BM writers' 2018 predictions

Boxing Monthly
17/01/2018 12:52pm

Six members of the BM team make their 2018 predictions regarding who will win and lose world and British titles, as well as making their picks for who will triumph in the WBSS tournaments ... and a whole lot more besides...


John Angus MacDonald
A fighter who will win their first world title...
Raymundo Beltran, who should have been a world champion by now. His fight with Ricky Burns was scored a draw - although most felt Beltran won. It looked as if he had finally become a champion when Crawford vacated the WBO title, but his victory over Takahiro Ao was changed to a no-contest when he failed a drugs test. Beltran faces former champ Paulus Moses in February for the belt vacated by Terry Flanagan. Barring another doping violation or failing to make the 135lbs weight limit, I believe the Mexican will finally become a world champion.

A world champion who will lose their title...
Mairis Briedis. The Latvian is a good world champion, but unfortunately he is facing a better one in Oleksandr Usyk, next.

A fighter who will win their first British title...
JJ Metcalf. Now that Liam Williams has vacated the British super welterweight title, Metcalf looks certain to be involved in any fight to decide the new champion.

A fighter who will lose their British title...
Sam Sexton. I feel that before the end of 2018 Sexton will receive an offer to face either Joe Joyce or Daniel Dubois. Sexton would be the underdog in either of those contests.

The winner of the cruiserweight WBSS will be...
Oleksandr Usyk. The Ukrainian is the most technically gifted of the four remaining fighters in the tournament. Whilst the the others may have more power, Usyk has the skill set to win with relative ease.

The winner of super middleweight WBSS will be...
George Groves. The case for 'The Saint' is easy to make: huge at weight, one of the best jabs in the sport and - arguably - the greatest one-punch power of those left it in the tournament. The concern is the vulnerability he has displayed in the past, but I think the new-found belief gained by finally becoming a world champion will negate that weakness to an extent.

UK prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Josh Kelly. The 2016 Olympian has been moved quickly in his first year as a pro. I expect that will continue in the new year. By the end of 2018 I’d be surprised if he doesn’t hold a top ten ranking with at least one sanctioning body.

World prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Artem Dalakian. The 30-year-old Ukraine-based Azeri has not been tested in his 15 pro fights. However he is likely to contest the WBA flyweight title vacated by Kazuto Ioka.

The super fight that will happen is...
Golovkin-Canelo II. Now that Billy Joe Saunders has prevented the possibility of Golden Boy Promotions making Lemieux-Alvarez for the WBO title, a rematch between the two marquee names in the division seems inevitable.

The super fight that won’t happen is...
Joshua-Fury. It is a fight that will eventually happen at Wembley which means it must happen during the Summer. With Fury unlikely to have had a comeback fight until April, August 2018 is too soon. We will have to wait until 2019 for this one.

Outside bet to win a world title...
Jose Uzcategui. The Venezuelan will face Andre Dirrell in a rematch after the controversial ending to their first fight. The bout will serve as a final eliminator to become IBF mandatory challenger. I think Uzcategui will beat Dirrell and given that the IBF are strict when it comes to mandatories, he may get first shot at Caleb Truax.


Marcus Bellinger
A fighter who will win their first world title...
Tsubasa Koura. The Japanese minimumweight has showed real power in demolishing a couple of durable foes but his razor thin decision win over Masataka Taniguchi showed he also had a good gas tank and could dig deep in the championship rounds and I think he's capable of beating any of the four champions at 105lbs.

A world champion who will lose their title...
Adonis Stevenson. I know I'm taking a big risk with this pick given his track record but whether it's against Badou Jack or Oleksandr Gvozdyk I think the pitiful light heavyweight reign of the Haitian-Canadian will finally come to an end in 2018.

A fighter who will win their first British title...
Zelfa Barrett. I've become a bit cynical about UK prospects because of the dreadful matchmaking at times but Barrett to me is the goods and simply oozes class.

