Booking the fights: What are the best matchups for Deontay Wilder, Devin Haney, Terence Crawford and more?

Boxing

In boxing, we’re all the time trying ahead to the subsequent struggle. Even earlier than an upcoming struggle is over, the main focus is commonly on what lies forward, particularly in relation to the game’s largest stars.

Whereas pressures come from many avenues — followers, social media posts and even beat writers — it is the matchmakers who maintain the facility to determine who faces who, when and the way.

We perceive they are going on act on their very own accord, however that did not cease us from reserving the game in the way in which we would wish to see it go. We gave our crew of boxing specialists two completely different opponents for one specific prime fighter and allow them to determine the place they’d go from right here.

Deontay Wilder vs. Andy Ruiz Jr. or Wilder vs. Dillian Whyte?

Mike Coppinger: Whomever Wilder fights subsequent, it is attainable the opponent is a delicate contact after he suffered a brutal beating by the hands of Tyson Fury in ESPN’s 2021 struggle of the yr.

However when “The Bronze Bomber” does struggle one other boxer in ESPN’s prime 10, Ruiz appears to be like like the most suitable choice exterior of Anthony Joshua (whatever the final result of the Aug. 20 bout with Oleksandr Usyk). First, Ruiz meets Luis Ortiz on Sept. 4 and if the previous heavyweight champion comes out on prime, a matchup pitting Wilder towards Ruiz is among the greatest fights that boxing can ship.

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Ruiz, who shocked Joshua to win the titles in June 2019, possesses ultra-quick arms and loads of energy, too. He is additionally a strain fighter who would convey the struggle to Wilder. Stylistically, it is a can’t-miss motion struggle. Wilder usually appears to be like for counter-punching alternatives, however within the third struggle with Fury, he utilized much more strain than normal.

Wilder-Ruiz must also be simple sufficient to make. Each boxers are with PBC and are high-profile names that may mix for a marquee PPV occasion.

Nonetheless, Wilder-Whyte can be a compelling matchup. The pair of punchers have traded insults up to now, and stylistically, that is one other explosive matchup. Whyte wasn’t remotely aggressive with Fury earlier than he was knocked out, however towards Wilder, he ought to discover extra openings for his large proper hand.


Devin Haney vs. George Kambosos Jr. 2 or Haney vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko?

Michael Rothstein: With out query the very best play right here can be Haney-Lomachenko.

Lomachenko, even with the loss to Teofimo Lopez Jr. in 2020, is among the greatest fighters within the sport no matter division. Lomachenko has seemed good in his previous two fights, dominant victories over Masayoshi Nakatani and Richard Commey, and will simply make the declare to be the highest light-weight on this planet regardless that he does not maintain any of the belts. He is nonetheless that good.

For Haney, this might give the 23-year-old a good higher take a look at than Kambosos. And, if Haney have been to beat Lomachenko it might solidify his standing not solely because the undisputed champion, however somebody who might be an all-time nice. That is what a win over Lomachenko would do.

Haney-Kambosos 2, primarily based on what their first matchup seemed like, wouldn’t do a lot to sway any opinions. Haney was that dominant towards Kambosos the primary time round — sufficient that it feels just like the rematch would not be anyplace close to a 50-50 struggle or perhaps a 65-35 struggle (for Haney).

I perceive why Kambosos would need the struggle — boxers are assured, and it is his likelihood to stay on a world stage after his shocking win over Lopez — however, it simply does not appear to be the absolute best struggle to make in the intervening time. If it occurs, it would not be shocking to see Haney win a second time after which transfer on to face Lomachenko or Ryan Garcia or Gervonta Davis or whomever can be subsequent up at that time.

Whereas a struggle towards Lomachenko can be way more intriguing each in storyline and from competitiveness contained in the ring.


Terence Crawford vs. Jermell Charlo or Crawford vs. Jermall Charlo?

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Mike Coppinger joins Max on Boxing to disclose that Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. are more likely to struggle later this yr in Las Vegas.

Coppinger: Crawford has referred to as for a future struggle with junior middleweight undisputed champion Jermell Charlo after what he hopes is a victory over Errol Spence Jr. for all of the belts at 147 kilos.

However there’s one other Charlo who expressed curiosity in a bout with Crawford, even when it looks as if a protracted shot. Jermall Charlo, who holds a middleweight world title, claimed he would return to 154 kilos for a gathering with Crawford. Jermall, the dual brother of Jermell, previously held a junior middleweight title, however he hasn’t competed at 154 kilos since 2016.

