The extent of inactivity in boxing was just a little greater than normal in 2020.
As a consequence of COVID-19, a number of of the game’s high fighters are within the midst of unusually lengthy layoffs. Manny Pacquiao hasn’t fought since July 2019, and Deontay Wilder took his first loss in February simply earlier than the pandemic took full impact and hasn’t been in a position to schedule a must-needed return. Others comparable to Vasiliy Lomachenko suffered a defeat in entrance of a restricted crowd.
Whatever the causes, 2021 might be an opportunity for a lot of fighters to get again on monitor and show that they are nonetheless on the high of their respective divisions.
Here is 10 fighters who’re searching for exercise and redemption in 2021:
Lomachenko put his light-weight belts on the road towards rising star Teofimo Lopez. Whether or not it was the dimensions differential, the facility distinction or a mix of each, Lomachenko discovered his offense just a little too late and dropped a decision to a budding 23-year-old star. Whereas Lomachenko remains to be thought-about one of many top pound-for-pound fighters within the sport, the true query is the place Lomachenko goes subsequent. One has to marvel if Lomachenko is not higher served transferring again all the way down to junior light-weight after his energy did not translate as nicely to the 135-pound division. Both manner, Lomachenko is not brief on choices with rebound-caliber fights towards Shakur Stevenson, titlist Joseph Diaz or the Miguel Berchelt-Oscar Valdez winner at 130, and even Devin Haney at 135.
Wilder and Tyson Fury had been in a position to stage their rematch weeks earlier than COVID-19 altered the sporting panorama. Sadly for Wilder, he took the most important beating of his profession and had his corner stop the fight in his first skilled loss.
The street again for Wilder seems fairly steep. Fury and Anthony Joshua look like firmly planted on the high of the division. Wilder made changes to his team, so his subsequent struggle might be an amazing alternative to see any changes in his sport that would assist him reclaim his spot as a heavyweight champion.
Pacquiao’s profession renaissance took a hiatus in 2020. There have been discussions a couple of potential struggle towards Terence Crawford abroad and a Mikey Garcia bout that by no means materialized and in the end left Pacquiao on the sidelines final 12 months.
It is clear Pacquiao is the fighter that each Crawford and fellow welterweight world titlist Errol Spence Jr. need to face as quickly as attainable. Even at 42, Pacquiao remains to be one in all boxing’s high sights and seems to have some juice left within the tank after his win against Keith Thurman.
The long run Corridor of Famer may probably get an opportunity to measure himself towards Crawford or Spence in some unspecified time in the future this 12 months. Can he maintain off the twilight to his profession for just a little longer?
Rigondeaux fought as soon as in 2020, however he’s at a bizarre level in his profession. He has by no means actually recovered since transferring up in weight to face Lomachenko in 2017, a struggle that resulted in a sixth-round stoppage loss.
Apparently sufficient, Rigondeaux has progressively moved down in weight and dropped all the best way to bantamweight to face Liboro Solis final February. In response to BoxRec, that is the lowest weight of his skilled profession.
The 40-year-old Cuban has scored three straight victories, however he hasn’t confronted an elite opponent since Lomachenko. He could by no means be at that stage once more, however there’s just one solution to discover out. A rematch towards Nonito Donaire at 122 might be what the physician ordered.
Prograis is among the most fascinating fighters in boxing. The New Orleans native boosted his inventory within the World Boxing Tremendous Collection regardless of dropping to Josh Taylor in an exhilarating October 2019 bout.
Almost a 12 months later, Prograis returned to motion with a TKO win over a nondescript Juan Heraldez on Halloween. Together with his “get-back struggle” within the books, it is time for Prograis to combine it up towards a few of the sport’s high 140-pounders.
The 32-year-old British heavyweight was concerned in maybe one of many wildest fights of 2020. His opponent, Alexander Povetkin, survived two knockdowns within the fourth spherical, however responded with an enormous left uppercut for a fifth-round knockout win towards Whyte.
Up till then, Whyte had a ton of momentum and will have cemented his spot as a real contender in a top-heavy division. A rematch for November was postponed to 2021 after Povetkin tested positive for COVID-19, and as soon as the brand new date is ready, Whyte may have a chance to avenge that loss and begin rebuilding that momentum.
Porter gave Sebastian Formella a 12-round beating final August in his first bout since dropping to Errol Spence Jr. in September 2019. Porter hasn’t been in a position to beat a few of the high welterweights, however he is a tough matchup for everybody and nonetheless has loads left within the tank.
Porter just lately referred to as out Crawford. It is a struggle that Porter must make — and win — at this level in his profession.
Diaz is one other fighter who fought within the early a part of 2020. He appeared good towards Tevin Farmer in what was the most important win of his profession. “JoJo” is scheduled to face Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov on Feb. 13 to defend his IBF junior light-weight title. It will be an enormous alternative to show he is probably the greatest in a division that features Miguel Berchelt, Oscar Valdez and Jamel Herring.
Andrade is perpetually the middleweight champion that no one actually talks about. The problem? He fights loads of opponents that no one actually cares about. He has complained about fighters comparable to Canelo Alvarez or Gennadiy Golovkin ducking him through the years.
Regardless of the the reason why these kind of fights have not occurred, Andrade has an opportunity in 2021 to choose up a signature win that’s missing on his resume. If he can safe a bout towards somebody comparable to tremendous middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders or middleweight title contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko, that would bolster his case for extra profitable matchups sooner or later.
Hurd exists in a bizarre house among the many group of 154-pounders who struggle for Premier Boxing Champions. In 2019, Hurd misplaced three of the junior middleweight world titles to Julian Williams.
Every of the highest 4 fighters within the division in ESPN’s rating — Jermell Charlo, Jeison Rosario, Williams and Hurd — have misplaced over the previous two years. Hurd has nearly as good an opportunity as any of these names to point out they’re the very best of that bunch.