A fighter who will lose their British title...
Sam Sexton. Not much else to say here except I think there are enough young heavyweights who will get a crack for Sexton to be deposed.

The winner of the cruiserweight WBSS...
Usyk.

The winner of the super middleweight WBSS...
Groves.

UK prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
I rate Josh Kelly and Joshua Buatsi but I'm not sure if they will be given the right fights so I'm being boring and going with Barrett again.

World prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Not as many standouts this year but someone who caught my eye was Russian welterweight Sergey Lubkovich.

Super fight that will happen...
Canelo-GGG 2.

Super fight that won't happen...
Garcia-Lomachenko.

Outside bet to win a world title...
Masayuki Ito. The super featherweight possesses good movement, is pretty quick and a sharp puncher and I'd confidently back him to beat Kenichi Ogawa and Alberto Machado. His high WBO ranking could also see him get a shot at a vacant strap if Lomachenko moves up.


Shaun Brown
A fighter who will win their first world title...
Luke Campbell. His fights in 2018 will only be world level fights; be that eliminators, fighting a fellow top tenner or a big domestic fight. He will have gained so much from the Jorge Linares fight and if a rematch was made in the U.K. I'd back him to come out on top second time around. The winner of Beltran-Moses and Easter Jr-Fortuna should be earmarked as possible targets too. Campbell certainly has the capabilities to beat any of those four.

A world champion who will lose their title...
Caleb Truax. As much as his win over DeGale was one of the year's most memorable moments and the upset of 2017 he is now a marked man. Whether it's the DeGale rematch next or someone else there are plenty of viable names who have a realistic shot of beating Truax. The DeGale performance may have been his Buster Douglas moment.

A fighter who will win their first British title...
Zelfa Barrett. Never been less than thoroughly impressed every time I've watched him. He has the ability of a future world champion and looks a nightmare for anyone to fight at domestic level at super featherweight. I fully expect Martin J Ward to vacate after winning European honours leaving the door open for Barrett and Sam Bowen too. I think Barrett will get the push for the British title first and here's hoping Barrett vs Bowen is made in 2018.

A fighter who will lose their British title...
Sam Sexton. It feels like a matter of time before Dubois gets to him, despite his age and number of fights. Dubois is a serious prospect with a jab that will end up world class and power to give any contender sleepless nights. It was great to see Sam win the title but Dubois would have far too much for him.

The winner of the cruiserweight WBSS will be...
My heart says Gassiev but my head says Usyk. The variety that Usyk shows on the back foot and front foot is a joy to watch. I just wonder if a fight with Usyk would be coming too soon for Gassiev but that is the nature of the beast (WBSS) and we love it for that reason. It's a heck of a prospect, a final between those two. I've went back and forth with this but I can't not see Usyk winning.

The winner of super middleweight WBSS will be...
George Groves. He's found momentum and has one critical advantage over the likes of Eubank Jr and Smith, and that's experience. You can't buy it as they say. He's been there got the t-shirt, worn it, had it ripped off him and went back and got another one. There is nothing that the other semi-finalists bring that he hasn't seen. Added to that he has the tools to nullify Eubank Jr, in particular.

UK prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Josh Kelly. He's the full package and has that beloved x-factor that fans, viewers and network bosses love. He has everything that it takes all the way to the top but even after five fights we need to see him in much stiffer tests. Shayne Singleton and the loser between O'Donnell and Tamuka should all be looked at in the first half of the year. I would expect him to pass those tests with flying colours. He needs to be matched the way Josh Taylor has been. Kelly is a special talent and is talked about often enough, now let's see it.

World prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Jason Quigley. Working with Dominic Ingle alongside Saunders and Brook is only going to push him on and there's no reason why fights with Stevens, N'Dam, Johnson etc can't be looked at as winnable contests.

The super fight that will happen is...
Golovkin vs Canelo 2 seems inevitable. At time of writing all the talk is that it's only a week away from being signed. It would be an embarrassment to the sport if it isn't. You can't leave the first result hanging in the wind like that. The whole thing needs a conclusion.