Whereas Crawford vs. both of the Charlo brothers at 154 kilos is intriguing, a bout with Jermell for the undisputed junior middleweight championship simply carries the most important stakes.

Jermell cemented himself as probably the greatest fighters on this planet with a stoppage of Brian Castano in a rematch final month. May Crawford, ESPN’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, who gained his first world title at 135 kilos, take care of an elite boxer at 154 kilos? First, he wants to shut the take care of Spence and develop into undisputed at 147 kilos.


Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez 3 or Estrada vs. Naoya Inoue at 118 kilos?

Nick Parkinson: There’s nothing to not like about Estrada and Gonzalez assembly for a 3rd time, however Estrada stepping up a weight class to face the “Monster” Inoue holds extra significance and intrigue.

Estrada-“Chocolatito” 3 would include a assure of thrilling pleasure and settle any arguments about who’s the true ruler at junior bantamweight. Of their final encounter in March 2021, Estrada gained the WBC and WBA junior bantamweight titles by a disputed cut up choice in a struggle through which the 2 threw a mixed 2,529 punches. That adopted one other traditional 10 years in the past, which Gonzalez (51-3, 41 KOs) gained by unanimous choice for Estrada’s 108-pound title.

However Estrada (42-3, 28 KOs) stepping up a division to face Inoue at bantamweight is a extra interesting struggle with the potential to draw curiosity from past boxing’s hardcore followers.

WBC, WBA, IBF world bantamweight champion Inoue (23-0, 0), as his nickname suggests, is a knockout monster. He’s at present probably the most thrilling, bettering and in-demand boxers within the sport after his two-round destruction of Nonito Donaire in a rematch earlier this month. The 29-year-old boxer wants a problem so we are able to gauge simply how good he’s, and to take care of the present sizzling curiosity.

And, if Inoue goes to stay at 118 kilos, the most important problem obtainable to him is towards Estrada. Like Inoue, Estrada is a three-weight world champion and his continuous aggression might doubtlessly make it an in depth struggle.

Estrada is a greater opponent than different 118-pound contenders for Inoue, and the 32-year-old Mexican boxer has sufficient expertise — wins over Gonzalez and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, amongst different prime fighters — to pose questions of Inoue, simply as Donaire did the primary time they met in 2019 (ESPN’s struggle of the yr). Donaire drew Inoue into an entertaining brawl, which Inoue gained by an over-generous margins after Donaire minimize him over his left eye with a hook early on. Donaire then acquired off the canvas to harm Inoue within the eleventh spherical. Donaire, the primary time round, confirmed how the Monster may be tamed to a sure diploma, and Estrada would possibly think about it definitely worth the threat.

For Estrada, preventing Inoue is a life-changing alternative to catapult himself again into the pound-for-pound lists. And for Inoue, a victory over one other divisional No. 1 boosts his case that he must be ranked prime of the pound-for-pound chart, slightly than at second behind welterweight Terence Crawford.

Establishing himself as probably the greatest boxers on this planet, one thing that may not be attainable from preventing Gonzalez once more, is perhaps sufficient to tempt Estrada into taking the riskier choice towards Inoue. Let’s hope he rolls the cube.


Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia or Davis vs. Teofimo Lopez Jr.?

Ben Child: I’ll take Possibility No. 3 — not one of the above.

Again when boxing had the “4 Princes” within the light-weight division, any mixture of “Tank” Davis, Haney, Lopez and Garcia made sense. That is now not the case as a result of some are extra able to be topped than others.

Davis, whereas not a authentic champion as a result of he holds a secondary WBA belt, is the most important star of the group and may promote a pay-per-view. And even towards inferior competitors constructed on delicate matchmaking, it is clear his abilities have improved over the previous couple of years.

Haney additionally has distinctive {qualifications}. He just lately turned the true undisputed champion after he simply outpointed Kambosos, who held three of the 4 belts following his upset win over Lopez in 2021. Haney, who is not essentially the most thrilling fighter within the ring and does not carry vital energy, is the person to beat.

Lopez, who hasn’t fought for the reason that Kambosos loss, has to show he nonetheless belongs as a light-weight contender. The identical holds for Garcia, who will face Javier Fortuna on July 16. A Lopez-Garcia matchup might be a real elimination struggle for the suitable to face both Haney or Davis. — Ben Child

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