After an explosive 2019, things are delicately poised for a huge 2020 in the boxing world.
Anthony Joshua lost then reclaimed his four world heavyweight titles, and the landscape of a potential undisputed bout with the WBC king is uncertain as Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury prepare for a rematch.
There’s also fascinating situations around the weight divisions as Britain’s seven world champions look to retain their crowns with other rising stars hoping to join their club in 2020.
Here’s a rundown of some of the major talking points entering the New Year, as Mirror Fighting’s experts answer some serious and not so serious questions hanging over the sport as 2019 draws to a close.
1) Who will hold each of the four heavyweight world titles (WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF) by the end of 2020?
WBA: Anthony Joshua
WBO: Anthony Joshua
WBC: Tyson Fury
IBF: Anthony Joshua
I believe Anthony Joshua will still be the WBA Super, IBF and WBO heavyweight champ. Who will hold the WBC title is intriguing with Deontay Wilder facing Tyson Fury in their rematch in February.
I’m going to be patriotic and say the Gypsy King will add the WBC crown to his list of titles. He showed he can take Wilder’s best shots and I think he can outbox him again.
WBA: Oleskandr Usyk
WBO: Oleskandr Usyk
WBC: Deontay Wilder
IBF: Oleksandr Usyk
Anthony Joshua will find a way to keep hold of both the IBF and WBO belts and see off Kubrat Pulev in the spring. Oleksandr Usyk will win in the meantime before beating Joshua later in 2020.
Tyson Fury may beat Deontay Wilder once, but I don’t see him doing it again.
WBA: Anthony Joshua
WBO: Oleksandr Usyk
WBC: Deontay Wilder
IBF: Anthony Joshua
I think Wilder beats Fury in their rematch, whilst Joshua vacates the WBO, which is then won by Usyk.
I then expect Joshua to retain the IBF vs Pulev before failing to make a unification bout and taking on someone else, most likely Dillian Whyte, in late 2020.
2) There are currently 72 ‘world’ champions, including interim, regular, super and ‘franchise’ champions. How many will there be by the end of 2020?
DA : There will be some unification fights, but this will be balanced by some belts being vacated or fighters retiring. I will say 68.
MD : 78
RJ : I’m taking the over on 80.
3) How will Kell Brook’s 2020 shape up?
DA : Brook will have his first fight in nearly 14 months against Mark DeLuca on February 8, but it remains to be seen what he has left in the tank.
He was denied his big fights with Amir Khan and Terence Crawford in 2019. He didn’t impress in his last fight a year ago and he is an old 33.
He’s clearly hanging on for one last big fight, but I’m not sure he will get it.
MD : After he swats aside Mark DeLuca in February, he will finally fight Amir Khan in the summer – and beat his bitter rival.
RJ : This year, the Amir Khan fight might finally happen – not that anyone is too bothered at this point.
It would still be a nice little earner for both and enough to tempt Brook into the ring one last time.
4) Will Floyd Mayweather fight in a boxing ring against a boxer in 2020?
DA : Possibly, if he’s offered enough money. Mayweather has made no secret of the fact he is only motivated now by money.
MD : No, if he fights at all it will be against a UFC star in the second half of the year.
RJ : No. He might do an exhibition match or two, but even that would surprise me.
5) Which of the following unification fights will we see in 2020?
- Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder
- Errol Spence vs Terence Crawford
- Josh Taylor vs Jose Ramirez
- Josh Warrington vs Shakur Stevenson
- Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin
DA : Possibly, Josh Taylor v Jose Ramirez and Josh Warrington against Shakur Stevenson. But the cynic in me does not make me confident of too many of these big unification fights happening.
I think Joshua could be tied up with his IBF and WBO mandatories in 2020, even if there was the will on both sides to make a fight with Wilder.
Canelo also seems reluctant to give Golovkin another crack at him and has shown better footwork than Mayweather to keep out of his reach.
MD : I can see Josh Taylor vs Jose Ramirez and Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin happening.
Anthony Joshua won’t be world champion, there are too many questions around Errol Spence and Josh Warrington and Shakur Stevenson will take separate paths.
Taylor vs Ramirez is easy to make and Canelo will know he can beat Golovkin by the time they meet in September.
RJ : GGG-Canelo doesn’t need to happen again. In my opinion, Canelo now wins that comfortably.
I’ll be shocked if Spence vs Crawford happens this year given the silence over Spence’s car accident, whilst too many pieces need to fall into place for Wilder vs Joshua to finally happen.
The other two look most likely, and I’d love to see both happen.
6) How many times will Tyson Fury call Deontay Wilder a “big dosser” in fight week?
RJ: 978, maybe slightly more.
7) How many world title fights will be held in Saudi Arabia in 2020?
DA: One, maybe two, and Eddie Hearn has said he will return to Saudi next year, although not with Joshua. He felt Joshua-Ruiz 2 in Diriyah was a big success and plans to stage more Matchroom fights there.
RJ: Definitely one, probably two.
8) What will happen first; Tommy Fury facing an opponent with a winning record, or Manuel Charr defending his ‘world’ title?
DA: I fear neither will ever happen!
MD: I’ll go for Tommy Fury.
RJ: Will either happen in 2020? The Manuel Charr option seems most likely…
9) Assuming they fight, how many times will Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce say “sparring is sparring” in fight week?
DA : Twenty times each.
MD : Nine.
RJ : Too many. It will probably be all either of them say as well.
10) Will either Eddie Hearn or Frank Warren put one of their heavyweights in with drug cheat Jarrell Miller in 2020?
DA : Yes, because in boxing all sins are forgiven for the right price.
MD : Yes, most likely Frank Warren.
RJ : Yes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the ring with Dillian Whyte after the WBC said he won’t get a title shot until February 2021.
11) There are currently seven British world champions; at the end of 2020, how many will there be?
DA : Seven or eight. I can see Anthony Joshua, Callum Smith, Josh Taylor and Josh Warrington retaining their world titles.
Billy Joe Saunders too, providing he does not vacate to chase something else. Plus I think 2020 will possibly see a couple more Brits win world titles.
MD : Five.
RJ : Still around 7.
12) Which British boxers will have won a world title for the first time?
DA : Sunny Edwards at super-fly, maybe Anthony Yarde at light-heavyweight now that Canelo has vacated the WBO title.
Daniel Dubois, if someone gives him a shot, but he may have to wait until 2021. Dillian Whyte may finally, finally get his shot at the WBC after being mandatory for the last decade or so.
Jack Caterall should get a crack at the WBO title in 2020, but it may be a fight too far for him.
MD : Luke Campbell will win a world title but lose it before the end of the year while Chris Eubank Jr will win a version of the WBA world title.
RJ : Lawrence Okolie and Liam Williams. Okolie isn’t easy on the eye but will be an awkward customer I’d tip to beat Krzysztof Glowacki for the vacant WBO belt.
Williams has looked outstanding at middleweight and I think he can shock Demetrius Andrade for the WBO belt if he’s given his chance.