The New Year was seen in by two veteran heavyweights treating their fans to a slugfest, as the betting favourite Luis Ortiz recovered from two knockdowns to defeat Charles Martin. At 42-years of age Ortiz showed that there is still plenty of fight in the old dog yet, delivering for oddschecker free bet users who’d backed him to KO the one-time Anthony Joshua victim. Even if his punch resistance appears to be on the wane, with Martin putting him down with an innocuous jab at one worrying point in the contest, Ortiz will still be given more than a puncher’s chance by bookies against whoever he happens to face next.
Ortiz has now set himself up for bigger and better fights in 2022, with some of the top contenders likely to fancy their chances against the veteran Cuban. Here we cast an eye over other elite level veteran boxers who may just be about to have an Indian summer to remember this year; putting father time back in his box for at least another twelve months.
There are many boxers who prolong their careers for too long, but all the fighters on this list still have plenty left in the tank and have the weapons to inflict defeats on much younger foes
Nonito Donaire – 39
The Filipino Flash could have been forgiven for following fellow Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao into retirement in 2021, especially after a much-anticipated showdown with John Riel Casimero fell through. But such is Donaire’s warrior spirit that he appears ready to fight on despite pushing 40 years of age, which for a man operating at bantamweight is seriously impressive.
Although he has suffered a number of defeats during his stellar career, he still takes his place in the pound-for-pound rankings of any boxing expert worth their salt. One of those close defeats came to the revered Japanese fighter Naoya Inoue, who Donaire took the full twelve rounds. There are now rumours swirling about the possibility of the two men running the fight back. Revenge for Donaire would undoubtedly put him up there as one of the greatest fighters of all time, such is Inoue’s fearsome reputation.
Deontay Wilder – 36
Because they are never required to make weight for any bout they contest, heavyweight fighters are renowned for being able to push their careers deep into their thirties and forties. Despite arguably losing all three of his trilogy fights against Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder’s stock has probably risen, such was the drama that played out in the rounds the two big men shared. At the age of 36 Wilder still obviously has plenty to offer the heavyweight division, although he may need a few tune-up fights first before diving back into the deep end against one of the current champions. His one-punch knockout power will always make him a seriously dangerous opponent for anyone he faces.
Throwing in the towel is not an option for the cornermen of these veteran fighters, many of whom would prefer to go out on their shield than suffer the ignominy of quitting
Gennady Golovkin – 39
This KO artist was avoided by so many of the top names in the sport that it took until his twilight years for him to get the marquee fights he so craved. After being robbed in his first fight against Canelo Alvarez, he was unable to reap revenge in their rematch and is now desperate to fulfil a trilogy against the Mexican pound-for-pound number 1. Other options open to the man known as GGG are the Charlo brothers, Ryōta Murata, and Demetrius Andrade. If he really wanted to, he could even pursue Canelo up two weight classes to light-heavyweight, to see if his power would carry.
Vasyl Lomachenko – 33/34
At the time of writing this Ukrainian amateur standout is about to turn 34 years of age, but his desire to regain his undisputed lightweight world titles remains undimmed. He caught a lucky break at the end of 2021 when unheralded Aussie George Kambosos Jr. outfought Teofimo Lopez to hold all the belts at 130 pounds. The new champion’s close ties to Lomachenko’s promoter, Top Rank, mean that a showdown between the two could be on the cards for 2022. Lomachenko will probably have to do things the hard way, though, as Kambosos has been vocal of his desire to bring such a fight to the land Down Under. No doubt the man known as The Matrix will be willing to get his passport out and head to Australia if it means he can recover all the titles he lost in a sub-par performance against Lopez.
Yordenis Ugás – 35
Of all the current welterweight world champions, this Cuban fighter is the oldest, having won the vacant WBA title against Abel Ramos before then proving his doubters wrong by overcoming the legend that is Manny Pacquiao. He is now in the nice position of being viewed as the most vulnerable of the champions at 147 pounds, meaning he is likely to tempt fellow champion Errol Spence into a unification fight in 2022, with the purse even being in the Cuban’s favour. The winner of that bout will then surely have to take on Terence Crawford, who is looking for that final standout win, to rubber stamp him as one of the greatest fighters of his generation. Ugás could be the man to scupper all of Crawford’s best-laid plans.
Kiko Martínez – 35/36
Spanish boxing had one of its best ever years in 2021 as Sandor Martin came from nowhere to defeat Mikey Garcia, Kerman Lejarraga became a two-time European super-welterweight king, and then Kiko Martínez unleashed a highlight reel knockout of Kid Galahad in the Sheffield fighter’s own back yard. The world is now Martínez’s oyster, and he will probably look for one last massive payday in a unification against the WBA’s regular champion Leigh Wood, or perhaps even the likes of Gary Russell Jr. or Emanuel Navarrete. Certainly, Martínez would back himself to beat any of those names and perhaps fit in a couple of super fights in 2022.