Unlike most other professional sports, trades do not happen in boxing. Boxing promoters sign fighters to their companies and promote their fights, aligning with networks to gain the most exposure — and revenue — from their roster. When contracts run out, fighters and promoters ultimately do what they want.
But some of the biggest fights in boxing aren’t being made because of the animosity between boxing promoters or allegiances to different networks. Now, cross-promotions megafights have happened in the past (Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder is a good recent example), but trades in boxing would pave the way for fighters to get the fights they — and boxing fans — deserve.
Mike Coppinger and Nick Parkinson propose some transfers that could benefit the fighters, promoters and networks, creating better matchups or allowing some rivalries to be resolved inside the ring, instead of on social media.
PBC trades Gervonta Davis to Golden Boy Promotions for Vergil Ortiz Jr. and Joseph Diaz Jr.
This move is about one fight and one fight only for Golden Boy: To make “Tank” Davis vs. Ryan Garcia. It’s one of the biggest fights boxing can deliver and it’s another matchup the sport’s politics might block. Davis’ past four events have been on PPV and have sold well. Garcia enjoys a large following on social media (almost 9 million on Instagram alone) and is one of the most exciting young fighters in boxing. Davis-Garcia is a megafight that has the potential to bring young fans to the sport unlike any other. It’s surely to sell on PPV and at the gate.
In this instance, PBC and Mayweather Promotions deal the star boxer to its rival, Oscar De La Hoya, and in return obtain a rising star in Vergil Ortiz Jr., who will fit in nicely with PBC’s coterie of top welterweights. Fights pitting Ortiz against the likes of Errol Spence Jr., Yordenis Ugas and maybe even Terence Crawford, who could sign with PBC to lock up the Spence fight, would be available.
Diaz would bring PBC a former 130-pound champion who is now campaigning at 135 pounds, though he surely could still fight at his old weight. The action fighter could be matched with Frank Martin, Chris Colbert and perhaps even a rematch with Gary Russell Jr., who could move up in weight when he returns.
Davis is one of the sport’s best gate attractions, able to pack arenas all over the U.S., and he has a legion of celebrities that he brings along with him. This trade would pay dividends for Golden Boy even after the Garcia fight. — Coppinger
Golden Boy trades Ryan Garcia to Top Rank for Keyshawn Davis, Richard Torrez and Tiger Johnson
Garcia insists he’s done fighting at 135 pounds, and with Top Rank, he’d have his pick of intriguing 140-pound bouts. The biggest, of course, would pit Garcia against Teofimo Lopez Jr., the former lightweight undisputed champion who makes his junior welterweight debut on Aug. 13.
Josh Taylor, who remains the man to beat at 140 pounds, is with Top Rank, as are Jose Ramirez and Jose Zepeda. Devin Haney has one fight remaining on his Top Rank deal, and that will come this fall against George Kambosos Jr. in a rematch. But after that, Haney will likely move up to 140 pounds, where he could be matched with Garcia in a long-discussed superfight between two of the best young fighters in boxing.
Golden Boy’s stable is thin, so in return, it gains the services of three top prospects. Keyshawn Davis is the crown jewel of the return, an Olympic silver medalist who seems destined to vie for a lightweight title next year. Richard Torrez, a fellow silver medalist at heavyweight, should be an attraction for some time.
Tiger Johnson, another Olympian, has impressed through four pro bouts as a welterweight and appears destined for big things. — Coppinger
PBC trades Deontay Wilder to Matchroom for Conor Benn
The main reason: Benn gets to fight the best welterweights in boxing and Wilder gets heavyweight opportunities galore in the U.K.
Benn (21-0, 14 KOs) insists he is ready to take on the best at welterweight and he’d get his wish as part of this trade. We’d get to see if he can carry his recent destructive knockout form — he destroyed Chris van Heerden in two rounds in April, which followed a four-round win over former world champion Chris Algieri in December — to the top tier.
It’s one thing making quick work of former champions, but it’s another trying to compete with the outstanding skills of pound-for-pound elite like Terence Crawford (38-0, 29 KOs) and Errol Spence Jr. (28-0, 22 KOs), who between them hold all four versions of the world titles at 147 pounds. The American rivals are being linked to an undisputed title clash later this year, making a move to PBC even more attractive for Benn. Also in the PBC stable at 147 pounds are former champions Keith Thurman, Jessie Vargas, Danny Garcia and Yordenis Ugas. Eimantas Staniois holds the regular version of the WBA title and is also on PBC’s books. At the moment, Benn is locked out from some of the biggest fights he can have at welterweight and his popularity is built largely on a U.K. fan base. Moving to PBC opens him up to the most profitable U.S. market.
Matchroom could match Wilder, the former WBC champion, against the likes of Oleksandr Usyk, the WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion, or Anthony Joshua, the former holder of those three belts. It’s a good move for Wilder, who can’t go down the WBC route again while Fury is champion. This way, he gets back in the world title scene. Fury’s got his number, but how will the smaller Usyk and Joshua — also rebuilding after a title loss — fair against Wilder’s hammer of a right hand? Dillian Whyte also works with Matchroom and, after his knockout loss to Fury earlier this year, would be a good matchup for Wilder before a shot at the winner of Usyk-Joshua II (Aug. 20). — Parkinson
PBC trades David Benavidez to Matchroom for Murodjon Akhmadaliev and Dillian Whyte
With Akhmadaliev in the fold, PBC can put together a mouthwatering fight with Stephen Fulton for the undisputed 122-pound championship. Fulton is ranked No. 1 in the division by ESPN, with Akhmadaliev just behind him at No. 2. There’s also the possibility of a rematch between Akhmadaliev and Daniel Roman, a bout the Uzbekistan native narrowly won in 2020. And at 126, Akhmadaliev could be matched with Leo Santa Cruz and Gary Russell Jr.
