The new year can bring some of the biggest fights boxing can offer, and add more undisputed champions to its rankings — if the stars (meaning, promoters, networks and fighters) align. From Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk for all the heavyweight titles in the men’s side, to a rematch of one of the best fights of the year between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano, big fights are there to be made.
Of course, this is boxing, and chances are, some of the matchups above won’t happen, but we can still predict what can happen in 2023.
Will we see Devin Haney against Vasiliy Lomachenko? How about Deontay Wilder vs. Anthony Joshua? Will women’s boxing continue its ascent?
ESPN’s Mike Coppinger, Ben Baby, Michael Rothstein and Nick Parkinson offer up their bold predictions for 2023.
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk deliver a heavyweight classic
They still need to close the deal, but once they do, Fury and Usyk will be on a collision course for one of the most important fights in heavyweight championship history.
Since the four-belt era began in 2004, no heavyweight has earned the right to call himself undisputed champion. That should change when Fury and Usyk share the ring in a truly fascinating clash of styles. Fury will be favored amid a dominant run that includes a string of i
ncredible knockouts, most notably a pair of such victories against Deontay Wilder.
The “Gypsy King” also owns a win over a master boxer from Ukraine in Wladimir Klitschko. But Usyk, also from Ukraine, presents a different challenge altogether. The Olympic gold medalist has some of the best footwork in boxing, can deliver punches from varying angles and has carried his power from cruiserweight — where he was the undisputed champion — to heavyweight.
Fury will no doubt look to lean on Usyk and force him to carry all 270-plus pounds, but Usyk has shown an ability to adapt. He beat Anthony Joshua to the punch consistently and was able to absorb AJ’s power shots.
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Fury, of course, is a better fighter than Joshua, and while he, too, has impressive footwork, he surely will be slower than Usyk.
The bout shapes up as one of the biggest in global boxing in years, a fight the sporting world will pause to watch. And you can bet Fury and Usyk will deliver a thrilling fight worthy of the hype. — Coppinger