The Fight Set Up for 2018
Published: October 18, 2017
Last Saturday was simply put, an exciting night of boxing. There were 5-title fights on two different networks, the telecasts did not overlap, and fans were not forced to choose which broadcast to watch in real-time. While every fighter who was supposed to win did, each fight had greater implications making for an exciting 2018.
The evening began with Fox broadcasting separate Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares matches. The talk surrounding Santa Cruz since January has been mostly regarding a trilogy bout with Carl Frampton. There is no doubt that a rubber match between the two will be a huge international draw, but neither fighter appears that interested in meeting again for a variety of reasons. Thus, Saturday night served as the set-up for a rematch between Santa Cruz and Mares. Santa Cruz beat Mares by majority decision in “The Battle of L.A.” back in August 2015, and nobody has been loudly clamoring for a rematch. However, with Santa Cruz-Frampton III not immediately happening, the next big thing is Santa Cruz v. Mares II. The fight is likely to sell many tickets because of the built-in L.A. fan bases, which in turn will ensure that both men bring their fireworks, which in turn will make for great television. Thus, from a promotional standpoint and for excitement within the sport, the fight makes a lot of sense.
Over on Showtime, light middleweight titleholders Erislandy Lara, Jermell Charlo, and Jarrett Hurd began to write a great story for their weight class. The network has announced the desire to unify the division, and the three men say they are happy to oblige. Each of the potential match-ups between the three presents intriguing backstories that add to the drama of heading into a unified division.
Hurd won the IBF junior middleweight title after Charlo’s brother, Jermall, had vacated it. Accordingly, Charlo has called out Hurd after his last two fights in order to get back “his brother’s belt.” Thus, a fight between Jermell and Hurd has family pride added to the mix of standard unification tension. Charlo and Lara are personal friends, having trained at the same Houston gym. For a long time, neither fighter has had any interest in facing the other. However, at age 34, Lara does not have much time left in the sport and announced on Saturday that he is willing to put friendships aside for the sake of business. Stories of gym antics – who bested who in sparring - will most certainly add to the pre-fight hype.
The road to either of those two exciting fights, therefore, must be Lara vs. Hurd. While Lara and Hurd do not have any personal connections as they have with Charlo, styles make fights. Lara vs. Hurd promises to be a fantastic match-up between offense and defense, power and finesse. It will be a great appetizer to the ultimate unification bout with Charlo and makes 154 lbs the division to watch.
One of the many beauties of boxing is there are no set schedules with set opponents. Setups and storylines are built as the fighters move around the promotional chessboard, creating intrigue, anticipation, and discussion amongst fans. Last Saturday night, five men at the top of their game did something great for the sport of boxing. They gave us something to talk, argue, and debate over well into next year with all of the possible moves each fighter can make in order to make 2018 one to look forward to for boxing fans.
(Feature Photo: Douglas DeFelice/Frontproof Media)