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.
t1. Vacant IBF Junior Welterweight Championship: Anthony Yigit (21-0-1) vs. Ivan Baranchyk (18-0)
When/Where: Saturday, 9:00pm, DAZN
Juice: 3: In addition to a title up for grabs, we’ve also got the 140lb World Boxing Super Series rollins on.
Prestige: 4: Vacant titles will seldom get a five, but Baranchyk was Mikey Garcia’s mandatory before he went down a class, so it’s a high four.
Viewing Ease: 4
t1. OneFC Middleweight Championship: Aung La N Sang (c) (23-10) vs. Mohammad Karaki (9-0)
When/Where: Friday, 9:30am, OneFC App
Juice: 3: Aung is a two-division reigning champ for OneFC. He’s defended his middleweight once already, and he’s four months away from having a year-long reign of both.
Viewing Ease: 5: FREE! OneFC wants to be the biggest fight promotion in the world, and this is a great step towards it.
3. Vacant IBF World Middleweight Championship: Daniel Jacobs (34-2) vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko (12-0)
When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, HBO
Juice: 2: The GGG Bowl. Golovkin was stripped of this title for refusing his mandatory challenger, Derevyanchenko, and now he faces GGG’s toughest opponent, pre-Canelo.
Viewing Ease: 3: The swan song of HBO’s boxing. Goddamned shame. End of an era.
4. WBA World Junior Lightweight Championship: Alberto Machado (c) (20-0) vs. Yuandale Evans (20-1)
When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, HBO
Competitiveness: 3: Evans was a secondary champion, but for the WBC, while Machado is a top-5 fighter in his weight class, so this wasn’t even a mandatory, just a severe mismatch.
Prestige: 4: I will keep decrying the WBA and their absurdly stupid “regular” titles until I’m in the ground.
Viewing Ease: 3
5. Krush Bantamweight Championship: Akihiro Kaneko (c) (6-0) vs. Junya Weerasakreck (14-7-1)
When/Where: Sunday, 5:10am, GAORA (Japan)
Competitiveness: 3: Kaneko is becoming a Krush phenom, earning all six wins in Krush, three by knockout, and his star is on the rise. Junya had a rough start in Krush, but has won his last three in the promotion, all in 2018.
Viewing Ease: 1: Wake and Fake…your location with a VPN! Sorry…