Carl Frampton and David Kelly look ahead to another big year of boxing in 2020
Having left behind an epic year of 2019, Sunday Life's two-weight world champion columnist Carl Frampton and Sunday Life's award winning boxing correspondent David Kelly now look ahead with their big predictions, hopes and fears for 2020.
UK/IRISH FIGHTER TO WATCH IN 2020 — SEAN McCOMB
Sean has been making a name for himself over the past 12 months but this year he could really push to the next level and win meaningful titles like the British or European belts. He has been matched very well, there haven’t been a lot of knockover wins and that has helped him develop a lot.
WORLD FIGHTER TO WATCH IN 2020 — DANIEL DUBOIS
Dubois has done a very good job on the domestic scene and this year he can really push seriously into the world title picture. He has looked devastating so far and now it seems likely he is going to face Joe Joyce in London in April and that will be a cracking fight. Whoever wins that will probably have a top five ranking with at least a couple of the world governing bodies.
The 3 FIGHTS WE WANT IN 2020
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TYSON FURY V ANTHONY JOSHUA
The winner of the fight between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury has to face Joshua – to give the fans the undisputed world heavyweight champion of the world. That title means so much to everyone in sport, not just boxing, and there is a real chance to make it happen. If Fury wins, then a fight with Joshua would be the biggest fight to take place in the UK.
TERENCE CRAWFORD V ERROL SPENCE
A fight between Spence and Crawford would be the best that 2020 could offer. As long as Spence has recovered properly from his car crash this would be a fight between two unbelievable talents to decide who is the best welterweight in the world. It’s the fight that would have me most excited about watching above all others.
VASYL LOMACHENKO V GERVONTA DAVIS
Lomachenko is expected to face Teofimo Lopez in a lightweight unification bout for all four belts and should be victorious. That would leave Loma against Davis as the biggest fight in the division. Davis didn’t impress last weekend in his win over Gamboa but it’s a quality fighter and it would be a huge fight between him and Loma.
THE 3 FIGHTERS OF 2020
Lomachenko will be involved in big fights again this year and I’m sure he will remain undefeated. His fight with Teofimo Lopez will be fascinating and Loma should get the win and move on to continue in his position as arguably pound for pound the top fighter in the world. He could even drop down again to super-featherweight – which is a scary thought!
Canelo will still be the number one marquee name in boxing. He will have his two fights on the Mexican holidays and they will do huge numbers. It will be interesting to see who he decides to face at super-middle or middle — possibly WBC champion David Benavidez or IBF champion Caleb Plant. Whoever he faces, Canelo will still be top of the tree this time next year.
Taylor had a great 2019 — winning the World Boxing Super Series — and 2020 can be just as good if he can secure a unification fight with the WBO and WBC champion Jose Ramirez. Taylor has the WBA and IBF belts so it would be one of the best fights of 2020 if it can be made. Win that fight and he is in the mix for blockbuster fights with the likes of Manny Pacquiao.
3 BIG HOPES FOR 2020
1. My top hope is for me to win a world title in a third division against America’s WBO super-featherweight champion Jamel Herring in what would be a huge night of boxing in Belfast.
2. Jack Catterall has been the mandatory challenger for the WBO light-welterweight title for the last couple of years and I really hope he finally gets his chance in 2020 whether it is against Jose Ramirez or Josh Taylor if they happen to have a unification fight beforehand.
3. I really hope that the top promoters work with each better than ever. There were some good signs in 2019 but if the really big fights are going to happen then we need Frank Warren, Eddie Hearn and Al Haymon to work even better together.
3 BIG FEARS FOR 2020
1. My biggest fear is that the issue with drugs in boxing becomes a real epidemic and just keeps on growing. You hear rumours about certain gyms and fighters and the number of failed tests in 2019 was very worrying. It seems to be going from bad to worse.
2. The top three heavyweights have been saying all the right things for a while but we’re still waiting for a unification clash. Everyone in boxing wants to see a unified champion but I fear a deal may not get done because of boxing politics.
3. Everybody is fed up with controversial decisions in amateur boxing and sometimes downright robbery and it’s clear that the International Olympic Committee have had enough too. They have made sure that none of the officials from 2016 are being used in this summer’s Olympics. I fear another outrageous controversy could end boxing at the Games.
