The 10 Biggest All-British Fights That Could Happen in 2014

James GarnerContributor IFebruary 7, 2014

The 10 Biggest All-British Fights That Could Happen in 2014

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    Depending on where you put your emphasis, you could argue either side of the argument as to the current strength of British boxing.

    On the one hand, at the very highest level there is decline—David Haye may well be retired, whilst Amir Khan and Carl Froch looked a little faded in their most recent outings. Ricky Burns and Stuart Hall hold fringe world titles, whilst Scott Quigg has a plain bogus one, but no British boxer is the top fighter in his division right now.

    There never seems to be a moment when Sky Sports presenter Adam Smith doesn't think that, "British boxing is on a high right now," but despite the dip at the top level, that is still a defensible position today.

    At the present time, an unusual number of British boxers are in the top 10 or top 20 of their divisions—and that sets the scene for exciting, high-quality domestic matchups.

    The lucrative box-office takings of fights like Haye vs. Dereck Chisora, Froch vs. George Groves and Haye vs. Audley Harrison mean that promoters should be willing to put their differences aside and make some of these fights.

    Here are 10 that could make a big splash in 2014.

10. David Price vs. Dereck Chisora

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    David Price relinquished his British heavyweight title in December, thus avoiding a fight with mandatory challenger Dereck Chisora. This was an understandable move, given that Price was coming off two straight TKO defeats to American veteran Tony Thompson.

    Price is now signed with German promoter Sauerland, and after an easy comeback win last month in Stuttgart, he is expected to return in Berlin next month. However, at the back end of last year, he did tell ESPN that the Chisora fight "is something that really interests me and I'd hope it has the potential to be made later next year.''

    Right now, Chisora probably wouldn't be interested in Price as he hopes to engineer a world title shot in 2014. He is ranked as the No. 2 contender by the WBO and No. 7 for the vacant WBC title.

    However, if he loses a world-title eliminator and Price wins a couple of confidence-building fights, they could meet at a crossroads. It would make for a good match stylistically and should be exciting too—it would be hard to see this one going the distance.

    Chance of Happening in 2014: 15 percent

    Ideal Venue: Echo Arena, Liverpool

    Prediction: Chisora TKO 7—but Price is dangerous even earlier.

9. Enzo Maccarinelli vs. Nathan Cleverly

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    When Enzo Maccarinelli dropped down to the light heavyweight division in late 2011, it looked nailed on that he would fight then WBO champion Nathan Cleverly. Both men were popular, Welsh and promoted by Frank Warren.

    Somehow, things didn't come together—perhaps predominantly because Maccarinelli had to wait nine months to get a rematch with Ovill McKenzie after their first fight was ended prematurely by referee Ian John-Lewis.

    He then beat McKenzie in the rematch (his best win in three years) on the very night that Nathan Cleverly lost his title to Russian wrecking machine Sergey Kovalev.

    Since then, Cleverly has announced his intention to compete in the cruiserweight division, while Maccarinelli has signed a tough April fight against Juergen Braehmer, the top German light heavyweight, in Rostock, Germany.

    Later in 2014, Maccarinelli vs. Cleverly could make sense in either the light heavyweight or cruiserweight divisions. If Maccarinelli beats Braehmer for a fringe WBA title, Cleverly would have the incentive to come back down in weight; if Maccarinelli loses, he could move to cruiserweight to fact Cleverly—in those circumstances, his last realistic payday.

    Maccarinelli looked a rejuvenated man in his win over McKenzie. Given his brutal KO defeats to Ola Afolabi, Denis Lebedev and Alexander Frenkel, fans might not want to see him in against a puncher; however, Cleverly doesn't fit that profile.

    Chance of Happening in 2014: 20 percent

    Ideal Venue: Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

    Prediction: Cleverly late KO or points.

8. George Groves vs. James DeGale II

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    Back in May 2011, George Groves and James DeGale topped the bill at the O2 Arena in a bout that created incredible amounts of interest for a British super-middleweight title fight. It was a tense, close affair, and a draw was probably the fairest result, but Groves got the nod on a majority decision.

    DeGale rebounded well initially by winning the European title against Piotr Wilczewski, but since then his career has stagnated. As reported by the Daily Star last year, DeGale has said, "I need to box more regularly and I need these big fights now because I am frustrated."

    Other than a good win over a faded Glen Johnson, Groves hadn't done much since 2011 until his barnstorming performance against Carl Froch in November.

    Groves is now looking for a rematch with Froch, but if terms can't be agreed upon, he could be left in limbo. His performance against Froch was good enough to worry the other titleholders, but because the fight wasn't on a major U.S. network, it didn't raise his profile as much as it should have.

