2015 has been a great year for boxing and it is still far from over as the final two months come to a close. With so many big fights still left on the calendar, I decided to make a comprehensive list of the ten most significant attractions that should have fight fans plenty excited.
This is not necessarily a list of the ten biggest fights, but just the ten we all should be looking forward to.
10) James DeGale (21-1, 14 Kos) vs Lucian Bute (32-2, 25 Kos) Nov 28th
This will be DeGale’s first title defense since winning the vacant IBF belt over Andre Dirrell in May. Bute is a former holder of the IBF belt DeGale currently holds and he will aim to win it back in his hometown of Quebec.
Many do not believe Bute has been the same fighter since Carl Froch knocked him out. DeGale, who seemed to fade late in his title-winning performance, looks to set up possible future clashes with other big names in the division such as fellow PBC stablemate and WBC belt holder Badou Jack.
Stamina may be more of a factor for the 35-year-old Bute, who has only fought once this year and twice since the end of 2012. Bute, to many, is shot, but he will have a chance to recapture glory in his hometown.
9) Rances Barthelemy (23-0, 13 Kos) vs Denis Shafikov (36-1-1, 19 Kos) Dec 18th
Barthelemy will be moving down to 135 for a chance to become a two division world champion against the tough Denis Shafikov, who will get his second shot at the IBF lightweight belt.
Barthelemy is a fighter who has superb skills and will have an extreme size advantage against the Russian. Rances is 5’11″ with a 73″ reach while Shafikov stands at 5’5″ with a 68 ½ inch reach. The fight will be a PBC event and Barthelemy figures to be the heavy favorite.
The former Cuban junior national champ will look to utilize his long reach and boxing ability in this fight as he hopes to capture another world title. He should not overlook Shafikov, who has scored a knockout in three of his last four victories.
8) Arthur Abraham (43-4, 29 Kos) vs Martin Murray (32-3-1, 15 Kos) Nov 21st
In this super middleweight title fight, Arthur Abraham will face another solid foe in Martin Murray, who has moved from 160 to 168 and has been given a title shot against the German slugger.
Murray was stopped by GGG in his last title fight, but has looked rejuvenated since moving up in weight and will be a tough test for the aging Abraham, who was rumored to be fighting Bernard Hopkins months back.
This fight will take place in Germany (it will not interfere with Canelo-Cotto for those of you wondering.) Murray has been picked by many to defeat the champion, in what could be a fun action fight between two rough and tough fighters.
7) Eleider Alvarez (18-0, 10 Kos) vs Isaac Chilemba (24-2-2, 10 Kos) Nov 28th
This fight will be on the undercard of DeGale-Bute. However, this is a far more competitive and compelling fight. This will be an eliminator bout between two young and talented light heavyweights to see who will become Adonis Stevenson’s mandatory challenger.
Neither are knockout punchers, but both have been in with very good opposition, and both enjoy coming forward despite not possessing the best power. This is another toss up fight in which any result would not be surprising.
Chilemba was supposed to fight Artur Beterbiev, but a number of problems caused that fight to be taken off the table, along with Beterbiev sustaining an injury in training. Alvarez will look to remain undefeated while Chilemba will attempt to pull off the minor upset.
6) Andy Lee (34-2-1, 24 Kos) vs Billy Joe Saunders (22-0, 12 Kos) Dec 19th
This fight has been scheduled and rescheduled more times than any other fight I can remember in recent memory, but nevertheless it is happening (we hope.)
Andy Lee will officially defend his middleweight title belt for the first time against the young Billy Joe Saunders, who defeated Chris Eubank Jr. in a close split decision to earn his shot at Lee. Lee is one of the most exciting fighters to watch in the sport, for both good and bad reasons.
Lee is a notoriously slow starter and has been down on the cards by big margins several times throughout his career only to score a knockout in stunning fashion. Saunders will have to be aware of Lee’s devastating hooks because if he lands one flush it could mean lights out for Billy Joe.
5) Bryant Jennings (19-1, 10 Kos) vs Luis Ortiz (23-0, 20 Kos) Dec 19th
This fight is for the interim WBA heavyweight title, but we’re just going to completely ignore that because belt or no belt this is a terrific matchup on paper. It is rare to see a pure slugger vs. a pure boxer in the heavyweight division, but Bryant Jennings is as slick and as athletic as they come, and Luis Ortiz has been known to land big bombs.
