Note: I’ve kept this list to fights that can realistically happen next year, hence why you won’t see any fights like Mayweather-Bradley or Quigg-Frampton on this list that are prevented by promotional/TV differences.
1. Wladimir Klitschko-Pulev
With David Haye’s career in limbo, Pulev, a mandatory challenger for one of Klitschko’s belts, stands alone as the undisputed number 1 contender to the world’s heavyweight championship.
This fight is set to happen in the middle of next year, and while Klitschko would be prohibitive favourite as always, Pulev has some tools which could make the fight interesting in spots.
The top two light heavyweights in the world. Two of the biggest pound for pound punchers in the sport. Two of the best fighters of 2013.
One of the best fights that can be made in the sport.
In my view, probably the most compelling matchup that can realistically be made in the entire sport.
The ultimate boxer, dominant champion at 168lbs., vs. the ultimate come-forward destroyer, clearly the best at 160lbs.
With a Martinez-Golovkin showdown looking unlikely to ever take place, and Ward in no rush to move to 175, let’s hope these two can meet in the middle late next year.
4. Froch-Groves II
This rematch looms for May as the biggest UK fight of the year.
It brings a number of compelling elements: huge controversy, genuine enmity, domestic turf war, a potential passing of the torch, and, most importantly of all, $$$ for everyone involved.
This fight appears to be almost finalized for a June date in New York, and figures to be a fascinating battle.
‘Sexy’ Sergio will enter as the favourite, but appears to be fading fast, and Cotto looked rejuvinated in his last win, but will be the much smaller man.
It is a compelling matchup historically also, with Cotto looking to become the first Puerto Rican to win titles at 4 weights.
For the record, I predict Cotto will pull off the upset by razor thin decision.
For many years now, fans in Britain and Ireland have been calling for a round robin between the cream of the domestic 160lb. crop: Darren Barker (whose career is now in jeopardy), Matthew Macklin, Martin Murray and Andy Lee.
Talk is now rife that Macklin vs. Lee could belatedly kick things off next March, although Macklin’s stated preference is a world title rematch with Felix Sturm.
If the fight takes place in Dublin’s O2 Arena, I will be there for sure.
This fight is more of a hope than an expectation.
Lara has been calling out Canelo for years, but been ignored because he appears to have the style to give the young Mexican star fits. It is arguably the most meaningful fight than can be made at 154.
After his excellent (but horribly boring) domination of Austin Trout, could Lara get a shot at Canelo on one of his three scheduled PPV dates of 2014?
I wouldn’t bet on it, but fingers crossed.
While Pacquiao-Marquez V or Pacquiao-Bradley II would be perfectly good fights, and seem more realistic from a PPV point of view, Pacquiao vs. red-hot Siberian mauler Ruslan Provodnikov is my pick for the fight I’d like to see Pacquiao take next year.
It would be action all the way, and you can bet Provodnikov wouldn’t show the same reluctance to go headlong into the perilous ‘devil’s mouth’ that Brandon Rios seemingly did.
Could the older, more skilled Pacquiao, hold off the incredible will of the Provodnikov?
Broner has rushed up (some would say eaten his way up) to 147, and Garcia, having cleaned out 140, is set to join him next year.
This seems a natural PPV showdown between two young unbeaten stars in the making, with the winner positioned to move into the upper echelons of the pound for pound ratings and a superfight with Floyd Mayweather.
Plus, can you imagine the trash talk that would take place between Broner and Danny’s volatile father, Angel Garcia?!
This battle of Argentine brawlers has long been mooted, and would undoubtedly be a ‘can’t miss’ action fight for as long as it lasts.
11. Alvarado-Rios III
A trilogy fight is inevitable, after their first two wars both earned fight of the year contention, and widespread acclaim amongst the best handful of fights of recent years.
After a series of punishing fights, both men need a rest and maybe a ‘gimme’ win or two, but hopefully late next year we can see the conclusion to this savage rivalry.
This fight gives me a boxing erection.
I said it.
Lomachenko is set to fight for a featherweight title against Orlando Salido early next year, in just his 2nd pro fight, an attempt to break the world record.
Should he come through, Bob Arum has stated that he intends to match Rigondeaux and Lomachenko later in the year, in a battle of ex-amateur all-time greats, with 4 world amateur titles and 4 Olympic gold medals between them.
What fights would you like to see happen in 2014?
Comment and let me know!