2020 was a rough year for pretty much everyone in the world. It was certainly a rough year for boxing. But despite the damaging effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on practically every industry, boxing soldiered on, and even held some surprisingly good bouts for fans who craved intense ring action.
However, not everything panned out the way some fighters wanted it to. It was sadly a much forgettable time for a handful of boxing’s elite. In this sport, you’re only as good as your last fight. The moment you drop that ‘L’, fans are quick to jump ship. Some of the biggest names in boxing suffered debilitating setbacks that were completely unexpected.
How you respond to a loss is important. You either dig yourself further into a hole, or claw your way out fighting.
Obviously, 2021 presents new hope, and with it comes tremendous opportunity. The boxers we’ve compiled on this list all have the talent and capability to bounce back in a massive way. All it takes is one vintage performance, and they’re on top of the world again.
Today, Evolve Daily shares five boxers who are primed for amazing comebacks in 2021.
1) Gennady Golovkin
While Gennady Golovkin emerged the victor in his three most recent fights, he certainly hasn’t been considered an elite fighter as of late. The 2018 loss to Canelo Alvarez shattered his aura of invincibility, and at 38 years of age, he’s slowly fading past his prime.
However, elite fighters always find a way to show up for big fights. His most recent opponents: Steve Rolls, Sergiy Derevyanchenko, and Kamil Szeremeta, aren’t exactly household names. Golovkin just needs a big name to motivate him to return to form.
The fight that will bring Golovkin back to prominence is, of course, the rubber match against Canelo. That’s the fight he wants, and with both fighters having one win apiece in their rivalry, it’s the one he deserves. But Canelo wants more money to fight Golovkin, and that’s the sticking point. Only time will tell if they ever meet in the ring again.
Meanwhile, Golovkin needs to focus on the guys who do actually want to fight him right now, and that includes Demetrius Andrade and Jermall Charlo.
2) Vasiliy Lomachenko
Perhaps it was just an off night for Lomachenko, or maybe Teofimo Lopez really did have his number. Regardless, we need to see Lomachenko back in the ring to draw our own conclusions.
Lomachenko dropped a unanimous decision loss to “The Takeover” last October, marking his first defeat in nearly seven years. It was the first time fans have seen a chink in Lomachenko’s armor. He was flat-footed, cumbersome, and a split second behind Lopez the entire bout.
Despite the lackluster performance, Lomachenko certainly still possesses the skills necessary to mount a comeback. But he needs to stay away from fighting guys not on his level as he has done in the past, and instead seek out true challenges.
It seems Lomachenko is gearing up to face fellow Lopez victim, Masayoshi Nakatani, next. But also moving down a weight class to take on Oscar Valdez would be an interesting fight. However, the real money fights remain showdowns with “King” Ryan Garcia and Gervonta “Tank” Davis.
3) Deontay Wilder
Wilder is probably in the roughest spot for all the fighters on this list. “The Bronze Bomber” had his mystique demystified in a February 2020 technical knockout loss to “The Gypsy King” himself, Tyson Fury. The only way to truly reclaim his spot at the top is to exact revenge against the man who defeated him.
Unfortunately, Fury has moved on, at least for now, after having signed a three-fight agreement against Anthony Joshua. But that’s not to say that Wilder is done. In fact, he’s far from it. The heavyweight division is one of boxing’s most exciting once again with big names.
Wilder and Fury each have a win over the other, so a rubber match should happen regardless of Fury’s focus on Joshua at the moment. Eddie Hearn wants Wilder to take on Dillian Whyte, which is a good fight for the American. Another option for Wilder is the comeback king Andy Ruiz.
4) Mikey Garcia
Garcia has long been considered an elite fighter. In 2019, the Mexican-American suffered a unanimous decision loss to top welterweight Errol Spence Jr., the first loss of his professional career.
Due to a combination of factors, including the pandemic, Garcia has been largely inactive. He bounced back in February last year, with a unanimous decision over Jessie Vargas, but hasn’t fought since.
However, Garcia has reentered the conversation once again in 2021 as a potential Manny Pacquiao opponent. Garcia is still one of the most skilled fighters in his weight class, and is a great matchup for the legendary Filipino.
Pacquiao’s at the point where age is always a factor, and the younger Garcia could give him problems should that fight be made. It could be the fight to put Garcia back among the elite.
Garcia versus Danny “Swift” is also a good option for him, as are fights against any of the top welterweights. Garcia just needs a big-name dance partner to remind fans why he’s so great.
5) Leo Santa Cruz
In one of the biggest fights of 2020, highly-regarded super featherweight Leo Santa Cruz moved up in weight to challenge Gervonta Davis in what was one of the most exciting showdowns in recent memory.
The two men went to war for six rounds, and it was an action-packed, fan-friendly contest. In fact, it was a very strong contender for Fight of the Year honors. Davis took home Knockout of the Year for his performance.
Santa Cruz is young and talented, and one of the best in his division. He has loads of options, including a rematch with Davis, which no one would mind seeing again. The former WBA Super Featherweight World Champion has a lot going for him, and fights against the top 135-140 pounders make sense.
It doesn’t matter who Santa Cruz steps into the ring with next. He’s up for a 2021 comeback in a very big way regardless.
If you found this article interesting, here are some others that you may enjoy: