to a unanimous decision loss in a light heavyweight title fight with Dmitry Bivol in May. After a brilliant run for Alvarez in vacuuming middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight belts, Bivol’s rebound makes this fight against Golovkin a closer decision (although Canelo still starts as a favorite).

After a controversial tie in 2017 and a majority decision victory for Alvarez a year later, this 168-pound trilogy fight for all belts will end one of the greatest rivalries in boxing today. Golovkin is driven by a sense of injustice, Canelo by the need to restore pride.


2. Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua, August 20 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia – DAZN

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Anthony Joshua can’t deny that a potential fight with Tyson Fury gives him extra motivation to win his rematch with Oleksandr Usyk.

With three of the world heavyweight titles at stake and the possibility of the winner taking on Tyson Fury (fourth title holder) to determine an undisputed champion, there is so much at stake.

It’s not just her earning ability and a mega fight with Fury. Joshua has more to lose – a second straight loss to Usyk will seriously damage his career and profile and likely end his hopes of ever fighting Fury.

That makes the fight interesting: how will AJ react to that pressure and how much of a difference has working with new coach Robert Garcia made? And how did the war in the homeland of the Ukrainian Usyk affect his focus?


3. Claressa Shields vs. Savannah Marshall – September 10 in London – ESPN+

Women’s boxing is enjoying a big year in popularity and the undisputed middleweight bout between Shields and Marshall is another important moment for the sport not to be missed.

Following April’s megafight between undisputed lightweight queen Katie Taylor and seven-division champion Amanda Serrano, Shields-Marshall is just as big and will capture viewers’ imaginations beyond boxing hardcore. While Taylor and Serrano were warm and respectful leading up to their New York encounter, expect plenty of trash talk between Shields and Marshall to build anticipation.

They’ve been on each other’s radars for years and while Shields has cleaned up since turning pro (a three-weight division world champion), Marshall clinched a win against her as an amateur in 2012. Marshall is a big puncher, perhaps the biggest in women’s boxing, and it will be interesting to see how Shields’ literate boxing handles that.


4. Jake Paul vs. Hasim Rahman Jr. – August 6th in New York – Showtime PPV

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Jake Paul explains his decision to fight Hasim Rahman Jr after Tommy Fury was fired from Paul’s team.

After all the gossip between Jake Paul and Tommy Fury, Paul is now facing Rahman instead, but this is still a step up for the social media star. Rahman lost his last fight via a fifth-round stoppage, but most importantly he was a pro for five years. Like it or not, fights like this are relevant now and you have to tune in to have an opinion on them.

So far Paul has faced inexperienced opponents and he is taking a risk by taking on a more experienced, legitimate boxer in Rahman who has stopped six of his 12 opponents with just one loss. Whatever the outcome of this fight, someone will be left humiliated.


5. Ryan Garcia vs. Javier Fortuna, July 16 in Los Angeles – DAZN

Garcia’s huge social media presence and the time off he has taken to take care of his mental health will generate a lot of interest in this duel. Garcia knows how to fight, he has incredible hand speed and is destined to have a part in an exciting series of fights at lightweight and beyond. But he has only fought twice since 2019 and changed coaches last year.

Luke Campbell provided the Californian with a good test in January 2021, but Garcia didn’t fight again until April 2022. Fortuna, a significantly more experienced fighter, will provide another clue as to whether Garcia is just hype or seriousness with fights against Devin Haney or Gervonta Davis in the pipeline – if Garcia wins.


6. Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Luis Ortiz, Sept. 4 in Los Angeles – Fox PPV

After beating Joshua by three world heavyweight titles and then piling on the pounds before losing to Joshua later in 2019, Ruiz looks leaner and sharper in the latest footage from his training camp.

Ruiz’s quick hands, when combined with more movement in the ring, will cause big problems for the powerful Ortiz. This duel also has an impact on who could be in contention for a heavyweight title in 2023 – and will answer which of those contenders we should take seriously. One not to be missed.


7. Teofimo Lopez vs. Pedro Campa – Aug. 13 in Las Vegas – ESPN/ESPN+

It wasn’t long ago that Lopez was the hottest attribute in boxing, having boxed brilliantly to defeat Vasiliy Lomachenko and become the unified world lightweight champion in 2020. But Lopez caught an upset himself in his most recent fight, losing to George Kambosos Jr. last November, and his rebuild begins with this junior welterweight bout.

It will be interesting to see how Lopez reacts to jumping up a weight class and will be an indicator of how quickly he can progress at 140 pounds. A loss could mean the end for the “takeover”.


8. Danny Garcia vs. Jose Benavidez Jr. – July 30 in Brooklyn, New York – Showtime

Easy. A win over Benavidez will keep Garcia on course to meet his goal of winning a world title in a third weight division – but there are questions about how much he has left in his tank.

A former junior welterweight champion and world welterweight champion, 34-year-old Garcia has not boxed since losing a unanimous decision to Errol Spence Jr. in December 2020 while fighting for the welterweight title. This was Garcia’s third loss of his career.

Benavidez is in a similar position. He lost by stoppage to Terence Crawford in 2019 and didn’t fight again until a majority draw against Francisco Torres in November. With just two fights in the last four years, Benavidez, like Garcia, is struggling to stay relevant and desperation is a big motivator.


9. Kazuto Ioka vs. Donnie Nietes – July 13 in Tokyo

The 115-pound division is full of class with Juan Francisco Estrada, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez leading the way, and Ioka getting a chance to prove his mettle in his fifth title defense. When Ioka looks good, it fuels interest in a possible showdown with Japanese rival Naoya Inoue, the brilliant unified bantamweight champion who currently sits at the top of the pound-for-pound rankings.

Nietes, 40, a former world champion, is seven years older and could be knocked out by Ioka in a master class.


10. Derek Chisora ​​vs. Kubrat Pulev – July 9 in London – DAZN

Chisora ​​last fought for a world title more than 10 years ago (a unanimous loss to then-champ Vitali Klitschko in February 2012), while Pulev was easily finished off by then-champion Anthony Joshua in 2020. They’re also well past their prime – Chisora ​​is 38, Pulev is 41. But what won’t stop us from enjoying this junk is the thrill and the spills and the power they both bring to the ring.

The result is largely irrelevant to the Worlds scene, but Chisora ​​rarely finds himself in a dull bout and has been overmatched for bouts against reigning WBA IBF WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk and Joseph Parker (twice) over the past two years . Chisora ​​has fought valiantly in losses in these three bouts and won the hearts of many British fight fans. Chisora’s supporters will hope he can avenge a split decision loss to Pulev in 2016.

https://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/34197187/ranking-10-see-fights-boxing-schedule-canelo-alvarez-gennadiy-golovkin-jake-paul-vs-hasim-rahman-jr Ranking 10 must-see fights on the boxing schedule

Emma Bowman

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