2022 already promises so much on the boxing front. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez is set to move up to cruiserweight and challenge WBC champion Ilunga Makabu. Katie Taylor has Amanda Serrano and Jessica McCaskill on the hunt for superfights. Tyson Fury is set to hit the ring in March, with Oleksandr Usyk’s rematch with Anthony Joshua to follow.
These are the incredible moments we expect in the new year, but there are plenty more fighters who should be on your radar. Here are our picks for the 2022 Fighters To Watch.
We didn’t see much of the highly-touted ‘KingRy’ in 2021, but what we did see was highly impressive. Last January, the Californian climbed off the canvas to take out talented Brit Luke Campbell in seven rounds. The big win over a former world title challenger was expected to propel Garcia into contention for world honours, but injuries and mental health struggles would keep him sidelined for the rest of the year.
A refreshed Garcia has targeted 2022 to make waves in the lightweight division, and he is well-placed to do so. The Californian is the number two ranked lightweight in the world with the WBC, with Vasiliy Lomachenko just above him. The Ukrainian is expected to meet George Kambosos Jr for his unified crown, which would leave WBC boss Devin Haney in need of opposition. A fight against Garcia would be unbelievably exciting, and sell a lot of tickets.
You could argue the WBO super featherweight champion just had a breakout year, but Shakur Stevenson might be set for another. ‘Fearless’ scored his best career win in October, stopping world champion Jamel Herring in ten rounds. Already a two-weight world ruler at the tender age of 24, the sky's the limit for the Olympic silver medalist.
Unification fights with Oscar Valdez and Kenichi Ogawa would be outrageously exciting, and when his work at 130 pounds is done, there is a world of opportunities in the stacked lightweight division. 2022 could be the year everyone is talking about Shakur Stevenson.
Amanda Serrano and Katie Taylor are the names on everybody’s lips when it comes to women’s boxing. But IBF, WBO and The Ring super featherweight champion Mikaela Mayer warrants a mention alongside the very best fighters in the sport.
A decorated amateur, Mayer has an unblemished 16-0 record since turning pro in 2017. After scoring a signature win in her unification fight with Maiva Hamadouche in 2021, we could be on the cusp of a big year in the Mayer calendar.
While the top heavyweights wrap themselves in arbitration, rematch clauses and red tape, there is a volcano upon which they stand that is waiting to erupt. ‘El Animal’ is coming.
The hard-hitting Croat is 14-0, and has smashed through world title challengers Kevin Johnson and Eric Molina, unbeaten prospects Marko Radonjic and Emir Ahmatovic and durable veterans Rydell Booker and Amir Mansour on his way into the world rankings. Hrgovic is listed by the WBC and the IBF, and it won’t be long before he’s knocking on the door for a shot at those belts. Watch your back, Tyson and Oleksandr.
Having a famous father in boxing is no guarantee of success. For every Cory Spinks there is a Marvis Frazier. But Tim Tsyzu, son of the iconic former light welterweight king Kostya, seems to be going the right way about things.
‘The Soul Taker’ is unbeaten in twenty fights, has knocked out fifteen of his foes, and rattled off three wins in a busy 2021. World-ranked by three of the major governing bodies, Tsyzu is the number one contender to Brian Castano’s WBO light middleweight belt. 2022 could be the year that the Tsyzu family joins the exclusive club of world championship father and son teams.