Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder’s styles are PERFECT for each other, Terrence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr have a score to settle while it’s time for Lawrence Okolie to test himself against Mairis Breidis… the big fights we would LOVE to see in 2022
- Boxing in 2022 promises a string of fantastic fights across the divisions
- Tyson Fury is looking for his next opponent and could face Dillian Whyte or Usyk
- Anthony Joshua seek revenge against Usyk, but could he face Deontay Wilder?
- Meanwhile, Canelo has been tipped for a third fight with foe Gennadiy Golovkin
- Sportsmail runs the rule over the biggest bouts we would love to see next year
Shock knockouts, drama, comebacks, crushing defeats and epic slogfests – 2021 really had it all inside the squared circle.
Rivalries were settled – we saw Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder wrap up their trilogy once and for all – with the Gypsy King emerging victorious and confirming himself as the man to beat in the heavyweight division.
Elsewhere, giants fell and a new one rose up. Anthony Joshua lost his three world titles in a comprehensive defeat to Oleksandr Usyk, who could now set off on a conquest for undisputed champion.
Boxing in 2021 offered up a treat, with Tyson Fury’s fight against Deontay Wilder a highlight
We’ve seen Floyd Mayweather roll back the years against a YouTuber. Canelo Alvarez had time to conquer yet another weight division. Britain gained a new cruiserweight world champion in Lawrence Okolie, while Dillian Whyte continued his rocky road to a title challenge by avenging his stoppage defeat to Alexander Povetkin by pulling off one of his own.
But there are still plenty of t’s to cross and i’s to dot in the sport – with many fighters yet to square off despite a war of words and fan interest, while there are titles that need unifying, unbeaten records that must be tested and contests that are still a mouthwatering prospect.
Sportsmail goes through some of the biggest match-ups we would love to see take place in the new year.
Anthony Joshua also lost his titles to Oleksandr Usyk, setting up a string of possibilities for the new year in 2022
TYSON FURY VS DILLIAN WHYTE
Everything points towards this one happening after the WBC ordered Fury to face Whyte as his mandatory – possibly in February, but the heavyweight landscape is so unpredictable.
Whyte – who launched a legal bid against the WBC to ensure he became next in line to face Fury – has been waiting some time for a world title shot but no one would’ve put money on him facing Fury before Anthony Joshua. His rival’s loss to Oleksandr Usyk has changed the game.
Fury has already told his promoter Bob Arum he wants to face The Body Snatcher in his next fight but has been dismissive of his chances, while Fury’s UK-based promoter Frank Warren warned the Brixton-born star he would only be offered 30 per cent of the prize pot.
A fight between Dillian Whyte (L) and Tyson Fury looks likely after Whyte was named as WBC mandatory challenger
Whyte has been pushing for a fight with Fury and submitted a legal challenge against the WBC
An domestic clash with a world title on the line would be hugely exciting, and with Whyte’s explosive style mixed with Fury’s evasiveness and movement – it promises to be entertaining should it be agreed.
Sportsmail revealed that Fury’s camp have opened talks with Whyte, but Arum said it all hinges on the future of AJ vs Usyk.
‘I think Dillian Whyte should be the next fight for Tyson Fury but there is talk about Usyk who beat Joshua, but Joshua is not going to step aside until he is guaranteed the winner of Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk,’ said Arum.
‘And how can anybody assure him of that with Whyte in the mandatory position? The way I think it will fall out is Fury against Whyte which I believe Top Rank will co-promote with Frank Warren and can be held in the UK.’
Fury has stressed he is keen to face Whyte next after his British rival called him out
TYSON FURY VS OLEKSANDR USYK
Expect to see this at some point – even if it’s not 2022. The Gypsy King will have to get past the Ukranian at some point if he beats Joshua for a second time next Spring, but if Joshua agrees to step aside, then we could see this undisputed clash in 2022.
Fury believes he has a much better chance of beating Usyk than Joshua – and urged his British rival to cancel his rematch to keep their hopes of facing each other alive. Warren has already confirmed the ‘step aside’ negotiations are underway, but whether Joshua would be prepared to swallow his pride and give up the chance to reclaim his titles is another matter entirely.
Usyk’s promoter Alexander Krassyuk said his man was open to the fight should Joshua move aside.
Fury could soon be looking to become undisputed heavyweight champion against Usyk
Usyk has three world titles after beating Anthony Joshua at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
‘I heard that Joshua could consider stepping aside if the money is right as he feels respect to the division and is willing to let the undisputed heavyweight championship happen,’ he told Sky Sports.
‘Usyk says that he can fight Fury next if the offer is right and if AJ allows to do so.’
Arum added: ‘If Joshua decides not to exercise his rematch against Usyk and decides to step aside, the fight we would like to make is between Usyk and Fury.
