In 2020, the level of inactivity in boxing was slightly higher than normal.
Thanks to COVID-19, some of the best fighters in the sport are in the midst of an exceptionally long layoff. Manny Pacquiao hasn’t fought since July 2019, and Deontay Wilder suffered his first defeat in February, just before the pandemic took full effect and was able to plan a necessary return. Others, like Vasyl Lomachenko, were beaten in front of a small audience.
Whatever the reason, 2021 will be a chance for many fighters to get back on track and prove that they are still at the top of their division.
Here are 10 fighters looking for activity and redemption in 2021:
Vasyl Lomachenko (left) lost the lightweight title to Teofimo Lopez (right) in October and is expected to bounce back in 2021. Mikey Williams/Top Rated via Getty Images
Lomachenko put on his light belts against rising star Teofimo Lopez. Whether it was the difference in size, the difference in power or a combination of the two, Lomachenko came a little late in his attack and lost a decision to the 23-year-old aspiring star. While Lomachenko is still considered one of the best book-for-book fighters in the sport, the real question is where Lomachenko will go next. One wonders if Lomachenko wouldn’t be better served by returning to the junior lightweight division, as his strength didn’t translate well in the 135-pound class. In any case, Lomachenko has practically every opportunity with pull-ups against Shakur Stevenson, defending champion Joseph Diaz or the winner of the Miguel Berchelt-Oscar Valdez fight (130), or even Devin Haney (135).
Deontay Wilder, above, suffered his first career loss to Tyson Fury in February 2019. John W. McDonough/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images
Wilder and Tyson Fury could get their revenge a few weeks before COWID-19 changes the sports landscape. Unfortunately, Wilder suffered the biggest loss of his career and his corner stopped the fight in his first professional loss.
The road to Wilder seems quite steep. Fury and Anthony Joshua seem to have firmly established themselves at the top of the division. Wilder has made some changes to his team. His next fight will therefore be a good opportunity to see if he has made any changes to his game that will allow him to reclaim his place as heavyweight champion.
Manny Pacquiao (right) failed to bounce back from a dominant performance against Keith Thurman (left) in July 2019. John Gurzinski/Getty Images
The rebirth of Pacquiao’s career is complete in 2020. There was talk of a possible fight with Terence Crawford overseas and a fight with Mikey Garcia that never materialized, finally putting Pacquiao on the sidelines last year.
Pacquiao is clearly the fighter Crawford and his colleague Errol Spence Jr. want to face the Welterweight world champion as soon as possible. Even at the age of 42, Pacquiao is still one of boxing’s main attractions and it seems like he still has some juice in the tank after his victory over Keith Thurman.
A future member of the Hall of Fame may have the opportunity to compete against Crawford or Spence at some point this year. Can he delay the twilight of his career any longer?
Guillermo Rigondeaux has won three fights since his defeat to Vasyl Lomachenko in 2017, but he needs a big fight in 2021. Al Bello/Getty Images
Rigondeaux fought once in 2020, but he’s at a strange point in his career. He never recovered from the weight class he competed in against Lomachenko in 2017, a fight that ended in defeat in the sixth round.
It is interesting to note that Rigondeaux gradually lost weight and went to the banned weight last February to face Liboro Solis. According to BoxRec, this is the lowest weight in his professional career.
The 40-year-old Cuban has won three in a row, but hasn’t faced an elite opponent since Lomachenko. He may never be at that level again, but there’s only one way to find out. Revenge against Nonito Donaire at 122 could be just what the doctor ordered.
Program operating mode
The Regis program (left) lost the 2019 World Super Series Boxing Final to Josh Taylor (right). Paul Harding/PA Images via Getty Images
This program is one of the most exciting in boxing. The New Orleans-born boxer consolidated his position in the World Boxing Super Series despite losing to Josh Taylor in a thrilling fight in October 2019.
The programmers returned to action nearly a year later with a TKO victory over Juan Geraldez on Halloween. With his struggles to get back into the book, it’s time for Prograis to mix it up with some of the best 140 sportsbooks.
Dillian White, above, moved up in the crowded heavyweight division until he suffered a knockout loss to Alexander Povetkin in August. Richard Heathcote/Getty Images
The 32-year-old British heavyweight was involved in one of the fiercest fights of 2020. His opponent, Alexander Povetkin, survived two knockouts in the fourth round, but responded with a massive left uppercut to win by KO against White in the fifth round.
Up until that point, White had plenty of momentum and was able to consolidate his place as a true contender in the heavyweight division. November’s revenge was delayed until 2021 after Povetkin tested positive for COWID-19. Once a new date is set, Whyte will have the opportunity to avenge the loss and get back into the swing of things.
Sean Porter, right, needs a signature to be considered one of the best weightlifters in the world. Kohiro Kinno / Sports Illustrated / Getty Images
In his first fight last August, Porter defeated Sebastian Formella in 12 rounds after losing to Errol Spence Jr. in September 2019. Porter hasn’t been able to beat some of the top weightlifters, but he has a tough match for anyone and there’s plenty left in the tank.
Porter called Crawford a while ago. This is the battle that Porter must fight… and win… At this point in his career.
Joseph Diaz (left) scored the biggest win of his career against Tevin Farmer (right) in January 2020, but can he beat the best fighters at 130 pounds? Michael Reeves/Getty Images
Diaz is another fighter who fought in the early 2020s. He performed well against Tevin Farmer in what was the biggest win of his career. JoJo will be on the 13th. February against Shavkatjon Rakhimov to defend his IBF Welterweight Junior Champion title. It will be a great chance to prove he is one of the best in a division that also includes Miguel Berchelt, Oscar Valdez and Jamel Herring.
Demetrius Andrade, the WBO champion, failed to attract key middleweight fighters. Michael Reeves/Getty Images
Andrade is still the middleweight champion nobody talks about. Is there a problem? He fights a lot of opponents that nobody cares about. Over the years, he complained that fighters like Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin were avoiding him.
Whatever the reasons why these fights didn’t happen, Andrade has a chance for a decisive win in 2021 that is still missing from his resume. If he manages to fight someone like defending middleweight super champion Billy Joe Sanders or middleweight challenger Sergiy Derevyanchenko, it could help him get better fights in the future.
After losing his world title in 2019, junior middleweight Jarrett Hurd (left) fought only once. Bill Tompkins/Getty Images
Surd is in a strange room in the middle of a group of 154-pound boxers fighting for the First Boxing Champions. Hurd lost three middleweight world junior titles to Julian Williams in 2019.
Each of the top four fighters in the division in the ESPN rankings – Jermell Charlo, Jason Rosario, Williams and Hurd – have lost in the last two years. Difficult has as much chance as any of these names to show he is the best in the band.