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.
5. Vacant WBC Continental Americas Light Heavyweight Championship: Eleider Alvarez (24-1) vs. Michael Seals (24-2) [Top Rank on ESPN]
When/Where: Saturday, 10:00pm, ESPN
Competitiveness: 2: Just a tune-up fight after Alvarez’s rematch loss to Sergey Kovalev to get him back into the title picture.
Prestige: 1: Such a weak title (vacant, no less!) to be on the main event of ESPN.
Viewing Ease: 4
4. IBO World Welterweight Championship: Sebastian Formella (c) (21-0) vs. Roberto Arriaza (18-1)
When/Where: Saturday, MDR Germany
Competitiveness: 4: This is Formella’s fight to lose, but Arriaza is a live dog.
Prestige: 2: IBO is the biggest sanctioning body not recognized as being a legitimate world championship, but even as a secondary, its champions have gone on to become some of the best boxers in the world.
Viewing Ease: 1
3. Interim WBC World Female Junior Flyweight Championship: Kenia Enriquez (c) (22-1) vs. Chaox Minowa (6-2)
When/Where: Friday, Mexico Azteca
Excitement: 4: Minowa has startling power in her hands. Not very technically proficient, but enough dynamite to give Enriquez some pause.
Prestige: 4: Please don’t become the WBA, WBC. Let’s wrap this up and get the winner and Yesenia Gomez in the ring to unify these.
Viewing Ease: 2
2. Interim WBA World Junior Lightweight Championship: Chris Colbert (13-0) vs. Jezzrel Corrales (23-3)
When/Where: Saturday, 8:00pm, FOX
Prestige: 2: The WBA’s insistence on CONSTANTLY having a Super, Regular, and Interim champion is a disgusting fee grab, and the sooner the WBA is discredited, the better.
Viewing Ease: 5: I know it’s only a third-tier WBA title, but free TV!
1. WBA Super/IBF World Junior Middleweight Championships: Julian Williams (c) (27-1-1) vs. Jeison Rosario (19-1-1)
When/Where: Saturday, 8:00pm, FOX
Competitiveness: 3: Williams gets a game but beatable opponent in his first title defense.
Prestige: 5: Williams holds two belts, unification is the hot shit right now.
Viewing Ease: 5