Fights to look forward to in 2017?

Note: I’ve kept this list to bouts that can realistically happen next year, hence why you won’t see any fights like Thurman-Bradley or Santa Cruz-Lomachenko on this list that are likely prevented by promotional/TV differences.

1.Tyson Fury- Anthony Joshua

If AJ can emulate Fury by beating Klitschko, and Fury can overcome his myriad mental health and drug issues, this is the most meaningful and, possibly, the biggest money fight in heavyweight boxing.

2. Anthony Joshua-David Haye

I say “possibly”, because boxing’s ultimate conman, David Haye is looking for his cashout fight & remains a bigger name than Fury.

3. Andre Ward-Sergey Kovalev II

After a highly skilled first meeting that ended with the most debated decision of recent years, the only way to definitively settle matters would seem to be an immediate rematch, which happens to be in the contract from the first bout.

But there’s often a way out of rematch clauses…

4. James DeGale/Badou Jack-Callum Smith

DeGale-Jack is the first treat of the 2017 boxing year, and the imposing figure of Callum Smith looms as mandatory for the winner.

DeGale-Smith would be big in the UK, but, whomever wins out between DeGale & Jack, it’s mouthwatering.

5. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin

In 2016, Gennady said “give me my belt”, and Canelo did.

Last year, I expressed optimism that Canelo would fearlessly face this challenge. That’s gone out the window and reputational damage has accrued. It’s a lot of agonizing to do over a fight that probably won’t be that competitive in the ring.

Still, we all want it, and a helluva lot more than proposed Canelo-Lemieux or, god help us, Canelo-Chavez Jr. bouts.

6. Kell Brook-Amir Khan

This fight, talked about for so many years, appears to be in serious negotiations for the first time. A ton of pride and each man’s legacy would be at stake. Surely it must happen eventually, why not 2017?

7. Manny Pacquiao-Terence Crawford

Freddie Roach hasn’t sounded too enthused about Pacman taking this fight, but one can speculate Bob Arum would be interested in a little of the great Filipino’s star power rubbing off on perhaps the USA’s best current fighter.

Pacquiao proved he can still go in 2016 and Crawford will be at welterweight sooner rather than later.

8. Ricky Burns-Adrien Broner

This oft-mooted bout has been discussed again as of late, and, while it would mean a lot less now due to each man’s wavering fortunes, it’d still be a lot of fun.

9. Orlando Salido-Vasyl Lomachenko II

It’s a fact that the great Lomachenko was beaten by a taxi driver. Let that sink in…

Salido recently outed himself as an Uber driver in his spare time, and, while the negotiations for this one have recently gone cold, I certainly want to see Lomachenko try to avenge the blot on his pro record before moving further up in weight and people’s pound for pound lists.

10. Roman Gonzalez-Naoya Inoue

Now that we’ve seen Ward-Kovalev, this is my pick for the best fight that can be made in boxing.

2 undefeated, p4p-rated, knockout punchers in their prime — ignore the weight if that sort of thing distracts you, this is a fight fan’s dream.

Pound4poundireland’s 2016 Year-End POUND FOR POUND top 10

1. Andre Ward

2. Roman Gonzalez

3. Manny Pacquiao

4. Sergey Kovalev

5. Terence Crawford

6. Gennady Golovkin

7. Vasyl Lomachenko

8. Naoya Inoue

9. Saul Alvarez

10. Guillermo Rigondeaux


  • Naoya Inoue re-enters at #8 after demolishing veteran Kohei Kono. Let’s hope a lower weight super fight can be made between him and Roman Gonzalez in 2017.
  • Juan Francisco Estrada exits. Long-desired fights with Gonzalez (a rematch) or Inoue are his route back to noteworthiness.

Pound4poundireland Scorecards from December 2016

Murat Gassiev 114-113 Denis Lebedev, officially SD, Gassiev wins Cruiserweight title

Paul Butler 100-90 Alexander Cazares, officially 100-91

Billy Joe Saunders 115-114 Artur Akavov, officially UD, Saunders retains Middleweight title

Joseph Parker 118-110 Andy Ruiz, officially MD, Parker wins vacant Heavyweight title

Dereck Chisora 115-114 Dillian Whyte, officially Whyte by SD

Named and Shamed: Judging the Judges (November & December 2016)

Nov. 3rd – Did this show in Variani, Georgia’s “Sport Hall” actually happen?! —


Nov. 5th – Phil Sutcliffe Jr. was very lucky to get the decision over Chris Jenkins in Belfast, but it was the margin of ref Hugh Russell Jr’s 98-93 card (he was the bout’s sole scorer) that makes this a particularly egregious robbery.


