For as top-heavy as the sport of boxing has become over the last two decades, the sport had an exceptional year in 2022. Oleksandr Usyk showed he is a step above Anthony Joshua, Canelo Alvarez finally met his match in Dmitry Bivol, women’s boxing took center stage when Katie Taylor fought Amanda Serrano for the undisputed lightweight titles.
However, the year felt more notable for the matches it set up for the year to come. Big rivalries and fun style matchups should be abound for boxing in 2023, and no matter how many marquee bouts are actually able to come to fruition, it is safe to say there are an abundance of fights to be made that will quench the thirst of die-hard fans and leave casual fans entertained.
Here are five major professional boxing matches to look forward to in 2023.
Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk
As many suspected, Tyson Fury’s so-called retirement after his stoppage win over Dillian Whyte was short-lived, and “The Gypsy King” hinted at a busy 2023 after he dominated Derek Chisora in December. Usyk has long contended that the lineal champion is “scared” of him, but Fury made mention after the fight of his intention to fight Usyk in spring of 2023 following hand surgery.
However, Fury vs. Usyk appears to have hit another roadblock when the World Boxing Association (WBA) ordered a mandatory title defense for Usyk against British contender Daneil Dubois, who came out on top in the co-main event of Fury vs. Chisora III. Frank Warren, who promotes both Dubois and Fury, noted an undisputed title clash between Fury and Usyk will take precedence over Dubois’ title shot, but if both sides hit another snag in negotiations, it would not be surprising to see Usyk fight Dubois while Fury defends his belts against Joe Joyce. While this would be a worst-case scenario, it could still put the heavyweight kingpins on a late-year collision course in a battle of size and precision vs. speed and precision.
Ryan Garcia vs. Gervonta Davis
Few fights that can be made in 2023 have had the build that Ryan Garcia and Gervonta Davis have had. Garcia and Davis have been jawing at one another over social media for the better part of 2022 and both men have their reasons for wanting the fight. Davis, who boasts the stronger resume of the two, sees Garcia as an easy fight while Garcia sees Davis as a way to fast track himself to the top of the sport’s toughest division while still just 24-years-old.
Boxing fans received some good news when both camps announced they have agreed in principle to a 2023 fight. The bout will take place in Las Vegas following a pair of early-year tune-ups for each side. Davis is set to fight Hector Garcia at the Capital One Arena in Washington D.C. on January 7, while Garcia has reportedly signed to fight Mercito Garcia on January 28 in Phoenix, Ariz. “Tank vs. Ryan” has a tentative date of Apr. 15, and if all goes according to plan, a fight between two of the sport’s most polarizing characters will command the attention of fans watching around the world.
Canelo Alvarez vs. Dmitry Bivol II
Never one to back down from a challenge, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez moved up to light heavyweight to test himself against Dmitry Bivol. Bivol defeated Alvarez by unanimous decision in a shocking upset, handing Canelo his first defeat since falling to Floyd Mayweather nine years ago. Alvarez had been on a historic roll since the Mayweather fight, accruing a record of 16-1-1 while Bivol finally earned himself the signature win he needed to be recognized as a top-6 fighter in the pound-for-pound rankings. Some NJ bookies support Bivol. Check offers here.
Ever the competitor, Alvarez will be looking to exact some revenge on the Russian champion, but fans might have to wait until the latter half of the year to witness the rematch. Alvarez told ESPN his plan for next year is to return in May with a tune-up fight before taking the Bivol rematch in September. Bivol, meanwhile, is targeting a fight with countryman Artur Beterbiev, though he noted the decision ultimately “depends on the promoters.” Either way, big things should be in store for both men, though given Alvarez’ pull as one of the sport’s top draws, the rematch seems to be the most likely scenario.
Deontay Wilder vs. Anthony Ruiz Jr.
Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua, two former heavyweight champions, were not able to make a fight happen for the undisputed title, but with both men now free from their title obligations the long-anticipated fight between the two could finally be on the horizon. After his devastating knockout of former sparring partner Robert Helenius, Wilder was linked to a fight with Andy Ruiz Jr., a heavyweight who made a name for himself with his own unlikely knockout of Joshua.
There are several moving parts when it comes to the 2023 calendar for the sport’s heavyweight fighters, Wilder chief among them. He has expressed a desire to fight lineal champion Tyson Fury for a fourth time and the WBC claims a bout between him and Ruiz could determine Fury’s next mandatory title challenger. He could also fight Anthony Joshua at year’s end if the schedules line up, but of all the big fights in front of Wilder in 2023, a matchup with Ruiz seems like a safe bet and will produce fireworks for as long as it lasts.
Jake Paul vs. Nate Diaz
Jake Paul, a man who has become a pariah amongst boxing fans, is looking to fight multiple times in 2023 after only fighting once in 2022 due to repeated cancellations on the end of his booked opponent, Tommy Fury. Paul vs. Fury still seems likely for early 2023, but regardless of whether or not Paul is able to clear the hurdle, there are few fights for the social media star as magnanimous and as attainable as a fight with former UFC lightweight Nate Diaz.
Diaz, who fought for the world’s top MMA promotion for 15 years, is currently a free agent after fighting out his contract against Tony Ferguson at UFC 279. As a result, he is free to sign with any promotional entity and has expressed a desire to dip his toe into boxing. There would be no bigger fight for the native of Stockton, Calif. to walk into than a fight with the younger Paul brother. A bout between Paul and Diaz may not possess the title ramifications of other fights on this list, but the amount of buzz the fight could generate would be a major coup for the sport of boxing.