The super fight that won’t happen is...
Joshua vs Fury. Fury has to get his licence back and have two serious tests first to see where he's at before any talk of Joshua happens. Dillian Whyte would be an interesting fight. Test the stamina, the chin and the heart - a good indicator to see where Fury is.


Mark Butcher
A fighter who will win their first world title...
Luke Campbell. At long last!

A world champion who will lose their title...
Manuel Charr. Will be downed like a cup of tea.

A fighter who will win their first British title...
Zelfa Barrett. Though too few prioritise the British title these days over minor alphabet body baubles that gift unmerited world ratings.

A fighter who will lose their British title...
Sam Sexton. So many lurking threats on the rise. Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce, specifically.

The winner of the cruiserweight WBSS will be...
Oleksandr Usyk. This is the Tris Dixon lookalike’s year.

The winner of the super middleweight WBSS will be...
Callum Smith. But it’s a genuine three-horse race with Jurgen Braehmer the path of least resistance.

UK prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Josh Kelly. Unlike most Team GB Olympians turned pros, Kelly will sidestep the pussycats and aim for the lions.

World prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Longer term, I like Vergil Ortiz Jr. Banger. Tailor made for the pros and, eventually, a fight with Josh Taylor.

The super fight that will happen is...
Golovkin-Canelo II. And this time Canelo gets the nod (without Adalaide Byrd).

The super fight that won’t happen is...
Lomachenko-Garcia. The best fight at 140 and below, scuppered by politics.

Outside bet to win a world title...
Satoshi Shimizu. Luke Campbell’s old Olympic foe is on the pro fast-track. Beanpole featherweight with a high-energy style, shrewd body-punching and a solid dig.


Colin Harris
A fighter who will win their first world title...
Raymundo Beltran should FINALLY get a WBO belt around his waist at the fourth time of asking.

A world champion who will lose their title...
Manuel Charr is the biggest embarrassment to the Heavyweight title in a long time (the WBA should be ashamed). I don't see him lasting long at all. However, the fact that we've had Garcia-Lipinets officially announced means Lipinets seems to be a sure thing to lose his belt as we enter 2018.

A fighter who will win their first British title...
Zelfa Barrett: poised for a title shot in a division with a possible vacuum at National level, where he has a great chance of winning it.

A fighter who will lose their British title...
Sam Sexton: his only hope is if Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce decide to skip the Lonsdale belt.

The winner of the cruiserweight WBSS will be...
Oleksandr Usyk.

The winner of super middleweight WBSS will be...
Callum Smith (after a seriously tough fight against Eubank Jr - with a rematch likely).

UK prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Joe Joyce: just get the feeling we're about to watch a fast-track 2018.

World prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Takuma Inoue

The super fight that will happen is...
Golovkin-Canelo II. Of all the possible Super-fights, this one HAS to happen.

The super fight that won’t happen is...
Any mix of Crawford-Garcia-Lomachenko: weight differences and/or promotional differences will stop any combo of these three squaring off.

Outside bet to win a world title...
Diego De La Hoya


Paul Zanon
A fighter who will win their first world title...
Callum Smith.

A world champion who will lose their title...
GGG (Throwing the cat among the pigeons there!)

A fighter who will win their first British title...
Daniel Dubois.

A fighter who will lose their British title...
Frank Buglioni (if he fights Yarde).

The winner of the cruiserweight WBSS will be...
Usyk.

The winner of super middleweight WBSS will be...
Smith.

UK prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Josh Taylor.

World prospect who will have a breakthrough year...
Diego De La Hoya.

The super fight that will happen is...
GGG v Canelo 2 (The one I'd like to see is Loma vs Mikey Garcia).

The super fight that won’t happen is...
Bellew vs Haye 2.

Outside bet to win a world title...
Anthony Yarde.