Back in January, we compiled a list of fights we would like to see this year. After six months, some have been made, and some have been announced, but most are not even in the works.
Here are our thoughts on the biggest fights we'd like to see in the second half of 2019, the likelihood that they will be made and, keeping true to the boxing industry, what fight we'll actually see at the end of the day.
Andy Ruiz Jr. vs. Anthony Joshua
We want to start on a positive note, so we're going to go with this rematch that is basically signed, sealed and delivered. Back on June 1, Ruiz (33-1, 22 KOs) shocked the world by halting the previously undefeated Joshua (22-1, 21 KOs) at Madison Square Garden to win the WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight titles. Does Ruiz have Joshua's number, or did "AJ" just have one of those nights?
Chances of happening: It's a question not of if but of when and where. Eddie Hearn, Joshua's promoter, has said that if Ruiz-Joshua II goes back to the Garden, it will be either Thanksgiving weekend or Dec. 7. Should this rematch go back to the U.K., it will take place on Dec. 7 or 14.
What fight we will see instead: We will see this fight. The rematch clause ensured that.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Callum Smith
While Alvarez (52-1-2, 35 KOs) won the "regular" version of the WBA super middleweight title, it's Smith (26-0, 19 KOs) who is the recognized belt holder by virtue of his seventh-round stoppage of George Groves in September in the World Boxing Super Series finale. Smith is considered one of the best 168-pounders in the world, a tall, lanky fighter with lethal power who just recently stopped Hassan N'Dam on June 1.
There is a lot of chatter about the Mexican superstar, who is a bona fide middleweight champion of the world moving up to face Smith. What's also appealing about this pairing is that both fighters are in their physical primes, as Alvarez is 28 and Smith 29.
Chances of happening: Very good, given that both are aligned with DAZN (with Alvarez being promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Smith by Matchroom Sports), and both have already expressed interest in this clash.
What fight we will see instead: With Canelo bypassing the third go-around with Gennady Golovkin in September, it seems that we might actually get Alvarez-Smith in a few months. Light heavyweight world titlist Sergey Kovalev is also on Canelo's radar.
Richard Commey vs. Teofimo Lopez
Lopez does the Heisman after one-punch KO
Teofimo Lopez knocks out Mason Menard with a brutal right hand then dons a Kyler Murray jersey and does the Heisman pose.
Commey (29-2, 26 KOs) is the current IBF lightweight champion and ranked third in the division by Dan Rafael (behind Vasiliy Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia). In his most recent fight on June 28, he stopped Raymundo Beltran in Round 8. He is from a long line of physically strong fighters from Ghana. Lopez (13-0, 11 KOs) is considered a blue-chip prospect and being put on the fast track by Top Rank. Many pundits consider him to be a future star. In Commey, he'd be facing his sternest test as a pro.
Chances of happening: As long as Lopez defeats Masayoshi Nakatani on July 20 -- an IBF elimination bout -- the showdown with Commey will happen at some point in the fall.
What fight we will see instead: As long as Lopez takes care of business in a few weeks, this fight will take place.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Errol Spence Jr.
The legendary "Pacman" (61-7-2, 39 KOs) has a July 20 appointment against WBA welterweight world titlist Keith Thurman, which is a stern challenge given his age (40). Spence (25-0, 21 KOs) is considered by many to be the best welterweight on the planet and has earned acclaim as one of the best fighters overall. He's a hard-hitting southpaw wrecking ball who is coming off a lopsided victory over former unified lightweight champion Mikey Garcia in March.
Chances of happening: The bottom line is that even if Pacquiao overcomes Thurman, it's doubtful that his handlers would want him to face a fighter such as Spence, who at age 29 is in the thick of his physical prime and will probably be a middleweight one day.
What fight we will see instead: It isn't clear if Pacquiao will fight again the rest of 2019 after facing Thurman. As for Spence, it looks like he's headed for a unification bout with IBF welterweight titlist Shawn Porter in the fall.
