Timothy Bradley Jr. performs matchmaker: ‘The ten fights I wish to see’


There are a whole lot of good fights on the schedule for the remainder of 2021, however there are a whole lot of good matchups nonetheless ready to be made — some fights which have been talked about, and a few that have not.

Former two-division world champion and present ESPN boxing analyst Timothy Bradley Jr. picked 10 fights that he wish to see, based mostly on the kind of matchups that would assist these fighters solidify their legacies.

“Sugar Ray Leonard did not grow to be nice till he had the precise matchups,” Bradley mentioned. “Muhammad Ali did not grow to be ‘The Best’ till he acquired the precise matchups. It isn’t about simply profitable fights, it is who you beat, that is what legacy is all about. I believe a few of the matchups I picked are for that, fighters that want one another to provide nice fights and construct or solidify their legacy. That is what boxing ought to be and I imagine these fights are the kind of matchups that would make fighters legends.”

1. Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr. at welterweight


Terence Crawford says a megafight with Errol Spence Jr. is inevitable and vows to defeat the unified champion when the time comes.

Overview: The winner would be the No. 1 welterweight on the planet, and have a powerful case to be known as the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.

Crawford, stylistically, is the perfect fighter on the planet. Spence, as of proper now, is taken into account by lots of people to be the perfect welterweight on the planet. He can transfer, he can combat southpaw, he can swap issues up, he has energy on each palms, he has supreme timing. Spence is greater, some would say stronger and has the desire to win, simply as a lot as Crawford does. Spence has supreme dedication, glorious conditioning, throws punches in quantity and lands with heavy pictures. Spence could be very harmful with a whole lot of energy in his palms.

Who wins: It is a 50-50 combat. I must go along with the man that does extra contained in the ring, and that is “Bud” Crawford. Spence is a giant southpaw, sure, and we noticed Spence alter his sport when he fought Mikey Garcia, however I believe Crawford is a bit smarter contained in the ring than Spence.

2. Canelo Alvarez vs. Andre Ward, at tremendous middleweight or mild heavyweight

If Canelo Alvarez is on the lookout for an actual problem, how about convincing former tremendous middleweight and light-weight heavyweight champion Andre Ward, above, to creating a return? Al Bello/Getty Pictures

Overview: Alvarez just lately confirmed that he is ranges above anybody close to his weight class, wherever from 168 to 175 kilos, and his ability set has improved immensely over the previous few years. I keep in mind speaking just a few years again about Canelo not with the ability to ship a KO for the followers, and in 3 of his final 4 fights, he has produced knockouts towards Billy Joe Saunders, Avni Yildirim and Sergey Kovalev.

It will take a man simply nearly as good as he’s to beat him. A man that packing containers the identical approach contained in the ring, not solely preventing on the skin, however preventing inside. A man that is a bit larger than he’s. And I believe that man is Andre Ward — he is a man that when his again is towards the wall, he’ll ship. Ward is 6-foot, cerebral and assured sufficient to resist no matter Alvarez is allotting.

Proper now, Ward has been out of the sport for a while (his final combat was in June 2017), so I am positive many individuals will query me saying Ward can compete with Alvarez. However I’ve recognized Andre since he was a child, I have been within the ring with him as an beginner, I’ve seen him develop. I’ve seen him seize his Olympic gold medal in 2004. The whole lot he does is calculated. Earlier than Canelo, Ward was dominating the 168 and 175 divisions.

Who wins: Getting Andre again within the ring is one other query. It is a fantasy combat for me, however I’d like to see it occur.And if Ward comes again and has a tune-up combat or some kind of an exhibition combat the place he can get his ft moist after which combat Alvarez, I’d choose Ward over Alvarez.

3. Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua at heavyweight

Overview: This combat has to occur, I imply it does not matter if there are belts on the road. That is for British bragging rights, it is the 2 finest heavyweights in boxing and it may very well be the most important combat in British boxing historical past.

