As the calendar approaches the end of summer, the 2016 boxing schedule is about to reach its most exciting time. The world’s top fighters all have bouts coming up within the next few months, including a few highly anticipated fights in the weeks following Labor Day.
Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez and Manny Pacquiao were all victorious in the first half of 2016, and they are getting ready for their next challenges. Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev both fought this summer, and they will face off before the year is out.
The heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Wladimir Klitschko is on the schedule, but there are several questions surrounding the bout. It was moved from July 9 to Oct. 29 after Fury suffered an injury, and Klitschko now says he’s going to court because the champ is trying to change the terms of their agreement. Klitschko’s loss to Fury was one of the most surprising results from last year, but the fight itself was not an entertaining one.
Below are the five biggest boxing matches that are scheduled for the rest of 2016.
Gennady Golovkin vs. Kell Brook (Sept. 10)
Despite talk that Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez could meet in 2016, it looks like that fight won’t be happening until September of next year, at the earliest. With much of the middleweight division unwilling to take on the challenge of facing Golovkin, he’ll get Kell Brook, who is an undefeated welterweight champion.
Brook will be one of the most-skilled boxers that has ever gotten in the ring with Golovkin, but he’s a heavy underdog as he fights at 13 pounds heavier than his usual weight. Amir Khan took on a similar challenge when he jumped up eight pounds to face Alvarez in May, and he was knocked out in the sixth round.
Roman Gonzalez vs. Carlos Cuadras (Sept. 10)
Gonzalez and Golovkin have established themselves as boxing’s top two pound-for-pound fighters in the eyes of many, and they will continue to fight on the same day. While they won’t be featured on the same card, Gonzalez’s bout at The Forum in Inglewood, California will be broadcast after Golovkin faces Brook at the O2 Arena in London.
Arguably the sport’s best fighter, Gonzalez is looking to win a title in his fourth division. After dominating the flyweight division, Gonzalez is moving up to super flyweight. Cuadras has no losses in his career, either, having held the super flyweight title for two years.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Liam Smith (Sept. 17)
It’s not the fight that the boxing world wanted to see, but anytime Alvarez steps inside the ring it’s one of the biggest fights of the year. The biggest draw in boxing will take on a fighter who is relatively unknown in the United States, where he has never fought. Smith will put his light middleweight title on the line at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, where between 50,000 and 60,000 people are expected to watch the fight live.
Having won five fights in a row, Alvarez is a heavy favorite over Smith, who has never lost in his career. The bout might end up being one-sided, but it should be action-packed, considering Alvarez’s exciting style and the fact that Smith has won eight fights in a row by knockout.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Jessie Vargas (Nov. 5)
Pacquiao’s retirement was extremely short-lived, and he’s set to get back in the ring seven months after his last fight. After losing to Floyd Mayweather in May 2015, Pacquiao defeated Timothy Bradley via unanimous decision in April. While he might not be the Pacquiao of old, the eight-division champion looks to be as good as any welterweight around.
Pacquiao passed over a potential light welterweight fight against Terence Crawford, who might have been favored against the Filipino Senator. Vargas is one of the sport’s top young fighters, winning the vacant WBO welterweight title against Sadam Ali. But he was unable to beat Bradley last year, and he could have trouble beating Pacquiao.
Andre Ward vs. Sergey Kovalev (Nov. 19)
It’s unequivocally the biggest match of 2016. Ward hasn’t been very active over the past few years, but when he’s at the top of his game, he might be the most unbeatable boxer in the world. Kovalev is undefeated, and he’s dominated the light heavyweight division with eight straight title defenses.
Ward has opened up as a slight favorite after winning his first two fights at the 175-pound weight limit. But he’s yet to face anyone nearly as skilled as Kovalev, and the upcoming bout is a virtual coin flip.