By: Hans Themistode
The big fights are easy to identify. Even the most casual fans will tune into matchups headlined by Terence Crawford vs Errol Spence Jr. or Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua. While those fights are undoubtedly huge, discussing them has become incredibly repetitive.
The sport of boxing doesn’t revolve around those obvious big fights, and more times than not, those marquee matchups either take years to materialize or fail to happen at all. The anticipation would go through the roof if Canelo Alvarez agreed to take on Jermall Charlo or if Manny Pacquiao and Terence Crawford came to a bout agreement. But there are a ton of other possible matches that are floating under the radar. One’s that would make fight fans and even casuals run to their television screens. Let’s take a look a look at some of them now.
Luis Ortiz vs Andy Ruiz Jr
When it comes to the heavyweight division, much of the attention is on unified champion Anthony Joshua as well as WBC/Ring magazine belt holder Tyson Fury. There is little doubt that their showdown would entertain. However, a contest between former champion Andy Ruiz Jr. (33-2, 22 KOs) and multiple time title challenger Luis Ortiz would possibly produce even more fireworks.
Both big men know how to box but more importantly, they know how to bang and enjoy doing it. Outside of his defeats to Deontay Wilder, Ortiz (32-2, 27 KOs) has never come close to losing a fight. The now 41-year-old is fresh off a first-round knockout win against Alexander Flores in early November. Ruiz Jr., on the other hand, is still searching to get back on track following his one-sided loss against Anthony Joshua in late 2019. Both men hit hard, have sturdy chins and need a big fight.
This one has fight of the year candidate written all over it.
Jermall Charlo vs Chris Eubank Jr
WBC middleweight belt holder Jermall Charlo (31-0, 22 KOs) has been described in a variety of ways. Brash, brazen, loquacious and even arrogant. In many respects, so has WBA interim titlist Chris Eubank Jr.
Charlo, 30, has done his best to quiet his doubters with his most recent performance, an easier than expected win against perennial contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko. Eubank Jr. though, is in a similar position. Sure his world title win was a bit fortuitous considering his opponent in Mat Korobov dislocated his shoulder in the second round of their matchup, Eubank Jr. (29-2, 22 KOs) proved in his prior fight that he can not only compete with the elite but beat them convincingly. That much was proven after sending former champion James DeGale into retirement.
In terms of Charlo and Eubank Jr., both men have expressed plenty of interest in facing each other. With nothing set in stone for either man at the moment, both should look to make this showdown happen next.
Erickson Lubin vs Jarrett Hurd
Has there ever been a boring fight involving Jarrett Hurd? Of course not. The former unified Jr middleweight champion was once viewed as the class of the division. Those thoughts however, have mostly dissipated following his surprising defeat to Julian Williams in mid-2019.
Still, with only one loss plastered to his record, the Maryland native is far from done. A possible matchup with Erickson Lubin would prove just that, provided he wins.
Lubin, much like Hurd (24-1, 16 KOs), saw his stock take a considerable hit the moment his head bounced off the canvas courtesy of a Jermell Charlo left hand in 2017. He’s rebuilt himself nicely since then reeling off five straight wins. If he wanted, Lubin could sit back and await his second crack at a world title but the 25-year-old loves a good fight. Ironically enough, Hurd loves himself a good scrap as well. It’s a matchup made in boxing Heaven.
Terence Crawford vs Keith Thurman
No not Manny Pacquiao and no not Errol Spence Jr. Terence Crawford (37-0, 28 KOs) should pick a fight with former unified welterweight champion Keith Thurman. By all accounts, Spence Jr. is the top name in the division and the one Crawford should continue to lure into the ring. With that being said, Thurman (29-1, 22 KOs) was Spence Jr. long before he broke into the championship mix.
The biggest wins on the Dallas native’s resume came at the expense of Danny Garcia and Shawn Porter. While they were impressive victories, Thurman took care of business against both men in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Injuries, of course, have held back the 32-year-old Thurman. And despite his loss to Pacquiao in his last ring appearance, he proved that there’s still plenty left in the tank.
Fans have grown tired of begging and groveling for a matchup between Crawford and Spence Jr. Instead, they should switch their focus and hope that Crawford faces Thurman. The former champion may have lost countless fans due to his inactivity in the ring but he’s still one of the best fighters in the world.
By: Hans Themistode
The risk often outweighs the reward. That’s frequently the case when a fighter finds himself in a mandatory position.
Too many times have we seen fighters scratch and claw their way to the number one ranking in a specific sanctioning body, only to lose everything in the blink of an eye due to one bad night at the office.
