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Anthony Yarde v Joshua Buatsi? Katie Taylor v Amanda Serrano: Steve Bunce picks his fantasy fights for 2022

2022 will be a cracking year for boxing, according to BBC Radio 5 Live analyst Steve Bunce

It looks certain that 2022 will be a rare year for boxing. Never have we approached the new year with so many bouts already made and so many others guaranteed.

We have four big fights involving British boxers in the first six weeks of the year. We’ve never had that.

Then we’ve got about another 10 we know will be made across different divisions in the men’s and women’s code and so we’ve never had, in my opinion, such a positive start to the year.

What we have at the start of each year, usually, is a hopeful start filled with fantasy fights we’d like to see happen. Fights we really think should happen and hope they will.

Then we’ve often been left disappointed – but not in 2022.

In January, Callum Johnson challenges Joe Smith Jr for the WBO light-heavyweight title and Chris Eubank Jr faces Liam Williams.

In February, Amir Khan finally fights long-time rival Kell Brook and undisputed junior welterweight champion Josh Taylor returns to Scotland to defend his titles against Jack Catterall.

We’ve been promised a massive fight between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte in March.

In April, we have Anthony Joshua against Oleksandr Usyk and then in May we go to New York, where Amanda Serrano fights Irishwoman Katie Taylor.

Then we get Michael Conlan from Belfast against Leigh Wood for the world featherweight title and possibly Josh Warrington against Kiko Martinez for a world title – all of this before the end of May.

These are not fantasy fights. Some of these fights would be our fantasy fights. But I don’t have to conjure them up as fantasy fights because they’re actually going to happen.

But I’ll tell you what, if you told me I could only have one fight it would be this: Madison Square Garden, Taylor defending all four of the lightweight titles against her bitter rival Serrano.

That’s a fight that will change how we look at women’s boxing. There’s been a revolution since 2012 when it was allowed into the Olympics.

What a year we’ve got to look forward to but, with that said, there are more fights that can and should be made.

Here are the six fights I want to see in 2022.

Teofimo Lopez v Gervonta Davis

Gervonta Davis is the WBA Regular lightweight champion

I’ll start international and with two people who have a bad/great attitude. They are marmite fighters if you like, but brilliant fighters. Teofimo Lopez against Gervonta Davis would be an absolute beauty.

It doesn’t matter about weight. It doesn’t matter about belts. Two guys who, if they’re not careful, will just vanish without getting close to achieving what they’re capable of.

In the lightweights there could be six or seven fights made. Vasiliy Lomachenko, Devin Haney, George Kambosos Jr, Ryan Garcia – so many more. But this is a bit like desert island fights and I can only take one of them to that desert island.

What do I do with the lightweights? I want to take Lopez and Davis, two men who have an unpleasant side but are both brilliant in the ring.

Terence Crawford v Errol Spence Jr

Terence Crawford has long called for a fight with Errol Spence Jr

I’ve got to include the welterweight fight that we’ve talked about on the Radio 5 Live podcast probably since the end of 2017. Terence Crawford, unbeaten, against without a doubt the only man out there for him, Errol Spence Jr.

They have history, a lot of history but need to share a ring to make more. The problem is Spence Jr is accident prone and suffered some eye damage.

They’re both getting older and there are other fighters chasing them, but this is the second fight I’d like to see.

Anthony Yarde v Joshua Buatsi

I’m convinced my next one is not just one of the biggest fights in British boxing but world boxing.

It’s the type of fight we need more of in British boxing and it’s Anthony Yarde against Joshua Buatsi.

Buatsi, on promise alone, has been considered one of the best fighters in Britain. That’s not on statistics or what he’s done in the ring, but on promise – however it’s a long time since the Rio Olympics when he won a bronze medal.

Yarde went out to Russia and lost to Sergey Kovalev, then lost to Lyndon Arthur but got great revenge in one of the fights of the year.

Buatsi’s people will think Yarde is a brilliant stepping stone and Yarde’s people will think they can do a job on Buatsi.

They are, though, promoted and managed by different people and TV channels. It might be one of the biggest no-brainer fights to make but it’s one of the hardest to make.

Who wins it? I really don’t know.

Buatsi was on such a roll in 2019 fighting on the undercard of Joshua’s American debut against Andy Ruiz, but that’s 30 months ago now. He needs to move on. He was 25 forever, but no more.

Yarde grew so much in his two defeats. The loss to Kovalev changed him and the defeat to Arthur made him. I’ve really got the hots for Yarde against Buatsi, it’s a really special fight.

At this point I should be listing fights like Fury against Whyte, but it’s got to happen and it’s going to happen, so I move through the list.

I’ve got to be a little bit careful here because I’ve only got three fights left to choose. I’ll choose carefully.

Joe Joyce v Daniel Dubois II

Joe Joyce beat Daniel Dubois in their fight in November 2020

I am going to stick with the Brits and I’m going to come up with Joe Joyce.

I’d like to see Joyce, and this might sound odd and people might think it’s a backwards step, but I want to see him in a rematch with Daniel Dubois.

I’m amazed people aren’t talking more about that rematch. Since their fight in November 2020 the pair of them have been treading water so why not have a rematch?

Joyce’s people probably won’t like it but it’s a big fight. Dubois’ people haven’t really been too eager to have it but it’s a great fight.

Conor Benn v Adrien Broner

Next on my wishlist is Conor Benn against Adrien Broner.

This is a fight we think is going to happen and it’s got everything.

People have been writing Broner off. They imagine he’s 37, but he’s only 32 and he’s smart and doesn’t get hurt in fights. Sure he’s lost a couple, but Broner against Benn is a really, really special fight, trust me.

I’ve had conversations about how Benn should fight welterweight world champions Spence Jr or Yordenis Ugas.

Sure he should, but it doesn’t work that way. When you’ve got Broner it sells out the O2 Arena in minutes. He beats him and becomes a star.

As his father Nigel Benn told us on the podcast recently, who cares if he loses? It doesn’t matter. He’ll be a better fighter when he comes back. That’s why I’m opting for this one.

Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez v Artur Beterbiev

Artur Beterbiev is the WBC and IBF light-heavyweight champion

What would be the fight I really want to see? Well I’m going to tell you, it’s going to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

I think he can beat WBC cruiserweight champion Ilunga Makabu. That fight will happen and the reason is Makabu doesn’t make a lot of money and suddenly he’ll fight Alvarez and make $9m (£7m) or so, enough to live comfortably for the rest of his life.

That’s already in the works.

The fight I want to see is Alvarez against the man who has earned the nickname ‘the Beast’, Artur Beterbiev.

Unbeaten in 17 fights, all by stoppage or bloody knockout. He’s destroyed them all. Beterbiev against Alvarez in Mexico city, let me fantasize a little bit more, at the Azteca Stadium, with a 140,000 record attendance.

That would be the perfect year for me.

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