‘Then Joshua can fight the winner of the undisputed fight. That’s what Tyson would like. And I represent Tyson. That is his preference.’
ANTHONY JOSHUA VS DEONTAY WILDER
The fight that looked nailed on but just never clicked into place. Around three years ago, these two were the rain-makers of the sport and the belt holders – now they are both fallen champions.
Wilder is looking to begin a new chapter after back-to-back losses to Tyson Fury, while Joshua is hoping for an instant comeback against Usyk – but is not being given much of a chance. Should he indeed fail next Spring, would a fight against Wilder be possible afterwards?
Usyk would move onto Fury, leaving AJ with an open road to resurrection – and beating the former WBC champion would do his chances no harm on a route back to a world title. The fight would still draw in huge numbers with fans calling for this one to happen for so long. Even without a title on the line, it would be an exciting contest between two big punchers.
Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder could finally face off next year after a tough year for both fighters in 2021
Wilder’s promoter Shelly Finkel spoke about the possibility of Joshua vs Wilder in October and said it remains a ‘massive’ fight.
‘It’s early and we have to get through Usyk and Joshua and see a couple of other possibilities. It’s a massive fight, no matter what happens in the Joshua – Usyk fight.
‘And I’m not sure that Usyk, even with his great skills, will be able to deal with the size of Fury.’
And Joshua talked up a clash against Wilder next year depending on the outcome of his rematch with Usyk. Failed negotiations in 2018 saw the American offered around £15million before his management team failed to respond in time, forcing the Brit to take on Alexander Povetkin instead.
Joshua admitted he would take the Wilder fight ‘in a heartbeat’ after losing his world titles
Wilder is also looking to rebuild after he suffered a second successive defeat to Tyson Fury
‘If the fans can’t see I would take these fights with the fighters like Wilder in a heartbeat,’ Joshua told iFL TV in October. ‘And I want people to know that I would fight anyone in their prime or anytime. Give me a mandatory and I will fight anyone, I love the game and will fight anyone.
‘I will take on any challenge providing politics aren’t an issue and the finances are there with these guys, people know what I am about. I think Wilder fought Fury thinking it was going to be easier than his previous fights and got caught in a trilogy web. But I would fight Wilder, yes I would.’
TERENCE CRAWFORD VS ERROL SPENCE JR
In 2022 we will hopefully find out who the best welterweight on the planet is after WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman urged these two to get it on.
Crawford cemented his status as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters on the planet after stopping Shawn Porter in one of the toughest fights of his career, but a clash against Spence Jr would provide the ultimate test of his ability.
‘There is Crawford and Porter fighting on November 20 in a big fight, and hopefully the winner fights in the future with our champion Spence Jr,’ Sulaiman told Sky Sports. Spence Jr was in a critical condition in 2019 after a car crash, but has since recovered to outpoint Danny Garcia.
Terence Crawford cemented his position as one of the top pound-for-pound kings after stopping Shawn Porter
So there is a lot riding on this one, which would unite the WBC, IBF and WBO titles – with both unbeaten stars determined to prove their the best in the business. Someone’s O has got to go.
Both of them have now fought Porter, but the man himself said Crawford was a much tougher opponent having lost to the two power players of the division.
Crawford made it clear who he wants next after learning that Spence Jr was ringside to watch him in action, only to walk out of the arena towards the end.
He has been tipped for a unification bout against rival Errol Spence Jr and called him out
‘He was at my fight? That boy said he would never come to my fight but now he’s at my fight,’ he said.
‘You saw what I did compared to what he did [against Porter]. Who’s No 1 in the welterweight division now?
‘You all know who I want. I’ve been calling him out. Maybe I’ll go up to 154lbs. Maybe Spence Jr will fight me.’
LAWRENCE OKOLIE VS MAIRIS BREIDIS
Now Okolie is a cruiserweight world champion, it’s time for a test of his mettle. A showdown with the feared Mairis Breidis would offer that, and the Latvian has already called out the Brit with a suggestion they could face off in his home country. Okolie responded by saying: ‘See you soon’.
Breidis is seen as the king of the cruiserweight division after Oleksandr Usyk – who he gave a run for his money – moved up to heavyweight. He plans to do the same once he has conquered this weight class, and warned Okolie he has been ‘eating my leftovers’ after stopping Krzysztof Glowacki in six rounds – the same man Breidis dealt with in three.
‘If our teams can reach an agreement to fight, then let’s get it on,’ Briedis told Bad Left Hook.
