Joshua vs. Pulev is among the October Top 5 fights in boxingWe’ve got another wall-to-wall month of boxing on our hands this October, with a bunch of marquee names defending world accolades, alongside the progression of the World Boxing Super Series (Cruiserweight & Super Middleweight) tournaments. As with September, assembling a distinct Top 5 was no easy task since there is so much going on. For that reason, there’s a Best of the Rest list which is well worth checking out for more notable fights.

Be sure to also check out the full 2017 lineup in our updated Complete Schedule.

Chris Eubank Jr vs. Avni Yildirim (ITV Box Office)

October 7, Stuttgart, Germany

I hadn’t heard of Avni Yildirim before the Super Middleweight WBSS was first announced, but that’s why man created BoxRec. So far as I can tell, Yildirim looks like a decent enough challenge for Eubank Jr, an upstart with tremendous pressure to do big things against legitimate, world-class competition in this tournament.

Gnarly boxer-punchers like George Groves and Callum Smith probably await Eubank, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. These tournaments can often throw a few curve balls, and Yildirim, an unbeaten 26-year-old with a recent victory over Marco Antonio Periban, has a very big opportunity to make noise in a fight which, however unwarranted it may seem for a Quarter Final, is actually an ITV PPV event.

 

Eubank Jr vs. Yildirim Undercard:

  • Stefan Haertel vs. Viktor Polyakov | Super Middleweight
  • Firat Arslan vs. Mauricio Barragan | Cruiserweight

George Groves vs. Jamie Cox (ITV Box Office, Audience Network)

October 14, London, England

Newly-crowned WBA titlist George Groves makes his first defense against fellow countryman Jamie Cox, who, although being a capable, unbeaten contender, is yet to rouse much crowd appeal on UK shores. However, you’ll still have to dig into your pockets for this domestic scrap – a mere week after coughing up for Eubank Jr vs. Yildirim – if you tune in via the ITV Box Office route.

Despite Groves’ three career blemishes and gruelling, toll-taking battles against guys like Carl Froch, he’s surely a clear favourite. Power and experience lie with Groves, a stubborn blood-and-guts warrior who can never be accused of cherry-picking in world title fights. Groves lost to champions Carl Froch (back-to-back) in 2013 and 2014, narrowly to Badou Jack in 2015, before viciously stopping Fedor Chudinov in May. In short, we know exactly what Groves can do, but have no idea how high Cox’s ceiling might be.

 

Groves vs. Cox Undercard:

  • Patrick Nielson vs. John Ryder | Super Middleweight

Ryan Burnett vs. Zhanat Zhakiyanov (Sky Sports Main Event / Action, HBO)

October 21, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Ryan Burnett’s reputation on the world scene kicked into gear after conquering one of the Bantamweight’s scene’s valiant yet weaker champions, Lee Haskins. Burnett did what he should have done with Haskins, dominating, hurting, and ultimately coming close to stopping the aging champion in a violent affair to pick up the IBF title.

But Zhanat Zhakiyanov should offer far greater resistance in what should come as the toughest fight of Burnett’s career. Certainly on paper. Zhakiyanov entered the mix in February after surviving two 1st round knockdowns to rally on the scorecards and conquer WBA titlist Rau’Shee Warren. I’ll also throw in that Burnett, 25, is the eight-year younger fighter.

 

Burnett vs. Zhakiyanov Undercard:

  • Paul Hyland Jr vs. Stephen Ormond | Lightweight
  • Tommy Coyle vs. Tyrone McKenna | Junior Welterweight
  • James Tennyson vs. Darren Traynor | Junior Lightweight

Murat Gassiev vs. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (Audience Network)

October 21, Newark, New Jersey

This Quarter Final in the Cruiserweight WBSS could have easily been traded with another bout in the Best of the Rest (below). But producing this Top 5 was a hair-splitting exercise, so whatever. Murat Gassiev, an unbeaten world champion who’s a relative baby in boxing terms at just 23-years-old, will be taking on former champ Krzysztof Wlodarczyk, who is no pup at 36.

On paper, this fight isn’t actually all that terrible, though. Yeah, Wlodarczyk is getting on, but he’s kept fairly busy in recent times, going 4-1 in his past five outings, only losing to then-kingpin Grigory Drozd. This is probably a last chance hurrah for Wlodarczyk, so there’s absolutely no reason for the experienced ex-champ to not test the whiskers of Gassiev, who won an exciting yet disputed Split Decision against Denis Lebedev in December.

 

Gassiev vs. Wlodarczyk Undercard:

  • Yet to be announced

Anthony Joshua vs. Kubrat Pulev (Sky Sports Box Office)

October 28, Cardiff, Wales

This is in the Top 5 chiefly because it’ll be a much-hyped ‘event’ in the October calendar. While Kubrat Pulev is reasonably placed at No.3 in Boxing Base’s Heavyweight Top 10, he’s definitely not a consensus danger card on the world scene. Maybe he’s threatening to guys like Joseph Parker and Alexander Povetkin, but probably not to savages Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz, and, most of all, Anthony Joshua, who spectacularly stopped Wladimir Klitschko in October.

While I’d like to envision Pulev with a chance – even a puncher’s chance – of upsetting the odds, I just can’t see it. Pulev, 36, is experienced and capable, sure, and has notched up some decent-ish wins, most recently against the likes of Dereck Chisora and Kevin Johnson, both by decision. But these guys are fringe contenders at best. Plus, while Joshua rose to the occasion against Klitschko, Pulev was easily knocked out by ‘Dr Steelhammer’ in 5 rounds back in 2014. For what it’s worth, I hope I’m totally wrong.

 

Joshua vs. Pulev Undercard:

  • Kal Yafai vs. Sho Ishida | WBA Junior Bantamweight Championship
  • Katie Taylor vs. Anahi Esther Sanchez | WBA Lightweight Championship
  • Lenroy Thomas vs. Dave Allen II | Heavyweight
  • Frank Buglioni vs. Callum Johnson | British Light Heavyweight Championship
  • Joe Cordina vs. TBA | Junior Lightweight
  • Joshua Buatsi vs. TBA | Light Heavyweight
  • Lawrence Okolie vs. TBA | Cruiserweight

 

Boxing in October: Best of the Rest

Anthony Crolla vs. Ricky Burns (Sky Sports Main Event / Action)

October 7, Manchester, England; Lightweight

 

Leo Santa Cruz vs. Chris Avalos (PBC on Fox / Deportes)

October 14, Carson, California; WBA Featherweight Championship

 

Erislandy Lara vs. Terrell Gausha (Showtime)

October 14, New York, US; WBA Middleweight Championship

 

Josh Warrington vs. Dennis Ceylan (Boxnation)

October 21, Yorkshire, UK; Featherweight

 

Jezreel Corrales vs. Albert Machado (HBO)

October 21, Verona, New York; WBA Junior Lightweight Championship

 

Hassan N’Dam vs. Ryota Murata II (TBA TV)

October 22, Tokyo, Japan; WBA Middleweight Championship

 

What say you, readers? Which matchups are you most anticipating in a stacked October? Is it a foregone conclusion that Chris Eubank Jr and George Groves will progress to the Semi Finals for a potential domestic clash? And is there any danger of Anthony Joshua’s knockout streak coming to a halt?

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