Divisional Tournaments, One Way to Push Boxing Forward in 2022 – College Playoff/Final Four Edition – Fury, Crawford, Beterbiev, Tank & More!
By Justin Jones and Brian Jones: There are many viable and sound suggestions floating around the Twittersphere and Internet of how to keep Boxing thriving and growing for now and the future.
Yes, judging needs a complete overhaul. Pay-Per-Views every other week during an unrelenting global pandemic is not the way to go. Fantasy/celebrity exhibitions outdoing almost all of your cards is not a good look. I agree, there are way too many belts, and a Boxing commission and/or partnership with the various current commissions for the good of the sport would be ideal. Most of all, why are “promotional wars” still a thing? Isn’t there enough greenbacks to go around?
With that said, we all know that the tried and true answer is pitting the best vs. the best. Simple and plain, it works every time – preferably on broadcast TV and cable regularly – but that’s for another story.
The 168 Series Six, Super Fly, and Ali Trophy tournaments were all microcosms of just how successful having these tournament-style matchups with the divisional best is for the sport and everyone involved. In the spirit of the upcoming College Playoff, we choose the four divisions we believe offer the best final four tournaments and our predictions of how we see things playing out. Let us know what you think in the comments and on Twitter – @jusjones29.
Rankings Criteria – We ranked each division based on talent, accolades (e.g., pound-for-pound status, champions, records, the strength of schedule, etc.), the viability of these fights happening, and our perceived fan interest.
Note: There would be no rematch clauses in our proposed tournaments. Win or go home. If there were to be a draw at the end of round 12, there would be a 13th round fought to claim a winner.
#1 Heavyweight – We believe the heavyweight final four tournament is the deepest, most critically acclaimed, and entertaining out of any other weight class, thus taking the #1 spot.
- Seeds – #1 Tyson Fury (31-0-1, 22 KOS), #2 Oleksandr Usyk (19-0, 13 Kos), #3 Deontay Wilder (42-2-1, 41 KOs), #4 Anthony Joshua (24-2, 22 KOs).
Brian’s Prediction: Semifinals: Joshua has some early success in the first four rounds, but Fury’s size and boxing ability proves to be too much and results in a late-round TKO over Joshua. Usyk comes in as the favorite but gets stopped by Wilder in the later rounds with a devasting knockout punch. Usyk gets off to a great start and will be up on the scorecards as most would expect, but Wilder’s length and power will lead him to victory in an upset. Final: Wilder has to be great for a few seconds while his opponents must be great for all 12 rounds, but as we’ve seen before, Fury will find a way to get the victory over Wilder in another FOTY candidate match.
Justin’s Prediction: Semifinals: Fury outlasts Joshua in an entertaining and well-fought match to come out with a late 11th round TKO. Usyk outpoints Wilder in a boring bout. Usyk stays on the outside, avoiding Wilder’s devastating right hand, and relies on his cardo and superior footwork to eke out a 7-5 style victory. Final: Fury’s size and skills prove to be too much for Usyk, and wins a UD to become Undisputed Heavyweight Champ.
#2 Welterweight – The Welterweight division is already halfway in motion, with Errol Spence, Jr., and Yordenis Ugás agreeing to fight in the spring. Crawford is a promotional free agent, and Keith Thurman has already called him out, so we would just need this shoe to drop to make this real-life official. The young guns – Jaron Ennis (28-0, 26 KOs) and Vergil Ortiz, Jr. (18-0, 18 KOs) – are coming, but they need to do a little more to be on this stage.
- Seeds – #1 Terence Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs), #2 Errol Spence, Jr (27-0, 21 KOs), #3 Yordenis Ugás (27-4, 12 KOs), #4 Keith Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) – with a win over Mario Barrios (26-1, 17 KOs).
Brian’s Prediction: Semifinals: Crawford by UD over Thurman. Thurman will be reluctant to trade with Crawford which is the only reason I’m going with UD as opposed to a TKO victory. Spence will prove to be too much for Ugás and wins by UD in a close but clear 8-4 match. Final: Spence edges out Crawford by split decision. Both fighters will respect each other skills, which is why the fight may start off a bit slow, but towards the middle and late rounds, it will be fireworks. Spence will become undisputed champion at 147 in the Fight of The Year.
