Our countdown of the top 5 boxing trilogies that could happen in the not-too-distant future
There was a time when trilogies were a common occurrence in boxing. Before the various governing bodies, before conflicting network deals, and before big purses, a boxer could and often needed, to fight several times per year.
Just take a look at the records of some of your favourite fighters from decades ago - you'll soon notice that the numbers dwarf those of most modern boxers. It's no surprise then that throughout the majority of the twentieth century, fighters would often meet multiple times.
Today the landscape of professional boxing is very different from what it was just twenty years ago, and we're lucky if we see our favourite boxers square-off even once before retirement, let alone three times.
That's not to say that we haven't seen some great trilogies in recent years, or that there aren't some great trilogies to come in the next few - it's just that they are becoming few and far between as careers get shorter and the months between fights grow ever longer.
Perhaps that's why we value a trilogy so much now? We look back with nostalgia at the likes of Johansson-Patterson, Ali-Frazier, Leonard-Duran or more recently, Gatti-Ward, Pacquiao-Márquez, Barrera-Morales, and wonder - will we ever see trilogies like those again?
While we may not ever see another Gatti-Ward, the trilogy certainly isn't dead just yet. There have been some fantastic return-matches of late that have every chance of producing a third fight.
Here are our top 5 Trilogies that are yet to happen (and that genuinely could).
5. Dillian Whyte vs Derek Chisora - Heavyweight
Whyte and Chisora fought to a tight split-decision in an all-out barnstormer back in 2016. Whyte got the nod, but it could have gone either way, leaving fans hungry for more. Two years later we got our wish as the two picked up where they left off. This time around there would be no questions marks, with Whyte knocking Chisora out in the eleventh round from a monster left hook. Up to that point, the fight had been another brutally competitive encounter, and I doubt anyone would scoff at seeing them go at it a third time.
Both Chisora and Whyte have a tough challenge ahead in the next few months, as Chisora takes on the former undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world, Oleksandr Usyk, and Whyte bids to avenge the brutal KO he suffered at the hands of Alexander Povetkin. Win or lose, as long as neither man retires a third encounter is always on the cards.
4. Carl Frampton vs Léo Santa Cruz
In one of his career-best performances, Carl Frampton won his third world title and became a two-weight world champion by clinching a majority decision win over Léo Santa Cruz. In an immediate rematch, Santa Cruz turned the tables, outpointing Frampton in another high-level chess match that also ended in a majority decision. Though the trilogy match never materialised at the time, it is still a fight could happen and certainly one that would generate a lot of interest.
Both Men now fight up at super-featherweight where each has a big fight on the horizon. Santa Cruz defends his WBA (Super) title against Gervonta Davis in October, and Frampton is expecting to challenge for Jamel Herring's WBO title with a date yet to be confirmed. Should both men win, a unification-trilogy fight could be huge, and should they lose they might still be each other's best option for a big payday.
3. Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz Jr.
Supposedly a stepping stone on the way to a mega-fight with Wilder, Andy Ruiz Jr. proved himself less a stepping stone and more of a roadblock, temporarily stopping AJ's career dead in its tracks. Turning the boxing world on its head, Ruiz climbed off the canvas in his 2019 world championship bid, flooring the previously undefeated Joshua four times before stopping him in the seventh round.
The immediate rematch would see a more composed AJ get the better of a less explosive Ruiz over 12 rounds, earning himself a unanimous decision. With Joshua back in possession of his belts and setting his sights on a unification match for undisputed status - plus having mandatories knocking at his door - the trilogy fight with Ruiz will have to wait. However, with the score at one-a-piece, it's certainly something that we expect to see in the future.
2. Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder
After a two and half year lay-off, an out of shape Tyson Fury battled WBC champion and knockout-artist, Deontay Wilder, to a draw after climbing up from the canvas following what should have been a fight-ending right-left combination. Although he was knocked down twice during the fight, many onlookers felt Fury won enough rounds to earn the decision.
The rematch took place just over a year later, with both men having fought twice in the interim. After another entertaining build-up, a much fitter Tyson Fury, under the guidance of SugarHill Steward, fought with uncharacteristic aggression to dominate the fight. Having discovered in their first encounter that Wilder was uncomfortable on the back foot,
the usually defensive Fury took the fight to the champion from the opening bell - dropping him once in the third round and once in the fifth, before Wilder's corner pulled him out in the seventh.
Despite the dominant performance from Fury, Wilder did land a few right hands early on that could well have led to a different outcome had they landed just a little more flush.
Wilder claimed afterwards not have been at 100% and has persued the rematch which is expected to take place in December, making this the only (almost) guaranteed trilogy on our list.
1. Gennady Golovkin vs Canelo Álvarez
One of the less likely trilogies on this list to actually materialise, but one we couldn't leave off. The first time that Canelo and GGG met back in 2017, we saw 12 rounds of boxing fought at the very highest level. While perhaps just past his peak, Golovkin was still the best middleweight out there, and Canelo, as he still is, was one of the best pound for pound boxers on the planet. Despite the competitiveness of the match-up, most observers had GGG winning, but some questionable scorecards resulted in a controversial draw.
The rematch, which took place a full year later, saw a 36-year-old Golovkin beginning to look his age. It was another excellent fight, but this time around Canelo looked that bit Sharper, and GGG wasn't able to walk him down quite as effectively as in their previous encounter.
Though officially the score stands at a draw, and a win for Canelo, unofficially for most, it's all even. Unfortunately, a trilogy fight doesn't appear to be on the horizon, and the Older Golovkin gets the less likely it becomes. Here's to hoping!