By Sean Crose
In case you didn’t know already, 2016 is not going to be as profound for the sport of boxing as 2015 was. For 2015 gave the world Mayweather-Pacquiao, and the dawn of the PBC. Nothing that big will happen this year. Still, it may be a good time to be a fan during this relatively quiet time. Why? Because things are going to start shaking out. The big things that happen in 2017 and 2018 will be the children of the mid-sized things that happen in 2016.
Right now, of course, things are – well – dead. Nothing, but nothing seems to be going on in the fight world. Indeed, this winter seems particularly slow, even when you consider the fact that January and February are boxing’s traditionally slow time of year. Still, interesting things are on the horizon. Keith Thurman is going to face Shawn Porter while Tim Bradley is having his third go round with Manny Pacquiao. On top of all that, Amir Khan is going up in weight to face Canelo Alvarez for the lineal (and WBC) middleweight crown.
If the post-Mayweather welterweight pecking order doesn’t start to define itself as a result of these throw downs, it’s hard to say when it ever will. For, out of all these names, one or two are going to rise above the fray, and it’s those one or two that will then start generating interest that can extend beyond the hardcore fan base.
Yet it isn’t just the welterweight realm that’s of interest. The heavyweight division has most certainly gotten intriguing. A slew of young talent started to wake the sleeping giant before Tyson Fury’s stunning upset of longtime king Wladimir Klitschko jolted it out of its slumber. Now we have Fury rematching Wlad, British slugger Anthony Joshua battling Charles Martin for the IBF strap and even Deontay Wilder claiming he’ll face the dangerous Alexander Povetkin.
Again, things are shaping up. There probably won’t be a true heavyweight king for a while, but things are at least starting to get in order and a page is being turned. Before long, it may come down to just one or two men – and that’s when things will truly start to sizzle and serious interest will begin to be generated.
Perhaps it’s best to compare 2016 to playoff season in other sports. There probably won’t be any super bowls or world series (save for perhaps that Canelo-GGG match everyone wants to see) but there will be some interesting matchups that might essentially act as eliminators. Truth be told, it will be nice to see some of these fighters finally meet in the ring. There’s been too few solid fights lately. Indeed, it’s been a lot of showcase fights with a few insanely expensive pay per view events sprinkled in,
Speaking of which, a return of Floyd Mayweather may shake things up a bit – but the truth is that the seasons are changing and it’s hard to think of another Mayweather fight being as relevant as his bouts used to be. It’s just the nature of the sport – and that ain’t a bad thing.