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.