With the new year underway, it’s time to look ahead to some of the best fights in boxing for 2018. Luckily, there’s a great deal inked in through January to May, with a clear Top 10 matchups in sight. Be sure to also check out our Top 5 Fights in January, plus our updated 2018 Schedule for a more detailed picture.
1. George Groves vs. Chris Eubank Jr
February 17, Manchester, England (TBA TV)
This won’t be everyone’s first pick. In fairness, I had a difficult time splitting hairs to compile this Top 10, which is, quite frankly, mostly full of fantastic fights (with the Top 5 pretty much interchangeable). Anyway, Groves vs. Eubank Jr looks like a super matchup. George Groves is the wily, seasoned pro and newly crowned Super Middleweight champ, vulnerable yet always dangerous, here facing a rising, fresh, headline-grabbing Chris Eubank Jr.
2. Murat Gassiev vs. Yunier Dorticos
February 3, Russia (TBA TV)
This WBSS Cruiserweight Semi-Final looks to have all the ingredients of a classic back-and-forth battle between two gnarly boxer-punchers. It’s a bona-fide 50-50 encounter, with one of these unbeatens elites set to take home the WBA and IBF straps, before advancing to the tournament’s final where they’ll meet the winner of Oleksandr Usyk vs. Mairis Briedis (below). This is one for the calendar.
3. Oleksandr Usyk vs. Mairis Briedis
January 27, Latvia (TBA TV)
The other WBSS Cruiserweight Semi-Final which, while not quite as salivating as Murat Gassiev vs. Yunier Dorticos (above), is still plenty relevant and worth tuning into. The smart money goes on the uber-talented Usyk, but there’s no need to count out Briedis, an unbeaten champion himself with plenty to fight for in this tournament. The victor will leave with the WBO and WBC varieties of the Cruiserweight crown.
4. Luis Nery vs. Shinsuke Yamanaka II
March 1, Tokyo, Japan (beIN Sports Espanol)
Prior to August, Shinsuke Yamanaka was ‘the man’ at Bantamweight, having never tasted defeat, with thirteen defenses of the WBC title in the bag. But then Luis Nery smashed his way into the elite scene, handing out one of the year’s biggest upsets by punishing Yamanaka in a torrid 4th round en route to a stoppage. Now the immediate rematch is set, with home advantage in Yamanaka’s favour once more. Will Yamanaka even the score?
5. Oscar Valdez vs. Scott Quigg
March 10, Carson, California (ESPN / Deportes)
This is one of those matchups where the world title up for grabs seems like a mere footnote in the grand scheme of what’s about to unfold. Not because Oscar Valdez’s WBO variety isn’t important, but because the far more compelling thing is that this fight looks like a classic meeting of nasty, vicious bangers. Valdez remains unbeaten thus far, while ex-champ Scott Quigg has only conceded to Carl Frampton.
6. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Juan Francisco Estrada
February 24, Inglewood, California (HBO)
This is simply a great matchup of top-drawer Junior Bantamweights, with Srisaket Sor Rungvisai and Juan Francsisco Estrada holding the No.2 and No.3 spots respectively in Boxing Base’s Rankings. Rungvisai, who conquered Roman Gonzalez twice last year, will defend his WBC title against Estrada, who earned his title shot by beating Carlos Cuadras last September. Division leader Naoya Inoue potentially awaits the winner.
7. Dmitry Bivol vs. Sullivan Barrera
March 3, New York (HBO)
Chief support to Sergey Kovalev vs. Igor Mikhalkin. This is either a measuring stick for just how good rising star Dmitry Bivol really is, or a genuine 50-50 fight. Personally, I think it’s more of the former, mainly because Bivol is the fresher guy on the way up, while Barrera, despite having demonstrated great ability, still doesn’t seem like the elite he was once tipped to be. Barrera has the greater experience at world level, however, and so the intrigue begins.
8. Errol Spence Jr. vs. Lamont Peterson
January 20, New York, US (Showtime)
This fight seems similar to Dmitry Bivol vs. Sullivan Barrera (above) in that it looks competitive, should tell us more about the rising A-side, but probably doesn’t have an upset lurking. That’s my feeling, anyway. It’s a solid first title defense for Errol Spence Jr against a proven, rugged Lamont Peterson, who notably has a history of giving good fighters problems.
9. Sergey Lipinets vs. Mikey Garcia
February 10, San Antonio, Texas (Showtime)
Mikey Garcia is a clear favourite in this fight, and that’s not said to discredit Sergey Lipinets as a credible opponent. Lipinets is a solid fighter – based on what we’ve seen of him in his short 13-fight career – but he’s taking on a hard-cracking Pound for Pound fighter in Garcia. Once again, this is not a bad fight by any stretch. But you have to wonder whether anyone not named Terence Crawford can really challenge Garcia at 140 pounds. Lipinets’ IBF title is on the line.
10. Carl Frampton vs. Nonito Donaire
April 21, Belfast, Northern Ireland (Boxnation)
This is last in the Top 10 chiefly because, while I really like the sound of this matchup, I have concerns about what Nonito Donaire, 35, has left at world level. Especially against a strong, prime guy like Carl Frampton. With that said, plus the fact that Donaire will be on the road, I hope I’m wrong and that we’re in for a good fight. Can Donaire roll back the clock and find a home for that signature lights-out left hook?
Best of the Rest
- Miguel Berchelt vs. Cristian Mijares – February 10 (TBA TV)
- Zolani Tete vs. Omar Narvaez – February 10 (Boxnation)
- Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios – February 17 (Showtime)
- David Benavidez vs. Ronald Gavril II – February 17 (Fox)
- Devon Alexander vs. Victor Ortiz – February 17 (Fox)
- Daniel Roman vs. Ryo Matsumoto – February 28 (TBA TV)
- Sergey Kovalev vs. Igor Mikhalkin – March 3 (HBO)
- Kell Brook vs. Sergey Rabchenko – March 3 (Sky Sports Action)
- Tony Bellew vs. David Haye – May 5 (TBA TV)
Which fights are you anticipating most in our Top 10 best signed fights for 2018? And what are your predictions? Let us know your opinions in the comments, folks.