Buncey’s BOXXER Bulletin: 5 Fights We Must See in 2021

In this week’s column, veteran columnist Steve Bunce has a shortlist of five fights that must happen before the end of the year. Some might surprise you, but all are compelling contests – how many will we get to see?

The year is six months old and we are still waiting for a lot of “must-happen” fights.

In many ways it is too easy to pick the fights we must see, the fights that have been talked about for a long, long time; and they are also fights the sport so badly needs.

However, just under the surface, just below Fury vs. Joshua and Spence vs. Crawford, there are hundreds of fights that must happen, that we all want to see.

And what happens if you put the fights we want to see, in just five categories? How about Dream, Rematch, USA vs. GB, Domestic Kings and Fun? I like that, it varies the list. I believe this is a sane list, a list of popular fighters, a list that would make great commercial sense. I will also add a preferred venue to the five.

Let’s start with Fun, a fight that would make boxing fans smile if it was ever announced: the Venue is outdoors in Britain and the fight is Dillian Whyte against Andy Ruiz. The winner gets a crack at a world title somewhere.

Ruiz and Whyte have both shared the ring with unified world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua / Credit: talkSPORT

Whyte and Ruiz would need a small ring, a lenient take on the rules and a brave referee. Would Whyte be able to hurt Ruiz enough to keep him off, would Ruiz get to Whyte in the last few rounds? It’s a fun fight, trust me.

Next, the USA vs. GB section and this is a truly great fight, a fight with a backstory and a place in history for the winner. The venue is Britain again, the North East of England, and the fighters are Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall.

Savannah Marshall beat Claressa Shields in the women's 75kg category at the 2012 World Championships / Credit: Sky Sports

They are both unbeaten and Marshall remains the only person to have ever beaten Shields; Marshall was too smart for the American at the World Amateur Championships in 2012. 

Shields insists it was a robbery, it was not. Marshall is the best puncher in the female game, a real puncher. The USA vs. GB angle would be high – Shields is very dismissive of Marshall and that will sell this fight.

The Domestic fight we want is complex. I have gone with two of the four world-class light-heavyweights and pitched Joshua Buatsi in with Callum Johnson

Buatsi is younger, fresher, has an Olympic medal and Johnson has the power and the experience. It will be explosive from the very first bell. Any indoor venue in Britain will work.

Former British and Commonwealth champion Callum Johnson’s only professional loss came to Russian knockout artist Artur Beterbiev / Credit: Sky Sports

The Rematch, I believe, was a simple pick: Teofimo Lopez against Vasyl Lomachenko. There was bad blood before their fight last October and the masterclass win by Lopez. The bad blood is still in place. 

“Lomachenko doesn’t want the rematch,” said David McWater, Lopez’s manager. 

Well, now, Lomachenko does want the rematch. Can Lopez do it again? Can Lomachenko change his own history? How can anybody be sure the last fight was not a fluke? It’s a brilliant rematch. How about Kiev as a venue?

A rematch between Lopez and Lomachenko is highly touted after Lomachenko’s recent dismantling of mutual opponent Masayoshi Nakatani / Credit: Getty Images

In May of last year, deep in the clutches of Covid, this fight fell out of bed and that was a bad day for the sport. It has to happen: Katie Taylor against Amanda Serrano is the Dream fight. Simple choice for me.

Serrano has 40 wins, 30 by knockout or stoppage and Taylor is unbeaten in 18 fights. Serrano has been winning world titles since 2011, Taylor won her first world title in her fifth fight. Serrano wants family revenge for the easy night Taylor had in 2018 against Serrano’s sister, Cindy.

A bout between Serrano and Taylor has been talked about on numerous occasions in recent years, but has not yet come to fruition / Credit: The Sun

It’s just the very best available fight in the women’s game, it’s that simple. And it will be nasty, make no mistake. The venue for their first fight is easy: New York City. The rematch in Dublin.

(By the way, I might get up in the morning and select a totally different five! That’s the beauty of desire in this game.)

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