The Ecstasy of Gold: 5 Best Title Fights of the Weekend

The Ecstasy of Gold: 5 Best Title Fights of the Weekend


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. WBO World Featherweight Championship: Oscar Valdez (c) (23-0) vs. Scott Quigg (34-1-2)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:30pm, ESPN

Competitiveness: 5: Quigg is a live dog, here. Valdez will have his toughest task to date.
Excitement: 5
Juice: 3: LOVE this matchup. Perfect “unproven champ” against “name challenger” matchup. Quigg is the biggest name Valdez has faced, and getting Quigg’s first fight in the U.S. is a great get.
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 22


2. Vacant WBA World Junior Welterweight Championship: Kiryl Relikh (21-2) vs. Rances Barthelemy (26-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:15pm, Showtime

Competitiveness: 5: Their first bout was a lot more competitive than the scores indicated.
Excitement: 3
Juice: 4: This is a rematch of a contender’s bout in their last contest, which Barthelemy won by a reasonable unanimous decision, but it wasn’t all well-received. Al Bernstein called it “nothing short of an outrage”. Now in their next contest, it’ll be for a world title.
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 20


3. IBF World Junior Welterweight Championship: Sergey Lipinets (c) (13-0) vs. Mikey Garcia (37-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:15pm, Showtime

Competitiveness: 3: This is a bonkers step-up for Lipinets, who was dropped by Akihiro Kondo in his last bout for the IBF belt, and got by on scorecards that were much larger than they had any right to be.
Excitement: 4
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5: After Bud Crawford cleaned out the division and held all four major world title belts, the IBF, WBC, and WBA are trying this weekend to get back on their feet.
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 16


4. Interim WBC World Junior Welterweight Championship: Julius Indongo (22-1) vs. Regis Prograis (20-0)

When/Where: Friday, 10:00pm, Showtime

Competitiveness: 3
Excitement: 2
Juice: 2: Only in the rather sad way of Indongo trying to get his belt back that he lost to Terence Crawford and earning his first career loss.
Prestige: 4: Like I said above, the whole division is in flux after Terence Crawford conquered and advanced.
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 14


5. Krush 58kg Championship: Haruma Saikyo (c) (11-2) vs. Yuta Murakoshi (23-5)

When/Where: Saturday, Untelevised

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 3
Juice: 1
Prestige: 3: Glory’s lightest weight class is featherweight at 65kg,
Viewing Ease: 1: C’mon man, it’s 2018, let’s get Krush on some screens. Looking at you, FITE TV!

Total: 13

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