Biggest Rivalries in Present Day Boxing. Do you agree?
Joe Frazier once said of Muhammad Ali: “It’s real hatred. I don’t want to knock him out. I want to hurt him. If I knock him down, I’ll stand back, give him a chance to breathe. It’s his heart I want.”
Rivalries in the sweet science have been synonymous with what makes the sport great, going all the way back to Sugar Ray Robinson’s battles with Jake La Motta and beyond.
In some cases the fighters personally disliked one another and other times it was the magnitude of the sporting event that created competition. But its a combination of both which produces the fights we will never forget. Consider Eubank and Benn, Hagler and Hearns, and of course, Ali and Frazier.
Boxing isn’t as romanticized as the days of the 20th Century pugilists. But rivalries still exist, some form because both boxers are the best in their division and others are sparked when fighters feel nothing but disdain for one another.
1. Golovkin and Álvarez
Many illustrious middleweight title bouts have been written into history and this potential fight would add to that prestigious list.
Boxing’s Golden Boy, the one tipped to replace Floyd Mayweather, up against the most feared knock out artist in the world.
Gennady Golovkin has reiterated his desire to become the unified middleweight champion and he believes that beating Canelo Álvarez is the next step to achieving that.
GGG already possesses the WBA super belt and the IBF version, whereas Canelo is the WBC champion.
It’s being billed as the biggest fight in boxing, but for me, GGG has the ability to make it a one sided blow out, especially after watching Canelo’s one dimensional display against Miguel Cotto in November.
2. Brook and Khan
These are the two fastest British welterweights and a clash of their rapid hand speed would make for an electrifying encounter.
Kell Brook (IBF) and Amir Khan are being linked with a summer showdown in Wembley, London. 80,000 raucous spectators would demonstrate that the allure of boxing is still prevalent in Britain.
Khan famously craved a night in the ring with either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. Now that dream has been deemed improbable, his best option career wise and financially would be a world title bout with Brook in Wembley.
3. Fury and Wilder
On 28th November 2015, Tyson Fury altered heavyweight boxing and ended Wladimir Klitschko’s decade of dominance of the most famous title of all.
But the moment his hand was raised in Germany, one man reached for his phone in America, too call out the new champ.
Deontay Wilder (WBC) tweeted: “I see you Tyson Fury #imcomingforyou”
If Fury overcomes Klitschko for a second time and Wilder defeats Artur Szpilka in January, it would set up a rare heavyweight unification fight.
The trash talking that has ensued between the two outspoken characters is more on the side of banter than spiteful animosity. But those two giants in the same ring would be an appealing prospect.
4. Frampton and Quigg
This contest is already a reality and is due to take place on 27th February at the Manchester Arena.
Belfast man Carl Frampton has the IBF super bantamweight crown whereas his opponent Scott Quigg carries the less reputable WBA regular belt.
A meeting of these two dangerous fighters has been rumored for years. And the antagonism isn’t just between the men who will be throwing the punches. The promoters, Barry McGuigan and Eddie Hearn, won’t be sending each other Christmas cards, and trainers Shane McGuigan and Joe Gallager aren’t the best of buddies either.
The engagement between the champions, who are both world class, along with the tension between the camps, should result in a thrilling occasion.
5. Kovalev and Stevenson
Light heavyweights Sergey Kovalev (WBO IBF WBA) and Adonis Stevenson (WBC) have 47 KO’s between them.
A powerful collision of their heavy punches would be a crowd pleasing contest.
Unfortunately boxing’s politics mean that the pair may never settle their feud in the ring. Stevenson is managed by Al Haymon’s PBC, who don’t do business with HBO, whom Kovalev is a part of.
The previous five rivalries are not personal. But who would be on the list of the more bitter disputes?
Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte both have nasty sides that arise when they are either in the ring together, or are talking about one another.
Before their December 12th date, much of the ‘Behind The Gloves’ show had to be edited down, to exclude the distasteful comments made about each other’s families.
Usually a boxing match settles the score. But after their memorable seven round war, the winner, Joshua, was asked had Whyte earned his respect. His answer was a blunt no.
Even after the bell sounded at the end of round one, the pair continued to throw bombs, with security eventually separating them. If they were to meet again, expect more fireworks.
George Groves and James DeGale are two guys from the same city who couldn’t be more opposed.
Having already beaten DeGale twice, one in the amateurs and one as a professional, Groves looks to have the edge.
But whereas Groves has failed three times in world title attempts, DeGale sits smugly on his throne, having already won a super middleweight championship (IBF) of the world.
A third fight would be interesting. Could DeGale finally beat his most acrimonious rival or could Groves resurrect his career and once again leave DeGale in his wake?
Two more Brits with contempt for one another are Chris Eubank Jr and Billy Joe Saunders.
They previously fought in 2014 with Saunders being awarded the edge over 12 competitive rounds.
Saunders, who faces WBO middleweight champion Andy Lee on December 19th, never holds back when speaking about Eubank, or indeed his father.
Eubank has made it public that he wants to one day avenge his defeat to Saunders.
Their bad blood is bound to see them meet on the world stage for a second time in the future.