    It is hard to see WBO champion Robert Stieglitz or WBC champion Sakio Bika wanting any part of Groves, whilst WBA champion Andre Ward would prefer the money Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. could bring to the table.

    If Froch vs. Groves were to fall through, Groves vs. DeGale II would make a lot of sense as a potential world-title eliminator and a significant domestic attraction.

    Chance of Happening in 2014: 15 percent

    Ideal Venue: O2 Arena, London

    Prediction: Groves late KO or points.

7. Martin Murray vs. Matthew Macklin

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    It is slightly incredible that there has not been a single matchup between the recent strong crop of British and Irish middleweights—Martin Murray, Matthew Macklin, Darren Barker and Andy Lee.

    Macklin and Barker did sign to fight in September 2010, but Barker had to pull out. Recently there were rumours on The Score that Lee and Macklin would fight in Ireland, but now Dan Rafael of ESPN reports that Lee is lined up to fight WBA champion Gennady Golovkin.

    With Barker having retired, he exits the merry-go-round, which leaves Murray vs. Macklin as the only possible bout on the table.

    Macklin and Murray have individually fought to close decisions against Felix Sturm, and now that Sturm has regained a world-title belt, he would likely be the preferred opponent for them. If either fighter could wrestle the IBF title from Sturm, the other would be a natural choice as the first defence.

    Murray claims he has wanted the Macklin fight twice before, but Macklin has preferred to pursue opportunities in the USA, where his Irish heritage has helped him attract fans.

    Macklin is signed with American promoter Lou DiBella and hasn't fought in the U.K. since 2010, so this is one of the least likely matchups.

    Chance of Happening in 2014: 10 percent

    Ideal Venue: LG Arena, Birmingham

    Prediction: Macklin on points, but it's a tossup.

6. Carl Frampton vs. Scott Quigg

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    Carl Frampton and Scott Quigg have looked to be on a collision course for some years in the super-bantamweight division.

    Both fighters picked up wins in 2012 that announced them on the world stage—Quigg against Rendall Munroe, Frampton against Steve Molitor.

    In 2013, Quigg's interim WBA title was upgraded, although Guillermo Rigondeaux is still the real champion, whilst Frampton won impressively against Kiko Martinez (now the IBF champion) to win the European belt.

    Quigg, like most fighters in the division, will hope Rigondeaux moves to featherweight, which would put Quigg in line for the vacant title. Frampton has a WBC-title eliminator in Belfast against Hugo Cazares, which could lead to a shot against champion Leo Santa Cruz.

    You have to expect that these two will square off at some point in their careers (Frampton is 26, Quigg is 25), but it may be that they are tied up with other business in 2014. There is also the tricky question of which TV company would get the fight: Sky Sports, which is affiliated with Quigg's promoter Eddie Hearn, or BoxNation, with its affiliation to Frampton's promoter Frank Warren.

    Chance of Happening in 2014: 15 percent

    Ideal Venue: Manchester Arena

    Prediction: Frampton right now, but that could change.

5. Nathan Cleverly vs. Tony Bellew II

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    The second rematch on the countdown: Cleverly and Bellew fought in late 2011 for the WBO light heavyweight title. Cleverly successfully defended his belt by majority decision; Bellew had a case for the draw but not really for the win.

    Both fighters are now looking to compete at cruiserweight—Cleverly after losing his title to Kovalev, Bellew after his failed challenge for Adonis Stevenson's WBC title.

    As it stands, Bellew has a fairly easy fight lined up in March against Valery Brudov. Cleverly, meanwhile, has nothing on the table.

    Light heavyweight to cruiserweight is a big jump, from a limit of 175 pounds to that of 200-pounds, and unless either fighter was seriously weight-drained at the lower limit, it is hard to see them having world-title success at the higher weight.

    That said, Bellew, age 31, did compete as a heavyweight as an amateur, whilst at age 26, Cleverly has time to grow into a larger frame.

    Even so, the rematch would make a lot of sense for both fighters in terms of the money available relative to the difficulty of the opponent, and it would a fascinating match to see who has the bigger future at cruiserweight.

    Chance of Happening in 2014: 20 percent

    Ideal Venue: Echo Arena, Liverpool

    Prediction: Too early to call. It all depends on who is better suited to the weight.

4. Tyson Fury vs. Dereck Chisora II

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    Another big domestic bout from 2011 saw Tyson Fury put himself on the map with a wide points win over a badly conditioned Dereck Chisora. Fury picked up the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles in the process.

    Both fighters have significantly improved since then. Last year, Chisora beat fancied American Malik Scott before winning the European title against Edmund Gerber, whilst Fury announced himself to the American public with a TKO win over former cruiserweight champion Steve Cunningham at Madison Square Garden Theater.

