Image Credit: Stephanie Trapp/Showtime
Last year, the fight game took a phenomenal turn with the fans receiving a lion share of quality content.
2019 saw the advent of streaming wars in the fight business. New distribution models from ESPN+ housed content from the UFC and Top Rank Boxing. Competitor DAZN streamed Bellator MMA and boxing’s two heavyweight showdowns between Andy Ruiz and Anthony Joshua among other high-level fights.
With Premier Boxing Champions keeping premium television alive with their FOX Sports and Showtime Sports deals, respectively, the fight business is poised to continue its huge impact in 2020.
Claressa Shields vs. Ivana Habazin
Date: January 10th, 2020
Location: Ocean Resort Casino, Atlantic City, New Jersey
America’s two-time Olympic gold medalist, Claressa Shields sets off the 2020 fight season. The 24-year-old (9-0, 2 KOs) became the undisputed middleweight champion with a near shutout victory over previously undefeated Christina Hammer last April.
Shields is the first American boxer in history – male or female – to win consecutive Olympic gold medals. She turned professional following the 2016 Olympics and headlined the first women’s boxing event in premium television history in just her second professional fight in 2017.
UFC 246: McGregor vs. Cowboy
Date: January 18th, 2020
Location: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
After 15 months out of the cage, the UFC’s king of bling is back. “The Notorious” Conor McGregor (21-4) makes his highly anticipated return to MMA action. Many thought McGregor’s time fighting was done after his enormous payday against Floyd Mayweather in 2017 and another against Khabib Nurmagomedov in 2018. Although both bouts resulted in losses, McGregor’s fame skyrocketed in part due to his bad-boy image.
McGregor fights an MMA veteran in Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-13) and contrary to the uninformed opinion, this is no cakewalk for “Mystic Mac”. Cerrone is a tough-as-nails former Muay Thai fighter who went undefeated with a 28-0 record and 18 KO’s before converting to MMA in 2006. Although the fight will be contested at welterweight (170lbs), McGregor is also looking at competing again at lightweight (155lbs) and for Jorge Masvidal’s BMF title (Back Motherf**ker).
Danny Garcia vs. Ivan Redkach
Date: January 25th, 2020
Location: Barclays Center, Brooklyn, New York
The welterweight division is still the “money weight” in boxing and Danny Garcia is one of its biggest stars. Although 2017 saw him take a loss to Keith Thurman and 2018 a loss to Shawn Porter, Garcia rebounded with a high profile KO over Adrian Granados in 2019. Now the “Philly Rican” is back in Brooklyn to face Ukranian Ivan Redkach who is on a three-fight win streak with his last win coming via TKO over former champion Devon Alexander in 2019.
UFC 247: Jon Jones vs. Dominick Reyes
Date: February 8th, 2020
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Jon Jones‘ 2019 will be defined by one obscure word: picograms. However, the man who faced ridicule over revelations he used cocaine, and performance-enhancing drugs accusations returns to defend his light heavyweight title. Known as the future of the UFC, Jones’ problems took over his brand as new stars like Israel Adesanya and Jorge Masvidal began to dominate the dialogue of the UFC. In 2020, Jones will attempt to maintain his light heavyweight champion status and add heavyweight champion to his resume.
Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury
Date: February 22nd, 2020
Location: MGM Grand Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
When Deontay “Bronze Bomber” Wilder knocked out Luis Ortiz for the second time on November 23rd, 2019, it settled old questions and set up the entrance for new ones. No one will forget the scintillating performance he gave against Tyson Fury that resulted in a knockdown. But that was eclipsed by Fury getting up off the canvas in the 12th round and surviving for a split draw. Although Wilder knocked Fury down twice, Fury out-landed Wilder in nine of the twelve rounds and the UK born and bred fighter became more of the People’s Champ on this side of the pond. The two finally will rematch and attempt to settle who is the best heavyweight on the planet.
Mikey Garcia vs. Jessie Vargas
Date: February 29th, 2020
Location: Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas
When Mikey Garcia announced recently that he had signed a deal with DAZN, it came at little surprise. Adept at self-management and a strategic journeyman, Garcia has always taken his career in his own hands and never been afraid of a challenge. Garcia is coming off a high profile loss to Errol Spence, Jr. where he gained the respect of all for his 12 round attempt. Deciding to stay at welterweight, Garcia is taking on former champion Jessie Vargas in a battle for Mexico. This could become one of the best Mexican on Mexican fights of teh newly minted decade.