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Boxing's all-redemption team: Why Vasiliy Lomachenko, Deontay Wilder and others can bounce back in 2021

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Lopez stuns Lomachenko to become undisputed lightweight king (1:53)

Teofimo Lopez withstands a late surge from Vasiliy Lomachenko, with a masterful 12th round, winning by unanimous decision to become the undisputed lightweight champion of the world. (1:53)

The level of inactivity in boxing was a little higher than usual in 2020.

Due to COVID-19, several of the sport's top fighters are in the midst of unusually long layoffs. Manny Pacquiao hasn't fought since July 2019, and Deontay Wilder took his first loss in February just before the pandemic took full effect and hasn't been able to schedule a must-needed return. Others such as Vasiliy Lomachenko suffered a defeat in front of a limited crowd.

Regardless of the reasons, 2021 will be a chance for many fighters to get back on track and prove that they're still at the top of their respective divisions.

Here's 10 fighters who are looking for activity and redemption in 2021:

Vasiliy Lomachenko

Lomachenko put his lightweight belts on the line against rising star Teofimo Lopez. Whether it was the size differential, the power difference or a combination of both, Lomachenko found his offense a little too late and dropped a decision to a budding 23-year-old star. While Lomachenko is still considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in the sport, the real question is where Lomachenko goes next. One has to wonder if Lomachenko isn't better served moving back down to junior lightweight after his power didn't translate as well to the 135-pound division. Either way, Lomachenko isn't short on options with rebound-caliber fights against Shakur Stevenson, titlist Joseph Diaz or the Miguel Berchelt-Oscar Valdez winner at 130, or even Devin Haney at 135.

Deontay Wilder

Wilder and Tyson Fury were able to stage their rematch weeks before COVID-19 altered the sporting landscape. Unfortunately for Wilder, he took the biggest beating of his career and had his corner stop the fight in his first professional loss.

The road back for Wilder looks pretty steep. Fury and Anthony Joshua appear to be firmly planted at the top of the division. Wilder made changes to his team, so his next fight will be a great opportunity to see any adjustments in his game that could help him reclaim his spot as a heavyweight champion.


Manny Pacquiao

Pacquiao's career renaissance took a hiatus in 2020. There were discussions about a potential fight against Terence Crawford overseas and a Mikey Garcia bout that never materialized and ultimately left Pacquiao on the sidelines last year.

It's clear Pacquiao is the fighter that both Crawford and fellow welterweight world titlist Errol Spence Jr. want to face as soon as possible. Even at 42, Pacquiao is still one of boxing's top attractions and appears to have some juice left in the tank after his win against Keith Thurman.

The future Hall of Famer could potentially get a chance to measure himself against Crawford or Spence at some point this year. Can he hold off the twilight to his career for a little longer?


Guillermo Rigondeaux

Rigondeaux fought once in 2020, but he is at a weird point in his career. He has never really recovered since moving up in weight to face Lomachenko in 2017, a fight that ended in a sixth-round stoppage loss.

Interestingly enough, Rigondeaux has progressively moved down in weight and dropped all the way to bantamweight to face Liboro Solis last February. According to BoxRec, that's the lowest weight of his professional career.

The 40-year-old Cuban has scored three straight victories, but he hasn't faced an elite opponent since Lomachenko. He may never be at that level again, but there's only one way to find out. A rematch against Nonito Donaire at 122 could be what the doctor ordered.


Regis Prograis

Prograis is one of the most fascinating fighters in boxing. The New Orleans native boosted his stock in the World Boxing Super Series despite losing to Josh Taylor in a thrilling October 2019 bout.

Nearly a year later, Prograis returned to action with a TKO win over a nondescript Juan Heraldez on Halloween. With his "get-back fight" in the books, it's time for Prograis to mix it up against some of the sport's top 140-pounders.


Dillian Whyte

The 32-year-old British heavyweight was involved in perhaps one of the wildest fights of 2020. His opponent, Alexander Povetkin, survived two knockdowns in the fourth round, but responded with a massive left uppercut for a fifth-round knockout win against Whyte.

Up until then, Whyte had a ton of momentum and could have cemented his spot as a true contender in a top-heavy division. A rematch for November was postponed to 2021 after Povetkin tested positive for COVID-19, and once the new date is set, Whyte will have an opportunity to avenge that loss and start rebuilding that momentum.


Shawn Porter

Porter gave Sebastian Formella a 12-round beating last August in his first bout since losing to Errol Spence Jr. in September 2019. Porter hasn't been able to beat some of the top welterweights, but he's a difficult matchup for everyone and still has plenty left in the tank.

Porter recently called out Crawford. It's a fight that Porter needs to make -- and win -- at this point in his career.


Joseph Diaz

Diaz is another fighter who fought in the early part of 2020. He looked good against Tevin Farmer in what was the biggest win of his career. "JoJo" is scheduled to face Shavkatdzhon Rakhimov on Feb. 13 to defend his IBF junior lightweight title. It'll be a big opportunity to prove he's one of the best in a division that includes Miguel Berchelt, Oscar Valdez and Jamel Herring.


Demetrius Andrade

Andrade is perpetually the middleweight champion that nobody really talks about. The issue? He fights a lot of opponents that nobody really cares about. He has complained about fighters such as Canelo Alvarez or Gennadiy Golovkin ducking him over the years.

No matter the reasons why those type of fights haven't happened, Andrade has a chance in 2021 to pick up a signature win that is lacking on his resume. If he can secure a bout against someone such as super middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders or middleweight title contender Sergiy Derevyanchenko, that could bolster his case for more lucrative matchups in the future.


Jarret Hurd

Hurd exists in a weird space among the group of 154-pounders who fight for Premier Boxing Champions. In 2019, Hurd lost three of the junior middleweight world titles to Julian Williams.

Each of the top four fighters in the division in ESPN's ranking -- Jermell Charlo, Jeison Rosario, Williams and Hurd -- have lost over the past two years. Hurd has as good a chance as any of those names to show they're the best of that bunch.