It’s always really tempting to be a jaded cynic when you deal in the world of big-time boxing, even if your dealings are only as a loyal fan.
No other major sports seems to disappoint its loyal base more than boxing. No other sport seems to present more hurdles to delivering a best vs. best dynamic. As a matter of fact, boxing’s very business model is a rotten one, with top fighters signed to be “exclusive” content behind multiple paywalls, to competing networks. The way things are set up, it’s a miracle when best vs. best fights are even possible.
But in recent months/years, stars HAVE been aligning and, at the very least, champions are unifying their titles and paving the way for one champion per division– something which boxing purists have been calling for since, well, almost forever.
Here’s a look at some of the happenings in what could very well be considered a golden era in boxing by modern standards:
– The heavyweight division is close to having a fully-unified, 4-belt world champ– for the first time in the 4-belt era. If/when the winner of the upcoming 3-belt title bout between Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua meets WBC titlist Tyson Fury, there will be a fully unified world heavyweight champion.
– Saul “Canelo” Alvarez is already the unified 4-belt world champion in the super middleweight division. On May 7, he’ll challenge for the WBA light heavyweight title. After that, he could make a run at the winner of the upcoming Artur Beterbiev-Joe Smith Jr. 3-belt unification bout. If he beats Bivol and the winner of Beterbiev-Smith, he’ll be a simultaneous 4-belt unified champ in the super middleweight and light heavyweight divisions.
– Terence Crawford, who was already once a 4-belt unified champ in the junior welterweight division, is two wins away from being a unified 4-belt champ in three separate divisions (and simultaneous in two divisions), provided he beats Errol Spence to become unified welterweight champ and then beats the winner of the upcoming Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano 4-belt junior middleweight unification.
– Errol Spence, the current 3-belt champ at welterweight, is two wins away from being a simultaneous two-division, 4-belt world champ if he can add Terence Crawford’s WBO belt to his collection and then beat the winner of the upcoming Jermell Charlo-Brian Castano full junior middleweight unification bout.
– Josh Taylor is the current 4-belt unified junior welterweight champ and could, conceivably, be one win away from also being the fully unified welterweight champ, if Spence and Crawford meet to unite the four belts and he beats the winner.
– At lightweight, there’s a bit of a controversy as to whether George Kambosos Jr. became a “real” 4-belt unified lightweight world champ when he beat Teofimo Lopez last November. At any rate, that controversy should be resolved when Kambosos meets WBC lighteight titlist Devin Haney this coming June.
– Super bantamweight is also just one fight away from a full 4-belt unified champ if WBC/WBO champ Stephen Fulton and IBF/WBA champ Murodjon Akhmadaliev can find their way to a unificiation clash.
– There are several other unified champs– or pathways to unified champ status– out there at the moment. The winner of the Naoya Inoue-Nonito Donaire rematch, for example, will be a 3-belt champ.
There’s a lot of good going on in boxing at the moment, for those who care to look through dark clouds to see silver linings. It’s been a long time since boxing’s been this close to having so many unified, undisputed world champs.