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The Sports Daily > Undercard Superstar
The Ecstasy of Gold: 5 Best Title Fights of the Weekend

 

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?

 

 

1. Vacant WBA World Female Lightweight Championship: Anahi Esther Sanchez (17-2) vs. Katie Taylor (6-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 5:00pm, SKY/Showtime

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 3
Juice: 4: Taylor, Irish Olympic boxing hero, goes for her first world championship
Prestige: 4: Bumped down from a five because Sanchez failed to make weight for the biggest fight of her career and now it’s vacant with only Taylor able to win the belt.
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 19

 

 

2. Glory Light Heavyweight Championship: Artem Vakhitov (c) (18-5) vs. Ariel Machado (45-8)

When/Where: Saturday, 3:30pm, ESPN3

Competitiveness: 3
Excitement: 3: Neither Vakhitov or Machado are really barnburners, more strategically-based.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5: Glory’s on a pretty good roll and are managing to keep their titles important and strong.
Viewing Ease: 5

Total: 17

 

 

t3. IBF/WBA Super/IBO World Heavyweight Championship: Anthony Joshua (c) (19-0) vs. Carlos Takam (35-3-1)

When/Where: Saturday, 5:00pm, SKY/Showtime

Competitiveness: 2: There’s only maybe three heavyweights in the world that Joshua could be competitive with, and Kubrat Pulev isn’t one, but he was a much better option than Takam, which was the original plan.
Excitement: 5: It’s Joshua, he’s always fun to watch.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 16

 

 

t3. WBA World Junior Bantamweight Championship: Khalid Yafai (c) (22-0) vs. Sho Ishida (24-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 5:00pm, SKY/Showtime

Competitiveness: 3: This might be a little too soon for Ishida. His last two bouts were eight-rounders, and he’ll probably be a world champ at some point, I’m not sure it’s this point.
Excitement: 4: Junior bantamweights with serious pop. Ishida’s last two fights have totalled under five rounds.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 16

 

 

5. IBF World Female Minimumweight Championship: Zong Ju Cai (c) (9-1) vs. Gretchen Abaniel (18-8)

When/Where: Saturday, Untelevised

Competitiveness: 3: Zong can be had, but it’ll be a damned challenge. Her last fight, when she won the title, she lost one card 98-92. If Abaniel comes out and gives it her all, as it may be her last chance, she could get it, but I don’t think it’s likely.
Excitement: 2
Juice: 3: This is Abaniel’s SIXTH opportunity at a world title. She’s on a three-fight winning streak, but at 31, there might not be more chances to finally become a world champion.
Prestige: 4
Viewing Ease: 1

Total: 13