British boxing could see some of its best ever fights in 2018

There are some significant fights in the diary right now for 2018 and the very real promise that some of the best and most lucrative fights in British boxing history will take place in the next twelve months.

Anthony Joshua will fight twice, probably both in Britain and the list of dance partners is long, deep and intriguing. He has some unfinished business with a man called Kubrat Pulev and then some memorable fights against a quartet of leading men: Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker and the forgotten man of the heavyweight division, Alexander Povetkin.

Joshua wants to fight in Britain, but the world wants him and he could be lost to an overseas location later in the year. Wilder, the WBC champion, and Fury, returning after a two-year exile, are outsiders for a 2018 fight with Joshua. However, with the possibility that Fury and Wilder could meet, it's an extraordinary time to be a world-class heavyweight.

There is also the grudge fight, the nasty rematch between David Haye and Tony Bellew, scheduled with hope and a prayer for May 5. Both fighters are desperate to join the other heavyweights and get closer to the massive paydays. The rematch will be better than the first brawl, the outcome once again dependent on how much of Haye's body is functioning when the bell rings. Bellew has put himself in a bizarre limbo; far from cruiserweight and still a long way short of the heavyweight division, which is a pity because there are a lot of big cruiserweight fights for him in 2018.

The awkward situation at light-heavyweight has to be resolved soon with Frank Buglioni, the British champion, somehow getting a fight with unbeaten and arguably untested prospect Anthony Yarde. It would be the type of fight to give boxing a good name; the champ, a hard grafter, a veteran of tough defeats and the contender with the concrete fists, a winner of 14 fights and 13 by stoppage. They fight on different platforms, with opposing promoters and that should keep the pair circling, which is a pity.

At super-middleweight the British scene was hit with a body-blow in December when James DeGale, arguably the best in the world, lost his title and left the ring shattered. He will watch in anger the quite brilliant fight in February when Chris Eubank Jr and George Groves meet in the semifinal of the World Boxing Super Series -- a tournament that could change boxing -- with Callum Smith also in the final four.

Billy Joe Saunders will get a big, big fight in 2018 and it could be against Amir Khan, fresh from his snake-screaming duties in the Australian jungle. Khan's last fight was at middleweight and Saunders, who has been promised Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin, will want to stay busy and not stand at attention next to a distant negotiating table like a pauper. A super-fight at the Emirates with Golovkin could happen for Billy, who has been transformed since moving to Sheffield and the joining the Ingle Empire.

Kell Brook has finally left the weight-draining welterweight division and will fight at light-middleweight in March. Brook also wants Khan -- the pair once sparred and they each tell a very different story about the rounds they shared.

Also at light-middleweight is Liam Smith and he knows he is next in line for a world title fight, a chance to win back the belt he lost in front of 50,000 to Alvarez in 2016. Brook and Smith would be another fight to cross promotional lines and is unlikely during a year when the rare moments of co-operation between Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn will become ever rarer. The promotional battle on the safe side of the ropes could become one of the best conflicts for decades.

Bradley Skeete has been ignored, refused opportunities and enters 2018 on an unbeaten sequence of nine, including four British title wins, at welterweight. He should have fought for the world title. The only man to beat him is Frankie Gavin and he returns in February. If there was an award for the best professional in British boxing then Skeete would win it.

The light-welterweight division is about to get very interesting with the arrival of unbeaten former WBO lightweight champion Terry Flanagan to join British titleholder Jack Catterall and Commonwealth champion Josh Taylor. It's a deep division at the moment with the line between established boxer and prospect very thin indeed. There are perhaps ten weights with ten or more fighters, mostly unbeaten, with the ability to end the year as No. 1 in Britain. I have never seen so many quality fighters in so many weight divisions -- they have to start fighting each other.

Luke Campbell narrowly lost a world title fight at lightweight in 2017 and will get another chance in 2018, with a fight against Anthony Crolla among the possibilities.

From flyweight to super-featherweight -- a shift in weight of just 18 pounds but permanently defined by six different weight divisions -- there are nearly fifty boxers worth mentioning and there will be a dozen big domestic fights.

Liam Walsh lost a world title fight in 2017 and will make a decision on where he fights in the future, but remains the finest right now at super-feather. The featherweight division is the best in Britain with Carl Frampton, who fights in Belfast in April, Lee Selby -- the world champion who will travel to Leeds and fight Josh Warrington by May -- Scott Quigg and Kid Galahad all among the world's top ten.

Gamal Yafai is fighting Gavin McDonnell at super-bantam in March, the British champion at the weight is Thomas Patrick Ward, probably the neatest boxer in any weight right now. The top five at bantamweight are either world champions or have been world champions. Jamie McDonnell against Ryan Burnett -- both world champions -- would be nice, but the real fight for both of them is with British-based South African Zolani Tete, another world champion. Paul Butler, Lee Haskins and Stuart Hall will all get world title fights again.

Khalid Yafai is the world champion at super-fly, the best in another packed weight division and separated from Joshua by 140 pounds; the pair were, like so many of British boxing's best right now, part of Team GB.

The prospects, the men with mostly unbeaten records -- often untested it has to be said -- but with burning ambition and their sights set on revolution is longer than I can ever remember and involves boxers in every weight division.

Every single one of these boxers will be in a fight you remember in 2018: Nathan Gorman, Daniel Dubois, Joe Joyce, Lawrence Okolie, Joshua Buatsi, Jordan Thompson, Antony Fowler, Josh Kelly, Ted Cheeseman, James Metcalf, Joe Pigford, Asinia Byfield, Conor Benn, Chantelle Cameron, Akeem Ennis Brown, Josh Leather, Sam Maxwell, Reece Belloti, Lyon Woodstock, Paddy Barnes, Zelfa Barrett and Jay Harris.

They will not all come through, but it will be great fun watching them win and lose. What a year it will be.