Boxing in 2023: Four burning questions about the sport’s biggest stars heading into the new year

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Boxing 2023 is set to begin with high hopes for some big shows. Many believe this will finally be the year we see some of the most anticipated matchups of the season, which include unification bouts at welterweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight. But even beyond those matches, there are other fights that don’t even need a title on the line to get fans going, like the potential feud between Gervonta Davis and Ryan Garcia.

With so much to choose from, the writers at CBS Sports took it upon themselves to answer some of the biggest questions ahead as a new 12 months of fighting are set to begin this weekend.

Let’s dive right into the questions and predictions from “Morning Kombat” host Brian Campbell as well as staff writer Brent Brookhouse.

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Which superfight is more likely to happen?

Campbell: Oleksandr Usyk vs. Tyson Fury

All the setbacks, injuries and busy fights are finally behind us, which means that 2023 will be the last year of boxing that has one name and one face at the top of the heavyweight division with a crown ‘ their first undisputed four-belt champion. Enter an undefeated pair in Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, each with a chance to cement their historically excellent position with a win. For Fury, he would be recognized as the best heavyweight in this renaissance era. But for Usyk, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist from Ukraine who became the only undisputed four-belt cruiserweight champion in 2020, it’s a chance to carve out a unique legacy of his own. This is the best fight box that could come out in the new year from the point of view of promises and historical importance.

Brookhouse: Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia

Ryan Garcia vs. “Tank” Davis is likely to happen in April. Now, boxing being boxing, it’s hard to say anything is a sure thing. There is also the small matter of Davis’ hit and run situation hanging over the fight and it is not out of the question that Davis is in jail rather than the ring in April. However, of all the favorite “superfights” in boxing, Davis vs. Garcia feels like the most likely because they’ve already gotten on the same page. and get their promoters and networks on that page too. As for fights like Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk and Errol Spence vs. Terence Crawford, there seems to be a willingness to see these fights through come and go. Davis and Garcia have talked and talked and now they have set a target date. That’s a good sign that we might see this fight happen in the first half of the year.

Who will end the year as the undisputed lightweight champion?

Campbell: Shakur Stevenson

If undisputed champion Devin Haney takes on the tough challenge of former pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko, there’s no guarantee he’ll enter the second half of 2023 with all four titles around on his shoulders. In any case, there is an even greater danger to 135 pounds who recently increased after receiving titles in two different divisions. 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson has his work cut out for him to one day soon be recognized as the best boxer in the game. With a shot in his next fight to become Haney’s mandatory challenger in the WBC, Seann Stevenson could see himself closing out the year with a title shot. And with his sublime speed, footwork and technique, he represents a potent level of potential Kryptonite for anyone in the division, whether Haney, Lomachenko or the -it’s Gervonta Davis’ high school title.

Brookhouse: Nobody (belts split after Haney moves up)

Lightweight has a handful of talented fighters, fights that could make boxing fans drool and an undisputed champion. So, the answer is who will end the year as the undisputed champion, of course, no one. Devin Haney holds all the belts and it looks like he is going to fight Vasiliy Lomachenko in his next round. Assuming Haney manages to go undefeated and pull off a career-best win over Lomachenko, I don’t believe he’ll stay around 135 pounds for long. Haney has already moved the idea up to 140 and that would not be unusual for a 24-year-old who has already conquered the division. The second Haney moves up and leaves his belts, they are scattered to the four winds (controlling bodies). Haney could test at 140 and not relinquish his belts, but holding four world titles means you have four mandatory challengers and little room to delay on defense.

Who’s ready for a breakout year?

Campbell: Jaron Ennis

Don’t let the ho-hum nature of his Jan. 7 decision win over Karen Chukhadzhian fool you, Jaron “Boots” Ennis is the next big thing at welterweight and, perhaps, the sport in general. Even though he didn’t get the stoppage and was heavily outclassed in his last fight, Ennis still won all 12 rounds on each scorecard and nearly doubled Chukhadzhian from a punches standpoint. land As the new mandatory (and interim) titleholder for Errol Spence Jr.’s IBF belt, Ennis will likely close out 2023 fighting for a title. The start of the year could see the 24-year-old from Philadelphia make three appearances in 2023, which is needed after fighting just once in 2022. Ennis can do it all and there was more at the point of his frustration with Chukhadzhian ri. his enemy runs and circles away than anything else. The jury is still out on whether Spence will finally face Terence Crawford for the undisputed title at 147 pounds this year, but either way, hear from Ennis and there’s still plenty of time to take over.

Brick House: Keyshawn Davis

At heavyweight less of a heavy mix with elite fighters either fighting each other or looking for odd soft touch contests, I’d say Jared Anderson. Anderson is still a man to watch, with his massive power and it’s only a matter of time before he gets a crack at someone who could put him in the larger mix of the best heavyweights in the world. Instead, I’ll say 2023 is the year Keyshawn Davis breaks out. In just his seventh bout, Davis shut down a former two-time title challenger in Juan Carlos Burgos. A former silver medalist with tremendous speed, sheer power and a big personality, Davis is a star in waiting. Things are going to start moving quickly in his career in the next 12 to 24 months.

Who is disappointing/failing to meet expectations?

Campbell: Teofimo Lopez Jr.

Teofimo Lopez Jr. is the biggest name in boxing that appears to be going the wrong way. dynamic skill that he has done before, including his 2020 upset of Vasiliy Lomachenko. Lopez was caught on camera after his last fight asking his corner, “Do I still have it?” Even though he would later say that the moment was written in hopes of attracting future opponents who think he’s damaged goods, his behavior is in and out out of the ring over the past two years has been anything but healthy or confident. Questions remain as to whether Lopez’s power has increased in weight with him. He was never the same physically after suffering a torn esophagus that hampered him in a 2021 upset loss to George Kambosos Jr. to his previous form as a great person in the future.

Brick House: Terence Crawford

When Crawford freed himself from Top Rank, it was expected that he would finally be able to fight all the elite welterweight talent available – most of that talent under the control of PBC. Of course, that included the hope that he would face Errol Spence Jr. in one of boxing’s most important fights. That fight seemed to happen before it fell apart during negotiations, at which point Crawford fought David Avanesyan on BLK Prime, which was a return to the “Why a this is happening? making a match that upset Crawford while under the Top Rank umbrella. Crawford is ultimately at the mercy of the other top names at welterweight, despite possibly being the best fighter in his division, and possibly the planet. Crawford is hitting the point in his career where he needs to make certain fights to cement his legacy, if that’s the kind of thing he cares about. Fighting more opponents of Avanesyan’s caliber in 2023 would undoubtedly make for a very disappointing year for Crawford, even if he would be fine to seek better financial terms than he was seeking. offered during negotiations for the Spence fight.

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