We are now into June and as you look ahead there is an unusually strong lineup of fights scheduled for this season. Here's a look at the biggest and best bouts that will headline the summer slate of boxing.
- June 10: Josh Taylor vs. Teofimo Lopez - The Theater at Madison Square Garden, New York (ESPN)
This bout is flying a bit under the radar, perhaps because of the recent inactivity of Taylor (19-0/13 KOs) and the uneven performance of Lopez (18-1, 13 KOs). The last time the public saw 'the Tartan Tornado' he was very fortunate to get a decision over the crafty, Jack Catterall, back in February of 2022.
But prior to that, he was considered one of the very best boxers in the world. Since then he has vacated most of his belts at 140 (currently he has the WBO), but is still the Ring Magazine junior welterweight champion.
As for Lopez, things have never been the same since he defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko a few years ago to win the lightweight title. His most recent bout saw him eke out a close decision versus Sandor Martin back in December. During that frustrating night at the Garden he hit the canvas while having problems with the Spaniard's southpaw style. Can Lopez regain the form that once had pundits considering him a future star?
Taylor-Lopez is a real crossroads match in a sense that the winner regains some of his lost stature, while the loser faces an uncertain future. This is already a bit of a grudge match as neither guy particularly likes one another. Is Taylor still a pound-for-pound elite? And have we already seen the best of Lopez?
- July 18: Eimantas Stanionis vs. Vergil Ortiz Jr - AT@T Center, San Antonio, TX (DAZN)
The best way to describe this pivotal welterweight match-up is 'long awaited', because it has been post-poned twice in 2023. First it was an injury to Stanionis (14-0, 9 KOs), and then another case of rhabdomyolysis that felled Ortiz (19-0, 19 KOs). Now, if this bout finally does come off, this is one of the most fan-friendly pairings to be made in the welterweight class.
There was a time when Ortiz was Mr. Reliable, unlike some of his other Golden Boy stablemates, he was young man that just spoke softly and carried a big stick. But as was noted earlier, his health has hindered his progress. He fought just once in '22, and this is his first outing since defeating Michael McKinson (KO9) last summer. But at his best, he's a heavy-handed boxer puncher, who puts together sharp combinations and can hurt you with either hand.
Stanionis is a bruiser, who has great physical strength and endurance. He's not the kind of puncher that will necessary get you out of there with one punch, but will just wear you down with volume and steady pressure. Ortiz will see that finding him will not be difficult, as he'll be right in front of him from the very first bell.
Ortiz-Stanionis -- which pits the number five and six rated welterweights by Ring Magazine -- is really about the future of the division post-Errol Spence and Terence Crawford.
- July 25: Naoya Inoue vs. Stephen Fulton - Ariake Arena, Japan (ESPN+)
If there is a current fight on the schedule that has captured the fancy of the hard-core fans, it's this one. You have 'the Monster' from Japan, who is a three-division champion, who is atop a few pound-for-pound lists, against a guy in Fulton (21-0, 8 KOs), who is the rated number one at junior featherweight by Ring, and a unified champion (WBC, WBO). Many believe Fulton should be on these pound-for-pound lists with his all-around skills and accomplishments.
Inoue (24-0, 21 KOs) was most recently the undisputed bantamweight king, who made the decision to not just dip his toe into the water at 122, but dive right into the deep end. He is as complete and lethal an offensive machine as you'll ever see. Inoue is a mesmirizing blend of speed, power and variety. But how will he handle this move up in weight and the speed of Fulton?
The native of Philadelphia will have to venture out to earn this career-high payday. Some think that this is a bit unfair given that he is the defending champion, but the bottom line is that this is where the big yen is. Should Fulton come out victorious, there would be no denying his place among the sports elite.
- July 29 - Errol Spence vs. Terence Crawford - T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas (Showtime PPV)
Yes, its finally happening, for all the marbles at welterweight, the long awaited clash between Spence and Crawford has been signed, sealed and delivered. While some may think that this bout has been over-marinated, the fact is that this is still the two best welterweights around, and they are rated third (Crawford) and fourth (Spence) in the pound-for-pound ratings by Ring. There really is no other match-up that will have two boxers rated so high facing off in this category.
It's an interesting mix of styles between two fighters who don't shy away from contact. Spence (28-0, 22 KOs) is a brick laying southpaw, who breaks people down with a well-rounded attack. While Crawford (39-0, 30 KOs) is the most versatile and adaptable boxers of recent memory. 'Bud' is one that can dissect you from either stance and has a real mean streak.
But it's safe to say that Spence will be the best offensive fighter he will have ever faced, and it's the native of DeSoto, Texas, that is the natural welterweight. Yet, keep this in mind, it's Crawford who has scored more stoppages in recent years. Its clear he has grown into a legitimate 147 pounder.
All disputes will be settled on this night.
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Speaking of Spence-Crawford, the pre-sale for tickets begins on June 1(Thursday) through AXS.com from 10 AM, PT to 10 PM, PT, with code: BOXING. The public on-sale begins on Friday....A fight that is being brandied about is a lightweight contest between William Zepeda and Mercito Gesta....The WBA has ordered their 140-pound titlist, Rolando Romero, to face Ohara Davies....Another addition to the summer schedule, Top Rank has announced George Kambosos-Maxi Hughes for July 22 in Shawnee, Oklahoma. Highly touted prospect, Keyshawn Davis, will be on this ESPN broadcast....So did you like the conclusion of 'Succession' on HBO?....Yeah, I'm done with 'Yellowjackets' on Showtime....I can be reached at email@example.com.....