Here are the Boxing fights and MMA match-ups that might prove interesting this month.
February 5th: Keith Thurman vs. Mario Barrios (BOXING)
February 5th: Jack Hermansson vs. Sean Strickland (MMA)
February 12th: Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2 (MMA)
February 19th: Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook (BOXING)
February 26th: Josh Taylor vs. Jack Catterall (BOXING)
February 5th: Keith Thurman vs. Mario Barrios
Image Credit: Boxing News 24
Keith Thurman makes his return to the ring after his loss to Manny Pacquiao in this early February clash. Mario Barrios, while not top talent, is also not a punching bag. He’s big, and he’s got pop on his punches with reasonable defense. It will be interesting to see how much rust Thurman needs to shake off.
Keith Thurman: Thurman is one of those fighters who, for me, has always been on the fringe of the real conversation at welter. He passed the eye test better than Porter, but Porter had the better resume (though Thurman did beat Porter). He’s strong, but Spence is stronger. He’s slick, but Crawford is slicker. But if he passes this test with flying colors, then he might get his shot to really prove himself against either Crawford or Spence, as both of them will be looking for a good fight if the fight between them fails to materialize.
Mario Barrios: Barrios is one hell of a gatekeeper. He’s never been a true title contender, but he will tear up anyone who considers him an easy fight and doesn’t prepare properly. He’s a pretty basic fighter style-wise, but it works for him. If he cracks Thurman, then his stock will shoot up massively and he will likely get a shot at either Spence or Crawford.
Prediction: Thurman by KO/TKO. Thurman may have been on the fringe of welterweight greatness, but welterweight is an absolutely stacked weight class, and he is clearly an elite-level fighter. Barrios has yet to prove that, which is why I back Thurman in this fight.
HOW TO WATCH: Live on FOX PPV on February 5, 2022 at 9:00 PM ET.
February 19th: Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook
Image Credit: FightNights
This fight has been a very long time in the making. Amir Khan is the epitome of a glass cannon, and Kell Brook is a fast and slick defensive fighter, so it will be a great clash of styles between two long-time rivals.
Amir Khan: Amir Khan is very fast, possibly the fastest hands in all of boxing right now. His defense is good, his feet are quick, and he’s brave. His issue has always been his fragility. He goes down very easily, and he has a difficult time recovering from a knockdown. The key to victory for him has always been to hit without getting hit.
Kell Brook: Brook is another very good fighter with a single defining flaw: the injury he sustained during the GGG fight. He hasn’t been the same since fracturing his orbital, impacting both his sight on that side, and more importantly, his bravery. That said, he is still a fantastic defensive fighter with good speed and flash knockdown potential, making his match with Khan an interesting clash. Will Kell catch Khan, or will Khan outbox Kell?
Prediction: Too Close to Call. I have no idea who will win this one, and that’s what makes it so exciting!
HOW TO WATCH: Live on Sky Sports on February 19, 2022 TBD.
February 26th: Josh Taylor vs. Jack Catterall
Image Credit: Boxxer
Having just taken the undisputed title for light welter in convincing fashion, Josh Taylor is a rising star. He now defends his titles against undefeated prospect Jack Catterall in what will likely be a fantastic fight.
Josh Taylor: The young and talented star is all action every single time he fights, yet he still remains smart. He has a solid bag of tricks backed by good footwork and a tight traditional defense. Catterall is a solid opponent to defend against, especially if he’s serious about his designs on welterweight kingpins Terrence Crawford and Errol Spence, Jr.. He’ll need to take advantage of his experience to beat Catterall.
Jack Catterall: An undefeated prospect, he’s got a bit of a strange look to his record. Rather than the mass of knockouts over unrated opponents that tend to populate a fighter’s early record, he’s got a solid array of points wins against skilled regional competition. This marks him as a student of the classic British Boxing tradition: controlled, calculated aggression backed up by grit and durability. It will be interesting to see him clash with the more experienced Taylor, far and away his best opponent.
Prediction: Taylor by Points. I think Taylor’s experience and his confidence win out over the young underdog here.
HOW TO WATCH: Live on ESPN+ on February 26, 2022 at 10:00 PM ET.
February 5th: Jack Hermansson vs. Sean Strickland
Image Credit: The Sports Geek
A fight between two title contenders is always a good fight for the division, and this is no different. Hermansson is currently on a bit of a skid, but is still a tough, elite fighter at 185 lbs. On the flip side, Sean Strickland is on a 5-fight streak; his last win being an impressive victory over fan favorite Uriah Hall.
Jack Hermansson: Hermansson is an elite middleweight, but he’s had a streak of bad luck as he still hasn’t secured a title shot. He’s a rugged fighter with good standup and ground game, but he does have some gaps in his defenses as showcased by Vetorri in his last outing. Still, he’s certainly no pushover and will try to bring the fight to Strickland.
Sean Strickland: Sean Strickland has been on a streak since moving up to 185 from 170, picking up 5 straight wins. To his credit, he’s been calling out Hermansson for a while, and this fight is just what both need. Sean will likely try and grind out a points win at close range, which funny enough, gives Hermansson a chance to work despite being the shorter man. It will be fun to see Strickland against someone who actually wants to be at the same range.
Prediction: Strickland by Points. I think he’s on a streak for a reason, and Hermansson’s spotty defense will come back to haunt him.
HOW TO WATCH: Live on ESPN+ on February 5, 2022 at 7:00 PM ET.
February 12th: Israel Adesanya vs. Robert Whittaker 2
Image Credit: myKhel
Since their first match, this rematch has been called for by fans and fighters, now finally materializing. Adesanya won the first bout, but Whittaker is by far the best challenger at 185 for the dynamic striker, so this promises to be a fun and technical fight.
Israel Adesanya: One of the best strikers in the sport today, Adesanya faces a rematch for his title against veteran opponent Robert Whittaker. His main key to victory is definitely to keep the fight standing and at range. Whittaker is physically stronger than him, but the champion has better legs and is more mobile.
Robert Whittaker: A rugged, dangerous fighter at close range with solid clinch game and good up-close striking, Whittaker came closer than any other to dethroning Adesanya and now looks to improve on his work in the first fight to take the belt at 185. Whether or not he can do it remains to be seen, but it's clear that his best chance is to force the fight up close and make it ugly so that Israel can’t use his dynamic movement.
Prediction: Whittaker by KO. I’m doing it, I’m pulling for the underdog. I just like Whittaker’s IQ in a rematch, and I think if he can make the fight up close and gritty, he can do what he did to Uriah Hall and shut Adesanya down.
HOW TO WATCH: Live on ESPN+ on February 19, 2022 at 10:00 PM ET.
Note: All information is accurate as of January 26, 2022.