10 Fights That Boxing Purists Desperately Want to See Made
A boxing purist isn't that radically different than a regular fan. He will still appreciate a wrecking machine like Gennady Golovkin, who dismantles opponents with technical precision. Like any fan, a purist wants to see Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather get made, because they are the two biggest names in the sport.
A true purist even enjoys the excitement of a slugfest and recognizes how much fights like that drive the popularity of the sport. A boxing purist, above all else, longs for the old days, when the "Sweet Science of Bruising" was accorded it's proper status as a major sport.
But there are certain fights that are particularly attractive to the more serious fan, who enjoys technical boxing as much, or more, than mere flying fists. I think all the fights on this list would be good for the sport and would be received enthusiastically by more casual fans.
But the boxing purists would rejoice to see them.
10. Jermall Charlo vs. Demetrius Andrade
Jermall Charlo is the older (by one minute) and taller of Houston's celebrated Charlo twins. The two were amateur standouts who have looked like future superstars so far as professionals.
Demetrius Andrade is the reigning WBO light middleweight champion, a vacant title he picked up with a split decision over Vanes Martirosyan last November. Andrade was a major amateur star, winning two national golden gloves champions and a world championship in 2007. He represented the United States in the 2008 Olympics.
A fight between Charlo and Andrade would be a high-level boxing exhibition between two lanky, athletic fighters. It wouldn't be a stand-and-trade slugfest, but I think the action would be potentially intense as both men worked hard to elevate their games against the best opponent they have ever faced.
Charlo was scheduled to fight Carlos Molina for the IBF title last March before Molina was detained in Las Vegas on an outstanding warrant from Wisconsin. He's ready for a shot at a belt and would make for a very competitive fight with Andrade.
9. Jermell Charlo vs. Austin Trout
Jermell Charlo has faced slightly more experienced opponents than his twin brother Jermall, so I'm matching him up with the more experienced opponent on this list. Former world champion Austin Trout is on a two-fight losing streak, but at just 28, he should have plenty of good years left.
Trout is a crafty southpaw and would present wrinkles that Charlo has never seen. I think he would force the undefeated Charlo to work hard offensively.
The winner of this fight would be very deserving of a title shot. And in today's era, belts mean less than wins over quality opponents, so the reward would be worth the risk for either man.
8. Bermane Stiverne vs. Deontay Wilder
Neither Bermane Stiverne or Deontay Wilder is a technical wizard in the ring, though both men do have very solid boxing skills. But for a boxing purist, this fight is all about seeing the sport return to its glory days, when the heavyweight champion was a major sports star in the United States.
It's a bit of a stretch to hope for that kind of status for either Stiverne or Wilder, but for now they are the best hopes American fans have. And there is no excuse for them not fighting. Stiverne captured the vacant WBC belt earlier this year with a sensational knockout of Chris Arreola.
Wilder is the mandatory No. 1 for that belt. It's time to make this fight and bring back some old fashioned excitement to the North American heavyweight scene.
7. Bernard Hopkins vs. Sergey Kovalev
Normally I wouldn't want a 50-year-old man anywhere near a dangerous puncher like Sergey Kovalev, especially not one I have admired for as long as I have Bernard Hopkins. But B-Hop is no ordinary 50-year-old man.
If Hopkins thinks he is up for the monumental challenge of disarming the Russian monster, I'm interested in seeing how he would go about it.
But ultimately, this is a fight that might be exciting primarily to the kind of boxing purists willing to trade violent excitement for tactical tension. I don't think Hopkins can win this fight without making it awkward and ugly.
6. Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter
The only thing that excites true boxing fans more than the emergence of a great young fighter is when two emerge at the same time and develop a rivalry. All the ingredients are there for this to happen with welterweights Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter.
Both men are intelligent fighters with great athleticism. Each man is supremely confident, but in a mature manner that wins them fans every time they open their mouths.
Porter is the IBF champion, having taken the belt from Devon Alexander last December in a breakout performance. Thurman holds the WBA "interim" title, which is not a belt of any consequence so long as Floyd Mayweather holds the real WBA crown.
Both Porter and Thurman would jump at the chance to fight Mayweather, of course. It's a life-changing payday.
