The sport of boxing is primed for a big year after 2016 did not provide fans with many great moments and fights (save for a few). January is loaded with eight world title fights and several more exciting non-title fights.
One of the many problems that plagued the sport in the past few years is the lack of unification fights to fix the constant problem of too many world titles. The first month only has one unification bout, but several of these fights open up the path of having more unification fights occurring in the second half of the year.
Without further ado, here's a quick rundown of all the top boxing fights for the month of January.
January 13: Hialeah, Florida
Erislandy Lara (c) vs. Yuri Foreman: WBA junior middleweight championship bout.
Lara isn't exactly an exciting champion to watch, but it's hard to argue that he has tremendous skills as a boxer. He already had the big fight against Canelo Alvarez, but one would think he would move on to other potential big names. Yuri Foreman is about as far from a big name fight as you can imagine.
The last time we saw Foreman on the big stage, he was a victim of unfortunate circumstances when he fought Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium with essentially one leg. After that loss, the former Israeli world champion took a break from the sport and recently came back in 2015 with a couple of wins over relative unknown fighters. There was really no rhyme or reason Foreman deserves another title shot at this point. When he was champion, he was pretty much a textbook definition of a "paper champion" (a term often used for boxing champions whose world title reigns only serve to transition to the next big name titleholder, and it's a term I personally detest, but it's a symptom of having too many world titles in multiple weight classes).
Lara should get an easy win here and a television card headlined by Lara is certainly a solid choice for Premier Boxing Champions, who need a big 2017 to remain afloat.
January 14: Brooklyn, New York
James DeGale (c) vs. Badou Jack (c): WBC and IBF super middleweight unification bout. For The Ring super middleweight title.
This is the first "big" boxing fight of 2017, kicking off what looks to be an extremely promising year in the sport. DeGale is coming into this fight looking to cement himself as not only the best boxer at 168 pounds, but the best boxer in all of Great Britain.
As for Jack, he may have not lost in any of his past three fights, all world title fights, but he didn't convincingly came out of each match as the clear and decisive winner. He won the WBC title with a majority decision against Anthony Dirrell, he then won a split decision fight against George Groves in his first defense and in his most recent fight, he had a majority draw against hot-and-cold contender Lucian Bute, retaining the title. All of those fights were tough opponents, so Jack deserves a lot of credit for performing well enough in all of those fights.
This is a fight between arguably the top two boxers at 168 pounds and the winner should start thinking about another unification bout against undefeated WBO champion Gilberto Ramirez. Those two fights should make 2017 an extremely good year for the super middleweight division.
Jose Pedraza (c) vs. Gervonta Davis: IBF junior lightweight championship bout
This a battle between two young fighters who have been untested (Davis) or has not boxed superbly well (Pedraza). Davis is a Floyd Mayweather protégé who is undefeated and has nearly knocked out every single opponent that has been put out in front of him. Unfortunately, Davis has not really fought anyone noteworthy in his career.
Pedraza, on the other hand, has not looked great since winning the belt, winning a debatable split decision fight against Edner Cherry and beating Stephen Smith via unanimous decision. Pedraza can start winning fans over with a convincing win over an otherwise glorified prospect in Davis.
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