    In theory, you might expect these two to avoid each other as they each pursue world-title shots. But they are both boxing on the same bill next week in London against lesser opponents, with promoters Frank Warren and Mick Hennessy working together.

    As reported by Sky Sports, Warren has outlined his intentions:

    The plan is for both of them to come through their fights on the night and then the pair will meet in a massive rematch in June...The cherry on the cake is the prospect of it being an eliminator for the world title. It really has got all the ingredients of a super fight.

    Although this is a high-risk fight on both sides, what may sway it into existence is the confidence in each camp that their man is the favourite—Fury because he won last time out, Chisora because he now weighs in at a trim 235 pounds, as opposed to a silly 261 back in 2011.

    Chance of Happening in 2014: 60 percent

    Ideal Venue: O2 Arena, London

    Prediction: Fury by late stoppage.

3. Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook

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    Anybody with even a casual interest in boxing knows that right now Amir Khan is hoping to sign a fight with Floyd Mayweather. Mayweather recently opened an online poll for fans to decide if they would prefer the Khan matchup or one against Marcos Maidana.

    The poll is ongoing and is inconclusive so far, but there is a perception that the Mayweather fight, rumoured for several months now, may be slipping away from Khan.

    That would be embarrassing for the Bolton fighter, who gave up the chance to fight Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title, only to see Shawn Porter pull the upset over a vulnerable-looking Alexander.

    Khan's last fight was at a 143-pound catchweight against Julio Diaz, where he looked poor and was dropped in the fourth round. It did not suggest he would fare well in a rematch with 140-pound king Danny Garcia.

    If Khan does want to compete at welterweight, and the Mayweather fight falls through, Brook may be his best option, especially if promoter Eddie Hearn's projected purse is based in reality. 

    @Paulstevens1471: @EddieHearn Khan wont fight @SpecialKBrook he brings nothing to the table at the moment.” How about $5m?

    — Eddie Hearn (@EddieHearn) February 3, 2014

    Chance of Happening in 2014: 30 percent

    Ideal Venue: Reebok Stadium, Bolton

    Prediction: Brook by stoppage.

2. David Haye vs. Tyson Fury

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    This fight was scheduled for September 28 last year, and again for February 4 this year, but both times David Haye withdrew because of injury. He then underwent major shoulder surgery and claimed that he had been advised not to box again by doctors.

    After the first pull-out, Fury had predicted Haye would not make the second date, and having been proved correct, it is likely that Team Fury would be wary of entering negotiations with Haye a third time.

    But the fact remains that, after Wladimir Klitschko, Haye is by far the biggest box-office draw in the heavyweight division. For that reason, even despite his injury troubles, it would not be a huge shock if Haye was able to engineer a world-title shot in 2014.

    The Haye who destroyed Dereck Chisora in 2012 would be the favourite over either Chris Arreola or Bermane Stiverne, the two North American fighters who are circling the vacant WBC belt. Were Haye to win that strap, a Fury showdown would make financial sense, before a possible rematch against Klitschko for all the belts.

    That would all be contingent on Haye's health, but his long-planned retirement from the sport in 2011 did not last, and few people would be surprised to see him announcing another big date at a press conference. Whether he makes it to fight night is another question.

    Chance of Happening in 2014: 5 percent

    Ideal Venue: Manchester Arena

    Prediction: Unless he gets old overnight, Haye by TKO.

1. Carl Froch vs. George Groves II

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    International revenue might make Khan vs. Brook or Haye vs. Fury more lucrative, but in terms of domestic box office, Carl Froch against George Groves tops the list.

    Rarely has a rematch been so perfectly poised as this. The first fight in November was stopped prematurely by referee Howard Foster, at a point where it was almost exactly 50:50. With three rounds to go, either Froch would have forced a legitimate stoppage, or Groves would have rallied to claim the points victory.

    The second time around, Froch should be better prepared for Groves' attacks and therefore less likely to be caught cold again with the punch that put him down in the first round.

    But Groves will have learned that he needs to pace himself and could box more cautiously with his eye on the scorecards rather than a stoppage.

    Plus there are the questions as to whether Froch is over the hill and whether Groves has good enough stamina to go 12 hard rounds.

    Froch would have preferred a big American fight against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., but the IBF will strip him of his title if he pursues that, and the belt is what would bring Chavez to the table in the first place.

    Although Groves' purse could be a sticking point, this fight makes too much sense and too much money, for it not to happen in 2014. According to Sky Sports, promoter Eddie Hearn definitely wants it, and it's now up to him to make a deal that works for both fighters.

    Chance of Happening in 2014: 80 percent

    Ideal Venue: Emirates Stadium, London

    Prediction: Froch by late stoppage or Groves on points.