With 2015 in the rear view mirror, it’s time for some black magic. We’re busting out the tarot cards and the crystal ball, and we’re telling boxing’s fortune. Here are TQBR’s predictions for 2016:
Heavyweight won’t get exciting just yet
We have a new heavyweight champion (pictured, dressed as Batman) after a decade of Klitschko dominance, so things are about to get interesting, right? Sadly, no. Batman (well, Tyson Fury) is set for an April or May rematch with Wladimir Klitschko, a fight it’s not certain he’ll win. American hope Deontay Wilder fights Artur Szpilka later this month, but I doubt they’ll be taking him and his precious belt anywhere near a live body anytime soon. Meanwhile, David Haye is having a comeback against a nobody on a TV channel nobody has ever heard of and youngsters Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker aren’t quite ready for the big time. Heavyweight is definitely going to heat up, we don’t think it will be until 2017.
Gennady Golovkin will continue to wait
Poor old GGG: always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Rumour has it that newly crowned middleweight champ Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will face either Gabe Rosado or Willie Monroe, Jr. on HBO Pay-Per-View in May. Now where do I remember those names from? Oh, that’s right, they’re famous for being wrecked by Golovkin. The Mexican red-head might be keen, but his team will want nothing to do with Golovkin in 2016, so the Kazakh killer will be forced to tread water for yet another year.
Oleksandr Usyk will become the next cult star
With his pay-per-view debut last year, street art tributes and even an appearance in an Apple commercial, Golovkin is beginning to lose his cult status. Enter 2012 Olympic gold medal-winning, Cossack-dancing, forelock-sporting, one-time ice cream vendor Oleksandr Usyk. He’s big, he’s bad and he has a sense of humor (as well as a mandatory shot at the belt held by #1 cruiserweight contender Krzysztof Glowacki).
Ike Ibeabuchi will disappoint
OK, you don’t exactly need a crystal ball for this one. One-time heavyweight hope Ibeabuchi is 43 and hasn’t had a fight in 17 years. The idea that he could pick up right where he left off in the late 1990s is fanciful, but, like Agent Mulder, it seems a lot of people want to believe. He looks likely to appear on the Manny Pacquiao vs Timothy Bradley undercard in April, pending commission approval, so we’ll find out then.
Nothing will happen at light heavweight
I know, I know. Andre Ward has signed a deal to meet Sergey Kovalev later in the year. I just can’t bring myself to believe it will be that easy. Something will go wrong, whether it’s business-related, injury-related or some other kind of entirely new snafu.
Adrien Broner will do something dumb
Yeah I know. Call me Nostradamus.
Roman Gonzalez vs Francisco Estrada II will happen, and it will be worth the wait
All signs point to the little dudes finally making it happen (again) in 2016. “Chocolatito” is fighting Giovanni Segura in March (a bit of a “meh” fight) but he’s talking the talk about the rematch, where previously there had been demands for more money. It mightn’t move the needle much for casuals, but hardcore fans will go wild. In terms of technique, offense and skills, it just doesn’t get any better.
And some TQBR staff predictions:
Lou Catalano: Gabe Rosado scores another HBO date, loses badly, is lauded for trying super hard.
Jonathan Moreland: Creed 2 opens in December 2016. Creed 3 is announced for Summer 2017 shortly thereafter.
Sam Sheppard: James Kirkland will price himself out of an HBO appearance.
Tim Starks: Floyd Mayweather will return.
Matthew Swain: Gary Russell, Jr.’s next opponent will be named TBA.