Here’s a surprise. Jack Paul could finish 2023 with a better record than many of the top 10 pound-for-pound fighters, including Terence Crawford, Dmitri Bival, Tyson Fury and Alexander Usyk. But to get that win Paul would have to face his first real professional boxer. Is it possible?
Former heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has not fought this year and is likely to have zero fights in 2023. And middleweight champion Jermal Charlo, who hasn’t fought in 2½ years, will return in November. 25 in a non-title fight against Jose Benavidez Jr. Can he be a dominant fighter while winning titles at 154 and 160 pounds?
WBC interim super middleweight titlist David Benavidez, Jose’s brother, faces Demetrius Andrade in the main event of the same card, with the winner moving closer to a fight against undisputed champion Canelo Alvarez. But will Alvarez fight any of them for his Cinco de Mayo weekend fight?
On November 16, on the same card in Las Vegas, Shakur Stevenson faced Edwin de los Santos for the vacant WBC lightweight title and Emmanuel Navarre defended his WBO junior lightweight title against Robson Conceicao. Could this be the setup for the megafight at Stevenson-Navarre in 2024?
Mike Coppinger, Nick Parkinson, Timothy Bradley Jr. And Mark Raimondi offers their thoughts on what will and won’t be a surprise on the upcoming boxing schedule.
Don’t be surprised if… Jake Paul ends the year with more wins than P4P fighters Crawford, Usyk and Fury.
Jake Paul knocked out Nate Diaz, winning by decision
Jake Paul and Nate Diaz go the distance, but Paul ends up with Victor in Diaz’s boxing debut.
It’s almost certain. Paul announced Wednesday that he will face Andre August in December. 15. Auguste has a 10-1 record (by comparison, Paul is 7-1 in eight pro bouts), but has only fought once since November 2019.
In other words, it’s exactly the kind of foe Paul’s critics have been clamoring for him to face when he’s 2-0: a real boxer. No doubt the same critics would write, “Who?” Under social media posts. It will take a long time for the boxing public (and the media) to believe Paul as a legitimate purveyor of the sweet science. Maybe it never will.
But this next fight will represent something of a reset for Paul. He and his team have been focused on money fights and huge events. This led to him beating high-profile MMA fighters in their late 30s or 40s, such as Nate Diaz and Anderson Silva. Who can blame Paul for doing this? It’s a prize fight.
There will surely be more blockbuster fights like the ones mentioned above for Paul down the road. In the short term, he’s going to work on building his record and improving his skills. So yes, expect Paul to be 2-1 by the end of 2023, barring something unexpected. Sorry in advance for “Buds” and “Gypsy King”. — Raimondi
Don’t be surprised if… Shakur Stevenson takes on Emmanuel Navarrete next
This could be an epic showdown between two boxing powerhouses… if both fighters can successfully ply their trade in November. 15 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas: Stevenson vs. Edwin de los Santos and Navarre vs. Robson Conceicao.
Stevenson has undoubtedly earned his reputation as the most evasive fighter in boxing, with his single-handed, impeccable defense sending the absolute warning of “you can’t beat me” in contests. Navarre, on the other hand, proved himself a true champion by winning three different weight divisions. The Mexican’s unconventional style combines fearlessness, exceptional punch volume and devastating power. His recent win over teammate Oscar Valdez boosted his confidence.
So here’s how this matchup unfolds as it sets the stage for the old-school style of boxing by putting two main-event talents on the same card on the same night. –Bradley
Don’t be surprised if… Jermall Charlo shows he’s still a top fighter against Jose Benavidez Jr.
When Jermall Charlo was active, he looked like one of the sport’s elite fighters. With one of boxing’s best power jabs, power and combination punching, Charlo was dominant at 154 and 160 pounds.
But that is past. Charlo’s last ring action was in June 2021, when he fought in a routine title defense against Juan Macias Montiel. When Charlo completes his layoff later this month, his WBC middleweight title will not be on the line in the 10-round bout.
Why the WBC let Charlo go so long without a title defense is inexplicable. Still, Charlo will have a chance to prove he’s still a force to be reckoned with. And I believe Charlo will capitalize.
