Matchmaking in the world of boxing has long been a feast-or-famine proposition, though hurdles involving various promotions, networks, streaming services and alphabet organizations have increased complications significantly. Still, in recent years, boxing fans have been treated to some thrilling contests involving high level opposition. Now, the coronavirus pandemic has caused the boxing world to hit pause and fans are left to fantasy matchmaking.
The CBS Sports experts are no different, revisiting our thoughts on what fights need to be made before 2020 comes to an end. Our original list from the start of the year has been updated to reflect how pre-coronavirus pandemic 2020 has impacted the fights we most want to see. That includes a domestic violence situation that could derail one fight and another that looks as though it may happen in part because of the chaos thrown into the schedule.
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With all that in mind, let's take a closer look at the five biggest fights boxing can make in 2020 that would really get both casuals and hardcores interested.
1. Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford
PBC controls incredible depth at the top of the welterweight division right now, giving Errol Spence Jr. -- arguably the pound-for-pound best fighter in the sport -- seemingly endless options for big fights. He could face Shawn Porter in a rematch of their thrilling 2019 war. There have been plans for him to face off with Danny Garcia -- temporarily derailed by Spence's horrific car wreck -- and Keith Thurman and Manny Pacquiao are available as fresh, big-name opponents in the division and under PBC deals.
Then, there's Terence "Bud" Crawford, who has his own claim to being the best fighter on the planet. But his Top Rank contract has led to bouts with PBC fighters to be more snipes through the media than contests in the ring. Crawford says he doesn't need the PBC fighters -- they need him. Though, that appears to be more bluster than reality. There was talk of Crawford and Porter being able to work out a deal to cross promotional lines and fight, but Crawford shot that down on a recent DAZN broadcast by saying, "That's not a fight that I'm focused on right now or even worried about." And while Spence closed his year against fellow elite welterweight Porter, Crawford took on Egidijus Kavaliauskas, a capable enough boxer but not someone considered worthy competition for a fighter of Crawford's skills. Now, Bob Arum has suggested fights against Jose Ramirez, Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis for Crawford's 2020 schedule. Those are all legitimately talented fighters, but they're also all lightweights who would be moving up to fight at a considerable size disadvantage.
Crawford vs. Spence is the rare fight that would not only represent further unification of world championships, but a battle where the winner could reasonably be considered the sport's best pound-for-pound combatant. That makes the potential fight more important -- and necessary -- than any other that could be made, should boxing's age-old issues be set aside for one night.
Not only is there weight to the fight, but the stylistic battle is thrilling on paper. For the good of the sport, it's a fight that should happen. But "the good of the sport" is not often the driving force in matchmaking.
2. Anthony Joshua vs. winner of Tyson Fury/Deontay Wilder III
Joshua vs. Fury or Wilder is, in many ways, a similar story to Spence vs. Crawford. There are promotional obstacles standing in the way of a fight that would unify all four recognized heavyweight world titles, to be sure. But there have been additional complications to making this fight happen, despite everyone involved expressing interest. After a 2018 draw, Fury and Wilder threw down for a second time in February with Fury dominating before winning by TKO in Round 7. While that would have potentially set the stage for a showdown with Joshua, the two men had a clause in their contract allowing the loser to initiate a third fight, which Wilder has done. There's still some hope the winner of Fury vs. Wilder III could go on to close the year in a massive unification bout with Joshua to end 2020, but if Wilder wins and the series sits at 1-1-1, it's just as easy to see a fourth fight between the two as any fight with Joshua.
3. Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. Teofimo Lopez Jr.
This is the most likely fight on the list with the two lightweight champions already all but locked in for a long-discussed showdown before the widespread uncertainty of the current pandemic bumped things back a bit. During his rise from top prospect to world champion, Lopez's story has been closely intertwined with Lomachenko, largely because his father and trainer Teofimo Sr. wouldn't stop talking about the fight and causing scene after scene. When Lopez captured his first world championship -- a crushing victory over Richard Commey in less than two rounds to capture the IBF title -- everything clicked into place. WBA, WBC and WBC champ Lomachenko had said he wanted the winner of Commey vs. Lopez and Lopez's desire to take on a man who is in the pound-for-pound discussion and an out-of-ring rival had already been made clear. Bring on the unification fight.
4. Vasily Lomachenko vs. Gervonta Davis
It speaks to the special place Lomachenko occupies in the minds of boxing fans that there are two potential matchups CBS Sports want to see him in that made the top five. Davis moved up to lightweight to end 2019, beating Yuriorkis Gamboa by late knockout. Davis hits hard, though taking almost the entirety of 12 rounds to knock out an older, slower version of Gamboa who was forced to fight 10 rounds through what appears to have been a torn Achilles tendon may lead to questions of how much his power traveled to the division. And there were some potential issues with stamina on display as he was forced to fight past the sixth round for just the fourth time in his career. There is also the looming situation of Davis being caught on tape physically assaulting his ex-girlfriend at a charity basketball game which could -- and should -- derail his career for the foreseeable future.
5. Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin III
Fans have already been treated to two fights between Alvarez and Golovkin, two of the biggest superstars in the modern boxing era. Their 2017 clash was a draw while the 2018 fight became a controversial majority decision win for Canelo. Had one judge not somewhat inexplicably scored Round 12 in the rematch for Alvarez, the result would have been yet another draw. Given the starpower involved, two compelling, entertaining and competitive fights and fan desire to see them fight one more time, it seems a trilogy fight must happen. Now, it seems the fight may become a reality in the rare improvement to the schedule caused by coronavirus. Alvarez was set to fight Billy Joe Saunders before the pandemic took that fight down and led to reports.
Honorable mentions: Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez (light welterweight), Artur Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol (light heavyweight), Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather II (welterweight), Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter II (welterweight), Naoya Inoue vs. Luis Nery (bantamweight)