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A Brief Look Back at 2019 and A Brief Look Forward to 2020- Part I
Pictured: Deontay Wilder

It would make life much easier for boxing historians if sanity in the form of one universally recognized champion per division prevailed. In world where there are four major sanctioning bodies (WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO), a "nearly major" sanctioning body (IBO), and a plethora of lesser sanctioning bodies too numerous to list, that goal is not an easy to achieve but is not an impossible one.

Men's professional boxing is currently divided into seventeen weight classes. As 2020 begins, we at TTR recognize only four world champions-
Artur Beterbiev (light heavyweight), Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (middleweight), Guillermo Rigondeaux (junior featherweight), and Juan Francisco Estrada (junior bantamweight). The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board recognizes five- the previously mentioned four plus Mikey Garcia (junior welterweight)- and The Ring, with its less stringent criteria, than ours or the TBRB's, for crowning a champion, recognizes seven- Callum Smith (super middleweight), Alvarez (middleweight), Josh Taylor (junior welterweight), Vasiliy Lomachenko (lightweight), Naoya Inoue (bantamweight), Estrada (junior bantamweight),
and Hiroto Kyoguchi (junior flyweight).

The first four months of the new year should see TTR and the TBRB recognizing an additional three champions and The Ring filling vacancies at two weight classes.

In Part I and the following two parts, we'll examine how the elite of each division did in 2019 and what it would take for TTR to recognize lineal champions in the thirteen weight categories in which we list the title as vacant.

Barring another draw, a No Contest, or a No Decision, the February 22 bout between TTR #1 ranked Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KOs) and TTR #2 ranked Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) will produce a new lineal heavyweight champion of the world. Both Wilder and former lineal champ Fury went 2-0 in 2019. Wilder KOed Dominic Breazeale in the first round on May 18 and knocked out Luis Ortiz in round 7 in their November 23 rematch. Fury stopped previously
unbeaten Tom Schwarz in the second round on June 15 and unanimously outpointed another previously undefeated fighter Otto Wallin in a 12-round bloodfest
on September 14.

The winner of Wilder-Fury II (they fought to a draw on December 1, 2018) will not only be recognized as the true champion by TTR but by the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board and The Ring as well.

The March 21st WBSS final between TTR #1 ranked Mairis Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) and TTR #2 ranked Yuniel Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs) should produce the next lineal world cruiserweight champion. Again, the winner be recognized by TTR, the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, and The Ring.

Briedis and Dorticos both won WBSS semi-finals on June 15. Briedis scored a controversial TKO-3 over Krzysztof Glowacki while Dorticos knocked out the then 17-0 Andrew Tabiti in the tenth round.

At light heavyweight, Artur Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KOs) went 2-0 in 2019, knocking out Radivoje Kalajdzic in the fifth round on May 5 and dethroning defending lineal world champion Oleksandr Gvozdyk via a 10th round TKO on October 18.

Berterbiev's top two TTR-ranked contenders are Saul "Canelo" Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KOs) and Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) and he is scheduled to defend against TTR unranked Meng Fanlong (Fanlong Meng; 16-0, 10 KOs) on March 28.

Alvarez, as previously mentioned, is also the reigning lineal world middleweight champion. He successfully defended that title by unanimously outpointing Daniel Jacobs on May 4 and later moved up to the light heavyweight class with an eleventh round KO of Sergey Kovalev. He has since vacated the WBO title he took from Kovalev and is expected to fight as a super middleweight in his next contest.

Gvozdyk retained the lineal light heavyweight title by stopping veteran Doudou Ngumbu in the fifth round on March 30 before losing it to Beterbiev on October 18.

A bout between Ring Magazine champion Callum Smith (27-0, 19 KOs), TTR's #1 ranked contender, and TTR #2 ranked David Benavidez (22-0, 19 KOs) would result in the winner sitting on the division's lineal throne. Both went 2-0 in 2019. Smith stopped Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam in the third round on June 1 and won a much more difficul than expected unaniomous decision over John Ryder on November 23. Benavidez knocked out J'Leon Love in the second round on March 16 and KOed Anthony Dirrell in the ninth round on September 28.

At middleweight, the TTR #1 ranked contender for lineal champion Alvarez' title is his two-time foe, Gennady Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KOs). In 2019, Golovkin knocked out Steve Rolls in the fourth round on June 8 and won a hard-fought, 12-round unanimous decision over now TTR #2 ranked Sergiy Derevyanchenko on October 5.

Golovkin's first tentatively scheduled opponent for 2020 is TTR #7 ranked Kamil Szeremeta (21-0, 5 KOs) on a date yet to be announced.

In part II, we'll peruse the 2019 activities and 2020 plans of the elite of the junior middleweight, welterweight, junior welterweight, lightweight, junior lightweight, and featherweight divisions.
Article By: Ken Pollitt