Now training with former four-division champion Roy Jones Jr. of Pensacola, Florida, Charlo will meet an opponent who has been somewhat less active. Since his final-round TKO loss to Terence Crawford in a 2018 title fight, Benavidez has competed just three times, with one win, one loss and one draw.
Benavidez has proven durable, but he’s now fighting at a heavier weight. Should be the perfect foil for Charlo to showcase her skills. And if Charlo can score a KO in emphatic fashion, he could make a statement to the rest of the middleweight division and even Jose’s younger brother, super middleweight David Benavidez, that he’s ready to fight big again.
Charlo and David Benavidez have been around each other for years. If David Benavidez, who faces Demetrius Andrade on Nov. 25, and Charlo can both pull off impressive wins, they could be on a collision course for a high-stakes fight at 168 pounds next year. — Coppinger
Don’t be surprised if… Deontay Wilder doesn’t fight at all in 2023
The Alabama native wants to fight fellow former heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, but the date is December. 23 is now out of the question. Joshua-Wilder is not being considered for next month and Wilder may not be Joshua’s next opponent.
A clash between two of the biggest punchers in the heavyweight division makes perfect business sense, but Joshua’s promoter, Eddie Hearn (Matchroom), is now keen to match the English boxer with former UFC champion Francis Ngannou, who floored WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Not a headline last month. Fury defeated Ngannou by split decision and is expected to face WBA, IBF and WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk in the next clash to decide the undisputed champion, possibly in February 2024.
That would leave Wilder without enough time to announce another opponent before the end of the year, unless he convinces Ngannou to face him instead of Joshua in Saudi Arabia in December. 23. The American last won in the first round in October 2022 against Robert Helenius. Wilder has fought just one round in the past two-plus years, but at this late stage of his career, the 38-year-old only wants the big payday. If he can’t get past Ngannou next month, Wilder will face a former champion in 2024. — Parkinson’s
Don’t be surprised if … David Benavidez-Demetrius Andrade winner doesn’t fight Canelo Alvarez
November Winner A 25-fight between Benavidez and Andres — especially if he decides in dominant fashion — will announce himself as the most viable opponent for Canelo Alvarez’s Cinco de Mayo fight.
But really, what matters is what boxing’s top star wants. And to date, Canelo has shown little interest in fighting either man.
“Boo Boo” Andrade was knocked out by Canelo in May 2021 and created a meme as Alvarez mocked the potential opponent following his win over Billy Joe Saunders.
And when Canelo was asked about a fight with Benavidez, he often dismissed the idea. Maybe, Canelo wants one of them to score a big win and earn a career-high payday.
Regardless of what happens during the Benavidez vs. Andrade fight, Alvarez will have plenty of other options for the second fight of his three-bout contract with PBC.
He could always save the Benavidez-Andrade winner for Mexican Independence Day weekend in September. In the interim, Canelo could always choose to seek a rematch with Dimitri Bivol. There is also the possibility of a super-fight with Terence Crawford.
But maybe, Canelo will pick Benavidez for his May opponent if the latter can deliver a big win against Andrade and give Canelo a reason to care. — Coppinger
Don’t be surprised if… Connor Benn vs. Chris Eubank Jr. doesn’t happen this year
A month and a half before the December planned date is not enough time to market a fight of this scale. 23. There are still issues to be resolved surrounding Ben’s British boxing licence, and the promoter’s matchroom is now looking towards the pair finally meeting in January at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales. 27.
This will allow enough time for the outcome of the appeal against the decision to clear Ben to fight in the UK following a suspension by the British Boxing Board of Control and UK Anti-Doping, and enough time to promote the event. Benn vs. Eubank was originally scheduled to take place in October 2022, but was canceled in the days leading up to the event after Benn tested positive for a banned substance.
The Cardiff venue has a retractable roof (an important consideration for hosting boxing events in winter) and can accommodate crowds of over 75,000. It has previously sold out boxing events featuring heavyweight Anthony Joshua and super middleweight Joe Calzaghe. London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which has a capacity of over 65,000, is another possibility.
The non-title clash is expected to take place at middleweight and follows two epic encounters between their fathers (Chris Eubank Sr. and Nigel Benn) in the 1990s.
An announcement confirming the fight is expected next week. — Parkinson’s