Keith Thurman is a former welterweight champion who not that long ago was considered the best at 147 pounds, was absolutely one of the most entertaining fighters to watch when he owned a couple of belts, and never pulled any punches in interviews. 

He hasn’t fought in two-and-a-half years since losing to Manny Pacquiao and now Thurman will headline a Pay-per-view Feb. 5 in his return to the ring. He’ll meet Mario Barrios, who is coming off a loss to Gervonta Davis, in a fight nobody is clamoring to see. 

I’m not trying to pick on Thurman or shade Barrios here, but their showdown is yet another example of how boxing more often than not doesn’t do its fans any favors. Forcing them fork over additional dollars for a fight they don’t need—which will go up against other interesting cards that same evening—is just par for the course. 

Boxing fans, of course, know that the sport’s problems stack higher than the bricks of $100s Floyd Mayweather loves to stunt with on Instagram. No. 1 on that list is the lack of marquee matchups being made between boxing’s superstars, mostly because the politics of the sport—with its warring promotions and network exclusivity—always get in the way of delivering what fans demand: highly consequential and attractive matchups between the best in the world. Barring some sort of industry-wide exorcism, boxing will continue to under-deliver and disappoint.

But that’s not going to stop fans of the sweet science from dreaming about mega-fights that should be made. So we’re back for another edition highlighting eight bouts that—fingers crossed—we’d really like to see happen in the new year. Notably, none of the eight we wished for at the beginning of 2021 were consummated. Some of the ones highlighted here are nothing but a pipe dream, while others could legitimately go down. But from my perspective, these are the eight I’d be most hyped to see in 2022. And I’d like to think most fans would agree.   

Just missed the cut: Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire II, Artur Beterbiev vs. Dmitry Bivol, Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez, Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castano II, Jermall Charlo vs. Demetrius Andrade