Justin’s Prediction: Semifinals: Crawford by stoppage over Thurman. Yes, I know Thurman has never been stopped, but Crawford always seems to be the first of many things. Spence by UD over Ugás in an entertaining scrap. Final: Crawford by split decision. I see this being very tactical – some would say boring – early on until the action opens up, and I see Crawford doing just enough to edge out Spence in boxing’s most anticipated fight since Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (50-0, 27 KOs) vs. Manny Pacquiao (62-8-2, 29 KOs). Crawford becomes a two-time undisputed champion.
#3 Light Heavyweight – Light Heavyweight is probably the easiest and most feasible out of all these divisional tournaments to make. The fighters all seem to want to fight one another, and there is no promotional beef standing in the way.
- Seeds – #1 Artur Beterbiev (17-0, 17 KOs), #2 Dmitry Bivol (19-0, 11 KOs), #3 Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (43-0, 29 KOs), #4 Joe Smith, Jr. (27-3, 21 KOs) – unless Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) decides to join the party then he would push Smith out and move to the third seed. Being undisputed would then be off the table with Smith, Jr. holding the WBO strap.
Brian’s Prediction: Semifinals: Beterbiev wins by KO over Smith Jr. It will be very entertaining while it lasts, but Beterbiev will eventually land that one punch and turn off the lights on Smith Jr. Zurdo pulls off the victory over Bivol by UD. Final: Beterbiev bests Zurdo in an amazing back and forth fight. The cards will be close throughout the fight, but Beterbiev will catch and KO Zurdo in the championship rounds on his way to securing all of the belts.
Justin’s Prediction: Semifinals: Beterbiev KOs Smith in under eight rounds. His power, accuracy, and ring generalship are too much for a spirited Smith, Jr. Zurdo upsets Bivol and wins via UD. Final:
Beterbiev wins a tough and highly contested fight with Zurdo.
Beterbiev hands Zurdo his first loss, and Zurdo becomes the first opponent to last 12 rounds with Beterbiev. Fight of the Year candidate. Beterbiev moves to the top 5 pound-for-pound and becomes undisputed at 175.
#4 Lightweight – The Lightweight division has become the most talked about and one of the deepest divisions in Boxing, but the issue to this point has been mostly that – Talk!
- Seeds – #1 George Kambosas, Jr. (20-0, 10 KOs), #2 Devin Haney (27-0, 15 KOs), #3 Gervonta “Tank” Davis (26-0, 24 KOs), #4 Vasyl Lomachenko (16-2, 11 KOs).
Brian’s Prediction: Semifinals: “Loma” will show Kambosas why there’s levels to boxing and win via TKO. Haney will have early success, but Tank’s power will prove to be the difference in a late KO victory. Final: Davis stops Loma with an uppercut that he never sees. Not only does Tank prove why he is the top dog at 135, but he finally lands on the P4P list and scores the KOTY.
Justin’s Prediction: Semifinals: Kambosas’ 15 minutes of fame comes to a screeching halt. I like Loma by TKO. Tank Davis pulls comes back after being down on the cards and scores a late-round KO of Haney.
Final: Davis stops Loma late with a devastating left-hand punch (uppercut or hook) and quiets the naysayers in impressive fashion. He proves he is Pound-for-Pound worthy and moves to 5 or 6 on the list. Tank becomes undisputed at 135.
These are the fights and fighters that people want to see do business. We don’t care about the street, zip code, or follower count. We just want to see the world’s best fight each other. Is that really too much to ask? Cheers to a bigger and better boxing year in 2022!
- Gervonta Davis being protected says Gary Russell Jr
- Andre Ward ready for Kambosos Jr to choose between Haney & Lomachenko for next fight
- Is George Kambosos Jr. the undisputed 135-lb champion? WBC president Suliaman dances around question
- Tyson Fury vs. Dillian Whyte purse bid extended to Jan.26th