In boxing, 2021 was a 12 months that produced sudden breakthrough performances from fighters equivalent to Oleksandr Usyk and George Kambosos Jr. However these victories got here at the price of established stars who have been seemingly poised to lock down perennial spots amongst boxing’s pound-for-pound greatest.
Usyk’s upset victory to seize the unified heavyweight championship, which established the previous cruiserweight champ as a drive to be reckoned with in boxing’s most history-laden division, got here on the expense of Anthony Joshua, who was left to look to bounce again from a crushing loss for the second time in his profession.
Kambosos shocked the world when he gained all of Teofimo Lopez’s light-weight world titles in December. After the struggle, it was revealed Lopez was removed from 100% coming into the bout, however meaning little when it comes to the post-loss fallout.
Joshua and Lopez might be on the comeback path in 2022, they usually will not be alone of their quest to rebound within the new 12 months. Some boxers will rediscover the shape that lifted them to the head of the game, whereas others will fail to regain the standing they as soon as loved.
As we head into 2022, these seven boxers stand out with the potential for a serious rebound after disappointments or inactivity in 2021. Let’s check out how possible they’re to show issues round.
The 32-year-old from England, a two-time former unified world champion, finds himself in acquainted territory. Joshua was on prime of the game when he was upset by Andy Ruiz Jr. in June 2019 by way of seventh-round KO. Six months later, he turned the tables with a convincing choice win in Saudi Arabia to reclaim his three world titles.
Joshua fought solely as soon as in 2020, recording a ninth-round knockout of Kubrat Pulev that December. Then Joshua was lined up for a compulsory title protection towards Usyk, the previous undisputed cruiserweight champion. And whereas Joshua wasn’t knocked out this time round, his August choice loss to Usyk revealed that Joshua’s chin stays shaky, amongst different flaws. Usyk, the far smaller man, appeared getting ready to the end within the closing seconds of a surprisingly one-sided struggle.
And, similar to he did towards Ruiz, Joshua rapidly triggered his proper to a direct rematch. That encore encounter with Usyk is slated for springtime.
How possible is it that Joshua pulls off a bounce-back much like what he did following his first professional loss? It is troublesome to ascertain how Joshua exacts revenge towards a fair higher, extra polished foe. There was nothing fluky about this loss, as Usyk boxed circles round Joshua. The Ukrainian turned Joshua repeatedly and constantly beat him to the punch.
So how does Joshua intend to vary the script? Forward of the return bout, he’s anticipated to discover a new coach to switch Rob McCracken because the lead voice in his nook. Joshua checked out a number of stateside gyms throughout a whirlwind tour, and promoter Eddie Hearn advised ESPN that Joshua will certainly prepare in america for the rematch.
Among the many trainers Joshua frolicked with have been Robert Garcia, Eddy Reynoso, Virgil Hunter and Ronnie Shields. Whomever Joshua hyperlinks up with, there’s a number of work to be performed in a brief period of time if he hopes to show the tables on Usyk.
Lopez crashed by means of the glass ceiling with an October 2020 upset win over Vasiliy Lomachenko. However the celebration was short-lived.
What seemed to be a routine title protection towards Kambosos reworked into one thing much more chaotic as a result of saga that surrounded the bout. Lopez was pressured to withdraw from the initially scheduled June 19 date after he contracted COVID, resulting in a chronic wrestle to rebook the struggle.
Lastly, the bout befell on Nov. 27. The struggle was anticipated to end in a simple win for Lopez, nevertheless it performed out fully otherwise. Kambosos floored Lopez within the opening spherical and survived a Tenth-round knockdown to attain a transparent choice victory in the most effective motion fights of 2021.
ESPN’s Mark Kriegel later reported that Lopez wasn’t match to struggle that evening as he handled a critical medical challenge that might’ve had catastrophic, life-threatening penalties due to his choice to step into the ring.
So far as his subsequent journey into the ring, the 24-year-old will look to rebuild in a brand new weight class. Lopez has been open about his struggles to make 135 kilos and plans to struggle at 140 going ahead. He is anticipated to return in a confidence-building bout in some unspecified time in the future subsequent 12 months earlier than pursuing a title in a second weight class.
Like Joshua, Lopez could have to make some modifications in his nook. Lacking on struggle evening was Joey Gamache, who was instrumental throughout Lopez’s coaching camp forward of the Lomachenko struggle.
GGG did not endure an damage nor a defeat in 2021. He did not struggle in any respect — and that is the problem.
The middleweight titleholder was slated to struggle Ryota Murata on Dec. 29 in Japan in a unification bout, however plans have been scrapped as a consequence of Japan’s restrictions on journey linked to the Omicron variant of COVID.
As soon as the most well liked fighter within the sport with a file string of knockouts, Golovkin noticed his momentum come to a screeching halt. The bout with Murata might be rescheduled for February, sources stated, and assuming GGG wins, he’ll want two extra fights subsequent 12 months to recapture the magic.
