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. WBA International Junior Welterweight Championship: Shakhram Giyasov (c) (10-0) vs. Patricio Lopez Moreno (28-4)
When/Where: Saturday, 10:00am, DAZN
Excitement: 5: Between the both of them, their last three fights have lasted a combined six rounds.
Viewing Ease: 3: TEN AM BOXING, CAMPERS, RISE AND SHINE!
4. Vacant Cage Fury Fighting Championship Lightweight Championship: Jesse Smith (4-0) vs. Zulkarnaiyn Kamchybekov (4-1)
When/Where: Friday, 8:00pm, UFC Fight Pass
Excitement: 5: Both fighters are coming off of back to back finishes. Smith by submission and Kamchybekov by knockout. Who’s going to impliment their strength better?
Viewing Ease: 4: The best option on Fight Pass this weekend.
t2. WBA Super/IBF World Junior Featherweight Championships: Murodjon Akhmadaliev (c) (8-0) vs. Ryosuke Iwasa (27-3)
When/Where: Saturday, 10:00am, DAZN
Competitiveness: 5: God bless the IBF. Isawa is the interim champion, and he’s fighting for the world championship. HOW IT SHOULD BE, WBA.
Prestige: 5: Murodjon Two Belts, over here. I’ll always support any fighter that wants to unify the division.
Viewing Ease: 3
t2. Bellator Featherweight Championship: Patricio Freire (c) (31-4) vs. Emmanuel Sanchez (20-4)
When/Where: Friday, 9:00pm, Showtime
Juice: 4: In 2018, Freire defeated Sanchez by UD to retain his Featherweight title. This is also a semifinal matchup of the Bellator Featherweight Grand Prix.
Viewing Ease: 3: MMA returns to Showtime for the first time since Strikeforce (never die!) went dark.
1. WBO World Junior Lightweight Championship: Jamel Herring (c) (22-2) vs. Carl Frampton (28-2)
When/Where: Saturday, 2:00pm, ESPN+
Competitiveness: 5: Frampton hasn’t looked great against a quality opponent since 2018, but Herring is no spring chicken, either. A legit competitive world title fight. The marquee fight of the week.
Viewing Ease: 4: Saturday afternoon with nothing to do boxing is absolutely terrific.