August is going to be a great month for boxing, and it’s not just because of Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor.
Despite all the hype surrounding Mayweather’s bout with McGregor on August 26, three fights that month will have a more substantial impact on the boxing world.
Mayweather vs McGregor has dominated the combat sports headlines as of late. Last week they held an international press tour filled with trash talk laden with racial and homophobic undertones, and people have taken notice on networks as big as ESPN. The odd part about this fight promotion is how little is at stake outside of Mayweather’s perfect record. No championship is on the line. If Mayweather wins, he beats a mixed martial artist in his first professional boxing match. If McGregor wins, he beats one of the best boxers of all time, but at 40-years old and retired nearly two years by the time they fight. It’s short wonder that they engaged in such an extravagant and vulgar promotion tour. Nothing else about this fight has much impact on either sport, but both athletes stand to make a lot of money.
This is, at best, a well-promoted, lucrative exhibition match, and there is nothing wrong with that, but it should not overshadow these upcoming bouts that actually affect the boxing standings.
On August 4, undefeated rising star Claressa Shields will defend her WBC world female super middleweight belt, and compete for the vacant IBF title, against Nikki Adler. Shields just won a lopsided unanimous decision against Sydney LeBlanc in June. Adler beat Mery Rancier in a dominant performance in March. This bout is likely to be a technical fight with enough exchanges to entertain the fans for 10 rounds. Expect Adler’s experience and Shields’ aggressive style to make an interesting night on Showtime.
Vasyl Lomachenko will defend his WBO World super featherweight title against Miguel Marriaga on August 5. Lomachenko just beat up Jason Sosa by landing 204 power punches to Sosa’s 58 until Sosa’s corner stopped the fight in the ninth round.
Lomachenko shows no signs of slowing down, and there is a reason The Ring ranked him fifth pound-for-pound in the world with record of only 8-1. Lomachenko is an electrifying fighter who truly makes boxing look like an art form even to the untrained eye, and his appearance on ESPN should be a positive for the sport.
The fourth best boxer in the world fights on August 19, and Terence Crawford intends to maintain his top-five ranking against Julius Indongo on ESPN. The winner of this bout will be the unified junior welterweight champion, and the loser will receive his first professional loss. While Indongo( the second-ranked junior welterweight) is the taller fighter with longer arms and proven knockout power (see his crowd-silencing victory against Eduard Troyanovsky), Crawford is as versatile as they come. Expect this match to be a game of inches down to the last second.
The popularity surrounding Mayweather vs McGregor makes sense from a branding perspective, but from a pugilistic point of view, this fight means little. These three fights in August will matter more to the sport of boxing even if they only get a fraction of the headlines they deserve.