If you’ve come this far and aren’t happy, that’s a shame.

You should have seen it coming.

In keeping with the tradition of this Tuesday morning space, we’ll ring in the new year with a preview of the stories other boxing scribes will react about 12 months from now.

Of course, if you recall last week’s article, 2022 was a year of predictions to ignore.

But hope lasts forever, so we start over again 12 years later in a recurring quest to match the glory of the unheard-of Andre Ward’s spot pick as 2011’s Fighter of the Year.

Unlike soccer, baseball, etc., there is no master schedule for predicting events. And even if I knew all too well now which fights would take place between which guys, next October, say, three guys sitting around the ring would shatter my predictions and tell me what. “Boxing lesson.”

But those are excuses and complaints for another day.

Tuesday is a day to think positively. So let’s see ahead what others will look back on as we take down the tree after Christmas 2023.

And hey, if something like this really happened… it would be a good year for all of us.

Upset of the Year: Stephen Fulton SD 12 Naoya Inoue

Naoya Inoue is one of the world’s most elite fighters. He’s a champion in multiple divisions, an undisputed contender at bantamweight these days, and fully deserves all the accolades he gets.

But while he may be a monster, he is not an invincible monster.

After defeating 118-pound Paul Butler in a unification match, he received full credit for suggesting that his next trick would be to quickly climb the 122-pound ladder for the belt.

But that’s where his problems begin. Super He knocks on the door of the bantamweight/junior featherweight penthouse and will meet Stephen He Fulton, champion of various races since 2019. At 6 feet, he’s tougher and more talented at this stage than anyone Inoue has ever met.

It won’t be easy, and it won’t be without fireworks.

And here he says he will… let’s say in the 114-113 or 115-112 area.

Remember where you first heard it.

Knockout of the Year: Deontay Wilder KO 5 Joe Joyce

Say what you think about his fundamentals, his conspiracy theories, and the pre-Canastota historical significance of his run as WBC heavyweight champion.

He vaporized all of his opponents but Tyson Fury, and announced that he would return with authority in October 2022, shooting midterm contender Robert Helenius with a splatter in the first round.

But while the trilogy with Fury was charming, in the fourth bout if the score was already 2-0-1 with two KOs and many consider a draw questionable at best. You get very little.

So, without another title shot and a unlikely face-off with fellow former champion Anthony Joshua, there’s no one left more interesting than Joe Joyce.

For those of you who don’t know, Joyce is a tall, long, and powerful Englishman, but his jaws are stronger than those of Fury and Joshua, and his own paralyzing powers have allowed him to score 14 KOs in 15 fights. has achieved Distance in Joyce’s tenth professional fight.

Fury himself said it was “great” to see the two sluggers fight, and the thought from here is that it could be this generation’s version of Foreman Lyle as long as it lasts. is.

The original lasted five rounds, so it’s a good idea to do a reboot as well before another right-hand laser beam finally ends things for good. .

Fight of the Year: Gelbonta Davis KO 8 Ryan Garcia

That’s the fight Ryan Garcia has been eyeing for a while…on his mouth.

And now he’s climbed to at least something akin to elite level. This is thanks to 23 wins he achieved 19 KOs and towed his machine with considerable hype.

In its aftermath, we’re guessing just about everyone hopes it will happen at least once or twice.

The sassy California native has long claimed to tease the Mayweather-groomed Baltimore product.

The problem is that the multi-weight “tank” provokes the ferocity it comfortably unleashes.

Don’t be surprised if Davis responds with a knockdown of his own in the next round and takes over the replacement with a sharper, heart-pounding shot. Bloody and staggering by the end of the seventh round.

I’m sorry Oscar. I hope we can still be friends.

Fighter of the Year: Tyson Fury

It’s never an easy choice. The reigning champions will defend and unify their titles. The hype prospects deliver on their championship-level promise. And legitimate superstars maintain their top positions in the sport.

But starting the year in one place and ending in another, especially when it comes to all-time rankings, leaves him out of the pack. This is the case for Fury in 2023.

The talkative Englishman is already one of the most dominant big men in the history of the sport, and in the second act of his career, Wilder is on deck to beat one of his trilogy rivals. and beat another uncompetitive rival in Derek Chisora ​​and was nearly unbeatable. .

Fighting Oleksandr Usyk presents an undisputed opportunity that Fury has never experienced before. The anticipation here is that it’s going to be a much more one-sided affair than many would suggest, with the “Gypsy King” forcing himself into a smaller foe for about 10 minutes. Round until there is no reason to continue.

For that alone, it’s at least worth considering FOTY, but I’d suggest rolling the dice here and closing out Fury’s year with a long-awaited summit with British rival Joshua.

Much like Fury-Usyk, it’s a fight that many would love to see, but there’s only one chance to upset them. Joshua is a powerful puncher, but not as strong as Wilder and not strong enough to keep an aspiring champion from defeating him in front of his 90,000 fans.

2 mega events. Two dominant KOs. And Fury boarded his sunset crossover between WWE and UFC.

* * * * * * * * * *

This week’s title fight schedule:

IBF Mini Flyweight Championship – Osaka

Daniel Valladares (Champion/IWBR unranked) vs. Ginjiro Shigeoka (IBF 5th/IWBR 14th)

Valladares (26-3-1, 15 KOs): First title defense.First match outside Mexico

Shigeoka (8-0, 6 KO): First title fight. First bout scheduled beyond 10 rounds

Fitzbitz said: Valladares is older, taller, longer and has the advantage of championship experience. But Shigeoka has already scored some notable victories and looks special. Let’s see. Shigeoka decision (75/25)

WBO Mini Flyweight Championship – Osaka

Masataka Taniguchi (Champion/IWBR World No. 4) vs Melvin Jerusalem (WBO World No. 2/IWBR No. 9)

Taniguchi (16-3, 11 KO): Second title defense. 5 wins and 4KOs since last loss in 2019

Jerusalem (19-2, 11 KOs): second title fight (0-1); only loss outside the Philippines

Fitzbitz said: Jerusalem was a low blow point deduction from a draw in his first title fight, but that was six years ago. Taniyoshi by decision (80/20)

Last Week’s Picks: None

2022 draft record: 41-16 (71.9%)

Overall pick record: 1,250-408 (75.4%)

Note: The only matches previewed are those involving full-fledged title holders from sanctioned bodies. No interim, diamond, silver, etc. WBA ‘World Championship’ matches are included only if there is no ‘Super Champion’ in that division.

Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and has written a weekly column on the boxing scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Contact him at fitzbitz@msn.com or follow him on Twitter (@fitzbitz).


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