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Life after May-Pac: The 10 fights you need to see this summer

A busy summer of boxing kicks off with two exciting fights this weekend.

Amir Khan, pictured here during his win over Devon Alexander in December, returns to the ring this month.
Amir Khan, pictured here during his win over Devon Alexander in December, returns to the ring this month.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

AFTER FIVE-PLUS years of waiting, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao is over and done with. But that doesn’t mean it’s all doom and gloom because boxing is cyclical and new talents are constantly emerging.

In the last few weeks alone, we’ve seen Canelo Alvarez, Gennady Golovkin and Roman Gonzalez impress with dominant stoppages. Better yet, they’ve been proving themselves as draws. Canelo vs Kirkland, in particular, did the highest HBO boxing rating since 2006.

Boxing is currently on a roll, and needs fighters to continue to perform the way Golovkin and Gonzalez did on Saturday. Fans don’t want boring decisions like Mayweather. They want fighters like Golovkin to be the rule, not the exception.

Lucky for us, there is some really exciting boxing lined up this summer. Here, we look at 10 fights you really need to see this summer.

Alexander Povetkin v Mike Perez (22 May)

This Friday, 22 May, big-hitters Alexander Povetkin (28-1, 20 KOs) and Mike Perez (21-1, 13 KOs) will battle to become the next mandatory challenger for Deontay Wilder’s WBC title.

The 35-year-old former WBA heavyweight champion and 2004 super heavyweight Olympic gold medalist Povetkin suffered the only loss of his career at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko two years ago.

Perez suffered the first loss of his own career last year against Bryant Jennings. Looking good early on, he gassed half way through the fight and ended up losing a split decision.

It should be a close fight between the men ranked one and two by the WBC but we will be rooting for Cuban-born Irishman Perez. After moving to Cork in 2008, Perez is now an Irish citizen and fights under the nickname Mike “The Rebel” Perez.

Andre Dirrell v James DeGale (23 May)

Abraham Dirrell Boxing Back in October of 2009, Andre Dirrell took on Britain's WBC super-middleweight boxing champion Carl Froch. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Andre Dirrell (24-1, 16 KOs) takes on James DeGale (20-1, 14 KOs) this Saturday for the vacant IBF world super middleweight title at the Agganis Arena in Boston, Massachusetts.

The only blemish on Olympic bronze medalist Dirrell’s professional record is a very close split-decision loss to Carl Froch in 2009. Since then, Dirrell has won six fights in a row.

James DeGale is riding a 10-fight winning streak of his own and knocked out Marco Antonio Periban in December. Before that, the 2008 Olympic Gold medalist also scored impressive wins over Brandon Gonzales and Gevorg Khatchikian. His only career loss came in 2011 against George Groves.

This is expected to be a very close fight, with most boxing commentators giving Dirrell the edge. But DeGale believes he is “destined” to be become a champion by beating the American this weekend.

He said: “It’s a chance that I can’t let slip; I’m too good. People aren’t going to give me the opportunities again because I’m too good. No one is going to fight me for a voluntary defence so I’ve got to take this chance.”

You can watch Dirrell v DeGale live on Sky Sports 1 on Saturday from 8.

Amir Khan v Chris Algieri (29 May)

Macau Boxing Pacquiao Algieri Manny Pacquiao lands a right against WBO junior welterweight champion Chris Algieri during their title fight in Macau. Source: Kin Cheung

After failing to convince Floyd Mayweather to fighton several occasions, Amir Khan (30-3, 19 KOs) will now return to the ring on 29 May at the Barclays Centre in Brooklyn, New York. His opponent will be New York’s own Chris Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs), a former WBO Jr Welterweight champion.

Khan believes he is the solution to Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s vaunted shoulder roll defence because of his combination of hand speed and ring IQ. This IQ will be put to the test against Algieri and it will be interesting to see whether the Brit can find a way around one of the best jabs in boxing.

Algieri is not a big puncher by any stretch of the imagination but Khan’s big weakness is his chin and one shot could change the fight. If Khan does manage to get past this test, that big payday in September could be just around the corner.

Kell Brook v Frankie Gavin (30 May)

Boxing - Motorpoint Arena Kell Brook knocks down Jo Jo Dan during the IBF World Welterweight Championship bout in March. Source: Nick Potts

On 30 May, Frankie Gavin (22-1 13KO) has been given a shot at the IBF welterweight title against current champion Kell Brook (34-0 23KO).

Brook wants to be the man to face Mayweather in his last fight later this year but it is more likely that, presuming he emerges unscathed from his fight with Gavin, Brook takes on American Brandon Rios. Promotor Eddie Hearn recently said that if Brook remains undefeated, he could also be Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent.

So Brook has it all to lose in this fight and Gavin has it all to gain. However, Gavin feels he does have the style to upset Kell Brook.

I expect to come out on top. I know Kell Brook is a great fighter but I can beat him. I’ve got the style to beat him…I’m a good counter-puncher and I think technically I’ll be the best fighter Kell will have been in with. I think many would agree…I’m going to give him problems he’s never faced before.”

Although the fight appears to be a big mismatch, anything is possible in this sport.

