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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?


So here are your five best gold options for the weekend.


1. WBA/IBF World Cruiserweight Championships: Murat Gassiev (c) (25-0) vs. Yunier Dorticos (c) (22-0)

When/Where: Saturday, Untelevised

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 5
Juice: 4: The semifinals of the Cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series and a WBA/IBF unification.
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 2: No WBSS United States TV deals, but they’ve recognized that and have tried to provide streams.

Total: 21



2. WBC World Flyweight Championship: Daigo Higa (c) (14-0) vs. Moises Fuentes (25-4-1)

When/Where: Sunday, Untelevised

Competitiveness: 5: Now here’s a legit damned world title matchup! Finally, two legit top-10ers in the division.
Excitement: 5: Both of these guys are monsters, especially for flyweights. Higa’s fourteen wins are all by KO/TKO, and Fuentes lives by the sword and dies by the power often.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 1

Total: 17



3. IBF World Junior Bantamweight Championship: Jerwin Ancajas (c) (28-1-1) vs. Israel Gonzalez (21-1)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:15, ESPN/ESPN3

Competitiveness: 3: Gonzalez’s fight card isn’t a complete joke like Kiram or Ahmed, but it’s not exactly sterling.
Excitement: 3
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5: This is a legit world title, but it’s been vacated an awful lot. Fortunately, Ancajas is singlehandedly rehabbing it, and will be making his fourth defense of his crown, the most of this since 1993.
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 16



t4. WBO World Super Middleweight Championship: Gilberto Ramirez (c) (36-0) vs. Habib Ahmed (25-0-1)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:15, ESPN/ESPN3

Competitiveness: 2: The parallels to Tewa Kiram are stunning. An inflated undefeated record? Check. A completely unworthy contender? Check. Never fought out of his home country? Check. This is garbage.
Excitement: 3: A knockout artist in his younger days, Ramirez’s last six fights have ended in decision.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 15



t4. Flyweight King of Pancrase: Senzo Ikeda (c) (11-6-1) vs. Yuya Wakamatsu (9-1)

When/Where: Sunday, 1:00am, UFC Fight Pass

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 3: Ikeda is a decision monster, but Wakamatsu is a KO machine. Who’s gonna decide the flow of the fight?
Juice: 1
Prestige: 3: King of Pancrase was the first recognized MMA world title, and still holds some clout today, primarily in the lighter weight classes.
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 15