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2017: What is there to look forward to?

Image: 2017: What is there to look forward to?

By Rameez Haider: Before I go into this article, I just wanted to say that I respect everyone’s opinion no matter what race, gender etc. My last article on Amir Khan bought many different opinions but when people start bringing religion into things, I just think it is totally unjustified and quite frankly disgusting. At the end of the day we all love boxing and no matter what your race, religious beliefs etc. we all share that common love of the sport, so please don’t lose sight of the fact that we are here to discuss boxing nothing more nothing less.

Now that’s out of the way, as this year comes to an end, many people have talked about what a poor year it has been in terms of the major fights and the best fighting the best. I agree that this year has not been the best. If you look at the year’s biggest fights, only Ward vs Kovalev was a fight where the best fought the best. Other than that, the biggest fights this year have been the likes of Khan vs Canelo, GGG vs Brook, Lomachenko vs Walters, Frampton vs Santa Cruz etc. Though some of these fights have been interesting, it does leave you thinking that 2016 never quite took off. A lot of people blame the promoters, other people blame the fighters but in my opinion sometimes the timing simply was not right. For where 2016 left a lot to be desired, I feel that 2017 could be huge. I have tried to map out some potential fights and where paths will cross.

To start with the Heavyweight division, the biggest fight that people want to see is Anthony Joshua face Deontay Wilder. Maybe if Wilder had not got injured, it could have been the fight happening at Wembley Stadium in April. However, if you look at the potential route for both to meet, it shows how big 2017 could be. Anthony Joshua faces Klitschko in April, provided he wins this fight, the WBA have confirmed Joshua must face Louis Ortiz next which again is a potentially huge fight. Wilder is set to make his comeback against Andrzej Wawrzyk which may not be the biggest fight but after the injuries Wilder has had, it is totally justifiable. However, his next fight may very well be a unification fight against Joseph Parker, which is something Parker’s team has talked about after he has his mandatory defence which looks like it will be Hughie Fury. Wilder vs Parker would be a very good fight, but this could then lead to Wilder and Joshua fighting at the end of the year for 4 belts potentially. Then you have the Haye vs Bellew fight, with it looking like the winner will go down the WBA route to fight maybe Shannon Briggs. I can see Haye winning both these fights and setting up a huge fight against the winner of Joshua vs Wilder. This also is not taking into account the potential return of Tyson Fury and a lot of this is based purely on the basis that results go in favour of my article but if this was to materialise, what an amazing 2017 it could be in the heavyweight division.

The light heavyweight division will most likely see Ward and Kovalev have the rematch. If Ward was to win I think he would potentially look to then fight Adonis Stevenson as opposed to fighting Artur Beterbiev. However, if Kovalev was to win, I see him either having a decider against Ward before taking on Artur Beterbiev. I don’t see Stevenson taking on either Kovalev or Beterbiev but if these guys were all to mix it, the division could be explosive.

The Super Middleweight division sees James Degale face Badou Jack, which many see as the 2 beat in the division fighting for supremacy. Though this maybe more important for the U.K. if Degale was to win, his next fight must be against rising star Callum Smith. Many people in the U.K. would have Smith as a slight favourite going into that fight due to his height and power advantage. You then throw George Groves into the mix, who could become world champion if he can beat Chudinov setting up a unification fight against the winner of Degale vs Smith. Though the U.S. fans probably won’t make much of this, I think the U.K. fans would agree, this would be huge if it was to happen. There is also the small matter of Chris Eubank Jr. who is fighting for the IBO title and he too could set up a big domestic unification fight as well as being involved in the middleweight division.

There is only one fight the world really wants to see, GGG vs Canelo at middleweight. All signs suggest this will happen. Canelo’s route will depend on whether he has 2 or 3 fights in 2017. What I think we will see is Canelo first face Chavez Jr. whilst GGG faces Jacobs in a unification fight. I then see Canelo taking on Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO belt which Canelo is mandatory for. GGG may fight again though I suspect he won’t. This will set up finally GGG vs Canelo, both world champions for the biggest fight since Mayweather vs Pacquiao. But the fights leading up to the super fight would still be unification fights against good champions unlike 2016.

The light Middleweight division is one where I feel people haven’t ducked each other, I just think the fighters are now in position to make big fights, but when you look at the likes of the Charlo brothers, Andrade, Lara etc. I think these fights will happen in 2017.

The welterweight division is the most stacked division of them all yet, minus Thurman taking on Porter, the biggest fights haven’t happened. Amir Khan and Kell Brook both moved up in weight to take big challenges on but I see the huge feud between them will be settled next for the IBF title, with Errol Spence taking on the winner. Thurman and Garcia will hopefully square off in March and I believe the winner may very well be Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent. There is also the potential of Crawford coming up to the division and Broner fighting at this weight again.

I could go on about huge fights in all the other weights but I think the above examples get the point across. Yes, a lot of what I have said is dependent on results etc. but the big reason why the big fights will happen is because even if results did not play out the way me and a lot of others will think, there are alternative big fights no matter who wins or loses and this is why 2017 for me will be the biggest year in a long time. I think 2016 has not been the best year but I think this year has laid the foundations for some huge events next year.

Pound for pound rankings will change, champions will fight champions and I think come the end of 2017 there will be a fair few unified world champions rather than 2016 where it seems every sanctioning body has 2/3 world champions each.

Whatever happens this next year, I am hugely excited about what is to come. I want to take this opportunity to say a Merry Christmas to all the readers.

For more of my articles please follow me on twitter @RameezHaider13

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