This coming April has a great deal of action in store for fight fans. A rising Heavyweight destroyer will be taking on a fellow giant, an elite Junior Featherweight will be back in action, plus a whole lot more. Let’s get straight to it, narrowing down the Top 5 Fights around the corner. For a more extensive lineup of the year ahead, be sure to see our Complete 2017 Boxing Schedule.
Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko (HBO, Sky Sports Box Office)
April 29, London, UK
The big one. Red-hot prospect Anthony Joshua will be taking a huge step up in opposition as he faces veteran Wladimir Klitschko. At first glance, Joshua seems to have the edge here, and in reality, that’s probably true. Joshua matches Klitschko for size, has genuine one-punch power, a refined skillset, and, most importantly, is significantly younger.
But promoter Eddie Hearn must have his doubts, as do I, among other boxing scribes. Klitschko isn’t an old 40, after all, and this vastly experienced former champ could trouble Joshua with movement and that jackhammer jab. Klitschko has vulnerabilities, such as a shaky inside game, but one big shot could derail the Joshua train.
Let’s also remember that Klitschko is not hanging around the sport for money these days – he’s here because he wants to be. Klitschko’s still hungry (probably due in part to a lacklustre performance against Tyson Fury in 2015), and wants to prove his validity as a truly great Heavyweight. For Klitschko, it’s all about legacy and respect now.
I don’t want to say a knockout is guaranteed in this battle of KO artists, because, well, Golovkin vs. Jacobs once again proved that theory wrong. In fact, so long as there’s respect for one another’s power in Joshua vs. Klitschko, a methodical 12-rounder wouldn’t shock me.
Joshua vs. Klitschko Undercard:
- Scott Quigg vs. Viorel Simion | Featherweight
- Katie Taylor vs. TBA | Junior Lightweight
Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Jason Sosa (HBO, Boxnation)
April 8, Maryland, US
Pound-for-Pound climber Vasyl Lomachenko will be returning to bag win number nine. Opponent Jason Sosa isn’t what you’d call an elite fighter, but he’s still a very good, highly aggressive boxer-banger known for shaking up the script. He’s a defiant, hard-nosed bad ass, in other words.
But whether that’ll be enough to conquer a technical surgeon like Lomachenko is really what it all comes down to. Lomachenko has already outclassed two top Junior Featherweights in his short pro career, most recently squashing Roman Martinez inside 5 rounds, and retiring Nicholas Walters in 7.
Sosa will be coming into this fight with great momentum, nonetheless, with back-to-back victories over then-unbeaten Javier Fortuna via late knockout, and Stephen Smith via blood-and-guts decision.
Lomachenko vs. Sosa Undercard:
- Oleksandr Usyk vs. Michael Hunter | Cruiserweight | WBO Championship
- Oleksandr Gvodzyk vs. Yunieski Gonzalez | Light Heavyweight
- Jesse Hart vs. Alan Campa | Super Middleweight
- Mike Reed vs. Reyes Sanchez | Junior Welterweight
Oscar Valdez vs. Miguel Marriaga (Boxnation, inDemand)
April 22, Carson, California
Oscar Valdez will be making the third defense of his WBO Featherweight title, and there’s an awful lot to like about his fighting style. He’s fast, heavy-handed, loves to throw ripping head-body combinations, and is never in a dull fight. Even with that world title in tow, however, I think we’re yet to find out how good this guy really is.
Valdez’s most significant wins are over solid fighters Evgeny Gradovich and Matias Rueda last year, but a win over a guy like Miguel Marriaga should shake off a lot of detractors. Marriaga flies under the radar most of the time, but he’s got a lot of talent and refined ability, as we witnessed against Nicholas Walters in 2015. With an 81% KO streak, it’s clear Marriaga can also bang a bit.
If anything, this is a fight that should tell us a great deal more about Valdez, since he’s in with an opponent who shouldn’t be too easy to catch clean and punish. When you throw in Marriaga’s power, this is actually a very risky fight for a growing star like Valdez.