UK/IRISH FIGHTER TO WATCH IN 2020 — ANTHONY CACACE
If Belfast super-featherweight Anthony Cacace is going to fulfil his dream of a world title shot then you get the feeling it has to be this year. Having won the British title with a great win over Sam Bowen it will be intriguing to see if he can work his way towards a chance at bidding for world glory after years of frustration. One big win could open the door to such an opportunity.
WORLD FIGHTER TO WATCH IN 2020 — TEOFIMO LOPEZ
Teofimo Lopez arrived in the big time with a stunning knockout of Richard Commey to lift the IBF lightweight title and at 22 years of age he has a very bright future — even though he’ll probably lose his next fight. Lopez is set to face WBO/WBC/WBA lightweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko in a blockbuster unification clash and the Ukrainian magician should come out on top, but I expect Lopez to bounce back in style with more world title glory.
3 FIGHTS WE WANT IN 2020
TYSON FURY V ANTHONY JOSHUA
Tyson Fury must get past WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder on February 22 — and possibly in a third fight in the summer before a showdown with Anthony Joshua can take place. In the meantime, WBA/WBO/IBF champion Joshua will deal with a couple of mandatory defences. An all-British December 2020 showdown would be a perfect way to end the year.
LEO SANTA CRUZ v ANTHONY CACACE
Belfast super-featherweight Anthony Cacace is now ranked number nine by the World Boxing Association, whose champion is the Mexican star Leo Santa Cruz. British champion Cacace would be the underdog but he has the size and the power to cause an upset — and it would be a tremendous battle.
CANELO ALVAREZ V BILLY JOE SAUNDERS
Canelo is arguably the best pound for pound fighter in the world — with Lomachenko the man who could argue the loudest — but he is in need of a real challenge and Billy Joe Saunders has the style and guile to be as big a threat as anybody at middleweight. Canelo’s old rival, Gennady Golovkin, still yearns for a third fight but this year surely Saunders deserves his shot.
THE 3 FIGHTERS OF 2020
Fury enjoyed two victories in 2019 as well as a highly successful slot in WWE and now he is aiming to win his re-match with Deontay Wilder on February 22 in Vegas. Victory could set up a third bout but whoever he faces Fury has the chance to rubber stamp his position as the number one heavyweight on the planet over the next 12 months.
WBO featherweight champion Stevenson is just 22 years old and is already close to agreeing a unification scrap with IBF title holder Josh Warrington in Leeds. Win or lose he will most likely become a two-weight world champion before the year is out.
The 34-year-old unbeaten Russian has only had 15 fights as a pro and already holds the WBC and IBF light-heavyweight titles. Beterbiev holds frightening power and is set for another explosive year.
3 BIG HOPES FOR 2020
1. Carl Frampton looks set to face WBO super-featherweight title holder Jamel Herring in Belfast this Spring/Summer and I hope the Northern Ireland hero can make history by becoming a three-division champion and then walk off into the sunset. There could hardly be a more fitting finish to an incredible career — unless Leo Santa Cruz came calling, which seems very unlikely.
2. Michael Conlan is being lined up for a world featherweight title shot at Falls Park in August and it would be so special for the Belfast man to realise his dream just a mile from his family home. If Conlan could do that along with world glory for highly rated Anthony Cacace and Tommy McCarthy it would give Irish boxing the best year ever.
3. Kurt Walker proved that he is up with the elite of world amateur boxing with European gold medal and it would be incredible to see him top the podium at the Tokyo Olympics.
3 BIG FEARS FOR 2020
1. Gennady Golovkin has for so long given boxing fans great entertainment with his potent mix of skill and iron-like strength but I fear his powers may be on the wane and this could be his last year at the highest level.
2. As if there are not enough meaningless and confusing titles in boxing, the WBO and WBA seem to add one every month. We now have East-West European titles and Global titles to go alongside World regular titles and the proper World title. The fear is, there could be even more to add to the alphabet soup.
3. Manny Pacquiao is without doubt one of the top 15 fighters of all time. The respect within the sport for the little man is second to none and he has become the first boxer to be a World champion in four decades but I fear he will stay in ring too long. Hopefully he does not box beyond 2020.
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