Canelo vs. Golovkin III
Atlas: GGG won the fight
Teddy Atlas breaks down what Gennady Golovkin did well as the larger fighter and how he should have come away victorious.
This would a reprisal of what has become one of the most contentious and heated rivalries in all of boxing. The first meeting in 2017 was a controversial draw (most had Golovkin winning), and the rematch saw Alvarez take the middleweight titles in a hard-fought battle in September. But for some reason, there seems to be some fatigue over this matchup, and it isn't clear if Alvarez wants a third go-around. But make no doubt about it, these are the two best middleweights in the world by a country mile.
Chances of happening: Alvarez-GGG III wouldn't happen this September, as apparently Canelo and Golden Boy want to go in a different direction this particular Mexican Independence Day weekend. At a certain juncture, DAZN will want this fight, but the question is when -- and if -- they will force their hand on this.
What fight we will see instead: There have been various reports linking the Mexican superstar with WBO light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, WBO middleweight titlist Demetrius Andrade and now WBO junior middleweight belt holder Jaime Munguia. As for Golovkin? He'll probably wait for Alvarez to make his decision. After all, Canelo is the straw that stirs the drink.
Terence Crawford vs. Pacquiao
Welterweight world titlist Crawford (35-0, 26 KOs) has earned universal acclaim as one of the premier boxers on the planet. Unfortunately, he has had problems getting meaningful bouts, despite having the WBO belt on his waist. If Pacquiao can defeat Thurman, he will add to his vast résumé and reaffirm his status as an elite performer in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career.
Chances of happening: If this matchup never came to fruition when both were promoted by Top Rank, it's a nonstarter now that Pacquiao is with the PBC.
What fight we will see instead: Word is that Crawford will face Egidijus "Mean Machine" Kavaliauskas back in Crawford's hometown of Omaha, Nebraska, in the fall. The Thurman fight is probably it for Pacquiao in 2019.
Jermall Charlo vs. Andrade
These two are the "other" middleweights, and quite frankly, they need one another to build the credibility to force a fight with Canelo, the division champion. Andrade (28-0, 17 KOs) is the WBO belt holder, and he shut out Maciej Sulecki over 12 rounds on June 29. On that night, Charlo had his homecoming in Houston, and he dominated Brandon Adams over the distance. But while they both won handily, neither really created the buzz they sorely need.
Chances of happening: Andrade has a multifight deal with DAZN and is now promoted by Matchroom Sports. Charlo is with the PBC. Those entities haven't done a lot of business lately, have they?
What fight we will see instead: Expect both Charlo (who was just elevated by the WBC as their middleweight champion) and Andrade to have voluntary defenses to end the year.
Naoya Inoue vs. Luis Nery
Inoue (18-0, 16 KOs) is one of the most explosive and dynamic performers in the sport and is considered one of the best fighters in the world. In his last outing, "The Monster" dominated the respected Emmanuel Rodriguez to win the IBF bantamweight title. Nery (29-0 23 KOs) is one of the most controversial and polarizing fighters in the sport, given his past with performance-enhancing drugs and not making weight (and losing his WBC 118-pound title on the scales before facing Shinsuke Yamanaka in 2018), but there's no denying the talent of this hard-hitting southpaw.
Chances of happening: Inoue still has obligations with the World Boxing Super Series, and Nery, who is promoted by Zanfer Promotions, is with the PBC. For the time being, the stars do not align for this one.
What fight we will see instead: For now, Inoue has to face Nonito Donaire in the WBSS bantamweight finals in the fall. Nery is scheduled to take on Juan Carlos Payano on the Pacquiao-Thurman pay-per-view card on July 20.
Golovkin vs. Andrade
I know some don't like the idea of any Andrade fight being on a list of this nature, but count me in as one who is intrigued by this matchup of puncher against boxer. How would a 37-year-old version of "GGG" deal with the athletically awkward and difficult style of "Boo Boo"?
