Boxing has done it again.
The anticipated unification fight for all four world heavyweight titles between champions Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk appears to be over for now after months of negotiations and just when it looked like it was going to happen.
Fury has options. Deontay Wilder is the WBC mandatory challenger, but Fury has knocked him out twice and drawn once) and there is little interest in a fourth fight. Usyk has three of the four belts, but his first mandatory challenger is WBA “regular” champion Daniel Dubois. Will Usyk go after the biggest prize fight or will he face Dubois to get out of that title defense obligation?
let’s talk about fights are happening. Can John Ryder last all 12 rounds against undisputed super middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez? Is David Benavidez next for Álvarez? Can Canelo beat Dmitry Bivol if he moves back up for a rematch in September?
What about Teofimo Lopez Jr.? Can he win a world title again? Is Shakur Stevenson ready to be a top five pound-for-pound fighter?
Our boxing panel puts these issues into perspective and tells us whether or not we’re overreacting.
Usyk will go ahead and fight Daniel Dubois next
Usyk wants to hold on to the belts, so his next opponents will be decided by his mandatory WBA, IBF and WBO obligations. Dubois owns the WBA secondary belt and is at the front of line for that governing body, which has priority so that his mandatory defense goes first. The WBA says Usyk must begin talks for a defense against Dubois if he doesn’t sign for the Fury fight by April 1.
While Dubois (19-1, 18 KOs), of London, is the most likely opponent for Usyk, it is not guaranteed. The English boxer recently returned to training after suffering an ACL tear in his last fight in December. Dubois, 25, fell three times in the first round against Kevin Lerena before rallying to stop the South African in the third round. Dubois is unlikely to fight before the end of May.
But if Dubois can’t fight Usyk next because he needs more time to recover from the injury (Usyk won’t want to wait too long), then the Ukrainian could target Filip Hrgovic (15-0, 12 KOs), the 30-year-old Croatian. year that is the number 1 challenger of the IBF. Like Dubois, Hrgovic looked vulnerable in his last outing. He had to come off the canvas in the first round to defeat China’s Zhilei Zhang by decision in a title eliminator last August.
Dubois was also stopped in the 10th round by Joe Joyce in 2020, which makes one wonder if he could cause serious problems for a skilled technician like Usyk. –Parkinson’s
Verdict: Not an overreaction
John Ryder will go all the way against Canelo Alvarez
As much as Ryder has improved to become an elite fighter in recent fights, he still shouldn’t be a factor in the later rounds against Alvarez. If the English challenger takes Alvarez to a decision, then there will be claims that the champion is on the decline, or at least was demotivated and underestimated Ryder.
Does Alvarez have one megafight left if he stays at super middleweight? Can he ever seriously threaten light heavyweight champions Dmitry Bivol and Artur Beterbiev if he moves up a division again?
If Alvarez, 32, looks too far into the future or lacks motivation against Ryder, it will make the fight more competitive than it should be. But it’s hard to imagine Álvarez lacking the desire to impress in his first fight in his hometown of Guadalajara, Mexico, in 12 years.
Alvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs) has spent his 18-year professional career operating levels above Ryder, who has risen to the top admirably while overcoming early setbacks. Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs), of London, moved up to super middleweight five years ago and got his shot after a split decision win over Daniel Jacobs last year. He, too, suffered a controversial unanimous decision loss to Callum Smith in 2019. Those two performances, arguably the best of Ryder’s career, aren’t enough to suggest he takes Álvarez the distance. Ryder, who has lost to three fighters on Alvarez’s pace, will be gritty until the stoppage, most likely in the later rounds. –Parkinson’s
Teófimo López Jr. will never win a title again
Why Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez is ‘even as a fight can be’
Andre Ward joins “Max on Boxing” to preview the June 10 fight between Josh Taylor and Teofimo Lopez, live on ESPN/ESPN+.
Lopez appears to have some fundamental issues with his career since becoming the unified lightweight champion in 2020. Since the start of 2021, he has one convincing win: a TKO victory over Pedro Campa in his first fight after losing to George Kambosos Jr… His most recent victory was a controversial split decision over Sandor Martin, who many believed should have been the victor.
The interactions between Lopez and his trainer and father, Teofimo Sr., also don’t inspire much confidence on fight night. Teofimo’s breakthrough victory over Vasiliy Lomachenko in 2020 to win three titles showed that he has the talent to be a two-time champion. Lopez also has the charisma to remain a star.
However, there is too much talent in the 140- and 147-pound divisions for Lopez to become champion. Maybe a switch in the corner of him could push him back to the top. — Baby
Verdict: Not an overreaction
David Benavidez will never face Canelo Álvarez
Benavidez on Plant fight: ‘I’ll knock him out’
Former super middleweight titlist David Benavidez is confident he will bring out the best in Caleb Plant when the two meet on Saturday.
Until now, Álvarez has never expressed his desire to face Benavidez. He has suggested that Benavidez take on other 168-pound contenders first before engaging in the matchup.
Well, Benavidez is doing just that this weekend. He will face Caleb Plant for the interim WBC middleweight title. As of Wednesday, Benavidez is a heavy favorite (-360, according to Caesars Sportsbook). A win puts him in line to face Alvarez. It’s hard to imagine the WBC forcing Alvarez to vacate his title if he wants to challenge Bivol again, unless Alvarez wants to voluntarily relinquish the belt. At this point in his career, Álvarez is concerned with cementing his legacy. That will take a small dent if he never faces Benavidez. — Baby
Shakur Stevenson will be one of the top five pound-for-pound fighters this year
Stevenson won’t get there, but that’s down to who’s ahead of him and who he’ll be fighting in a couple of weeks (the little-known Shuichiro Yoshino, who has never fought outside of his home country of Japan), plus who might be next. . For him to break into the top five, several people would have to lose.
At some point in Stevenson’s career, he will be a top five pound-for-pound fighter, but the end of 2023 could be too soon. –Rothstein
Canelo Alvarez to become light heavyweight champion
The last time I spoke to Álvarez was during a press conference at the Akron Stadium in Guadalajara, where he will fight Ryder on May 6. Alvarez emphasized that he will fight WBA light heavyweight champion Bivol in a rematch in September at 175 pounds.
For now, unified division champion Beterbiev isn’t on Alvarez’s radar. I don’t see Alvarez as a favorite in the rematch even though he dealt with a couple of injuries in the first fight, one to his left hand and a rib injury that left him compromised. He already won a 175-pound title against Sergey Kovalev in 2019, so he has shown that he belongs in the division and can compete with bigger fighters.
Now healthy and motivated, I think the Canelo-Bivol rematch will be a draw. But Alvarez definitely has a chance to become light heavyweight champion again. — Rodriguez
Verdict: Not an overreaction