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. WBA-NABA Featherweight Championship: Abraham Lopez (c) (22-0-1) vs. Jesus M. Rojas (24-1-2)
When/Where: Friday, 8:00pm, ESPN2
Juice: 3: For a secondary title, actually has a story. Rojas lost the WBA-NABA Featherweight strap on the scale in March of 2016, despite winning the bout. That June, Lopez won the vacant title. Now they’re finally meeting to determine the “true” champ.
Viewing Ease: 5: Going to be simulcast on ESPN3, so between a basic cable channel and live streaming, hard to miss this card.
2. Victory Fighting Championship Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Gallemore (c) (6-3) vs. Daniel James (6-2-1)
When/Where: Friday, 9:00pm, UFC Fight Pass
Excitement: 5: Gallemore is a heavyweight hoss that delivers every time he enters a cage. All six wins have been finishes, and has been working a submission game into his repertoire lately.
Viewing Ease: 4: Your weekly reminder that Fight Pass is an absolute steal. The Glory Superfight Series sells it alone.
3. WBO World Heavyweight Championship: Joseph Parker (c) (22-0) vs. Razvan Cojanu (16-2)
When/Where: Saturday, SKY Australia
Competitiveness: 2: This really stands out since we just saw a heavyweight world champ in Anthony Joshua take on Wladimir fucking Klitschko, so this looks…whew…not good, in comparison.
Viewing Ease: 2: Yes, it’s Australian TV, but because it’s through a big broadcaster like SKY, it shouldn’t be hard to find a stream.
t4. WBC World Female Junior Lightweight Championship: Eva Wahlstrom (c) (19-0-1) vs. Mayra Alejandra Gomez (18-5)
When/Where: Saturday, Untelevised
Excitement: 2: Neither women have serious power, but Wahlstrom, despite being the best 126lb female boxer in the world, can play down to her competition at times and make it closer than it should.
Prestige: 4: Aside from parker-Cojanu, the only world championship boxing match this weekend.
Viewing Ease: 1
t4. WBA Intercontinental Junior Featherweight Championship: Hugo Berrio (c) (23-6-1) vs. Evgeny Gradovich (22-2-1)
When/Where: Friday, Russian TV
Juice: 2: Gradovich, the longtime featherweight world champ, takes his first step towards becoming a two-division world champ.
Prestige: 2: Yes, it is a secondary title, but it’s clear it’s being used, if Gradovich wins, to point towards a WBA Junior Featherweight world title shot, next.
Viewing Ease: 1