He turns 40 in April, and the prospect of an anticipated third struggle with Canelo Alvarez is slipping away. GGG’s final struggle was a December 2020 stoppage victory over fringe contender Kamil Szeremeta, his solely motion since an October 2019 slugfest win over Sergiy Derevyanchenko.
If GGG certainly has yet one more stretch run left in him, the plan seems clear: knock out Murata and chase the undisputed title at 168 kilos with a trilogy bout towards his arch nemesis. If the Canelo struggle cannot be realized, then Golovkin might want to rating a win over both Jermall Charlo or Demetrius Andrade to show he is nonetheless a top-level fighter.
Not like among the different names on this listing, Wilder is definitely coming off a efficiency that improved his standing within the sport.
Certain, he was savagely knocked out by Tyson Fury within the conclusive ending to their trilogy, however the bout was an prompt basic. Most significantly, Wilder carried out much better than anticipated after getting blown out within the second struggle of the trilogy.
After he was floored in Spherical 3, Wilder stormed again to attain two knockdowns of Fury in a heavyweight title tilt for the ages. Wilder displayed admirable braveness and by no means wilted regardless of absorbing one of many worst beatings in latest reminiscence.
When Wilder stated he would reasonably die within the ring than have the towel thrown in, he clearly meant it. He hung robust till the brutal finish when Fury lastly knocked him out in Spherical 11.
Wilder not too long ago stated he is not sure if he needs to proceed preventing. But when he does step again into the ring, the 36-year-old deserves a softer contact in his comeback bout. And he will not want a brand new coach this time round, because the change to former opponent Malik Scott paid massive dividends as Wilder boxed extra correctly.
Even when Joshua loses as soon as extra to Usyk, a struggle between AJ and Wilder stays one of many greatest potential sights in all of boxing. Equally, a Wilder-Ruiz matchup could be electrifying and is ostensibly straightforward sufficient to place collectively, with each males aligned with PBC.
Thurman was thought-about one of many elite fighters within the sport when he was narrowly defeated by Manny Pacquiao in July 2019. Someway, he hasn’t boxed a single spherical since then.
In the end, Thurman will finish the hiatus with a Feb. 5 struggle towards Mario Barrios. He is simply 33 years outdated, so if Thurman can impress, the previous welterweight champion will discover himself squarely within the combine in one in all boxing’s most stacked divisions.
Then once more, Thurman struggled towards Josesito Lopez in January 2019 following one other lengthy layoff, and this time, he’ll be preventing for the primary time in 31 months.
Barrios might be leaping as much as 147 kilos after struggling a TKO loss to Gervonta Davis at 140 kilos in June. With a KO of Barrios, all the massive fights might be ready for Thurman. Instantly, a matchup pitting Thurman towards Terence Crawford could be enticing. So, too, would fights towards Errol Spence Jr., Yordenis Ugas, Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Jaron Ennis.
Thurman’s damage points together with his elbows and palms are well-documented, so maybe the lengthy relaxation will do him nicely.
The rising star kicked off the 12 months with a bang, in a seventh-round TKO of Luke Campbell on Jan. 2. It was a formidable end in his first struggle towards world-class competitors.
Garcia was unable to capitalize, although. A deliberate July bout towards Javier Fortuna was cancelled whereas Garcia handled psychological well being points. He was set to return towards Joseph Diaz Jr. in November, however a wrist damage suffered in coaching required surgical procedure and scuttled the struggle.
Now recovered, Garcia stated on ESPN’s State of Boxing that he is trying to arrange a struggle with Isaac Cruz, who gave Gervonta Davis all he may deal with. If it materializes, and Garcia appears to be like like he did earlier than his hiatus, the bout might be a prelude to a gathering with Davis.
The matchup of Garcia and Davis, two 135-pound stars, is one other marquee, attention-grabbing matchup for boxing and would go a good distance towards offering some readability in one of many sport’s most talent-laden divisions. However first, Garcia wants to truly ebook a struggle. Solely then can the 23-year-old remind the general public that he should not be forgotten when one of the best fighters within the light-weight division are being mentioned.
Josh Taylor scored two knockdowns of Ramirez to seize the undisputed junior welterweight championship in Might. Ramirez had his moments early within the struggle, however all the identical, he finds himself a contender reasonably than a champion for the primary time in years.
The hard-nosed fighter had beforehand escaped together with his unified 140-pound championship in close-decision wins over Jose Zepeda and Viktor Postol. However towards Taylor, his stiffest take a look at but, Ramirez could not pull it out.
Ramirez returns on Feb. 5 towards Jose Pedraza, a tough boxer who figures to current issues for Ramirez. If the 29-year-old can raise himself previous Pedraza, he’ll be in line for a title shot once more. That might come towards Taylor, who will make his first protection of the undisputed championship on Feb. 22 towards Jack Catterall. Or it may are available in a vacant title struggle, if Taylor decides to leap as much as welterweight for a struggle towards Terence Crawford.
No matter occurs subsequent, Ramirez figures to be a greater, extra full fighter after enduring 12 rounds with one of the best opponent of his profession. He proved a knockdown could not deter him in the course of the loss. Now Ramirez should begin his comeback with out the good thing about a tune-up bout.