As we head towards a new year we've decided to look into our glass balls, our tea leaves and our palms to come up with 20 predictions which will be posted over the coming weeks for what we think will happen in 2020. So far our predictions haven't been the best though they've not all been wrong.
In 2013 we predicted that Naoya Inoue, his brother Takuma and Kosei Tanaka would all win world titles. Between them they've won a few world titles, though Takuma has yet to win a proper world title. That same year we also predicted a growth in Chinese boxing, and this arguably happened despite the fact the Macau side of things has died off. We also predicted a growth in Asian fighters making a name for themselves in the US, this was before Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Naoya Inoue or Kazuto Ioka had fought on US soil, and before the wave of Uzbek's had began to attract US attention.
Unlike the past, where we have made all of our predictions in 1 article, we'll be spreading these ones out with 1 prediction per article, and going more in depth than we have in the past.
PREDICTION number 20-Someone breaks Muangsurin and Lomachenko's record!
We've had, we believe, a nice mix of predictions, from some we feel were maybe a little obvious to some which were certainly a bit left field. What we hadn't mentioned was anything historical. Today, in our 20th, and final, prediction for next year we do go historical and we predict someone will break the long standing record for fewest fights to win a world title.
At the moment the record stands at 3 pro bouts, at least for men, jointly held by Thai legend Saensak Muangsurin and current Ukrainian star Vasyl Lomachenko, who both won their first world title in their third bout.
We have seen fighters, including Lomachenko himself in fact, challenge for a belt in their second bout, and a few debutants have also fought for world titles, but to date no one, other than female fighter Hyun Mi Choi, has won a world title before their third bout. In 2020 we expect that to change. We predict that someone will win a world title in their second professional bout, at some point next year.
We'll be totally open and admit we don't know who it will be who achieves the feat, though we would guess a central Asian fighter, likely an Uzbek, or a Japanese fighter. Both countries have been willing to fast track fighters, throw them in deep from their debut, and try to create a buzz quickly and neither country tends to do the whole slow build tot a title fight that we see in the west.
We're thinking next year will be the year the record goes for a few reasons.
Firstly there are more titles out there than ever before, and whilst a fighter holding a "regular" title might not be accepted by some fans the reality is that that will do for others. Even with all the titles out their the fighter who breaks the record would still need to be a world ranked opponent for the belt, so even with extra titles, they don't get a gimmie for a belt.
Another thing to consider is that 2020 is an Olympic year, and fighters who miss out on the Olympics may well be looking to make a name for themselves as quickly as they can. Someone like Kenji Fujita, who recently retired from the amateur code, could be hot shotted through the pros on the back of his excellent amateur background. Even if it's not Fujita, it could well be some other top amateur who misses the Olympics for whatever reason, and tries to make up for the year by being moved on the hyper quick road to the top.
On one hand a lot of the top Uzbek fighters have already debuted, however there is still a lot of talent there yet to turn over. Some one like the exceptionally talented Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov, who has won gold at the Asian Games, Asian Championships and World Championships, could make an immediate impact on the pros. Likewise someone like, Vassiliy Levit, could well turn his back on the politics of the amateurs and try to make the most the little time he'd have in the pros.
There were several Uzbeks who likely could, had they selected the right champion, been able to take a world title in their first 2 fights. Hansanboy Dusmatov was probably the most likely, but a then 1-0 (1) Israil Madrimov taking on Tony Harrison would have been compelling and a 1-0 (1) Bektemir Melikuziev could likely have beaten the Callum Smith who fought John Ryder. Neither of those would have been gimmies, but neither would have been the biggest of shocks either...in fact neither would have been the biggest upset of 2019 if we're being totally honest.
It is a massive risk for any fighter to try and achieve the feat, as we saw when Lu Bin failed against Carlos Canizales, but it's certainly not impossible and we know the record will go. It's a matter of "if" and not "when". Sadly for Bin he was up against an excellent champion, but had he attempted the feat just a few years earlier, there's a chance he could have beat a champion like Alberto Rossel or taken the vacant title that ended up with Jesus Geles.
With the two pro-style competitions that AIBA ran now seemingly dead, and professionals competing in amateur tournaments the two codes have began to directly over lap in major competitions, and this could also help an amateur prepare to face a pace a professional fighter. Sure the amateur bouts are shorter than they were in APB and WSB, but amateur boxing does have stiffer competition at the top level than most professional fighters have early in their career, and we have seen more and more fighters turning to professional boxing "pro-ready". With no head gear in the Olympics that is likely to continue, despite the death of two pro style competitions.
One other wild card to consider is Thailand.
The Muay Thai scene has long developed top Thai fighters who have been able to be fast tracked, and as with Muangsurin, their may well be some appeal to a top Muay Thai practitioner to turn to boxing, and try to break Muangsurin's record. With professional boxing struggling a little bit in Thailand, something like this would give the country's boxing scene a huge shot in the arm. A loss would likely send them back to Muay Thai whilst a win would make them an instant boxing star.
Although we do realise this is a wild prediction we genuinely would not be surprised if it happens in 2020!
This is just an opinion, maaaan! It's easy to share our opinions, and that's what you'll find here, some random opinion pieces