Anthony Joshua v Kevin Johnson (30 May)

Source: Imgur

On 30 May, #6 WBC heavyweight contender Anthony Joshua (12-0, 12 KOs) puts his unbeaten record on the line against the toughest test of his two-year career when he takes on former heavyweight world title challenger Kevin Johnson (29-6-1, 14 KOs).

The likes of Vitali Klitschko, Derek Chisora and Tyson Fury have failed to finish the durable American but Sky Sports commentator Jamie Moore believes the 25-year-old Brit can do it.

“I can see Joshua doing a better job on Johnson than anyone else before him and making quite a statement. I think he will get him out of there in four or five rounds,” Moore said.

Johnson’s strong chin and defensive skills should test Joshua but this is not the same Johnson that fought Klitschko in 2009. Joshua’s been essentially fighting bums up until this point but he still should have enough to stop the ageing American.

Miguel Cotto v Daniel Geale (6 June)

Source: HBOBoxing/YouTube

Miguel Cotto (39-4, 32 KOs) will step into the ring for the first time in almost a year against former IBF/WBA middleweight champion Daniel Geale (31-3, 16 KOs).

Should Cotto be victorious against the former title holder, he’ll more than likely face Canelo Alvarez, after he defeated James Kirkland on 9 May.

Since losing to both Mayweather and Austin Trout in 2012, Cotto has bounced back under the tutelage of Freddie Roach with wins against Delvin Rodriguez and Sergio Martinez.

Geale is coming off an up-and-down 2014, as he was knocked out by Golovkin before responding with a unanimous decision against Jarrod Fletcher.

Deontay Wilder v Eric Molina (13 June)

Stiverne Wilder Boxing Deontay Wilder enters the ring before defeating Bermane Stiverne for the WBC heavyweight championship. Source: Isaac Brekken

WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder (33-0, 32 KOs), the first American to win a heavyweight world title since 2006, makes his first defence against Eric Molina (23-2, 17 KOs) on 13 June.

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Wilder has been criticised for choosing lowly ranked Molina but we must remember that he didn’t have to fight this early. This is basically a fight to keep busy before he defends against the winner of Povetkin-Perez later in the year.

Though this may be a gigantic mismatch, it’s still going to be an entertaining heavyweight clash. Both guys are big-hitters and will be swinging for the knockout from the moment the bell sounds.

Andre Ward v Paul Smith (20 June)

Wards Exile Andre Ward cracks Edwin Rodriquez with a left to the head during his last fight back in 2013. Source: AP/Press Association Images

It was announced a few weeks ago that super middleweight champion Andre Ward would end his nearly two-year absence from the ring with a non-title fight against Paul Smith on 20 June.

Ward (27-0, 14 KOs) was regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the sport before promotional issues put him on the sidelines. He easily outpointed Edwin Rodriquez in his last fight but has only managed two fights since dominating Carl Froch to unify the 168-pound world titles back in 2011.

So this is a huge opportunity for former British champion Smith (35-5, 20 KOs). The 35-year-old is coming off two tough losses to Germany’s Arthur Abraham for his WBO title.

Shawn Porter v Adrien Broner (20 June)

MAID334 Marcos Maidana knocks down Adrien Broner in the 2nd round of their fight. Source: Ggpht

Former world champions Adrien Broner (30-1, 22 KOs) and Shawn Porter (25-1-1, 16 KOs) will headline the PBC on NBC show on Saturday, 20 June live from the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Broner looked to be destined for a fight with Floyd Mayweather until Marcos Maidana stopped him in his tracks. But Broner, love him or hate him, remains one of the most popular fighters in the game today. At 25-years-old, he has already collected titles at 130, 135 and 147 pounds.

The 27-year-old Porter will be eager to keep his momentum going after a fifth-round knockout over Erick Bone last time out. He has big wins over Devon Alexander and Paulie Malignaggi on his resumé.

Another fighter to watch on this card is undefeated Errol Spence Jr (16-0, 13 KOs). He’s been impressive so far but is putting his record on the line against Roberto Garcia (37-3, 23 KOs), in what should be the biggest test of his young career.

Nadjib Mohammedi vs Sergey Kovalev (25 July)

Hopkins Kovalev Boxing Sergey Kovalev poses with the belts after beating Bernard Hopkins for the IBF, WBA and WBO Light Heavyweight Titles. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Undefeated IBF, WBO and WBA light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev (27-0-1, 24 KOs) will face Nadjib Mohammedi (37-3, 23 KOs), the mandatory challenger for his IBF title, on 25 July at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, in Las Vegas.

Mohammedi is a good fighter but shouldn’t pose much of a problem for Kovalev, who has been nothing short of a beast so far in his career. Mohammedi has won his last four fights by knockout and he is on a 13-fight winning streak. His last defeat was a 2011 knockout at the hands of Dmitry Sukhotsky and the problem is he hasn’t faced anyone at that level since.

Mohammedi’s style of fighting plays right into the hands of the big Russian. He’s going to stand in front of Kovalev and throw power shots. But he’s taking on a bigger, stronger man with a better skill set so it really wouldn’t surprise me if this one was finished in the first round.

After this one is done, Kovalev and his management are hoping to agree to fight WBC 175 pound champion Adonis Stevenson.

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About the author:

Donal Lucey

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