The coronavirus pandemic has brought the boxing world to a halt. Nearly all events worldwide are off through at least early May, and more cancellations and postponements are expected to be announced in the coming days.
So for a year-round sport that never has an offseason, this is a first. During this lull in the action, let’s check in on the light heavyweight and super middleweight divisions and see where things stand.
What’s the biggest question you have about this division?
Undefeated knockout artist Artur Beterbiev unified two world titles and became the lineal champion with his 10th-round stoppage of Oleksandr Gvozdyk in October, so there is no question who “the man” is in the division right now. But what kind of damage could Canelo Alvarez do at 175 pounds if he decided to return to the weight class?
In November, Alvarez moved up two divisions from middleweight, where he is “the man,” and sensationally knocked out Sergey Kovalev in the 11th round to take his world title. Kovalev might not have been what he once was at his dominating best a few years ago, but he was still a formidable fighter with great power, huge experience and a size advantage. Alvarez had a few issues early on but ultimately tore through Kovalev.
What could Alvarez, who looked extremely strong at the weight, do if he made light heavyweight his home?
Who is the star? Who is his biggest competitor?
With Alvarez vacating the belt he won from Kovalev and intending to face Billy Joe Saunders at super middleweight, there really is no star in the division even though it still has a lot of talent. None of the rest of the top 10 fighters in the division — Beterbiev, Dmitry Bivol, Gvozdyk, Kovalev, Jean Pascal, Eleider “Storm” Alvarez, Marcus Browne, Badou Jack or Joe Smith Jr. — is a star with broad appeal or who has the ability to pack an arena, although Pascal could do that in Montreal during his heyday.
Who is a potential dark horse?
England’s Joshua Buatsi (12-0, 10 KOs), who claimed a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is on the fast track. Buatsi has already won the British title and a regional sanctioning body belt (WBA international belt) that has him quickly moving toward a world title opportunity. He has the build, the amateur background, the power and the skills — not to mention the promotional backing of Matchroom Boxing — to cause havoc in the division in the not-too-distant future.
What fight do you need to see next in the division?