Here's what we can expect in the upcoming boxing season
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The season just gone has been both eventful and successful, with 14 British boxers now holding a world title.
But where do some of these champions go from now, and how might some other key players look to capture themselves a world title over the next year? Let’s take a look…
Some questioned his decision to challenge for a world title back in April after a relatively short apprenticeship in the paid ranks. The gamble paid off and after a solid defence against Dominic Breazeale, AJ will be looking at big unification bouts with WBC champ Deontay Wilder and the main man in the division, Tyson Fury.
With Fury locked into a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko likely to take place in October – should Fury shake off doping allegations – Joshua vs Wilder looks more likely for early next year, with the Fury contest to follow in summer 2017 at Wembley. What we do know is that it will be either mandatory challenger Joseph Parker, former WBC champion Bermane Stiverne or current European champion Kubrat Pulev as Joshua’s next defence in November. In the background is Tyson’s cousin, Hughie Fury, who may look to take a big step up against AJ sometime in the near future.
The IBF welterweight champ has finally secured the super fight that has evaded him since he outclassed Shawn Porter in 2014. The ‘Special One’ will challenge for Gennady Golovkin’s multiple middleweight belts on 10 September 2016 at the O2 in London. Win, lose or draw, Brook will retain his IBF crown at 147lbs, but victory over GGG may see the Brit look for more titles at light-middleweight or middleweight. But should Brook be able to make it back down to welterweight, there remains several big unification fights to be made. Failing that, mandatory challenger to Brook’s crown and rising star, Errol Spence, will be knocking on the door.
The former two-weight world champion Haye has previously expressed a desire to compete for another world crown in 2017. However, the outspoken Bermondsey man has gone uncharacteristically quiet. Haye had seemingly agreed to face Shannon Briggs in September, but no longer seems interested in taking on the American veteran. Newly crowned WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew was quick to call out Haye, who seemed open to the match following a social media war of words. With time against him, it seems Haye is holding out for the lucrative championship bouts in the new season.
Chris Eubank Jr
The British middleweight champion looked all set to take on GGG before a last minute breakdown between his father, Chris Sr, and Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn saw Brook sign to fight the undefeated Kazakh instead. Eubank Jr will now defend his domestic title against the undefeated Tommy Langford in October, but will surely step up to world level in 2017.
A rematch with arch rival – and the man responsible for his sole career loss – Billy Joe Saunders seems a logical move, with Saunders’ WBO world title on the line. However, with some bridges seemingly burnt with the major promotional outfits in the UK, Junior will have to be wary of his father’s negotiating tactics if he wants to secure the biggest fights at the elite level.
The reigning IBF middleweight champion has made clear his intentions box WBC champ Badou Jack in a unification bout – which seems close to being made in Las Vegas this autumn. Following this, the 2008 gold medallist may look to have a long overdue homecoming fight. George Groves – who holds both an amateur and professional win over the current champion – is an obvious option; a true grudge match that would easily sell out a football stadium. Failing that, the young and impressive Callum Smith will be keen to step in with Degale for his first shot a world title glory. Options aplenty for the skilful Degale, but the famous WBC belt will be the first thing on his mind as the new season starts.