Valdez vs. Marriaga Undercard:
- Gilberto Ramirez vs. Max Bursak | WBO Super Middleweight Championship
- Jesse Magdaleno vs. Adeilson Dos Santos | WBO Junior Featherweight Championship
- Alexander Besputin vs. Breidis Prescott | TBA weight
Marco Huck vs. Mairis Briedis
April 1, Dortmund, Germany
Cruiserweight start-up Mairis Briedis will be taking an acid test against veteran Marco Huck. While it’s true that Huck has shown signs of slipping over the past year, he’s still a solid force who should have more than enough left to tell us where Briedis’ ceiling might be. Both fighters are 32 and carry similar physical dimensions, but beyond that are at totally different ends of their careers.
Briedis has been clocking up numerous knockouts during his seven years as a pro, but is yet to claim a notable scalp. Meaning, though he appears to be a legitimate contender, he’s basically untested. In contrast, Huck’s double-length pro career has seen him in with a whole bunch of strong competition, including the likes of Denis Lebedev, Ola Afolabi, Alexander Povetkin, Firat Arslan and Krzysztof Glowacki.
While Huck has the far greater experience against top Cruiserweights, it’s also a fact that he’s been in some gruelling, punishing outings. Ones that could be starting to take a toll. So, in this fight, it could come down to exactly what Huck has left, and whether Briedis can rise to the occasion in his first bells-and-whistles show.
Huck vs. Briedis Undercard:
- Christina Hammer vs. Maria Lindberg | Middleweight | WBO, WBC Championship
Shawn Porter vs. Andre Berto (Showtime)
April 22, Brooklyn, New York
It’s easy to forget about Andre Berto these days, mainly because he’s been outside of the Welterweight Top 10 for some time, and just hasn’t been all that active. But he’s still around, is doing well for himself under the PBC banner, and brought plenty of ambition into his 2015 outing against Floyd Mayweather before crushing Victor Ortiz in his sole fight of 2016.
Berto will now be taking on Shawn Porter, the same nightmare mauler who pushed Keith Thurman to near breaking point last June. So, Porter vs. Berto isn’t a bad-looking scrap at all on paper. We’ve got two all-action former world champions locking horns, and while Porter seems like the fresher man, both have plenty of desire.
Berto couldn’t be in better hands under the spiritual guidance of trainer Virgil Hunter, and as for Porter, he’s simply one of the hardest working fighters at 147-pounds. The guy just doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘reverse’. This is a potentially very entertaining fight, if not a terribly significant one, kind of like recent TNT tear-up, Lemieux vs. Stevens.
Porter vs. Berto Undercard:
- Jermell Charlo vs. Charles Hatley | WBC Junior Middleweight Championship
Boxing in April: Best of the Rest
Terry Flanagan vs. Petr Petrov (Boxnation, BT, beIN)
April 8, Manchester, England; WBO Lightweight Championship
- Liam Williams vs. Liam Smith; WBO European Junior Middleweight Championship
- Zolani Tete vs. Arthur Villanueva; Bantamweight
- Jack Catterall vs. Martin Gethin; Junior Welterweight
- Jimmy Kelly vs. Rick Godding; Junior Middleweight
- Nicola Adams vs. TBA; Flyweight
Ricky Burns vs. Julius Indongo (Sky Sports 1)
April 15, Glasgow, Scotland; IBF, WBA Junior Welterweight Championship
- Charlie Edwards vs. Iain Butcher | Flyweight
- Scott Cardle vs. Robbie Barrett | Lightweight
- Charlie Flynn vs. Ryan Collins | Lightweight
- Callum Johnson vs. Schiller Hyppolite | Light Heavyweight
- Willie Limond vs. TBA | TBA weight
Martin Murray vs. Gabriel Rosado (Sky Sports 1)
April 22, Liverpool, UK; Super Middleweight
- Rocky Fielding vs. John Ryder; vacant British Middleweight Championship
- Tom Farrell vs. Tommy Carus; Junior Welterweight
- Sean Dodd vs. TBA; Lightweight
Marlon Tapales vs. Shohei Omori
April 23, Osaka, Japan; WBO Bantamweight Championship
Adonis Stevenson vs. Sean Monaghan
April 22, New York, US; WBC Light Heavyweight Championship
Donnie Nietes vs. Komgrich Nantapech
April 22, Cebu, Philippines; vacant IBF Flyweight Championship
What are your predictions for Joshua vs. Klitschko and the rest of this coming April’s dust-ups? Which are you anticipating most? And what will be the state of the game when the month is through?