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Looking at Boxing in 2022 – Could This Be One of the Greatest Years for the Sport?

| January 4, 2022 10:53 am PDT

Many of the big boxing matches in 2022 have yet to be signed off, but there is much to be excited for.

It’s not hyperbolic to suggest that with the current state of play in the sport, 2022 could be the best year for boxing in quite some time. We’re talking record-breaking feats, major rivalries, stacked divisions, and the closest we have ever been to the biggest fight in boxing coming to fruition. 

As you can probably guess, I’m pumped for what is to come this year. Allow me to explain why.

Fury Could Become Undisputed Heavyweight Champion

Here’s a little bit of trivia for you boxing fans — the last undisputed heavyweight champion of the world was Lennox Lewis. Of course, you probably know that already.

One fighter that will certainly be aware of Lewis’ short reign as the “baddest man on the planet” is Tyson Fury. The unbeaten Brit is looking to become the first undisputed champion of what was once the most glamorous division in boxing since April 2000.

For the “Gypsy King” to achieve undisputed status, however, he will need to add the IBF, WBA, and WBO titles to his WBC strap.

In Lewis’ era, the WBC, IBF, and WBA belts were enough to earn the title of undisputed champion. Mike Tyson was the first man to be crowned the king of the division when he reigned supreme from August 1, 1987, to February 11, 1990.

Before Tyson, the WBC and WBA straps were enough. Sonny Liston was the first man to hold both. 

List of Undisputed Heavyweight Champions – Post NYSAC Era
Champion Reign Began Reign Ended Titles
Lennox Lewis Nov. 13, 1999 April 29, 2000 WBC, WBA, IBF
Riddick Bowe Nov. 13, 1992 Dec. 14, 1992 WBC, WBA, IBF
Evander Holyfield Oct. 25, 1990 Nov. 13, 1992 WBC, WBA, IBF
James “Buster” Douglas Feb. 11, 1990 Oct. 25, 1990 WBC, WBA, IBF
Mike Tyson Aug. 1, 1987 Feb. 11, 1990 WBC, WBA, IBF
Leon Spinks Feb. 15, 1978 March 18, 1978 WBC, WBA
Muhammad Ali Oct. 30, 1974 Feb. 15, 1978 WBC, WBA
George Foreman Jan. 22, 1973 Oct. 30, 1974 WBC, WBA
Joe Frazier Feb. 16, 1970 Jan. 22, 1973 WBC, WBA
Muhammad Ali Feb. 6, 1967 April 28, 1967 WBC, WBA
Muhammad Ali Feb. 25, 1964 Sept. 19, 1964 WBC, WBA
Sonny Liston July 22, 1963 Feb. 25, 1964 WBC, WBA

CLICK TO CLOSE

2022 could be the greatest year for boxing in recent memory for many reasons. One is that Tyson Fury could unify all belts and become the first heavyweight boxer to attain undisputed status in the 21st century. He would also write his name into the history books as the first man to do so in the four-title era.

Of course, one man is standing in his way of that goal. Moreso, this next fella can pull off what would be an even more historic feat…

Will Oleksandr Usyk Make History?

Could 2022 be the best year in boxing history? Who knows?

I mean, we have had some incredible years in this sport. Many of them were influenced by the achievements of heavyweight fighters.

For example, 1938 will always be remembered as one of the most important years in the sport for the Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling bout. 1980 was the year when the “Fabulous Four” brought the exceptional talents of Duran, Leonard, Hagler, and Hearns to the fore.

There is no doubt that this year would go down in the history books if Oleksandr Usyk managed to get his hand on the final piece of the puzzle. That being the WBC world heavyweight title currently held by Tyson Fury. 

Usyk, the former undisputed cruiserweight king, moved up to heavyweight in 2019. His first fight ended in a routine finish over Chazz Witherspoon. His second bout was an unexpectedly tougher test against popular British gatekeeper, Derek Chisora. 

In September, Usyk was matched up with WBA (Super), IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua in London. A fight that many believed would be decided by AJ’s size. That was not the case, however, as “The Cat” schooled Joshua. A performance that put earned him recognition among the top boxer of 2021.