Chances of happening: Golovkin and his team are still looking to fight Canelo one more time, and as mentioned before, so is DAZN, which signed both middleweights to lucrative deals. This platform is in the business of gaining subscribers, and Canelo-Golovkin III would do just that. Andrade, despite having the WBO middleweight title, is still a fighter you don't face until you absolutely have to. Now, there is some chatter about Canelo -- who needs a dance partner for Sept. 14 -- facing Andrade.
What fight we will see instead: With the representatives of Munguia expressing interest in facing Golovkin, odds are that this is the fall fight for Golovkin. As for Andrade -- who convincingly defeated Sulecki last month -- just go down the WBO rankings, and see who's willing to take the fight.
Miguel Berchelt vs. Gervonta Davis
Here are two of the top junior lightweights in the word. Berchelt (36-1, 32 KOs), the WBC champion, is ranked No. 1 by ESPN.com, and "Tank" Davis (21-0, 20 KOs), the WBA titlist, is ranked third. Berchelt is a big, strong, active punching machine who beat Francisco Vargas for the second time in May. Davis is a talented boxer/puncher, but since battering Jose Pedraza for the title in 2017, he has faced a litany of no-hopers, and his next bout on July 27 in his hometown of Baltimore comes against his mandatory challenger, Ricardo Nunez.
Chances of happening: Berchelt is co-promoted by Zanfer Promotions and Top Rank, which means that his bouts will be shown on ESPN, while Davis is handled by Mayweather Promotions and under the PBC banner. The chances of these two colliding don't seem all that realistic, but one can hope.
What fight we will see instead: Berchelt has talked of facing unified lightweight champion Lomachenko, who looks like he has other plans at 135. It isn't clear just who is there for Berchelt to face in the interim. As for Davis, it looks like the winner of Yuriorkis Gamboa-Rocky Martinez (which is the co-main event on Showtime in Baltimore later this month) will be lined up to be run over by the "Tank" later this year.
Gary Russell Jr. vs. Leo Santa Cruz
These two both have featherweight titles and are well-known boxers. There's a saying that styles make fights, and with Russell (30-1, 18 KOs) and Santa Cruz (36-1-1, 19 KOs), you have a real contrast with the quicksilver southpaw in Russell and the active pressure style of Santa Cruz. ESPN has Santa Cruz as the top 126-pounder in the world, with Russell coming in at third.
Chances of happening: Both are advised by Al Haymon and with the PBC, but for some reason, the powers that be have not pulled the trigger on this particular fight. After stopping the aged Kiko Martinez on May 18, Russell made it crystal clear that he wants this fight. Was anybody listening to him?
What fight we will see instead: Going by recent history, the talented but temperamental Russell is probably finished for the year. Since winning the WBC belt in 2015, he has fought just once every year, usually in the spring. Chances are that "Groundhog Day" Russell will be seen next April or May. As for Santa Cruz, who defeated Rafael Rivera over 12 rounds in February, nothing concrete has been set.
Tevin Farmer vs. Andrew Cancio
Another very good mix of styles here, with two fighters who have taken the road less traveled to become prominent junior lightweights. Farmer (29-4-1, 6 KOs), who began his career as a journeyman (he lost his pro debut and was 2-2 after four fights), has honed his boxing skills, is now the IBF titlist and has developed into a slick boxer from his southpaw stance. Cancio (21-4-2, 16 KOs), who still has a day job working a jackhammer, is the sport's blue-collar world champion, having beaten Alberto Machado twice to win a version of the WBA belt. Cancio is a rugged, hard-nosed grinder with a punishing body attack.
Chances of happening: This should be a lock since Farmer and Cancio are affiliated with DAZN.
What fight we will see instead: Cancio is slated to fight his mandatory challenger, Rene Alvarado, in the early fall. Farmer's next fight will take place on July 27 in Arlington, Texas, on the Maurice Hooker-Jose Ramirez undercard. Should they both come out victorious, there really are no impediments to this matchup.
