Carl Frampton v Scott Quigg (super bantamweight)
These two unbeaten prospects have been trading barbs through the media for a while now as momentum builds towards an inevitable showdown. Belfast native Frampton (16-0, 11 KOs) has been on an impressive run of late, chalking up stoppage wins against former world champion Steve Molitor and current beltholder Kiko Martinez.
England’s Quigg (26-0-1, 19 KOs) has been less active than his press rival due to wrangles with Hatton Promotions, but now the 24-year-old has signed with Matchroom Sport he is expected to get his career back on track. Indeed, Quigg has been promoted to WBA super bantamweight champion after defeating former world title challenger Rendall Munroe last November to claim the sanctioning body’s interim title. He will fight tricky Cuban Yoandris Salinas (20-0-1, 13 KOs) on 5 October in his first defence. Should he come through unscathed, Frampton would be a deserving challenger in what would be a huge domestic clash.
Andre Ward v Gennady Golovkin (super middleweight)
Ward, a 2004 Olympic gold medallist, is the undisputed king of the super middleweight division and for many boxing scribes second only to Floyd Mayweather Jnr on the pound-for-pound list. Since taking out the Super Six World Boxing Classic title with impressive wins over Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch, persistent injuries have restricted ‘SOG’ to just one appearance since the Showtime tournament wrapped up November 2011 – a one-sided beatdown of former undisputed light heavyweight champ Chad Dawson (31-3, 17 KOs) in September last year. The 28-year-old Oakland native has been so dominant he has found it difficult to find willing dance partners in the square circle.
One man who is ready to step up and face the American is middleweight titlist and fellow Olympian Gennady Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs). The 31-year-old from Kazakhstan has been tearing through the middleweight division in brutal fashion and holds the highest knockout percentage of any of boxing’s current world champions.
Last time out, Golovkin destroyed respected contender Matthew Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs) in three rounds with a thundering left to the body. Although impressed by the Kazakh’s power, Ward questioned Golovkin’s defensive frailties in his role as colour commentator for US network HBO. Responding to Ward’s criticism, ‘GGG’ challenged the American to do his talking in the ring.
Should the Kazakh take care of fellow big hitter Curtis Stevens (25-3, 18 KOs) and Ward, as expected, prove too classy for Edwin Rodriguez (24-0, 16 KOs) in November, then a clash between these two unbeaten Olympians would make both sporting and business sense. Could Ward stand up to Golovkin’s fearsome power, or would the American be too slippery for the comparatively flat-footed challenger? These are questions that fight fans are eager to know the answer to.
Martin Murray v Peter Quillin (Middleweight)
No one is more deserving of another world title shot than St Helens’ Martin Murray (25-1-1, 11 KOs), who gave middleweight king Sergio Martinez all he could handle in Buenos Aires in April but got robbed blind by the judges, losing a highly contentious unanimous decision. Murray also came up short in his first shot at world honours against long-reigning titleholder Felix Sturm in December 2011, leaving Mannheim with a disputed draw.
Perhaps it would be third time lucky for the Englishman against WBO middleweight champion Peter Quillin (29-0, 21 KOs), one of the most exciting fighters in the sport today. ‘Kid Chocolate’ has racked up an incredible 11 knockdowns in his last three bouts against Fernando Guerrero, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam and Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright, and has a come-forward style that has earned him a sizeable following across the Atlantic. Murray would represent a step up in competition for the 30-year-old Haitian-American and an impressive victory could put him in the conversation as a future opponent for pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jnr.
Deontay Wilder v Cristobal Arreola (Heavyweight)
Unbeaten heavyweight contender Wilder (29-0, 29 KOs) took a step up in competition for his last bout, taking on faded former world champion Siarhei Liakhovich 25-6 (16 KOs) in August. However, the “fight” ended in similar fashion to the Alabama native’s previous 28 outings in the paid ranks – a brutal knockout in the opening frame. The 27-year-old Olympic bronze medallist has amassed an incredible 18 first round knockouts in his short pro career, though the level of competition has often left a lot to be desired.
But for all his technical deficiencies and limited professional experience, there is no doubt Wilder possesses the frame (he stands 6ft 7in tall) and the killer instinct to compete at the highest level in boxing’s glamour division. A win over countryman and former world title challenger Cris Arreola (36-3, 31 KOs) would go some way to silencing the remaining doubters of the ‘Bronze Bomber’.
‘The Nightmare’ is a longtime contender and has established himself as a gatekeeper of the division for younger prospects to see if they have what it takes to challenge the Klitschkos. Bermane Stiverene (23-1-1, 20 KOs) passed that test with flying colours in April, pounding out a surprise unaminous decision against a lacklustre Arreola. But the glass-jawed Seth ‘Mayhem’ Johnson came up woefully short, getting taken out inside the first round by a more lean and determined 32-year-old.
If Arreola could survive the early onslaught from the inexperienced Wilder – who has never gone beyond four rounds in his pro career – and take him into deep waters, we would really see if the ‘Bronze Bomber’ has what it takes to end America’s heavyweight drought. Both men have expressed an interest in facing each other, so let’s hope it happens sooner rather than later.
Floyd Mayweather Jr v Amir Khan (welterweight)
Finding a viable opponent for the world’s greatest boxer is no easy task. So far, 45 have tried, and 45 have failed. Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) has fought twice this year and cruised to embarrassingly one-sided decisions over Robert Guerrero and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez (if you discount judge CJ Ross’ putrid 114-114 card in the latter). Alvarez (42-1-1, 30 KOs) was widely seen as Mayweather’s biggest test in years – a younger, stronger man who had the skills and power to cause ‘Money’ problems. On the night, the American veteran toyed with the Mexican pretender, making him look ordinary as he landed right hands at will and slipped his punches with a trademark roll of the shoulder. Alvarez was not ‘The One’ to end Mayweather’s dominance – and with Fillipino idol Manny Pacquiao seemingly on the wane, it’s difficult to make a case for any fighter from light-welterweight to junior-middleweight that could give the 36-year-old a run for his money.
One man who may have the style to trouble the pound-for-pound king is Britain’s Amir Khan (28-3, 19 KOs). Yes, we know, he has looked horrible in last fight against Julio Diaz in April, in which he was dropped to the canvas and rocked repeatedly by the rugged veteran on his way to an unconvincing unanimous points verdict. On that evidence, Khan doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell against a fighter like Mayweather. And Khan’s next likely opponent, Devon Alexander (25-1, 14 KOs) is no pushover either – the Olympic silver medallist will start as a heavy underdog after his recent struggles in the square circle. But Khan has shown in the past that when he is focused and sticks to a gameplan, he is one of the most formidable fighters in the sport today, with blazing handspeed to rival the unbeaten American.
At his best, Khan is a match for anyone. But the Bolton-born fighter has an alarming tendency to get drawn into fire fights and on occasion has been betrayed by a suspect chin, as was evident in his two recent losses to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia and his hard-fought victory over Argentine slugger Marcos Maidana back in December 2010. If Khan’s new trainer, Virgil Hunter, can iron out these weaknesses and get the 26-year-old to focus on his core strengths, namely his cat-like reflexes and lightning-fast combinations, he could just be the man to trouble the peerless Mayweather. He may not be ‘The One’, but with Khan involved, at least you are guaranteed an entertaining fight.