In Vegas, Dave Moretti’s 114-113 card for Pacquiao against Jessie Vargas was very generous to the Nevada boy.


Credit to the poster going by the username ‘Wallet’ on the forums for unearthing this one.


There’s something very fishy about the record of former George Groves opponent, Baker Barakat, a German-based, Kurdish-born journeyman.

9 of his 41 ‘wins’ can be attributed to trilogies with Michael Gensing (0-14), Vadim Lebedev (1-15) & Denis Tykanov (1-13).

Another 6 are due to facing the murderer’s row of Constantin Stavre (0-10), Frank Borchert (0-17) & Achmed Kodar (0-15).

Perhaps the most amusing part though, is that he beat Ommid Mostaghim in 2007, and since then Mostaghim has refereed 5 of his fights.

After beating Guekkan Acar in 2009, Acar officiated one of Barakat’s fights a year later.

The majority of these bouts took place in the Energy Gym or Vital Gym, and were, wait for it, promoted by Barakat himself!

Apparently sanctioned by the German Boxing Association, these sham contests are a stain on the sport, but this is something that regularly goes on all around the world.–110654

Felix Sturm’s B-sample has also tested positive, thus confirming my September suspicions as to why he left Germany, where legal action and a possible jail sentence await –

Amusingly, BDB boss Thomas Putz, he of the alleged improper “commercial involvement” with Sturm (, says Sturm will receive no ban due to his, now confirmed, test failure.


Nov. 12th – Nelson Altamirano was hosed by judges Dieter Adam (75-78), Oliver Brien (73-79) and Arnold Golger (74-78) in his bout against home prospect Phillip Nsingi in Magdeburg, Germany.



Nov. 18th – When tragedies happen in boxing, it’s all too easy to look back in hindsight and say a fight should have been halted, behaving as if we could see it coming in the deteriorating condition of the damaged fighter, when this is usually not the case.

However, sometimes it is justified, and, hand on heart, to me, and I’m sure many others, Eduard Gutknecht did not look right as he absorbed unnecessary punishment in the final rounds of his fight with George Groves.

Maybe it was in part due to a sense of deja vu stemming from Nick Blackwell in recent times, his career-ender with Eubank Jr. having also been aired on Channel 5.

Post-fight, Gutknecht collapsed, was placed into a coma for a brain bleed and is now undergoing treatment in Germany, with no good news yet emerging in the 5 weeks since.

I say this with restraint, but Terry O’Connor has long proven to be an unsafe and incompetent referee. In my view, he was at fault here for not stopping the fight 3 or 4 rounds from the end, which may have made a great difference to the current condition of Gutknecht.


Nov. 19th – Robert Hoyle’s 97-93 card in favour of Maurice Hooker over Darleys Perez was odious.


But this judging controversy was lost in the fervent debate over the result of that night’s Kovalev-Ward main event.


Burt A. Clements, Glenn Trowbridge and John McKaie have all come under scrutiny for their matching 114-113 cards in favour of Ward in a bout most observers, at least those at ringside or watching on HBO PPV, saw Kovalev as winning.

What must be remembered in the heat of post-fight debate is that there is a disctinct line between controversy & reasoned disagreement around a close fight and hyperbolic shouts of robbery.

I had to laugh at RingTV’s Doug Fischer’s tweet of “OH MY GOD. This is the worst robbery I’ve ever witnessed”.

The truth is that, while the majority saw Kovalev the winner, I and many others thought the judging was ultimately accurate, with Ward finding a way to bank rounds down the stretch to win. It was a fight with many close rounds that could have been scored either way.

Let’s leave the cries of robbery in 2016 and just hope for a fun and decisive rematch in the new year.


Dec. 10th – Danrex Tapsadan has been named and shamed here before, and he earned further mention for his handling of Isaac Dogboe vs. Julian Evaristo Aristule in Auckland, New Zealand.

Dogboe dropped Aristule in round 7 and a slow count allowed the journeyman to box on and receive further punishment. Then, once Aristule was dropped again, Tapsadan was going to let him continue, though he was obviously in no fit state to, before a more compassionate corner waved the white towel.


