It’s hard not to speculate wildly when there are so many great fights just around the corner. Two reasons these fights are even more interesting now: Alvarez-Chavez is out of the way, and Joshua-Klitschko surpassed all our expectations. It’s hard to see past such momentous fights before the dust settles, but now that we’ve gotten a satisfying conclusion to the Klitschko reign, and a stamp of approval for Canelo’s run at middleweight, we can sit back and appreciate this year’s bountiful spring and summer offerings.
Tomorrow, Delvin Rodriguez will be working to regain his place in the junior middleweight division after taking a series of unwinnable fights against division mainstays like Cotto, Lara and Trout. He was the warm-up for these three superior fighters, all on their way to lucrative losses to Canelo. The soft-touch contest against Courtney Pennington (10-4-1) in Connecticut won’t be televised, but we can guess how it’ll end.
This coming Saturday, May 13th, AWE will broadcast a WBA junior bantamweight title fight. It’ll likely be as thrilling as most junior bantamweight fights, so nothing to set your DVR for. Also that night, in Michigan, James Toney will be fighting. Fortunately, it won’t be televised.
While not a thrilling prospect, it’s always interesting to see Diego de la Hoya in the ring, and he’ll be headlining the ESPN card on Thursday May 18th, building his record against relative unknown Erik Ruiz. The following Saturday begins a big weekend for boxing with a heaping helping of interesting fights, some not so interesting. The most tantalizing prospect coming from HBO, we’ll be treated to Terence Crawford-Felix Diaz for Crawford’s WBO and WBC titles.
I watched Diaz, the 2008 gold medal winner from Dominican Republic, lose his last major match in October 2015 when he took on hometown favorite Lamont Peterson. This was the main event of the same card as the tragic final bout of Prichard Colon’s career. The whole crowd in attendance was puzzled by Lamont’s inactive offense and ineffective defense, at times booing his performance. Those who stayed for the end the fight were even more shocked when the scores were announced in favor of Peterson. May 20th will be the night for Diaz to redeem himself in dramatic fashion, but going up against a force like Terence Crawford, it’s unlikely he’ll get the victory needs.
The same night (May 20th) on Showtime, we’ll get three Gary Russells including the famous Jr., plus Rances Barthelemy and Andre Dirrell all taking on unknowns for transitional fights, and top top it all off, Gervonta Davis and Liam Walsh in the main event. It’s unlikely anyone will do well against Davis at this stage of his career, but Liam Walsh will be a legitimate test. If we’re still hungry for more, FS1 will be serving up a few tomato cans to clang around the ring too.
May 27th we get Kell Brook and Errol Spence Jr. just a week removed from Terence Crawford’s next stepping stone fight. Hopefully, the winner of the more highly celebrated Brook-Spence contest will be facing Crawford soon. All three are names with enough longevity to take boxing fans into the next era, but two in particular, Crawford and Spence, seem to have the most potential.
June 3rd we get Adonis Stevenson-Andrzej Fonfara. This should be an exciting fight with a lot of good exchanges, settling any unanswered questions from their first close fight. Fonfara is talented and his style matches up well against Stevenson, but it’s likely Stevenson will adapt better the second time around and close up any gaps. Also that night, Fres Oquendo, whose last fight was a loss to Chagaev in 2014, will “fight” Shannon Briggs. Appropriately, the fight will take place in Hollywood. Briggs has fought steadily but met his last significant opponent, Vitali Klitschko, seven years ago.
June 16 Claressa Shields will be in the ring again, but of course, it won’t be televised. To be fair, most of Shields’ fights are painfully one-sided. Still, there are other exciting female boxers and these fights can’t draw any viewers if they aren’t accessible.
The following night on June 17 we’re already set for the rematch between Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward, with the undercard featuring Guillermo Rigondeaux. While no one is likely to disturb Rigondeaux’s reign, his opponent is undefeated and could provide some resistance. Fans are hard set on their picks for the Kovalev-Ward rematch, as they were for the first fight. It’s a rational argument either way, and I would still make the case that Kovalev could easily have taken the cards in that match. If past evidence is any indicator (think Cotto-Margarito II, Mayweather-Maidana II, Rios-Alvarado II), the fighter who relies more on mental agility, ring IQ and technique will refine his strategy and come away with the win. Ward has been so smart in all his fights in the past that he’s not only undefeated, he even managed to win landslide decisions against fighters who specialized in making slick fighters look clumsy. Kovalev is a force, to be sure, but he doesn’t seem to have many dimensions to his style. If something isn’t working, he works harder at what he does well and usually something gives. In this case, that won’t cut it. He’ll have to find a weakness in Ward’s game, or he’ll have to sure up one of his own, so that he can keep the offensive points from going to his opponent. We know Ward will best him in defensive technique, but if Kovalev can hurt Ward or keep him from working actively, we could see a trilogy in the making. Ward will likely take the win by decision, but Kovalev will make it very interesting.
The crown jewel in the summer lineup will be the epic clash between Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin. There’s enough to speculate about with that fight to fill a book, so for this post we’ll just acknowledge that the biggest treat of all still awaits us, ready to offer solace for the bittersweet arrival of fall.