Jennings is coming off a loss to Wladimir Klitschko in a fight in which he performed better than most thought he would. Ortiz is coming off a one-sided knockout performance versus a heavyweight not on the same level as him.
Ortiz has a decorated Cuban amateur background and Jennings started boxing at an extremely late age, but both are serious contenders and threats in the heavyweight division and will go toe to toe in New York on HBO After Dark on a solid card overall.
It will be interesting to see who the favorite is on fight night, and whichever man comes out with the victory will be set up for big heavyweight bouts in the near future.
4) Daniel Jacobs (30-1, 27 Kos) vs Peter Quillin (32-0-1, 23 Kos) Dec 5th
In a fight that is being billed as “The Battle for Brooklyn,” “Kid Chocolate” Peter Quillin will attempt to become a champion once again (a regular one) when he faces his friend-rival Daniel Jacobs.
This is another 50/50 tossup fight. Both men are known for being big punchers and maintain a combined average for knockout percentage of 78%. Also, both men have been knocked down in recent fights, which makes this fight a bit more exciting- Jacobs was knocked out in his lone loss, and he was knocked down in his last fight against Sergio Mora. Quillin was also knocked down in his fight early in the year vs. Andy Lee, who, granted, is a much bigger puncher than Mora. This fight will get the full All Access treatment as well on Showtime- deserving for a fight that should see fireworks for however long it lasts.
3) Anthony Joshua (14-0, 14 Kos) vs Dillian Whyte (16-0, 13 Kos) Dec 12th
I was tempted to put this fight #2 but just couldn’t. I may be American, but this is a fight that I have been anticipating for quite some time.
The rumblings of Whyte beating Joshua and knocking him down in the amateurs were heard throughout the UK for quite some time, and Eddie Hearn finally heard enough. He signed Whyte, fed him a couple of tune-up fights, and then got him a big date with his gold medalist rival.
These British domestic battles are classic, especially when it’s two young heavyweights who are both looking to be stars. The aspect that makes this fight intriguing is the fact that Joshua has never been tested, and this could be the guy to hit him on his chin and make him go rounds.
I think Whyte is a real talent. He trains in the Kronk gym and shares the same trainer as Wladimir Klitschko (Jonathon Banks.) He has a legit shot to defeat AJ… But on the other hand, I believe that Anthony Joshua is a future heavyweight champion, and Dillian Whyte may just be another name on his hit list come December 12th.
2) Wladimir Klitschko (64-3, 53 Kos) vs Tyson Fury (24-0, 18 Kos) Nov 28th
First of all, does anyone know when the next press conference is for this fight? Tyson Fury is hysterical, no other way to put it. Some may find him offensive, outlandish, idiotic, but hey, he’s an entertainer, and he is making this the most anticipated Wlad fight since Haye.
Fury is a real threat to Wladimir for one reason: he is bigger than the Ukrainian champion. It would be hard to imagine that Klitschko will be able to hold Fury without feeling a great amount of resistance from the brash underdog.
Fury does have a questionable chin, however. He has been knocked down twice by two smaller men, men who were not exactly power punchers. Fury is an underrated boxer and switches from orthodox to southpaw quite effectively, which could bother Klitschko.
Despite Wladimir being the heavy favorite, as he always is, this should be a memorable fight and it will most definitely be a memorable fight week with boxer/comedian Tyson Fury.
1) Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (45-1-1, 32 Kos) vs Miguel Cotto (40-4, 33 Kos) Nov 21st
Boxing fans have been waiting for this fight ever since the May 2nd sparring match between Floyd and Manny, and the date is approaching quickly. In another edition of the Mexico vs. Puerto Rico boxing rivalry, Canelo and Cotto will go to battle at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.
Cotto’s lineal WBC middleweight title will be put on the line against the young Mexican superstar who is still only 25 years old and looking to become a two-division world champ.
This fight will be fought at a catchweight of 155 pounds, and the catchweight is totally worth it to see these two men square off. Canelo has had trouble dealing with boxers, and Cotto has been known to be an underrated boxer.
Miguel will have Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach in his corner, who has been taking shots at Canelo and how he trains all throughout camp. Canelo will need to overpower the older and smaller Cotto if he wants to win this fight, and Cotto will need to box beautifully to pick up the W.
The boxing world has granted us an epic last two months of 2015, and Canelo-Cotto is just one of the many great fights that will take place to end the year.