Five fights that need to happen before the end of the year, including Spence vs Crawford

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Boxing in 2022 has already witnessed some memorable performances. Leigh Wood prevailed in an instant classic against Michael Conlan with a brutal - and dramatic - final round stoppage while Roman 'Chocolatito' Gonzalez proved his greatness with a masterclass win over Julio Cesar Martinez.

Then we had Canelo Alvarez beaten for just the second time in his career by Dmitry Bivol for the WBA light heavyweight title.

But fans always want more - and while we have another undisputed fight taking place this weekend between Jermall Charlo and Brian Castano - there are some mega-fights which need making. Below, we look at five realistic bouts that should happen before the end of the year.

Errol Spence Jr vs Terence Crawford

This fight has been on the wish list for fans for years now, but this time there is even more on the line with the two welterweights owning every major belt in the division between them.

Spence recently acquired his third welterweight belt when he came out the victor against former WBA champion Yordenis Ugas.

The American fractured Ugas' orbital bone in the process leaving the doctor with no choice but to stop the contest in the tenth round.

Crawford - who is a former undisputed champion at super lightweight - won the WBO crown in his first fight up at 147lbs, making five successful defences since then but is yet to fight since his win over Shawn Porter in November.

'Bud' is a free agent after leaving Top Rank so the time is now or never to make the fight.

Julio Cesar Martinez vs Sunny Edwards

One year on from winning the IBF flyweight title, Sunny Edwards has made waves in the division. His title-winning performance against Moruti Mthalane was a standout performance by the Brit. Edwards outpointed the South African and became the first man to defeat him in 13 years. Since Edwards got his hands on the belt the only name he's been chasing is the WBC champion Julio Cesar Martinez. The Mexican - who's held the belt since 2019 after defeating Cristofer Rosales for the vacant strap - is seen by many as number one in the division, under the guidance and training of Eddie Reynoso. What adds intrigue to his bout however is the history between Martinez and the Edwards family. Charlie Edwards - the older brother of Sunny, met Martinez in the ring in the summer of 2019. The fight ended in the third round when Martinez's flurry of body shots had the older Edwards brother take a knee - yet 'El Rey' continued to strike the Brit while on the canvas leaving him unable to continue. Despite it originally being called a third-round knockout, it was overturned by the WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman immediately into a no contest.

Mairis Briedis vs Lawrence Okolie

Since former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk moved up to conquer the heavyweights, it was the Latvian Mairis Briedis that was seen as the rightful heir to the cruiserweight throne. Already a two-time cruiserweight champion - as well as being a unified titleholder at one point - Briedis has been the pioneer of the division in the post Usyk era. But now there is a newcomer to the scene and that is Lawrence Okolie. In 2021, he dispatched Krzysztof Glowacki in six rounds to claim the vacant WBO belt. The Hackney-born champion has been calling the name of Briedis since and is hoping to face the current IBF and Ring Magazine titlist. In recent times, Briedis has become a bit of a novelty to the sport of boxing with the 37-year-old regularly calling out Jake Paul as well as getting a tattoo showing the seriousness in his claims of wanting to fight the YouTuber turned boxer. Briedis was ringside however for Okolie's last fight, a unanimous decision win over Michal Cieslak. He was dressed in a Super Mario outfit and entered the ring after Okolie's latest win. Okolie can not stay at 200lbs for too much longer due to having difficulty making weight so this will need to get made sooner rather than later.

Claressa Shields vs Savannah Marshall

Claressa Shields
Claressa Shields

Shields entered the professional circuit following successive gold medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics. Her amateur record was 77-1 with the only defeat coming against Savannah Marshall. In her pro career, the self-proclaimed GWOAT has already won everything she possibly can, becoming undisputed in both the super welterweight and middleweight divisions as well as becoming a unified champion as a super middleweight. Alongside this, Shields has also tried her luck in MMA, with a current record of 1-1. Despite all this, it's that one loss to Marshall that has always seemed to elude her. 'The Silent Assassin' has become one of the biggest punchers in women's boxing since teaming up with Peter Fury - the uncle of Tyson Fury. Picking up her WBO middleweight strap in 2020, the Geordie is currently on a knockout streak of eight fights, with her last possibly being the most brutal as she ended Femke Hermans night early with a savage left hook. There are talks that this fight will happen in the summer at the home of Newcastle United - St. James' Park.

Stephen Fulton vs Murodjon Akhmadaliev

After coming into 2021 beltless, Stephen Fulton ended the year as unified super bantamweight champion. 'Cool Boy Steph' recorded impressive wins over Angelo Leo and Brandon Figueroa for the WBO and WBC belts respectively. On the other side of the world title picture, Akhmadaliev followed up on his 2016 Olympic bronze medal success by winning world honours in only his eighth fight - where he edged a split decision against former unified champion Daniel Roman for the WBA and IBF straps. Like Fulton, 'MJ' has seen his stock rise in the 122lbs rankings due to his highly popular heavy-handed come forward style. Despite not being household names, the hardcore fans have been pushing for this fight since they both become the unified champions. With Fulton set to defend his belts against former champion Roman at the start of June and Akhmadaliev taking on his mandatory challenger Ronny Rios at the end of June, the schedules of the champions match up providing they both come through victorious. Both fighters are currently undefeated and their styles are guaranteed to make a compelling fight.

The article Five fights that need to happen before the end of the year, including Spence vs Crawford appeared first on Planetsport.com.

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