3 boxing fights you shouldn’t miss before 2022 is over

Three boxing fights you shouldn’t miss before 2022 is over.

2022 has been an up-and-down year for the sport of boxing. With 2023 just a few months away, it’s likely that the year won’t be remembered as one of the sports finest over the last decade. The most anticipated fight in boxing between Terence Crawford and Errol Spence Jr. for welterweight supremacy has yet to come to fruition and looks like it’s heading closer to being past its sell date. More and more, we have seen fighters step into the ring less relegated to fighting once or twice a year.

The highlight of the sport has come from women’s boxing. Katie Taylor’s victory over Amanda Serrano in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden is arguably the year’s best fight. Just last week, Claressa Shields headlined a card in the United Kingdom, earning a unanimous decision over Savannah Marshall, the only person who defeated her as an amateur.

There are still numerous fights left on the boxing calendar that can change 2022 from being remembered as just an average year to a great one.

Three best remaining matches on the boxing calendar

Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) vs. Gilberto “Zurdo” Ramirez (44-0, 33 KOs)

Nov. 5, 2022 – Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

WBA light heavyweight title

WBA light heavyweight champion Dmitry Bivol was known mainly to hardcore boxing fans until he faced off against Saul “Canelo” Alvarez this past May. Bivol would outbox and largely dominate the Mexican superstar en route to a unanimous decision victory. The win over Alvarez would give Bivol notoriety amongst casual sports fans. Instead of resting on his laurels with a safety first-title defense, he heads into one of the toughest challenges available to him. Bivol will attempt to make his 10th title defense (not including interim title defenses) against former WBO super middleweight champion Gilberto Ramirez.

Ramirez, who made a move up in weight to light heavyweight back in 2019, has scored stoppages in all five of his fights in the division. The two are relatively evenly matched, having a common opponent in Sullivan Barrera and both being undefeated at 31 years of age. Both fighters are also southpaws making the match-up more difficult to choose a clear-cut favorite. Bivol and Ramirez, in the past, have shown the technical acumen to outbox their opponents but also bite down and brawl when needed. The winner could go on to face unified light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev to crown an undisputed champion in the division.

Regis “Rougarou” Prograis (27-1, 23 KOs) vs. Jose “Chon” Zepeda (35-2, 27 KOs)

Nov. 26, 2022 – Carson, CA

Vacant WBC junior welterweight title

In today’s boxing landscape, with a plethora of title belts in each weight class, the status of a contender has been devalued. Due to a series of circumstances involving undisputed champion Josh Taylor being stripped of his titles and Jose Ramirez choosing to put his personal life above his boxing career, Regis Prograis and Jose Zepeda will battle for the vacant WBC junior welterweight championship.

Prograis‘ previous title bout took place in the World Boxing Super Series tournament finals against Josh Taylor. The former WBA junior welterweight titleholder lost a majority decision in a competitive bout that could have easily gone the New Orleans native way.

Zepeda hasn’t had the best of luck in world title fights. In 2015, when challenging for the WBO lightweight title against Terry Flanagan, Zepeda dislocated his left shoulder and was forced to have the bout stopped after the second round. Four years later, in 2019, the Long Beach, California fighter lost a razor-thin majority decision to then-WBC junior welterweight champion Jose Ramirez. The match took take in Ramirez’s hometown of Fresno, CA, and was close enough that many observers felt he could have had his hand raised in victory.

Since losing to Ramirez, Zepeda has been on a hot streak garnering wins over former world champions like Jose Pedraza and participating in the 2020 fight of the year against Ivan Baranchyk. Similar to Bivol-Ramirez, both Prograis and Zepeda are southpaws and the exact age of 33. With both fighters having provided a plethora of exciting bouts in the recent past and possessing knockout power, Prograis-Zepeda could end up as one of the most action-filled bouts of the year. The winner will be considered one of the two best fighters at 140-pounds and will be next in line to challenge Josh Taylor.

Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez (51-3, 41 KOs) vs. Juan “El Gallo” Francisco Estrada (43-3, 28 KOs) 

Dec. 03, 2022 – Phoenix, Arizona

Ring Magazine super flyweight title

Not much needs to be said here. If you witnessed the previous wars between Roman Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada in 2012 and 2021, the third fight sells itself. Their last battle was in March 2021, and if it weren’t for the all-time great third fight between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder, the rematch would have been labeled as the best fight of 2021.

Most observers walked away believing that Gonzalez had done more than enough to win the rematch in 2021, and Carlos Sucre’s 117-111 score for Estrada took attention away from the fight’s greatness. Estrada escaped with a split-decision victory over Gonzalez but did not solidify himself as the better fighter.

The only titles on the line for the rubber match are the Ring Magazine and WBC franchise super flyweight titles. Initially, a third match was set to take place in October of last year, but Gonzalez tested positive for Covid. Then in March of this year, Estrada was forced to withdraw from the trilogy bout after testing positive for the virus.

Barring neither fighter getting injured or catching an illness, the third match should provide fans with another classic back-and-forth war between the Mexican and the Nicaraguan.

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