The matchup could be very fascinating. Many individuals will choose Fury off the bat as a result of he can simply do extra. He simply backed up Deontay Wilder, he advised all people what he was going to do beforehand, after which delivered.

Then you’ve got Joshua. He was an Olympic gold medalist, and I do know beginner fights are completely different from professional fights, however between his professional profession and the amateurs Joshua has overwhelmed a whole lot of fine quality guys, together with Wladimir Klitschko.

Joshua’s a boxer-puncher, and he confirmed simply how harmful he will be when he knocked out Kubrat Pulev. However he can change his sport, too. There have been questions after he misplaced to Andy Ruiz Jr. of their first combat, however I all the time say, it is the way you come again from a loss that makes an important champion. He confirmed that versatility and talent when he fought Ruiz the second time and he boxed round him for 12 rounds.

Joshua jabs effectively to arrange his proper hand, beneath or excessive, and that is sometimes his kill shot proper there. He has that type of energy he can flip your lights out with one punch.

Who wins: Nice combat, however I’d favor the person with probably the most expertise, who can do some little bit of all the pieces. I’ve to go along with Fury, who can be the larger man. I believe Fury can again down Joshua and beat him.

4. Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia at light-weight

A combat between light-weight sensation Ryan Garcia, above, and Gervonta Davis at 135 could be must-see. Tim Warner/Getty Pictures

Overview: You’ve got two younger, thrilling guys. One on the high of his sport in Davis, and one which may very well be somebody particular, however nonetheless hasn’t confirmed it in Garcia. Garcia has the hype round him, the followers on social media. He has velocity, and he has a measurement benefit over Davis. Garcia additionally has an amazing left hook; he appears to be getting higher coaching beneath the tutelage of Eddy Reynoso and Canelo Alvarez’s camp.


Garcia acquired caught with a punch that he did not see towards Luke Campbell, however the way in which he responded afterwards, that takes a whole lot of coronary heart and psychological toughness to get again within the combat.

I believe Davis and Garcia want one another. I do not assume we have seen the perfect of Davis. I do not assume we have seen the perfect of Garcia. I believe they’ll carry out the perfect of one another in the event that they combat, as a result of each have one thing to worry. Concern can take you to do nice issues, do one thing that you simply did not know you had in you.

I do not assume now we have ever seen “Tank” Davis damage and even down earlier than, so how will he react if he is placed on the canvas?

Who wins: I’ve to go along with the man with extra expertise at the next degree and that is Davis. “Tank” will set him up, he’ll play protection and lure Garcia in and he’ll discover a method to land that kill shot and damage Garcia. Davis is without doubt one of the finest finishers in boxing, and as soon as he hurts you, it is over.

5. Teofimo Lopez vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko 2 at light-weight

Overview: After what we noticed with Lomachenko towards Masayoshi Nakatani again in June, I believe all people needs to see this rematch with Lopez.

Nakatani was coming off the most important win of his profession, towards Felix Verdejo, and Lomachenko knocked him out in spectacular trend. Lomachenko made it look simple, as a result of he began sooner and did not sit again. The most important downside within the first combat with Lopez was that Lomachenko began to select up the tempo too late.

If he begins sooner towards Lopez, can Lomachenko gasoline out Lopez and take him to deep waters? Lomachenko nearly had Lopez within the eleventh spherical of their first combat, earlier than Lopez got here out blazing for Spherical 12.

Lomachenko’s shoulder damage going into the combat was actual, however I’d take nothing away from Lopez, as a result of he got here into that combat with an damage to his foot as effectively. However once you have a look at this rematch, stylistically, you’ve got a younger fighter in Lopez who hasn’t fought since he beat Lomachenko. He had COVID, which postponed his combat towards George Kambosos Jr. 4 days out from the scheduled date. We’ve got to see if that has any long-term results.

