What a year it was for boxing fans in 2018.
Vasiliy Lomachenko and Jorge Linares pushed each other to the limit in their matchup as well.
Bottomline–it was a great year. 2019 has a big act to follow.
There are still a ton of matchups that everyone wants to see. Here is a list of the top 10 matchups fans desperately want to see this year.
If early in 2018 I told you that Jamie Munguia (31-0, 26 KOs) vs. Jarrett Hurd (23-0, 16 KOs) was the matchup that we wanted to see in the Jr. Middleweight division I would have been laughed at.
Jermell Charlo (31-1, 15 KOs) was the one on a collision course with Hurd. Both were undefeated and looked great in beating their competition. It was clear that 2019 would be the year that these two would meet to show who exactly was the best in the division.
Tony Harrison however had other plans as he knocked off the Charlo hype train with a close (and somewhat controversial) unanimous decision to end 2018.
Charlo has an immediate rematch clause in his contract that he has already said he will exercise. However, his loss has ruined the fight. Even if he beats Harrison in the rematch, which is no guarantee, the matchup has already lost its luster. Fans will tune in, but it just won’t have the same appeal.
Munguia on the other hand looks like a wrecking machine. He comes forward and bangs. A style very similar to that of Jarrett Hurd. If we can see a matchup with these two it’ll be bombs away.
9. Leo Santa Cruz vs. Gary Russell Jr.
WBA Featherweight champion Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) and WBC champion Gary Russell Jr (29-1, 17 KOs) are widely regarded as the two best in the division. To settle the debate of who is indeed the best, the two need to meet in the ring.
It would be a clash of two completely different styles. Santa Cruz uses his height and reach to his advantage to pick apart his opponents on the outside while Russell Jr. uses his unbelievable hand speed to overwhelm his opponents.
The winner of this matchup would become the unquestioned king of the Featherweight division.
8. Aleksandr Usyk vs. A Top 5 Heavyweight
Aleksandr Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) had himself an unbelievable 2018. He defeated both Mairis Briedis and Murat Gassiev, with the latter performance resulting in him lifting the Muhammad Ali in the World Boxing Super Series.
Those wins alone would result in a great year, but he placed a bow on it when he knocked out Tony Bellew in November. He not only established himself as the best Cruiserweight, but also as a pound-for-pound star.
The next step for Usyk is Heavyweight.
The fans don’t want to see him with just anyone. They want to see him compete with some of the very best in the division. Anyone in the top five will suffice. Usyk is must-see television. His move up to Heavyweight is one that everyone will be watching.
7. Dmitry Bivol vs. Artur Beterbiev
They are both undefeated and they both have dynamite in their fists. These are some of the reasons why fans are salivating over a potential matchup between WBA Light Heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol (15-0, 11 KOs) and IBF champ Artur Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KOs).
Sergey Kovalev was once the face of the division. But losses to Andre Ward (twice) and Eleider Alvarez have knocked off plenty of his luster. Before his setbacks he was must-watch television, mostly because of his propensity to knock out his opponents.
With Bivol and Beterbiev, they are in a sense the new age Kovalev’s. Punishing their opponents and ultimately stopping them. A match between these two would end in dramatic fashion. Please sign us all up for that one.
6. Callum Smith vs. Canelo Alvarez
Canelo Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs) is the WBA regular champion in the Super Middleweight division after knocking out and dominating Rocky Fielding this past December.
Many fans–rightfully so–never actually viewed Rocky as a true champion. Callum Smith (25-0, 18 KOs) is the legitimate WBA champion. A matchup between these two would be instant fireworks. The fans are looking forward to this matchup and hoping it comes to fruition.
A win for Canelo would add to his already hall-of-fame worthy resume, while a win for Smith would present him with the biggest of his career. Canelo has a ton of options. Let’s hope Callum Smith is on his short list of potential next opponents.
5. Jermall Charlo vs. Gennady Golovkin
This is your classic young lion vs. old lion showdown that fans are dying to see.
Jermall Charlo (28-0, 21 KOs) looks like he is the next great fighter. He has looked terrific thus far in his career. Charlo is coming off a tougher-than-expected unanimous decision victory over Matt Korobov.
Middleweights are usually big fighters, but Charlo’s size and strength are uncanny. Many feel as though he is already the best in the division, but he just needs the proper opponent to prove it. In steps Gennady Golovkin (38-1-1, 34 KOs). The former unified Middleweight champion is an all-time great fighter.
However, GGG is 36 years old. A matchup between these two has been brewing since Charlo moved up in weight a year ago. Let’s hope that it finally materializes in 2019.
4. Canelo Alvarez vs. Daniel Jacobs
Whether you like him or not there is no denying that Canelo Alvarez (51-1-2, 35 KOs) has become the biggest star in boxing. It is a distinction he has earned. His resume ranks among the very best in boxing.
He handed Gennady Golovkin his first professional loss, while also becoming the unified Middleweight champion in a terrific fight in September. He then went up eight pounds and dominated WBA Super Middleweight regular titlist Rocky Fielding for his crown in December.
Canelo is expected to move back down to Middleweight where he will have a long list of names awaiting him. None more deserving than current IBF champion Daniel Jacobs (35-2, 29 KOs) who has put together quite an impressive resume of his own.
Wins over Peter Quillin, Sergiy Derevyanchenko along with a competitive loss to GGG have vaulted Jacobs near the top of the rankings. Fans want to see Canelo fight just about everyone, but they really want to see a matchup with Jacobs.
Arguably the two best Middleweights in the world going at it. Who doesn’t want to see that?
3. Mikey Garcia vs. Vasiliy Lomachenko
Mikey Garcia (39-0, 30 KOs) has a monumental task ahead of him when he jumps up in weight to face Welterweight boogieman Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs) for his IBF crown. No matter what happens in that contest fans are hoping to see Garcia take on pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko (12-1, 9 KOs).
This is a must see matchup for one main reason. Both guys seem unstoppable at the weight class.
No one even remotely seems to be able to compete with either man. They need each other. Not only do their styles make for a great fight, but it would also be a unification match as well. Fans all around the world are hoping this fight takes place sometime in 2019.
2. Anthony Joshua/Deontay Wilder/Tyson Fury
Any combination that involves any of these three big men facing off is exactly what fans want to see in 2019. Both Tyson Fury (27-0-1, 19 KOs) and Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39 KOs) had themselves a fight-of-the-year candidate level bout. Their fight had just about everything you can think of.
Fury found himself on the deck twice, but picked himself up and boxed circles around Wilder. The bout resulted in a split draw, which means they’ll likely be looking to run it back.
For Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 KOs) he is the unified champion and much like Wilder is a knockout artist. With all due respect to the likes of Dillian Whyte, Jarrell Miller, Luis Ortiz and others, these three are the best in the division. If we can get a round robin where they all eventually step in to the ring with one another in 2019 then boxing fans around the world will rejoice.
The Welterweight division is stacked. It might just be the deepest division in all of boxing. There are a ton of great fighters, but current IBF champion Errol Spence Jr. (24-0, 21 KOs) stands out amongst everyone.
It comes as no surprise, as everyone with even the slightest boxing knowledge knew he was going to be a future star. It seems only a matter of time before he grabs every title and becomes the undisputed Welterweight champion.
At least that was the prevailing thought until Terence Crawford (34-0, 25 KOs) officially moved up in weight in 2018. He began his Welterweight run by easily dispatching of Jeff Horn to claim the WBO title.
He followed that up with a knockout victory over Jose Benavidez Jr. Crawford is considered by many to be the best boxer in the world. A showdown between these two is what the fans truly want to see in 2019.