Lawrence Okolie wants to show he means business after becoming WBO cruiserweight champ
Cruiserweight king Mairis Breidis has challenge him for a showdown and has warned Okolie he has been ‘eating my leftovers’
‘If he wants it, let’s make a fire,’ he continued. ‘But if not, it’s not a problem. I know I am number one in the cruiserweight division and I have already said that I plan to move up to heavyweight for bigger challenges.
‘The heavyweight division to me is the highest level, so I want to test myself against the best. I need new challenges to keep me interested in boxing.
‘As soon as this [Glowacki] fight was over, everyone started screaming my name. They seem to believe in Okolie, but time will tell. Okolie is just eating my leftovers. Glowacki has been ill with COVID-19 and was knocked out badly by me in our fight, so I don’t know how impressive that win was. If he wants a real fight, let’s go.
‘I don’t think much about Okolie, but sure, he has a good reach. I will only know more once I have been in the ring with him before I can say too much more.’
CONOR BENN VS WINNER OF KHAN/BROOK
Benn is ready for a major fight, and after blasting out Chris Algieri, insisted he was not being tested enough. Well pit yourself against the experienced Amir Khan or Kel Brook and you surely won’t have any such complaints.
The grudge match between the pair is one of the most talked about fights of next year – but discussion of Benn facing the winner is also rife as the son of legendary fighter Nigel plots his path to the top.
And Benn immediately laid of his plans to face of them after his stunning knockout win over Algieri.
Conor Benn continued his rise up the ranks with an impressive stoppage against Chris Algieri
‘Get me Khan or Brook,’ Benn said. ‘I didn’t call out Brook because we are pals, but whoever the winner of that one is I’ll have them… and if they don’t want it I will fight Adrien Broner in America.’
Benn’s promoter Eddie Hearn, however, believes it will be curtains for both fighters after their match up in February – saying the Broner fight is far more realistic.
‘To be honest, I tried so hard to make the Benn v Khan fight, but I don’t think either of those guys will continue in the sport after their fight next year. I look instead at a potential fight with Adrien Broner,’ said Hearn.
‘It would be amazing to bring ‘The Problem’ to the UK in what would be a huge arena fight. We’ve seen recently though the danger of overlooking opponents and Conor must be completely focused on the test of Algieri.’
But Pundit Tony Bellew disagrees and feels Khan or Brook will be hungry to face Benn – whoever comes out on top.
He wants to face the winner of Amir Khan vs Kel Brook, who will square off in Feburary
‘Whoever wins that fight between Khan and Brook will want Benn,’ he told Sportsmail. ‘I do think both of them are (coming back for a last hurrah) a little bit, but I think the winner will have a big platform again.
‘They’ll want to cash in on that big platform they’ve just gained. I think it’s over for the loser, that’s the last we’ll ever see of them. But I don’t think it’s over for the winner.
‘I’ve always thought Kell would be too strong (for Khan), but the way both of these guys have deteriorated in the last few years, I’m not so sure.
‘I never in a million years thought I’d see two guys arguing about which guy got knocked out worse in the build-up to a big fight (in their recent press conference).
‘For now, it’s all about Conor Benn. He’s the biggest prospect in the welterweight division in this country.’
CANELO ALVAREZ VS GENNADIY GOLOVKIN III
Given that the Mexican pound-for-pound star has just announced his intention to step up to cruiserweight to challenge for a title in a fifth different weight class, this one might be put on the back burner, but there’s every chance Canelo could move back down to face Golovkin again after facing Ilunga Makabu.
And a third contest between Canelo and Golovkin has long been mooted after the first contest in 2017 was ruled as a draw – before the Mexican won via majority decision the following year.
Canelo has gone on to conquer the super-middleweight division – and even won a title at light-heavy – while Golovkin has recaptured belts at middleweight. His Mexican rival has talked up a trilogy bout, but only if the Kazakhstan fighter moves up to super-middle.
Canelo Alvarez wants to face old foe Gennadiy Golovkin a third time – but only at 168 pounds
‘The truth is I’m open for anything,’ he told Ring Magazine this summer.
‘If the fight happens after unifying at 168 pounds, I’m open for anything, but it would be at 168 pounds.’
‘If he wants the fight with me, he has to do it. Why wouldn’t he do it? I went up from 154 up to 160 to fight with him. I’ve fought a lot of good fighters, a lot of champions. I beat him and I think that everything else will leave the legacy of my career.’
JOE JOYCE VS JOSEPH PARKER
After Parker defeat Dereck Chisora for a second time, is it time for the Australian to get his shot at winning a world title again? He’ll have to get in line with Fury awaiting Whyte, Usyk fighting Joshua and the possibility of rematches, but why not take on Joe Joyce while he’s waiting?
His manager David Higgins has already confirmed Parker would gladly face Joyce, who is a rising star in the heavyweight division and continues to clean out big name after big name – having stopped the highly-rated Daniel Dubois before knocking out Carlos Takam.
