Last weekend we saw Chinese fighter Can Xu (18-2, 3) continue a stellar year as he scored his third win of 2019 and recorded his second defense of the WBA Featherweight title. A year ago no one would have assumed that 2019 was going to be the year of Xu but he has been a genuine revelation through the year and despite his lack of power he is a must watch fighter who simply doesn't stop throwing. Following his win over Manny Robles last weekend there really was no one who be a more obvious choice for this week's "Five for..."
1-Josh Warrington (30-0, 7)
After beating Robles we saw Xu himself call out IBF champion Josh Warrington and in reality, that is probably the most exciting bout the division can give us. Not only is it a brilliant unification bout between the WBA and IBF champions but style wise it's a fight that would be none stop action. Both men are very similar in a number of ways, notably they both lack power and they both throw a lot of leather. A clash between the two would likely break the compubox records for most combined punchers and we would genuinely just see a blur of human mass trading blows. The problem is that the men are affiliated with "different sides of the street" but Xu has made it clear he's happy to travel for the fight and it's now pretty much in the hands of the promoters.
2-Shakur Stevenson (13-0, 7)
If Xu can't get the IBF champion in the ring then he could chase someone else who wants Warrington. The guy who is regularly calling out the English fighter it American fighter Shakur Stevenson, the current WBO champion. Stevenson has a lot of attention on him from a US media standpoint, and the 2016 Olympian has the backing of Bob Arum, a super star look and a lot of things going for him. Despite some weak performances early in his career he has began to shine recently and is arguably the most notable fighter in the division due to his sizeable US fanbase. This could easy be marketed along the China Vs USA lines, as well as the unification angle, and given the styles of the two men it could be a very entertaining bout with a lot of shots being thrown.
3-Hiroshige Osawa (36-5-4, 21)
If Xu and his team can't secure a big unification fight away from home he might as well return back to China for a fight, like he did mid 2019, and take on a regional opponent. This would be the smart time to get rid of a mandatory challenger and at the moment the #1 ranked WBA fighter is Japan's Hiroshige Osawa. Osawa is no world beater, and wouldn't really be expected to test Xu, but would make for a nice homecoming opponent for Xu's first defense of 2020 before bigger bouts later in the year. This wouldn't be our number 1 choice from a momentum or style perspective, but from a logical stand point it does make sense to get rid of a potential mandatory sooner rather than later, if bigger bouts can't be made.
4-Kid Galahad (26-1, 15)
England's Kid Galahad is a man that not many fighters will be wanting to fight. He's slippery, awkward, and rather dull to watch. He's the sort of fighter who will make opponents look bad and will try to stink the joint out. He's the sort of fighter that, logically, everyone should avoid. However he's the sort of fighter that if you can beat decisively you can essentially get rid of, as a top contender. Warrington struggled badly with Galahad when the two men earlier this year, but if Xu can press and pressure the the Englishman, swarming him, and preventing him from getting the space he needs to mess about, then Xu could likely break him down. This is no easy assignment but one that would get Xu a lot of credit, and potentially open him up to the UK market before a showdown with Warrington. Also unlike most on this list Galahad would likely be willing to travel "across the street" to face Xu given he has little drawing power of his own.
5-Michael Conlan (12-0, 7)
A left of center choice, but one we sort of like from a marketing standpoint is a showdown with Irishman Michael Conlan. Conlan is a former Olympian, best known for giving the judges the finger in Rio 2016, and is now unbeaten as a professional with top 10 rankings from the WBA, IBF and WBO. Conlan is another fighter who wouldn't be the most fun from a style perspective but would be good from a marketing one, with Conlan being a name many fans recognise, especially Irish fans. From an atmosphere point of view the mix of Chinese and Irish fans would be great and the fight would be pretty easy on the eye, even if it's not the all action bout a Warrington contest would give us. This is one of those opportunities to grow a fan base against a notable rising name, and could be a pretty fun way for Xu to sell himself to a UK and Irish fan base, and add pressure to Warrington for the fight we all want.
Thinking Out East
With this site being pretty successful so far we've decided to open up about our own views and start what could be considered effectively an editorial style opinion column dubbed "Thinking Out East" (T.O.E).