Fights fans like nothing so much as talking fights. They like to talk about the fights that have taken place and the fights that are scheduled to take place. And, maybe more than anything, they like to talk about the fights they want to see get made.
These are the top five fights I want to see in 2016. I’m actually confident that at least a couple of them will get made. And in the fight game, at least in recent years, those are not bad odds.
Roman Gonzalez vs. Naoya Inoue
Gonzalez is the top pound-for-pound fighter on the planet, an undefeated, three-division world champion. He sports a perfect 44-0 record with 38 KOs. Only 28, he’s already building a case for himself among the all-time elite sub-bantamweights.
WBO super flyweight champion Naoya Inoue of Japan is the perfect fighter to add to his legend. But Inoue looks like an immortal in the making in his own right. Before he’d had ten pro fights or turned 22, he was already a two-division world champion. He’s a legit phenom.
Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Vasyl Lomachenko
This one would be for the boxing purists. Between them, Lomachenko and Rigondeaux would bring the greatest combined resume ever seen in a professional ring. Both are two-time Olympic champions. Lomachenko had an amateur record of 396-1 and Rigo won over 450 fights against only about a dozen losses. Rigondeaux would need to move up to featherweight to face Lomaechenko, but for a fighter his age, it could be his last shot at a major payday.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Terence Crawford
This is the fight Pacquiao should have made for this spring, instead of a third bout with Timothy Bradley. Pacquiao is one of the elite fighters of this century. Crawford looks like he could be the sport’s next superstar. They share a promoter in Top Rank. If Pacquiao beats Bradley, as he should, and wants to return for one last bout, than this would be the only one worth watching.
Saul Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin
Saul Alvarez is the lineal middleweight champion. But that title is meaningless if it’s not defended against GGG. In my opinion, this fight should have been scheduled for this fall, after Canelo beat Miguel Cotto and Golovkin knocked out David Lemieux to unify the IBF title with his WBA belt. Instead Canelo will fight welterweight Amir Khan, who was knocked out twice at 140 pounds, at a 155-pound catchweight.
Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward
This fight will almost certainly happen in 2016, barring a stunning upset loss to either man. This will be Ward’s chance to move up to light heavyweight and remind everybody how great he is by slaying a monster. It’s the undefeated Kovalev’s opportunity to show his stuff against another great fighter in his prime.