With Parker undefeated since losing his WBO title to Anthony Joshua in 2018, a win against the much-feared Joyce – ranked No 1 with the WBO – would show he has made huge strides and is ready to be mentioned in the same breath as the likes of Fury and Usyk.
Joseph Parker could go up against Joe Joyce while he waits for another world title shot
Beating the undefeated British heavyweight would show Parker is ready to be taken seriously
‘[Joyce’s team] are welcome to contact me,’ Higgins said this year. ‘Yes, we would fight Joe Joyce.’
And Parker’s manager Sam Jones also said it would interest his man, claiming he would take it ‘in a heartbeat’.
‘Nobody will be excited to fight Joe but, unfortunately for them, he’s ranked at No 1 so somebody will have to fight him,’ Jones told Sky Sports.
‘Joseph Parker is a great fight – if it presents itself, we’d take it in a heartbeat.
‘Andy Ruiz Jr, Luis Ortiz. It’s a real possibility it could happen. Joe is game for either of those.
‘We are looking forward to making big, big fights now for Joe. I’ve made it clear that we only want big fights and that’s what we’ll get.’
JOSH TAYLOR VS GERVONTA DAVIS
Another fierce rivalry in boxing that needs settling, even if Taylor himself has cast doubt on the bout happening in the near future – simply because he believes Davis’ team are afraid of putting him in with the Tartan Tornado.
Davis has also vacated his WBA ‘regular’ world title at super-lightweight with intentions of facing George Kambosos Jr at lightweight, leaving Taylor as the undisputed champion of super-lightweight.
‘I don’t think he goes anywhere near me,’ Taylor told talkSport.
‘I don’t think Floyd Mayweather and his team will let him near me. ‘He’s just relinquished his [WBA ‘regular’] belt at 140lbs. Well, it wasn’t a title, I’m the only title-holder at 140lbs.
Josh Taylor says he would ‘destroy’ Gervonta Davis with the two rivals yet to face each other
Davis vacated his WBA ‘regular’ title and Taylor believes his team are afraid to let him fight him
‘So yeah, I don’t think these fights are gonna happen. Maybe in the future.’
Teofimo Lopez’s promoter had talked about a fight with Josh Taylor – but that was before he was stunned by Kambosos Jr. So a clash with Davis remains the biggest one out there for Taylor, but first he must see off Jack Catterall in February.
Should he take on Davis towards the end of the year, Taylor is confident that he would dismantle Floyd Mayweather’s protoge.
‘Listen, I’d absolutely destroy him,’ Taylor said. ‘It’s a good fight, it’s a big fight, but I would absolutely take him to bits. I would absolutely smash him to pieces.’
TYSON FURY VS ANTHONY JOSHUA
It almost might be wise to leave this one off the list so we’ve left it until last – because it’s still the number one fight everyone wants to see.
Although there was talk of Joshua stepping aside to let Fury face Usyk – and therefore speeding up hopes of an all-British showdown – it looks like Joshua has no desire to give up his chance of reclaiming his belts and will go ahead in his quest for redemption against the Ukranian in the Spring.
That leaves Fury to face Dillian Whyte and then the winner of that fight to eventually face off against the winner of Joshua vs Usyk. If Joshua and Fury both come through in those fights then the match-up everyone is pining for could happen next winter. But that is a big if.
Tyson Fury (L) and Anthony Joshua remains the biggest fight in the heavyweight division
And especially given how dominant Usyk was over Joshua, it is far more likely he prevails again and goes onto face Fury – in back to back clashes, possibly. Fury vs AJ will surely happen at some point, but the chances of it happening next year seem slimmer and slimmer after he was stunned by Usyk.
The problem is a fight of this magnitude is hard to set up due to various broadcasters being involved and the financial implications and locations. We saw that after several painful months Eddie Hearn spent trying to confirm this fight before Fury was forced to take on Deontay Wilder instead.
Now that the two teams have already talked it should be easier this time around, but it all depends on Joshua’s rematch.
Joshua insists he would still face his British rival – with or without the titles on the line
Fans would love to see all the belts on the line when Joshua does take on Fury – and if it was an undisputed fight that would be even tastier. But Joshua insisted he would fight him with or without the belts after losing to Usyk.
‘The road to undisputed and all that stuff, it’s good,’ Joshua said. ‘As I said, I’ll fight Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, without the belts.
‘The belts are fun. It’s great, it’s legacy. But with or without the belts, I’ll fight whoever. The road to undisputed is a nice title to have and a nice title to chase.
‘But would you still watch it, without the belts?
‘That’s the main thing – you’ve got two competitive fighters in the ring from UK soil, that just want to go toe-to-toe.’
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