The options are usually reduced to two at that point. Either said fighter sits back and waits a protracted amount of time for his shot, or he takes on an heralded opponent with little to no chance of an upset happening.
Jr middleweight contender Erickson Lubin isn’t a fan of either option. And while he’s already ranked number one in the WBC for Jermell Charlo’s title, that doesn’t mean he isn’t willing to risk it all.
“We are hoping for the mandatory shot at Charlo next,” said Lubin’s head trainer Kevin Cunningham to BoxingScene.com. “If Charlo isn’t next, I’m sure the fans wouldn’t mind seeing Erickson Lubin versus Jarret Hurd or Erickson Lubin versus Julian Williams. Most fighters that get in mandatory position sit until they get the title shot. Hammer wants to stay busy. He is willing to face the other top guys until he gets a shot.”
Lubin, 25, has a second chance at a first impression. After winning ESPN’s prospect of the year in 2016, the Florida native was fast tracked to a world title shot against the aforementioned Charlo one year later.
The hype train surrounding him was quickly derailed as a Charlo right hand left him down and out in the first round. He’s since bounced back in a huge way, winning five straight and finding himself in the mandatory position once again.
If Lubin gets his wish, he’ll be facing Charlo in his next fight with revenge on his mind. But he’ll find his man a bit heavier this time around thanks to several additional world titles due to his eighth round stoppage win over Jeison Rosario.
As much as Cunningham would love for his man to begin his own title reign, he knows that Charlo has a bevy of options in front of him.
“Hammer’s sitting in a good position and we’re waiting to see how things play out. Big props to Jermell Charlo for his KO win over Rosario. I agree with Max Kellerman, Charlo is the undisputed junior middleweight champion. Hammer’s Charlo’s WBC mandatory but Charlo has mandatories with the WBA and IBF also. There’s also talk of a Charlo-Teixeira unification for the WBO.”
By: Hans Themistode
When Jarrett Hurd walked around the Jr Middleweight division as a champion, it was thought that he could not be beat. The 29 year old had already collected the names of Tony Harrison, Austin Trout and Erislandy Lara on his resume. So when Julian Williams was chosen as his next man in line, no one thought much of it.
Williams was good, maybe even really good. But great? Absolutely not.
The book on Williams was already released. In terms of skills, he’s second to none. But he just flat out can’t take a shot. In 2016, Williams was stopped in his first bid to win a world title against then champion Jermall Charlo. Call it unfair if you want, but once a fighter suffers a brutal knockout loss, not much is expected of them.
With Hurd being just as big and just as strong as Charlo, the unified champ was expected to walk right through him on December 1st, 2018, in front of his hometown fans at EagleBank Arena, Fairfax Virginia.
Boxing, like always, is the theater of the unknown. You just never know what you’re going to get once a fighter walks inside of that ring.
Williams may have been a heavy underdog, but remove the word under, and that will show you what he was on the night. A dog.
Williams dropped and beat down Hurd to take away every single one of his three Jr Middleweight straps.
Surprising? Yes. But even more so was what happened next.
Hurd elected to not pick up his immediate rematch clause with Williams. The criticism quickly came flying and Williams led the way.
“I’m just a bad style matchup for him,” said Williams a few months back. “I’ll beat him every single time, so no, I’m not surprised that he didn’t take the rematch.”
Sometimes karma can take a really long time to come back full circle. But make no mistake about it, she always comes back.
On May 11th, 2019, Williams found himself on the wrong end of an upset victory of his own at the hands of Jeison Rosario, in front of his hometown crowd in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The loss was surprising, but not nearly as much as what happened more recently.
Williams had no choice. He had to take the immediate rematch with Rosario, even if he didn’t want to. The former unified champ had gone on record several times criticizing Hurd for not doing the same. If Williams chose to go in another direction, then that would be ironic to say the least. Well, it now seems as though Williams will be following in those same critiqued footsteps.
Williams has officially decided to forgo his rematch option and instead will choose to rest after recent surgery. So now, the playbook of Rosario which contained only one name before the news Williams broke, has now opened up in a big way.
Fights with WBC titlist Jermell Charlo, along with former belt holders Erislandy Lara and Tony Harrison are now officially on the table. Still, assuming he is still a belt holder down the line, Rosario could still be matched up with Williams after he has recovered.
For now, the same criticism that Hurd was forced to deal with for months on end, will now be placed on the shoulders of Williams. No one, especially former champion Jarrett Hurd will feel apathetic towards his situation.