Whyte is coming off a lopsided KO loss to Fury in his only title shot, but he remains one of the 10 best heavyweights in the world and is a star in the U.K. A fight between Wilder and Whyte would be an incredible promotion and an even better fight inside the ring. And then there’s the prospect of a bout between Andy Ruiz Jr. and Whyte, a fight that’s been discussed in the past.
David Benavidez has called for fights with Caleb Plant and Jermall Charlo, who are also with PBC, but they haven’t materialized. With Eddie Hearn, Benavidez could finally land his shot at Canelo Alvarez, whom these days is doing business with Matchroom. At 175 pounds, Benavidez could get entertaining matchups against Joshua Buatsi, Dmitry Bivol and/or Callum Smith. — Coppinger
Top Rank trades Naoya Inoue to Matchroom for Dmitry Bivol and Joe Cordina
Inoue gets to fight Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez, Juan Francisco Estrada, Julio Cesar Martinez and maybe Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez when he moves up. Bivol finally gets Beterbiev and Cordina gets the best at 130 and 135, a division Top Rank loves.
Inoue, (23-0, 20 KOs), the WBC, WBA and IBF bantamweight king — and arguably the most exciting boxer in the world right now — needs the right fights to gain greater exposure beyond his home country of Japan that his extraordinary talents deserve. Fights against Gonzalez or Estrada, who have long established reputations in the lower weight classes and are currently operating at junior bantamweight, would open up Inoue to big audiences in the U.S. But perhaps an even better fight for Inoue is against Rodriguez (16-0, 11 KOs), the WBC junior bantamweight champion also with Matchroom. The Texan is having a brilliant 2022 after an eighth-round win in June over Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, who holds wins over Gonzalez and Estrada. He also outpointed former champion Carlos Cuadras in February.
Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs) squaring off against his fellow Russian and light heavyweight world champion Beterbiev would be fascinating, pitting a mover like Bivol who flummoxed the outstanding Canelo Alvarez earlier this year, against the knockout machine Beterbiev (18-0, 18 KOs), who has not once required the judges to score one of his professional fights. Both are in form and boxing fans have been asking for this fight for years. Bivol’s profile soared following the Alvarez win and now is the perfect time to make a clash for all four major light heavyweight titles.
For Cordina (15-0, 9 KOs), the new IBF junior lightweight world champion, this trade sets up a potential fight against WBC-WBO world champion Shakur Stevenson (18-0), one of the biggest stars of Top Rank. Robson Conceicao, from Brazil, who takes on Stevenson on Sept. 23, and former champion Oscar Valdez would be other options for Cordina as part of the move to Top Rank. Cordina became champion with a two-round demolition of Kenichi Ogawa in June and Top Rank offers some big profile fights. — Parkinson
Matchroom trades Lawrence Okolie (Matchroom) to Top Rank/Queensberry Promotions for Emanuel Navarrete and Michael Conlan
Okolie (18-0, 14 KOs), the WBO cruiserweight world champion, would be a potential opponent for Fury (if he boxes on), as well as top contenders Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois. Both Joyce and Dubois are from London, like Okolie, making those potential fights huge box office events in the U.K.
We don’t know yet how serious Fury is about his retirement, or if he does box on just for how long it will be. Building a pipeline of potential heavyweight fights and positioning yourself for the future makes sense. Joyce and Dubois are well positioned for world title shots and Okolie has long spoken about his intention to step up to heavyweight.
In exchange, Matchroom gets to match WBO champion Navarrete with IBF titleholder Josh Warrington in a world featherweight title unification fight, or with WBA “regular” champion Leigh Wood. As Okolie’s fights are likely to generate more money, as part of the trade Matchroom also gets Conlan, who wants a rematch with Wood. Matchroom would have a series of potential fights with four of the top featherweights as part of these trades. Warrington vs. Navarrete could take place at a U.S. venue, while Wood vs. Conlan II will generate a lot of interest after the first fight’s thrilling climax last year. — Parkinson
Queensberry Promotions trades David Avanesyan to Matchroom for Joshua Buatsi
This trade allows for a big fight between Avanesyan and Conor Benn at welterweight, and Buatsi vs. Anthony Yarde at light heavyweight.
Due to bitter relations between the two English promoters and rival TV deals, these fights — natural fights if it was not for boxing politics — will never get made. With the world titles held up by superior fighters in these divisions, these contenders may face a wait before a title shot. But fights against local rivals (Russian Avanesyan has been based in England for years) would be great options and popular fights. The bouts would also reveal who is the best fighter and most ready to progress to the elite level.
For Benn and Avanesyan, a meeting would be perhaps the final stepping stone towards a title shot. If Crawford and Spence are set to meet for all four titles late this year, these two need to be involved in progressive fights which capture the public’s interest. Fighting each other is a solution on both fronts.
Yarde and Buatsi could use some momentum. Both are well positioned for title shots but with the titles shared between Beterbiev and Bivol, they may face a wait. Facing each other would be a big payday and an opportunity to raise their profiles, something both need. Both are big punchers and a matchup between them has all the ingredients to produce an instant classic at 175 pounds. — Parkinson