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

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

Combat

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

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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.

 

t4. WBO World Junior Middleweight Championship: Jaime Munguia (c) (32-0) vs. Dennis Hogan (28-1-1)

When/Where: Saturday, 7:00pm, DAZN

Competitiveness: 3: Hogan’s a legit fighter at 154lbs, but I wouldn’t put him top-ten, and he’s a step and a half below Munguia.
Excitement: 3
Juice: 2: Munguia returns home to Mexico for the first time since becoming a world champion.
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 17

 

t4. WBA Super/WBO World Lightweight Championships: Vasyl Lomachenko (c) (12-1) vs. Anthony Crolla (34-6-3)

When/Where: Friday, 11:00pm, ESPN+

Competitiveness: 2: If this was Loma’s lightweight debut, I’d score this a little higher. Crolla is a former world champ, a great veteran who’s fought a variety of boxers, but after already defeating Jorge Linares and Jose Pedraza at lightweight, what’s Crolla gonna show him that he hasn’t seen already?
Excitement: 5: It’s Loma, man. You’re watching boxing artistry at work. And if for some reason he gets dragged into a battle, like he did against Linares, he can deliver there, too.
Juice: 1
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 4

Total: 17

 

3. Interim UFC Middleweight Championship: Israel Adesanya (16-0) vs. Kelvin Gastelum (15-3)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, ESPN+ Pay-Per-View

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 5: Yes, this is absolutely going to own. I think Gastelum is crazy underrated, but there’s no UFC fighter that has the style (bender) of Israel Adesanya. His best bet might be to pull a UVA basketball and slow things down a little. Nevertheless, I don’t see how this won’t be awesome.
Juice: 2
Prestige: 3: Death to interim championships
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 18

 

2. Interim UFC Lightweight Championship: Dustin Poirier (24-5) vs. Max Holloway (20-3)

When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, ESPN+ Pay-Per-View

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 5
Juice: 3: In February of 2012, Holloway was 4-0 and making his UFC debut. Poirier was 11-1 and working towards a featherweight title fight before Chan Sung Jung derailed that. Over seven years have passed. 29 wins between the two have passed, and tons of awards. Now they get to go at it again after each has grown, evolved, and reached their peak form.
Prestige: 3
Viewing Ease: 3: Nice of ESPN+ to lower the price by a finski.

Total: 19

 

1. IBF/WBA/WBC/WBO World Women’s Middleweight Championship: Christina Hammer (c) (24-0) vs. Claressa Shields (8-0)

When/Where: Saturday, 9:10pm, Showtime

Competitiveness: 5
Excitement: 2: Despite Shields’s technical brilliance, it hasn’t translated into power or excitement at the next level. Hammer can crush cans, but can’t finish legit contenders.
Juice: 5: This is being billed as the biggest women’s boxing bout of all-time, and I can’t disagree. This is a monster and the logical endgame for Shields’s rise from Olympic legend to world champion. Maybe one day Katie Taylor fighting in Ireland might pass it, but this is the best of the best of women’s sweet science.
Prestige: 5
Viewing Ease: 3

Total: 20

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