Wilder-Ortiz, Santa Cruz-Mares II, Lara-Hurd among slew of boxing fights announced by Showtime

Get the Full StoryIf you re a boxing fan, then Showtime has released a busy schedule for the first-half of 2018. Showtime held a special press conference on Wednesday, announcing a series of upcoming fights for boxing fans to look forward to from February through mid-June. In total, ten of them are for major championships, and one is a unification bout between two of the top junior middleweights in the world.

The lone February event is on the 17th, a doubleheader in Las Vegas headlined by welterweights Danny Garcia 33-1, 19 KOs and Brandon Rios 34-3-1, 25 KOs , in a WBC title eliminator. The co-main event, which is easily more intriguing, is WBC super middleweight champion David Benavidez 19-0, 17 KOs rematching Ronald Gavril 18-2, 14 KOs . Benavidez defeated Gavril by split decision last September, in an underrated Fight of the Year contender.

On March 3rd, WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder 39-0, 38 KOs defending his title against Cuba s Luis Ortiz 28-0-2 NC, 24 KOs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. This is arguably the toughest opponent to date for Wilder, and hopefully Ortiz doesn t fail his drug test again. The co-main is middleweight Jermall Charlo 26-0, 20 KOs against Hugo Centeno Jr 26-1, 14 KOs for the WBC interim title. Centeno had one of the best knockouts of 2017, starching Immanuwel Aleem with a vicious left hook.

In San Antonio, Texas on March 10th, current WBC lightweight champion Mikey Garcia 37-0, 30 KOs move up to junior welterweight to challenge IBF champ Sergey Lipinets 13-0, 10 KOs , as Garcia seeks to a major title in his fourth weight class. A rematch between Rances Barthelemy 26-0, 13 KOs vs. Kiryl Relikh 21-2, 9 KOs serves as the co-main event, with the vacant WBA 140-pound title on the line.

April 7th site TBD will pit WBA 154-pound titleholder Erislandy Lara 25-2-2, 14 KOs unify belts with IBF champion Jarrett Hurd 21-0, 15 KOs , who engaged in a remarkable fight vs. Austin Trout last October.

Two weeks later also with a TBD venue , Adrien Broner 33-3, 24 KOs battles Omar Figueroa 27-0-1, 19 KOs at 140-pounds. Former IBF junior lightweight champion Gervonta Davis 19-0, 18 KOs returns to the ring for the first time since the Floyd Mayweather vs. Conor McGregor PPV. Davis missed weight for his fight against Francisco Fonseca, so he was stripped of the belt on the eve of the card. An opponent for Davis has not yet been confirmed.

May 19th will be a split-site doubleheader, as WBC welterweight king Keith Thurman 28-0-1 NC, 22 KOs will have what amounts to a tune-up title defense given his inactivity. While no opponent was named, he s expected to face Jessie Vargas 28-2, 10 KOs , the former WBO champion. Meanwhile, WBC light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson 29-1, 24 KOs is set to face Badou Jack 22-1-2, 13 KOs in what is by far the most compelling fight Stevenson has had in ages. Stevenson-Jack will occur in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, while Thurman-TBA is going to be in Brooklyn.

June 9th sees the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California host a championship doubleheader. Leo Santa Cruz 34-1-1, 19 KOs puts his WBA featherweight title at stake against Abner Mares 32-1-1, 15 KOs . Both men live in Southern California and thus this should produce a hot crowd. Santa Cruz bested Mares by decision in 2015, and the two will finally lock horns again. The co-main event is a WBC junior middleweight title defense for Jermell Charlo 30-0, 15 KOs , with an opponent TBA.

Lastly, Errol Spence Jr 23-0, 20 KOs , who is fresh off a TKO of Lamont Peterson, will get a home fight in Dallas, Texas. The IBF ordered Spence to fight Mexico s Carlos Ocampo 22-0, 13 KOs , who is the mandatory challenger, but Spence s next opponent was not officially named at the presser.

You may notice that Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker wasn t on that list, well that s because HBO and Showtime are currently bidding to broadcast that fight. Showtime has matching rights in case HBO outbids them. If Joseph-Parker goes to Showtime, then you can add March 31st to the list of dates the network will be televising boxing.

Of the confirmed bouts, at the top of my list for pure intrigue are Benavidez-Gavril II, Wilder-Ortiz, Lara-Hurd, Stevenson-Jack, and Santa Cruz-Mares II. After a strong 2017, it looks as if Showtime is continuing to heavily invest in boxing in 2018.