Who wins: I have been desirous about this for some time. Even with Lomachenko beginning quicker towards Nakatani, it was towards a fighter that was completely made for his model of preventing. That is not going to occur towards Lopez. Going again to their first combat, I noticed Lopez spinning with Lomachenko. Each time Loma was attempting to get an angle, Lopez would spin with him, which isn’t a simple factor to do.

I noticed Lopez touchdown some good punches on Lomachenko. The openings are nonetheless there towards Loma. And if Loma will get too aggressive, he can get caught with these pictures. It comes all the way down to how Lopez is feeling by the point this combat occurs. Realistically, I might see both of those two fighters profitable, in plenty of other ways.

6. Oscar Valdez vs. Shakur Stevenson at junior light-weight

Shakur Stevenson, above, wants a giant problem, and a combat towards junior light-weight champion Oscar Valdez might do the trick. Mikey Williams/Prime Rank Inc through Getty Pictures

Overview: Individuals are going to evaluate Stevenson based mostly on his final combat towards Jeremia Nakathila, which Stevenson gained, however he did not look too good. Stevenson was masterful together with his boxing, however the one factor I noticed was that Shakur did not like the ability of Nakathila. You may inform he did not wish to get touched and he needed no half in mixing it up with Nakathila.

Then you’ve got a man like Valdez, who has punching energy in each palms, plus an amazing quantity of expertise. He is additionally undefeated, and simply knocked out the boogeyman of the division in Miguel Berchelt. Coach Eddy Reynoso has turned Valdez right into a boxer/puncher, however he can nonetheless come ahead, can maul you, be aggressive, and that is why I really like this matchup.

However Stevenson does not get hit that a lot, and he might make issues very tough and irritating for Valdez. Valdez does not thoughts the contact in any respect, and when he cannot land punches he will get extra aggressive spherical after spherical — and will that grow to be his demise? It might, as a result of Stevenson is a sharpshooter. He is gonna choose his spots, he is OK with making a combat boring, staying on the skin.

Who wins: Final time I went towards Valdez, when he fought Berchelt, I acquired embarrassed. And this can be a robust one. I see this as a 50-50 combat. When a man like Valdez will get towards the wall, that is gasoline for him, too. However I’ve to go along with the candy science, and that favors Stevenson. I hate to do it, however I believe Stevenson is disciplined sufficient to do what he must do and get the win.

7. Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire 2 at bantamweight

Overview: It is loopy the way you see a man like Donaire get higher with time. It is about his expertise and the way in which he takes care of himself exterior of the ring. He knew how good Inoue was when he fought him in 2019, however that combat additionally made Donaire imagine in how good he nonetheless was. He took Inoue out to deep waters, broke his face, and did a whole lot of injury to Inoue, who was type of untouchable on the time.

Inoue is aware of what he is up towards the second time round. The one factor I noticed after watching the primary combat and learning that movie, was the changes Inoue made through the combat, which modified the end result. After he acquired hit by the left hook just a few instances, Inoue was in a position to take it away from Donaire, and that minor adjustment made all the distinction.

Each guys have punching energy and nice steadiness. Inoue generates his energy from the bottom out, like a baseball participant. And once I consider Donaire, I consider a wizard. He is sensible, assured and calm, and that is threatening. Each these guys are deadly.

Who wins: I must go along with Inoue. Rematches are based mostly on minor changes, not massive ones. I believe Inoue is aware of what he has to do within the rematch to keep away from that Donaire left hook. I believe he figured it out within the second a part of their first combat.

8. Emanuel Navarrete vs. Oscar Valdez at junior light-weight

Overview: Any Navarrete combat goes to be unimaginable. Navarrete’s combat towards Christopher Diaz was unreal, and it was a throwback. Navarrete has proven he carries his energy in no matter weight class he fights in. He is aware of tips on how to maximize his leverage with each shot, and although it seems to be very unorthodox, Navarrete makes it work for him. He has his personal off rhythm sort of favor that, actually, nobody can match.

