There were plenty of big moments provided in the year that was, although 2022 became best known for the fights that failed to materialise.
It goes without saying that there exists the need to provide the type of events that truly move the needle, for the overall health of the sport.
There was a sampling of that in the past twelve months, most notably among the top women boxers including the epic Katie Taylor-Amanda Serrano and Claressa Shields-Savannah Marshall summit meetings.
The collapse of Errol Spence-Terence Crawford and Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua - both roughly at the same time - understandably left behind tattered spirits. That’s not to say that all hope is lost for the year ahead.
Below are three fights to be made in 2023 that can truly capture mainstream attention - none of which will include the aforementioned men’s fights that failed to materialise, as to not once again create false hope.
There are some who will consider this to be a cheat entry, since both sides publicly insisted that a deal was reached for a spring 2023 meeting. However, not even a signed contract has ever walked into a boxing ring.
One doesn’t yet exist, though the pair of unbeaten lightweights along with their team and respective platforms - Showtime for Davis, DAZN for Garcia - all insist that a deal was reached to satisfy all involved parties.
It only adds pressure to deliver the fight, at a time when preliminary plans have already taken on new form.
Garcia (23-0, 19KOs) has already bailed from a targeted stay busy fight in late January. The undefeated 24-year-old from Victorville, California was due to meet San Diego-based, Filipino southpaw Mercito Gesta but has opted to sit out and head straight into his desired superfight.
Davis (27-0, 25KOs) will proceed with his interim fight. The explosive knockout artist from Baltimore, Maryland will defend his WBA ‘Regular’ lightweight title versus Dominican Republic’s Hector Luis Garcia (16-0, 10KOs; 3NC), the reigning WBA 130-pound titlist who will move up in weight for their January 7 Showtime Pay-Per-View main event from Capitol One Arena in Washington, D.C.
A win by Davis cannot be met with anything other than a meeting with the “other” Garcia in line. Assuming everyone keeps their word, boxing fans can expect a mid-April meeting at a contracted maximum weight limit of 136 pounds.
There is a chance that Ukraine’s Usyk could be forced to relinquish one or more of his alphabet titles for this fight to see the light of day, thus ruining any plans of crowning an undisputed heavyweight champion.
That doesn’t mean the fight cannot - or should not - still take place.
Fury (32-0-1, 23KOs) has been here before, in fact with Joshua as it was teased that the two were due to meet in August 2021 in the Middle East and with all the divisional hardware at stake.
Fury had to bail, as he was contractually bound to a third fight with Deontay Wilder, whom he knocked out in the eleventh round of the 2021 Fight of the Year to defend the lineal/WBC heavyweight championship last October in Las Vegas.
By that point, Joshua was a former two-time unified heavyweight titlist after Usyk (20-0, 13KOs) wrested the WBA/IBF/WBO belts in a September 2021 unanimous decision win.
Usyk scored a repeat victory over Joshua on 20th August and was ringside for Fury’s third win over Chisora on 3rd December. He joined the unbeaten Brit in the ring after the fight to immediately create buzz for their desired heavyweight championship clash.
Expectations now call for the two to meet in an actual fight - with or without every heavyweight belt at stake.
Can the sport live without a sequel to the best fight of 2022 and arguably the greatest women’s boxing match of all time? Perhaps.
Would it be considered a massive let-down if oft-discussed plans for a rematch in front of an estimated crowd of 80,000 at Dublin’s Croke Park fail to see the light of day? Absolutely.
The good news is that the pair of pound-for-pound entrants are eager to do it again.
In fact, Serrano (43-2-1, 30KOs) - a Puerto Rican southpaw from Brooklyn, New York - is on record as stating that not only does she want a rematch but that she insists on granting home country advantage to Taylor (22-0, 6KOs), the Bray boxing legend who has never fought in Ireland as a pro.
Calls for a rematch immediately surfaced after Taylor’s split decision win over Serrano on 30th April at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
The two went on to post separate wins before reopening sequel talks, with Taylor beating Argentina’s Karen Elizabeth Carabajal on 29th October for her fourteenth overall lightweight title defence and seventh as undisputed champion.
Serrano returned to featherweight, where she defended her WBC/WBO “babies” while adding the IBF title in a ten-round win over then-unbeaten champ Sarah Mahfoud last 24th September in Manchester, England.
Her next fight will be versus WBA champ Erika Cruz on 4th February at MSG’s Hulu Theatre in a bid to become Puerto Rico’s first undisputed champion, male or female.
From there, the industry-wide demand is for the pair of superstars to reunite in a meeting that will once again carry exceedingly high expectations.