If Usyk can beat Fury, everything changes. First, what an achievement that would be for a guy that was labeled too small for heavyweight by a few respected pundits. Second, he would become the first boxer since Evander Holyfield to be an undisputed cruiserweight and heavyweight champion, and the first to do so in the four-strap era.

Usyk will not be getting ahead of himself, however, as a rematch with Joshua looms. AJ is looking to get those belts back and is adopting wholesale changes, such as recruiting a new trainer, to make that happen.

Will it be enough? Why not read my early betting preview of Usyk vs. Joshua 2 before you decide which way to go.

Betting Preview for Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua 2 - Will Joshua Get His Revenge?

The early odds for Oleksandr Usyk vs. Anthony Joshua 2 see the champion installed as the favorite to prevail in their second fight. I’ll be previewing the Usyk vs. Joshua rematch while talking you through a few of the points you need to know about this...

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Canelo Alvarez Seeks Greater Glory

Is asking for boxing in 2022 to offer more than it did last year fair or realistic? Yeah.

It is both fair and realistic to expect that the next twelve months could be frighteningly incredible when you have fighters like Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk, and, of course, Canelo Alvarez all in their respective primes.

Look, 2021 was the year of Canelo. The ginger Mexican wasn’t content with becoming the first boxer in history to unify the super middleweight division since its inception in 1983 and has now set his sights on, quite literally, bigger things.

One is the WBC cruiserweight title that will be on the line when Ilunga Makabu vs. Thabiso Mchunu goes down in one of the best boxing matches to bet on in January.

2022 could be the best year in boxing for quite some time if Alvarez — who also hit the record books as the first undisputed Mexican champion in history by unifying the belts at 168-pounds — becomes a six-weight world champion.

A fight with Artur Beterbiev, although unlikely at this point, would be one for the purists. Canelo’s team has shown tact in picking the right opponents at the right time in the past, and with no sign of the Russian — who is the only current champion with a 100% KO percentage —  slowing down, other options appear more credible.

Still, if Canelo can take a title at cruiserweight, who knows what’s next? Oleksandr Usyk has offered to move back down a weight class to challenge Alvarez, but Eddy Reynoso has poured cold water on that.

For now.

Shakur Stevenson’s Breakout Year?

2021 was a big year for one of America’s brightest prospects. This one could be crucial to his development as a truly world-class operator.

WBO super featherweight champion Shakur Stevenson is certainly on the right path. An excellent win over the tough and always ready Jamel Herring in October introduced the 2016 Olympic silver medalist to more fans. It was his crowning performance to date and certainly bodes well for a long and successful future in the game. 

For the 24-year-old to take his place at the table of boxing’s best, he’s going to require a few more performances of that ilk. The caliber of those opponents, however, will determine just how quickly he can be packaged as a bona fide pay-per-view star for the WBO junior lightweight king.

Shakur Stevenson Record from His Last Five
Opponent Method of Victory Date Venue
Jamel Herring Win by TKO Oct 23, 2021 State Farm Arena, Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.
Jeremiah Nakathila Win by UD Jun 12, 2021 Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
Toka Khan Clary Win by UD Dec 12, 2020 MGM Grand Conference Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
Felix Caraballo Win by KO Jun 9, 2020 MGM Grand Conference Center, Paradise, Nevada, U.S.
Joet Gonzalez Win by UD Oct 26, 2019 Sparks Convention Center, Reno, Nevada, U.S.

Will Stevenson fight Oscar Valdez in 2022? That’s a fight I would be very interested to watch.

The same goes for a bout between Shakur and Kenichi Ogawa. Although it’s unlikely that we will see Stevenson fight both this year, it’s not out of the question. 

Let’s go for the best-case scenario here. Let’s entertain the idea that Stevenson beats both men. Could we see him move up to 135-pounds?

George Kambosos Jr. and the Lightweight Division

There are plenty of reasons to believe that 2022 could be the greatest year for boxing in recent memory. 

The state of play in the lightweight division is one of them. George Kambosos Jr. — who dethroned a fighter many saw as a long-term fixture as king in Teofimo Lopez — sits atop arguably the best division in boxing right now. 