However the factor about Navarrete is that he will get hit, and will get hit usually. When you hit a rock in the identical spot time and again, finally it will crack open. And I believe that with the defensive flaws Navarrete has, although he can punch with each palms, it could be an explosive combat, as a result of these two guys have energy.

Valdez can punch, and he can damage Navarrete. I believe the primary couple of rounds could be very fascinating. I believe Valdez begins early together with his good jab, his good hand velocity, shifting and masking up. However I may also see him getting in bother attempting to stress Navarrete. Navarrete is aware of tips on how to combat when pressured — he has the power to try this, like we noticed towards Diaz. He was dropping the combat after which immediately he modified the entire rhythm and tempo and the combat modified. He landed large uppercuts, the left hook coming round. I can see the identical factor towards Valdez.

Who wins: You’ll be able to name me out on this, however I am gonna must favor Navarrete on this one. I actually have not seen many guys that may throw with the type of ferocity and awkwardness Navarrete has, and be so correct. It is exhausting to bounce with somebody that does not know tips on how to dance. That is Navarrete, he is that man at 130. He is exhausting to bounce with, exhausting to succeed in. It is exhausting to face a fighter that does not do issues the “proper approach”.

9. Teofimo Lopez vs. Josh Taylor at junior welterweight

Overview: Taylor is as legit a champion as they arrive. Anyone that may cope with the relentlessness, energy, stress of a man like Jose Ramirez and truly damage him has my respect. After which you’ve got a man like Lopez, who’s quick, twitchy, speedy, and likes to have his approach on the skin. He likes to regulate vary with massive pictures, time guys effectively after they transfer him in, and he mixes issues a bit.

Lopez does not combat a complete lot on the within, whereas Taylor can do some little bit of all the pieces. He is larger, taller, longer, can field on the skin, can press on the within, can punch in spots. Taylor has an excellent chin, and he confirmed that towards Ramirez.

Who wins: Previously I’d’ve picked Lopez, however proper now I’ve to go along with Taylor. He has proven me that he not solely has the power to adapt contained in the ring, he confirmed me he is additionally mentally sturdy. Towards Ramirez he picked his spots properly and fought on the skin. He was in a position to arrange his left hand, that pull-counter off his feint, and caught Ramirez as he got here in. That is simply good stuff.

10. Canelo Alvarez vs. David Benavidez at tremendous middleweight

Overview: We’ve got to see this combat. Greater than 70,000 individuals noticed Canelo beat Billy Joe Saunders at AT&T Stadium in Texas. If you wish to promote out that stadium, that is the combat to do it. You wish to put a warrior like David Benavidez towards Alvarez. Benavidez’s a stress fighter who likes to remain in entrance of his opponents, he has very fast palms, he throws very fast mixtures, and may take punches effectively.

Towards Benavidez, Canelo must chunk down a bit bit. I do not assume Benavidez goes to be afraid of Canelo, and he is gonna let his palms go. Benavidez believes he has what it takes to beat Alvarez — and that issues.

I simply assume this matchup is explosive. You’ve got the stress and the hand velocity of Benavidez, together with his measurement and his size, towards the savvy, fast on the ft, fast on the set off, boxer-puncher, defensive sort grasp in Alvarez.

Benavidez continues to be younger, at 24, however he can damage Alvarez. That is the combat I wish to see proper now. I simply wish to see if Canelo can cope with that stress and measurement. Benavidez has superb hand velocity and likes to throw punches when he has his opponent towards the ropes, and we all know that Canelo likes to hold towards the ropes in a defensive place, which may very well be an ideal alternative for Benavidez to let his palms go.

Who wins: I’ve Canelo profitable. He is a special type of fighter, and he is delivering spectacular KOs. It isn’t nearly profitable, it is the way you win that is necessary in the case of being a star. Canelo is dominating the competitors and that is why he is the most effective pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.


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