Two Boxers who need to Prove Themselves in 2021
By Greg Noble: The coronavirus pandemic has unsurprisingly seen a large number of boxers endure an inactive year in terms of opponents faced. That said, there is a group of top fighters who have lain dormant for a few years and need to use 2021 as a springboard to get back to where they once were and save themselves from a declining career.
Keith Thurman 29-1-0
The former WBA Welterweight has not fought since his competitive defeat to veteran Manny Pacquiao in the summer of 2019. Thurman is a high-class welterweight on his day, with hard-fought victories against Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter.
Possibilities for him in 2021 could be fights against the two top fighters in the division: Errol Spence Jr. or Terence Crawford. Both are seemingly in pursuit of the Pacquiao fight, meaning it will leave one of them looking for a competitive bout in the division. Sadly, it looks unlikely these two will fight each other in 2021.
Thurman would-be Crawford’s toughest test in the Welterweight category and a chance to prove any doubters wrong that he is the best in the division.
On paper, it is hard to contest Thurman’s superior resume at welterweight against the Welterweight division’s top P4P contenders, meaning this should result in a very entertaining and intriguing fight for the fans.
The Errol Spence fight would also be a fascinating encounter for Thurman due to Spence coming off the back of a dominant performance against Danny Garcia, whom Thurman also beat in a tight decision.
The fight would enable Spence to continue his run against top tier welterweights. It’s no secret Spence’s priority would be to secure the Pacquiao or Crawford fight, but a bout against Thurman would be a fan-friendly alternative.
Thurman is a top-class fighter and would certainly be a challenge for any welterweight. I believe he will have the opportunity to showcase his skills against one of the top two in the division this year, giving him an opportunity to reignite his career.
Joseph Parker 27-2-0
It seems like a lifetime ago, Joseph Parker fought to become a unified heavyweight champion against Anthony Joshua, and the former WBO champion has not faced a significant opponent since his loss to Dillian Whyte in 2018. Parker has become the division’s forgotten man, yet at 28 years old, he should be entering his prime.
Since his fight with Whyte, Parker has had straightforward KO wins against Shawndell Winters, Alex Leapai, and Alexander Flores but these aren’t wins that will help him earn the big fights he craves. Joseph Parker was scheduled to fight Derek Chisora in October 2019 but had to pull out of the fight due to a bizarre spider bite.
Parker’s promoter David Higgins has stated if he comes through his fight with fellow New Zealander Junior Fa at the end of February, he expects his man to take the number two position in the WBO rankings, overtaking Joe Joyce. This could set up an exciting matchup between Parker and Oleksander Usyk if Anthony Joshua vacates his belt to set up the highly anticipated fight with Tyson Fury.
However, if the stars do not align, there are still plenty of mouth-watering scenarios that could yet unfold. Recently Deontay Wilder said that Parker is an opponent he would like to face next. This match-up would be huge to get both their careers back on the right path for world title opportunities. Wilders’s power up against Parker’s speed and boxing ability would set up a hugely entertaining fight.
All the fights mentioned feature the highest quality the heavyweight division has to offer, which means they are strenuous to secure. Parker is in the Matchroom stable with other contenders such as Bakole and Chisora, and any matchup between these fighters would elevate his stature in the division once again.
- Keith Thurman: “Pacquiao is looking a little slower”
- Spence wants Crawford after Pacquiao, could be Ugas
- Shawn Porter wants Thurman to fight Ugas, while he fights Jamal James
- Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman tells Spence: ‘See me,’ says fight will happen