Betfair's boxing writer Frankie Monkhouse looks back at three notable wins from the first part of 2020 and discusses what could be next in the career of each fighter...
"Out-muscling, out-boxing and out-working the American, Fury sent his opponent to the canvas in rounds three and five."
Time to reflect
With all scheduled shows cancelled by the British Boxing Board of Control until June, at the earliest, there hasn't been a lot to keep fight fans occupied of late.
Anthony Joshua's homecoming against Kubrat Pulev has been shelved for the time being and we'll have to wait on a new date for Derek Chisora's long awaited meeting with former cruiserweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk, a clash that was originally set for May at the O2 Arena in London.
We may only be four months into an interrupted 2020 schedule, but followers have enjoyed some important results already, fights that could shape the short-term future of the sport. So here are three of my favourite wins of the year so far and a look at what could be next...
Tyson Fury beat Deontay Wilder
Without doubt the biggest win of 2020 - and it will take some beating - came on 22 February at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Tyson Fury travelled to the home of long reigning WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and despite being written off by many, the Englishman scored one of the most important wins the division has seen in years.
The Bronze Bomber went in with a fearsome knockout average, on paper, one of the hardest hitters in boxing history. He was picked by most experts to deal with Fury comfortably inside the distance, but it was the Gypsy King who delivered the knockout punch. Out-muscling, out-boxing and out-working the American, Fury sent his opponent to the canvas in rounds three and five. The brutal assault continued until Wilder's corner threw in the towel at 1.39 of round seven.
What's next for Fury? There was a rematch clause in the contract which stated Wilder could force a trilogy and the 34-year-old is expected to do just that. If Fury does face Wilder this year the champion will be 2/7 favourite with Wilder priced at 5/2, 25/1 attached to the draw.
In an interesting twist, the reduced schedule due to the coronavirus emergency could force a unification bout sooner rather than later, with both Fury and Anthony Joshua rushed to the negotiating table. If Wilder takes a payment to step aside, as does AJ's intended opponent Pulev, we could see Fury v Joshua in 2020. Wilder would then push for a meeting with the winner. If we do get an all British super fight this year, Fury would be expected to win. Tyson is 4/9 to beat Anthony at 13/8.
Kell Brook beat Mark DeLuca
Kell Brook may now be 33-years-old, a 41-bout veteran of the fight game and carrying two stoppage defeats in his recent form, but he got off to the perfect start in what should be an important 2020 in his career. Special K knows he has one final roll of the dice if he is to return to boxing's head table. He faced an all-or-nothing bout with little-known American Mark DeLuca at the Sheffield Arena in February. The away fighter ducked between the ropes as a betting underdog but had suffered just one defeat in a strong career before meeting Kell.
Brook moved his record to 39-2-0 with a convincing stoppage win, achieved in the seventh round. Kell not only had to get the right result, he also had to ensure he won the fight in the style needed to convince the top players at super welterweight he remains a force in the division. The Englishman passed both tests. He sent DeLuca to the floor in round three and finished things with a devastating hook four rounds later. There's still plenty of power in the former world champion's work, that's for sure.
What's next for Brook? Some fans are clinging to the hope we will finally see him share a ring with long-term rival Amir Khan, but that's looking increasingly unlikely as time marches on. A fight that is, at present, no more than rumour but appears to be gathering pace is Brook meeting world champion and pound-for-pound king Terence Crawford. Such a bout would throw Kell back in at the deep end, but he shouldn't be written off easily.
Roman Gonzalez beat Kal Yafai
Kal Yafai entered the year as Britain's longest-reigning world champion but his run of glory was to come to an abrupt halt in Frisco, USA. The 30-year-old from Birmingham took his perfect 26-fight career to America, putting an unbeaten record and WBA super flyweight world title on the line but was to return home empty handed, beaten in nine rounds.
Despite being priced as hot favourite with traders, due to his impressive form, Yafai was dumped on the seat of his pants in rounds eight and nine by Nicaraguan Roman Gonzalez. The challenger scored a ninth-round stoppage to stretch his CV to 49 wins against two defeats, 41 of those victories coming inside the distance.
What's next for Yafai? He has lost his title and dropped to seventh in the world rankings, but he does have options. A rematch is the next obvious move but it's likely Kal's handlers would push to make that fight happen in the UK as part of a big show later this year. The three main fighters in the division at present are Wisaksil Wangek of Thailand, Mexican Juan Francisco Estrada and Gonzalez.