Boxing Countdown: Best 5 fights left in 2017

With a fantastic year of boxing drawing to a close, we look at some of the best action still to grace the squared circle in by the end of the year.

2017 has proved to be an exceptional year of matchmaking in boxing. With super-fights including Canelo-Golovkin, Thurman-Garcia, Kovalev-Ward, Joshua-Klitschko and Frampton-Santa Cruz, fans of the sport have been treated to a long awaited year of the best fighting the best.

With two-and-a-half months until the end of the year, we still have plenty of action to get our teeth into – let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

  1. 5 Ryan Burnett v Zhanat Zhakiyanov - October 21

    A clash of bantamweight world champions comes to Belfast on Saturday as local boy IBF champ Ryan Burnett (19-0) takes on the Ricky Hatton trained Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-1) in front of a partizan home crowd.

    After winning the IBF strap earlier this year against Lee Haskins, the 25-year-old is looking to unify the division against the Kazakh, and is a heavy favourite to do so with the bookmakers.

    With limited head movement and a tendency to walk in straight lines, Zhakiyanov may struggle with the younger, fresher opponent, however with a superior KO percentage, the away fighter may come to Belfast swinging in dangerous fashion.

    This level of attention is an unknown quantity for the pair of fighters, so dealing with the pressure of Saturday night may well prove the difference.

  2. 4 Liam Smith vs Liam Williams - November 11

    Liam Smith faces Liam Williams in a rematch in Newcastle on November 11 which will act as an eliminator for the WBO light middleweight title. After the first fight ended in controversial fashion, both Liam's jumped at the chance to do it all again to get closure on their long-standing feud at 154lbs.

    Smith (25-1-1) won the original meeting in Manchester after Williams was pulled out by his corner at the beginning of the tenth round with a badly cut eye - possibly as the result of a head-butt early on in the fight.

    Williams led on all three of the judges scorecards at the time of the stoppage, making the rematch unmissable as we seek the truth. The fight is being billed as "No ifs. No buts", as we seek clarity in Newcastle.

  3. 3 Miguel Cotto vs Sadam Ali - December 2

    Golden Boy Promotions announced last week that Miguel Cotto would bring an end to his 16-year career against American "World Kid" Sadam Ali. With one blotch on his record against Jessie Vargas last year, Ali has been chosen as Cotto's final hurdle as the challenger moves up a weight class to fight at the 154lbs limit. 

    With an 8-1 record at Madison Square Garden, it's a fitting end to the Puerto Rican's career, as he opts for an easier fight than the potential Jermell Charlo showdown.

    Albeit not a pure 50-50, this fight is unmissable we say goodbye to a four-weight world champion.

  4. 2 Tony Bellew vs David Haye - December 17

    After a controversial ending to their grudge match on March 4 earlier this year, Tony Bellew and David Haye do it all over again at the O2 in a "Repeat or Revenge" style rematch.

    After stopping Haye in the eleventh round due to the "Hayemaker" picking up an Achilles injury, there are still many unanswered questions between the fiery Brits, as we look to determine who can go on and challenge for a world title.

    Retirement stares both fighters in the face if they lose, especially David Haye, who will walk to the ring as the favourite with the bookmakers once again on their Sunday night bout.

  5. 1 Vasyl Lomachenko vs Guillermo Rigondeaux - December 9

    In this battle for technical supremacy and to be crowned the greatest amateur of all-time, boxing purists are being treated to a once in a lifetime bout on December 9 in New York.

    With two Olympic gold medals each spanning four Olympic games, as well as a plethora of other amateur honours, the Ukrainian and Cuban pugilists have yet to have their standout night as professionals, despite making the top ten in most pound-for-pound lists.

    "Hi-Tech" Lomachenko was 396-1 before turning pro with "El Chacal" Rigondeaux reportedly standing at 463-12 in the amateur ranks, and with the two men already having won a combined five world titles, this early Christmas cracker is simply unmissable. 

    Contested at super featherweight, the Cuban southpaw will have to move up two weight classes for December 9, however with unrivalled defensive technical ability, fans of Rigondeaux are confident he can negate the size difference from the Ukrainian.

    A perfect end, to a near perfect year of boxing.

    What fight are you looking forward to most? Comment below...

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Lewis Watson

London-based football writer and former boxing editor, with a specialised eye for sports betting. Featured on Betfair, BetVictor + others.

A Munich pilgrim to witness Chelsea winning their maiden European Cup.