Oscar Valdez vs. Josh Warrington
This matchup of featherweight belt holders would be an absolute barn burner. Both Valdez (26-0, 20 KOs) and Warrington (29-0, 6 KOs) are fan-friendly, offensive-minded fighters who aren't shy about letting their hands go. Valdez's time at 126 is limited, and unifying against Warrington, who has the IBF strap, would be a great way to cap his featherweight run. It would be interesting to see how Valdez, the WBO champion, would deal with the high-volume attack of Warrington.
Chances of happening: Very good. Valdez is promoted by Top Rank, and Warrington is now co-promoted by them. There has already been plenty of chatter about this fight taking place later this year. But is Frank Warren, the lead promoter of Warrington, willing to send his fighter to the States?
What fight we will see instead: There is the possibility that Valdez could be paired with Carl Frampton.
Oleksandr Usyk vs. Dillian Whyte
Usyk (16-0, 12 KOs) decided to move up to heavyweight after a storied run at cruiserweight -- where he unified and cleaned out the division -- and the WBO ruled that he will be their No. 1 heavyweight contender. There are some who disagree with this decree, believing that established fighters such as Whyte (25-1, 18 KOs) are being unfairly passed up. Why not have them face off? For Usyk, it would be a chance to show that he is a bona fide heavyweight. For Whyte, who is ranked fifth by ESPN, it's a chance to reaffirm his status as a top heavyweight contender.
Chances of happening: Word is that when Whyte faces Oscar Rivas on July 20, the WBC will make that fight an eliminator for their No. 1 position, and there will be a clear deadline for him to fight for the green belt at some point in 2020. Promoter Eddie Hearn will have secured title shots for both Usyk and Whyte in what will soon be a fractured heavyweight division.
What fight we will see instead: As it relates to Usyk, his team realizes that the rematch between Ruiz and Joshua will take place in the late fall, so it wouldn't surprise anyone to see him paired up with Carlos Takam -- whom he was scheduled to face on May 25 before injuring his bicep -- as he gets his feet wet as a heavyweight.
Regis Prograis-Josh Taylor winner vs. Maurice Hooker-Jose Ramirez winner
Prograis (24-0, 20 KOs) faces Taylor (15-0, 12 KOs) in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series 140-pound tourney. On the line is not only the Muhammad Ali Trophy but also, to many observers, designation as the premier junior welterweight. An argument could be made, as Hooker (26-0-3, 17 KOs) takes on Ramirez (24-0, 16 KOs) in their unification bout, that the winner of this contest has a strong claim as the best in this weight class.
With that said, why not have the winners square off down the line? These are the top four 140-pounders, according to ESPN's rankings.
Chances of happening: If you look at the players involved here, all four fighters are with promoters that have shown they are willing to reach across the aisle to strike compromises and make fights with one another.
What fight we will see instead: Although the winners of these two bouts might have mandatory obligations down the line, chances are you could see this dream scenario take place.
Can Xu vs. Shakur Stevenson
Xu, who holds the secondary version of the WBA featherweight title (Leo Santa Cruz is their "super champion") is a windmill who just keeps throwing a multitude of punches. He burst into the consciousness of American fans by defeating Jesus Rojas in January in Houston and recently defended his belt in China, stopping Shun Kubo in six rounds. Stevenson, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist, is a precocious sort who wants to fight for a featherweight belt sooner rather than later. How would Stevenson deal with the all-out pressure and activity of Xu?
Chances of happening: Given that Stevenson, who makes his homecoming to Newark, New Jersey, on July 13 against Alberto Guevara, is now rated No. 1 by the WBA, chances are they will meet this year. But there is a very good likelihood that Top Rank will steer him to the WBO title if Valdez vacates after one more title defense.
What fight we will see instead: If Stevenson and his team decide to go after a vacated WBO title, they would most likely face the undefeated Joet Gonzalez, who is rated second by the organization. As for Xu, you wonder if he'll ever get a chance to face Santa Cruz for the full version of the title.