Here we are, coming up to about half way through the year, which seems like an appropriate moment to assess how we’re getting on so far. Is this year different in some way that makes it particularly interesting, or unique? Pros, cons, similarities and potential things to improve on are explored below.
Well, one thing conspicuous in its absence is a defining fight. Last year, entire months were spent anticipating the meeting between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, with a media frenzy unlike anything the sport has seen for a long, long time. Not every year will have its Mayweather – Pacquiao equivalent of course, but 2016 looks like it will be cruelly deprived of the mega-fight that everyone would like to see: Saul Alvarez versus Gennady Golovkin.
The pessimists will say that they have seen this coming for a long time, but I’m sure even they were disappointed when Canelo announced he would rather vacate his WBC title than face the man who is now surely the undisputed best middleweight in the world. It’s not that I blame him, really; most men would rather avoid Golovkin if given the choice, but his approach has been bizarre. Defending the title at the now-infamous 155 pounds catch-weight. Claiming that he is “ready to put the gloves on again and fight right now” after beating Amir Khan earlier this month. Golden Boy demanding that Golovkin be ready to answer his phone the following morning. All a smokescreen, as the Mexican vacates his belt, yet still says he would like to fight GGG at 155lbs. Oh, please…
Despite that, we have had some good moments. The heavyweights have erupted, enjoying some hard earned limelight. Superstars are once again in the making, with Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker both possessing the skills and the personality to stay at the top of the division for a long time to come. Tyson Fury has other ideas, however, and looks to prove so when defending his titles against the man he won them from, Wladimir Klitschko, who wants to demonstrate that he isn’t about to let the heavyweight division move from his control so easily. David Haye is back and is looking to cause trouble (although he will need to find far better opponents than his most recent two), while Luis Ortiz is one of boxing’s most promising and capable up-and-comers.
Super-middleweight is still excellent. Gilberto Ramirez looks to be the complete package, dethroning long-running champion Arthur Abraham in a one-sided masterclass. About time, too: the Berlin-based Armenian had a few too many favorable decisions in his adopted home country, and inherited a long-overdue loss when he took on the Mexican in Las Vegas. George Groves and Martin Murray are both looking to secure another world title shot, but must first face one another in what will be a real barnstormer next month. Neither will want to fall short here, as an all-British title fight with James DeGale may await the winner. Paying attention to all of this are the Dirrell brothers Anthony and Andre, who want to reclaim lost titles, and Callum Smith, who wants to win his first.
The Olympics are always fun. Judging by the successes of past Olympians, it often provides the perfect platform for the best amateurs to showcase their abilities to promoters who will doubtless be interested in the goings on. Most recently, James DeGale, Anthony Joshua, Andre Ward, Vasyl Lomachenko and Zou Shiming are but a handful of fighters who have exemplified what might be expected for medal winners once they turn pro, and the success of boxing in London 2012 will pave the way for equally brilliant fights in Rio this Summer.
The long awaited Shawn Porter versus Keith Thurman match takes place next month, with Fury versus Klitschko the month after. Terence Crawford vs Viktor Postol soon follows, which is proof that the best really do want to fight the best at times. Leo Santa Cruz has enjoyed success at featherweight, winning the WBA Super World strap from Abner Mares last year. But he faces a stern test in July when he defends against Carl Frampton, a former super bantamweight champion who looked razor sharp in beating Scott Quigg to unify the division.
We certainly do have things to complain about in boxing. But there are some excellent things happening at the moment, and it’s worth enjoying them to the fullest if we are also going to berate the sport for not always living up to it’s promises, because enjoying the sport is of course, what we want to be doing.