But they both look like young champions who were built to last. I expect them to be circling each other for years and wouldn't be surprised if they fight more than once. So let's get this potentially classic rivalry started sooner, rather than later.
5. Mikey Garcia vs. Terence Crawford
The same elements that make Shawn Porter vs. Keith Thurman so enticing to boxing purists are present in abundance when it comes to a potential showdown between WBO super featherweight champion Mikey Garcia and WBO lightweight champion Terence Crawford.
Garcia and Crawford came up through the amateur ranks together and appear to have a friendly relationship. But great young champions are usually willing and anxious to set aside mutual respect in order to prove they are the best.
Both men are undefeated and have been minimally challenged as professionals. Crawford is fresh off a demolition of Yuriorkis Gamboa, an opponent Garcia had coveted for himself.
I think the two of them need each other to reach the next level of greatness.
4. Danny Garcia vs. Somebody Relevant
Nothing drives boxing purists crazier than seeing a talented young champion coasting against opponents who aren't worthy of him. The current case of Danny Garcia is the worst example of this in years.
Garcia is the unquestioned top fighter at 140 pounds and he earned that distinction in the ring. He unified the WBA and WBC belts, along with the lineal crown, when he stopped Amir Khan in four. He turned in a brilliant performance against Lucas Matthysse when the Argentine was the hottest slugger in the sport.
So it is simply unfathomable that for his next fight he is going to face Rod Salka, an unranked lightweight with a paltry three career knockouts.
If this was a half century ago when champions sometimes fought a half dozen or more times a year, nobody would fault Garcia for taking a non-title fight like this. But this is just Garcia's second fight of the year and it's unlikely he'll fight more than once between now and the end of the year.
When a fighter only fights two to three times a year, he better make sure each of them counts. It's the only way to make the fans continue caring about him.
3. Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Vasyl Lomachenko
This fight would be a boxing purist's dream come true. When it comes to arguing over who was the best amateur boxer of the past two decades, only two names really have a place in the debate: Guillermo Rigondeaux and Vasyl Lomachenko.
Both men won two Olympic gold medals. They've got about 700 amateur wins between them.
And each one of them has made a stunningly easy transition into the professional ranks, quickly moving to the top of their respective divisions.
I think this would be a tough fight for Rigondeaux. He would be giving up significant size to a fighter skilled enough to exploit those physical advantages.
But Rigondeaux has struggled to find an opponent worthy of him since dispatching pound-for-pound superstar Nonito Donaire last year. He will likely have to move up in weight to find an opponent people care about seeing him fight.
Lomachenko is waiting in the weight class above him.
2. Andre Ward vs. Gennady Golovkin
Gennady Golovkin is quickly becoming a superstar in the sport. The undefeated WBA champion has knocked out his last 17 opponents and 27 of 30 over the course of his entire career.
And he is a slugger designed to appeal to the boxing purist, as well. The 2004 Olympic silver medalist employs outstanding footwork to stalk his prey. He's a nearly unprecedented monster puncher, but he's also a technical boxer of the highest order.
Andre Ward, meanwhile, is among the best technical boxers on the planet. He's ranked behind only Floyd Mayweather on most pound-for-pound lists over the past few years. Time and again he has beaten world champions with shocking ease.
Golovkin would be moving up in weight to face Ward, but he would still be the hardest puncher and most skilled offensive fighter the super middleweight champion has ever faced.
For Golovkin, Ward would represent a tremendous challenge but also the kind of elite opponent he has been longing for.
1. Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao
Boxing purists ultimately want to see the sport thrive at the highest possible level. And for that to happen, the biggest stars must be willing to face off.
How popular would the NFL be if the NFC and AFC champions refused to play each other three out of every five years? For the good of the sport, boxing fans desperately want to see Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao get made, even if many of us long ago lost hope that it was possible.
It's also a relatively interesting fight from a technical perspective, though perhaps not as interesting as it might have been in 2010. I would favor Mayweather to win and could see him taking eight or nine rounds.
But more than any other fighter in the welterweight division, Pacquiao has the speed and style to catch Mayweather with a big punch he didn't see coming.
It's a sad state of affairs when the most talked-about fight of the decade is one that never ends up taking place.