The championship fight. The pinnacle of achievement across combat sports for centuries. A premiere attraction that draws millions every year. But not all title bouts are created equally.
So which title bouts every week are the ones to watch? We’ll look over every title fight from across the combat sports landscape and give you the five best based on five criteria:
- Competitiveness: Is this an even matchup? Or just a warm body to throw at a champion? It’s a title fight, so we want the best possible at that division in that promotion.
- Excitement: How exciting will this fight be? A clash of two elite talents throwing everything they have at each other in an attempt to win the gold? Or a half-dead plod-fest devoid of action or risk?
- Juice: A sort of catch-all term for all the factors behind the matchup. Is there a story leading up to the match? A true rivalry? Anticipated rematch? Do the fighters dislike each other? Were the circumstances leading to the fight extraordinary, or was it just a promoter putting two names against each other? Is there a lot of excitement or hype going into it?
- Prestige: Applies to the belt itself, but also to the fighter wearing it. Is this a long-tenured champion defending? Is this an interim title or one that was vacated? Has the champion increased the prestige of the title or is this a fight that will increase the prestige of it?
- Viewing Ease: We all don’t mind suffering for our art (or hobbies), but sometimes paying twenty dollars for a choppy stream, or searching your cable plan for a channel you’re pretty sure was just invented three days ago in the 6000s isn’t the best of times. How easy, affordable, and stress-free is this bout to watch?
So here are your five best gold options for the weekend.
1. WBO World Middleweight Championship: Billy Joe Saunders (c) (25-0) vs. David Lemieux (38-3)
When/Where: Saturday, 9:40pm, HBO
Juice: 2: Some mild trash talk, but nobody is truly excited about this bout. We all want Saunders vs. GGG for the undisputed middleweight title.
Prestige: 5: The only belt keeping GGG from being the undisputed middleweight champion.
Viewing Ease: 3
2. Vacant Titan Fighting Championship Featherweight Championship: Luis Gomez (5-1) vs. Sodiq Yusuff (5-0)
When/Where: Friday, 7:00pm, UFC Fight Pass
Prestige: 2: Lots of fighters that have held Titan gold have gone on to be big names. Shorty Torres currently holds the bantamweight and featherweight and is going to blow up huge.
Viewing Ease: 4: There’s been a shit-ton of non-UFC live fights on Fight Pass lately.
3. Vacant Legacy Fighting Alliance Bantamweight Championship: Chico Camus (18-7) vs. Ricky Simon (10-1)
When/Where: Friday, 9:00pm, AXS TV
Competitiveness: 5: Classic hotshot prospect vs. hard-nosed veteran matchup. Camus had eight fights in the UFC, there isn’t much he hasn’t seen, but will Simon prove to be big-league ready?
Excitement: 2: Simon started off his pro career with four straight first-round TKOs. Since then, his winning a lot of decisions, and Camus has always been a decision machine.
Viewing Ease: 3
4. WBO World Welterweight Championship: Jeff Horn (c) (17-0-1) vs. Gary Corcoran (17-1)
When/Where: Wednesday, 6:30am, ESPN
Prestige: 4: Yes, it’s a legit world championship, but BOY was that Pacquiao decision rank. Yuck.
Viewing Ease: 2: Have to imagine the viewing audience for a 6:30am fight will be a little lacking.
5. WBO International Heavyweight/Vacant WBA International Heavyweight Championships: Alexander Povetkin (c) (32-1) vs. Christian Hammer (22-4)
When/Where: Friday, Untelevised
Competitiveness: 4: Hammer’s record seems unimpressive until you remember he started his career 7-3 and has only lost to Tyson Fury since then. Still, Povetkin is still a notch or two above him.
Juice: 2: For the next contender of Joseph Parker’s WBO heavyweight championship.
Viewing Ease: 1