One of the year’s biggest boxing black eyes surely must be the recent case of Alexander Povetkin failing a drug test (his 2nd this year) days before a planned title eliminator, only to still be allowed by the Professional Boxing Federation Of Russia to fight a new opponent on less than a day’s notice, whom he duly knocked out in brutal fashion.

Here is Dan Rafael’s take on the lurid subject:


Dec. 30th –  What in the hell was ref Yuji Fukuchi doing at the conclusion of the Ryota Murata-Bruno Sandoval bout?

This is up there with the ref that helped Yoan Pablo Hernandez to his feet to continue after he was heavily knocked down by Wayne Braithwaite in 2008.

This has to be seen to be believed:

December 15th’s Random Boxing Rants

On Saturday, just weeks away from his 52nd birthday, Bernard Hopkins returns to the ring for what he says is a final fight.

He takes on consensus top ten contender Joe Smith Jr. and, as tolerant as I am of the great man having one last showcase (one he will probably be able to win on points), in light of the frightful Kovalev beatdown two years ago, let’s hope it really is his last go-around.

B-Hop, you officially have the boxing world’s permission to retire and return to your home planet. (Credit to @bostello for that one)


David Haye has to be one of boxing’s greatest conmen. 

Two comedy fights on Dave and here he is with a foul-mouth fuelled PPV headliner against cruiserweight beltholder Tony Bellew, the ideal money-spinning route to what he really wants: Anthony Joshua in a stadium fight.

After a failed acting career, perhaps he’s turned screenwriter. Certainly, he couldn’t have scripted it any better: bags of cash for a return to PPV in a bout he is almost certain to win.


It takes two to tango, and for AJ-Haye to eventually materialize, Joshua will have to negotiate a far more serious obstacle, that of former perennial champion, old Wlad Klitschko.

Even though he’ll be coming off a 17 month layoff and a terrible showing against Tyson Fury, there still exists the real chance that he’ll know too much for a conventional, if bull-strong & hammer-fisted Joshua.

That said, I favour AJ’s youth and momentum (4 fights since Wlad last laced them up) over Klitschko’s inactivity and reluctance to throw. Even though Joshua will be the opposite of the unorthodox, moving target of Fury, I still find it hard to see Klitschko really letting his hands go with enough confidence to get the win.


Ok, so Shannon Briggs has missed out on the promised David Haye fight and probably has nothing left to offer in the ring.

But doesn’t that make it all the more astonishing that, after several years of catchphrase invention and social media mastery, he has yet to land a significant fight, especially in a heavyweight division that has never shied away from a good freakshow?

Maybe his mandatory position for the WBA’s ‘regular’ trinket can be the opening he needs.

Pound4poundireland Scorecards from November 2016

Chris Jenkins 96-93 Phil Sutcliffe Jr., officially Sutcliffe Jr. by 98-93

Zou Shiming 120-107 Prasitsak Phaprom (rematch), officially Shiming by UD, Shiming wins vacant Flyweight title

Jessie Magdaleno 117-111 Nonito Donaire, officially UD, Magdaleno wins Jr. Featherweight title

Manny Pacquiao 116-111 Jessie Vargas, officially UD, Pacquiao wins Welterweight title

Martin Murray 115-112 Nuhu Lawal, officially UD

Liborio Solis 115-113 Jamie McDonnell, officially McDonnell by UD

Luis Ortiz 120-105 Malik Scott, officially UD

Jason Sosa 114-113 Stephen Smith, officially UD

George Groves 119-108 Eduard Gutknecht, officially UD

Marco Huck 116-112 Dmytro Kucher, officially UD

Curtis Stevens 96-92 James De La Rosa, officially UD

Andre Ward 116-111 Sergey Kovalev, officially UD, Ward wins unified Light Heavyweight titles

Robert Stieglitz 116-112 Medhi Amar, officially UD, Stieglitz wins European Light Heavyweight title

Martin J. Ward 116-111 Ronnie Clark, officially UD, Ward retains British Jr. Lightweight title

Ohara Davies 120-108 Andrea Scarpa, officially UD

Craig Evans 96-94 Tom Stalker (third fight), officially MD

Tommy Langford 115-113 Sam Sheedy, officially SD, Langford wins vacant British Middleweight title

Bradley Skeete 119-109 John Thain, officially UD, Skeete retains British Welterweight title