Although Lopez is expected to move up in weight to challenge unified 140-pound king Josh Taylor, for now, he is still a lightweight. Alongside Kambosos, he makes up the elite tier of the division with Vasyl Lomachenko, Gervonta Davis, Devin Haney, and Ryan Garcia. Say no more.

Fans are looking to establish who rules the roost at lightweight since Lomachenko suffered a shock defeat to Lopez, who, in turn, was beaten by Kambosos. Any of the above fighters could establish a run of dominance in this division, but the difficult thing is to get them to fight.

It looks unlikely that soft bouts will be tolerated in 2022, making it a very exciting time for the lightweight division as well as boxing, in general.

I’d personally love to see Kambosos and Lomachenko nailed for early 2022. If the Aussie can beat the ring legend, it would be huge. On the flip side, a dominant win for Loma would put him back in the driver’s seat and set up fights with any of the other major names at 135.

Boxing in 2022 will be in a much better place if these guys fight each other and those major events get made. I mean, who wants to watch Tank Davis fight another smaller guy? Or Ryan Garcia taking on a fighter we know he’s going to beat.

Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence Jr. Could Now Happen

Santa Claus has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that he has made good on boxing fans’ wishes to see Crawford vs. Spence yet. 

This is the biggest fight in boxing in 2022. Will it still be as desirable next year, or 2024? Probably not. So, let’s get it made, right?

Well, if only it were that simple. Boxing politics has prevented the world’s best welterweights from striking a deal over the past few years. But with “Bud” Crawford now free of Top Rank and Bob Arum, is it time for this one to happen?

Not so fast. While I am more optimistic of a fight between Crawford and Spence happening than I have been in a while, much will depend on the promoter that Bud signs with. Top Rank is one of the big three promoters on the planet. With those guys removed, that leaves Matchroom and PBC.

If Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn is to be believed, only PBC — who also promotes Spence — is an option for Crawford. 

“Someone came over to me today from the U.S media and said, ‘Are you going to sign Terence Crawford?’ Why would I sign Terence Crawford? What fights do I have for Terence Crawford? He wants to fight Errol Spence. Even if they did, and they may, why would they go to us to make that fight?

It’s kind of like Canelo with Caleb Plant. He [Canelo] had to go out to PBC to make that fight. So if that’s their [PBC] mentality and attitude, ‘We don’t work with other guys, we’re only in-house people,’ then he [Crawford] might as well sign with PBC.

I don’t have any welterweight fights to offer him, really.”

Should PBC sign Crawford, we should be closer than ever to seeing this fight. And let’s be honest, there is no bigger fight in boxing right now. If ink meets paper on this one, it could be another reason why 2022 could be the greatest year in boxing, at least where this century is concerned. 

No one wants to see another Mayweather vs. Pacquiao scenario.

Boxing in 2022 – Is There More to Get Excited For?

A lot can change in a small period. Although the likes of Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk and Errol Spence vs. Terence Crawford are what we want now, the game could throw a few curve balls and further surprises our way. 

There are a lot of major fights that could happen over the next few months that could shape what could be one of the best years in boxing history. But whatever happens, it’s going to be a great year for fans of the sport. 

Make sure to keep on top of the latest movements by bookmarking our boxing blog, where we cover the fights and offer gambling tips and advice to help you win money on the fights. Advice such as how to win money betting on the winner of boxing matches, as well as individual fight breakdowns and much more. 

Exciting times lie ahead, and I don’t want to look back. But given we have just entered the new year; would you hold it against me if I suggested checking out the best boxing knockouts of 2021?

I thought not.

Best Boxing Knockouts of 2021 - Recounting the Top Stoppages of the Year

2021 was a year that lived up to the hype. For example, some of the biggest fights of the year ended with some of the top knockouts of 2021. We also had a few surprise stoppages, and a couple of upsets to boot. The year was even more glorious if you saw some...

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Adam Haynes

Adam is a sports writer and tipster with a strong background in MMA, boxing, and combat sports.

When Adam isn't writing about those, as well as politics, rugby, and Gaelic Games, he can be found working on methods and strategies to beat the bookies.

For his troubles, Adam is a fan of Leinster Rugby, Glasgow Celtic, and trusting the process.

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