Last year was a great year in boxing, but 2018 has the potential to be even bigger. IBF Welterweight World Champion Errol Spence Jr. kicked off the year with an eighth-round TKO of top-10 ranked welterweight fighter Lamont Peterson. Spence remains undefeated at 23-0 and will be going back to his hometown of Dallas, Texas to defend his belt on June 16th. And that’s just one of the many fights that fill card for the coming months.
On Wednesday, Showtime Sports and Premier Boxing Champions announced the Showtime Championship Boxing schedule for the first half of 2018. The slate features 12 world champions, 14 undefeated fighters and 12 world championship fights. From the return of Keith Thurman to the anticipated Deontay Wilder-Luis Ortiz showdown, the 2018 slate is loaded. Here are the top five fights coming your way.
Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios: February 17, Mandalay Bay Events Center (Las Vegas, NV)
After losing in a close decision to unified champion Keith Thurman last year, Danny Garcia is back and feeling better than he ever has. The two-division world champion begins his journey back to the top against former world champion Brandon Rios (34-3-1 ). Two of Rios’s three losses in his career came against Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley Junior. Garcia told the media that he’s ready to show the world why Danny Garcia is a superstar. He’ll get his chance February 17th in Las Vegas.
Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz: March 3, Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)
The Bronze Bomber is coming back to Brooklyn. Wilder and Ortiz were originally supposed to fight last year, but King Kong was pulled from the card after he failed a drug test. Wilder, the WBC World Champion, is 39-0 with 38 knockouts in his career. Ortiz’s big punching power will make him one of Wilder’s toughest opponents to date. The number-one heavyweight fighter spoke to the media at the Showtime Boxing Upfront Wednesday and said, “Ever since I was a little boy, I’ve been doubted. I’m still getting doubted as a man. I promise I will knock out Ortiz.” This match will mark the seventh time Wilder attempts to defend his coveted green belt.
Mikey Garcia vs. Sergey Lipinets: March 10, Freeman Coliseum (San Antonio, TX)
History will be on the line March 10, when Mikey Garcia will try to secure a world title in a fourth weight class. Garcia will fight IBF Jr. Welterweight champion Sergey Lipinets (13-0, 10 KOs), who will be making his first title defense. Garcia didn’t spend too much time talking about his opponent on Wednesday, “this fight only opens up the doors to bigger fights in my career. My goal is to be the best fighter of my generation.” Garcia is coming off a win by unanimous decision over Adrien Broner last July.
Adrien Broner vs. Omar Figueroa: April 21, Barclays Center (Brooklyn, NY)
Speaking of Adrien Broner, the four-division world champion is headed back to the ring on April 21st against 28-year-old Omar Figueroa (27-0-1). Broner is one of the most entertaining fighters in the sport, and made sure to let everyone know at the Showtime Boxing Upfront that he doesn’t like any of the fighters he had to share the stage with, “I’m trying to outshine everyone. I don’t like these guys. I got to go crazy, it’s my time to turn up.” After starting off his career 27-0, Broner has lost three of his last nine fights.
Keith Thurman Defends World Titles vs. TBD: May 19, Barclays Center (Brooklyn Center)
The big fights continue in Brooklyn, and this one will be one of the most exciting of the year. Keith “One Time” Thurman will return to the ring after undergoing elbow surgery in 2017. Thurman is declaring 2018 as a get-back year and told the media, “I’m not going anywhere, I’m going to be right here.” Thurman’s opponent for the fight has yet to be determined, but the big question everyone has is when Thurman will fight Errol Spence Jr. Thurman said it will happen, but probably not this year. “One Time” Thurman is the only unified 147-pound world champion and the consensus number-one-ranked fighter in the division. Thurman defeated Danny Garcia last March.