There’s a gaping hole in the boxing schedule this Saturday. It’s about an inch long and a quarter-inch wide, requiring either 11 or 15 stitches to close, depending on whom you ask.

That’s right – February 17 was supposed to be the date of Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk, a fight boxing desperately needs; a showdown intended to reduce to one the number of men on the planet who could reasonably claim to be the heavyweight champion of the world. Understanding the gravitational pull of Fury-Usyk, other promoters and networks scheduled around it. Friday night features not one, not two, but three televised or streamed shows – on ESPN, DAZN, and right here on ProBox TV.

But an errant elbow by Fury’s sparring partner Agron Smakici postponed the undisputed championship fight by three months, leaving boxing fans with no fisticuffs to feast on this Saturday and still waiting for the first truly major bout of 2024.

There’s no denying it’s been a slow start to the year. Slower than the delivery of one of Larry Merchant’s post-fight soliloquys. Slower than referee Michael DeJesus determining Angelo Leo knocked out Mike Plania with a clean body-shot. Slower than a frame-by-frame replay of Joe Joyce’s right hand.

With everyone in the PBC stable on pause during this post-Showtime, pre-Amazon period, the biggest in-ring events of the year so far have been Artur Beterbiev-Callum Smith and Teofimo Lopez-Jamaine Ortiz, followed by Jaime Munguia-John Ryder and Natasha Jonas-Mikaela Mayer. There’s been some decent action – Kenshiro Teraji-Carlos Canizales stands out – and a dollop of boxing’s unique brand of content-spawning weirdness (Tony Weeks KO 1 Vergil Ortiz KO 1 Fredrick Lawson). But still, one-eighth of the way into 2024 we haven’t gotten past the feeling-out stage yet.

Here’s the good news – once we finish this flat January-February stretch, things are fixing to pick up sharply. There’s at least one major fight in each of March, April, May, and June, and plenty of other compelling combat scheduled in between. Here’s a chronological look at what we have to look forward to:

Anthony Joshua-Francis Ngannou, March 8 With Fury-Usyk pushed back, this becomes the first truly major event of the boxing year — and because of Ngannou’s proficient performance against Fury last October, this isn’t all sideshow and spectacle. Ngannou, despite his 0-1 professional boxing record, proved he can handle himself and this shapes up as a legitimate contest — reflected in “AJ” being a mere -400 favourite on BetMGM’s odds board. No, Fury-Ngannou did not perform well on pay-per-view in the U.S., with various reports putting it in the area of 70,000 buys. Nor should it have sold well, as it appeared a pointless farce going in. Joshua-Ngannou figures to sell far better, is enhanced by a strong heavyweight co-feature of Zhilei Zhang-Joseph Parker, and actually stands to raise “AJ’s” stock if he can succeed where Fury failed and win emphatically.

PBC on Amazon Prime debut, March 30 The intrigue here is less around the fights and fighters and more around the streaming network and the business side of the sport. The match-ups are fine; Tim Tszyu-Keith Thurman is a solid crossroads fight, if one better suited to headlining a premium-cable card (remember those?) than a pay-per-view; “Rolly” Romero-Isaac “Pitbull” Cruz tops a quality undercard that includes two pre-PPV-free streamers. But the real stories are Al Haymon’s promotional outfit starting its next phase and one of the major non-sports streaming apps getting into boxing. Whether this card from Vegas is PPV-worthy or not, the event is highly newsworthy. And hopefully by the time it happens, we’ll have news about the planned activities for such notable Premier Boxing Champion (PBC) fighters as Terence “Bud” Crawford, Gervonta “Tank” Davis, Brandon Figueroa, David Morrell, and so on.

Fabio Wardley-Frazer Clarke, March 31 This Sunday fight streamed in the US on Peacock isn’t a huge deal on the American side of the Atlantic Ocean, but it may feel significant after the fact if one of these two unbeaten British heavyweights emerges as a serious contender. And what else are you going to do with your Sunday afternoon? Watch Week 1 of the UFL? Spend time with family? May as well click on this.

Devin Haney-Ryan Garcia, April 20 Thank goodness for Garcia, without whom we’d still be waiting for any of the “Four Princes” to fight each other some two years after my podcast co-host Kieran Mulvaney came up with that group name. “King Ry” created a massive event against Davis last April, even if defeat was nearly inevitable, and now he’s doing the same against Haney. It’s two 25-year-olds getting after it. Garcia will sell the fight. Haney is between a -500 and -650 favourite to win. But the underdog is dangerous, and he did prevail in this match-up three of six times in the amateurs. You can resent social media star Garcia all you want, but he’s the one turning the fights you want to see into reality.

Josh Taylor-Jack Catterall II, April 27 Like Wardley-Clarke, this is a much bigger deal in the UK, but it’s a consequential rematch to a controversial 2022 decision, and former lineal 140-pound champion Taylor desperately needs the win after getting upended by Teofimo Lopez last year. And the betting odds are damned close – FanDuel prices Taylor -160, Catterall +150, with a draw outcome at +1600.

Saul “Canelo” Alvarez-An American To Be Named Soon, May 4 Before “Canelo’s” press conference on Tuesday, we knew he’d be fighting in Las Vegas the day before Cinco de Mayo, headlining a pay-per-view event as part of PBC’s Prime deal. Coming out of the press conference, we knew nothing more except that the opponent will be an American. So Munguia is out of the running for May. There are persistent rumours and reports that Alvarez will take on Jermall Charlo, though Charlo says that would be news to him, and that particular match-up has never been harder to promote and sell than it is right now, coming off “Canelo’s" lopsided, forgettable win over Charlo’s twin brother Jermell. No insiders expect Alvarez to face David Benavidez in May, but if he does, that is a massive event. If by chance Canelo chooses Crawford, that’s a more polarising pairing but an even more massive event. And if it’s Charlo, well, it’s still a big deal because of who the A-side is.

Naoya Inoue-Luis Nery, May 6 Two days after boxing’s biggest superstar kicks off his 2024 campaign, Inoue, arguably the sport’s finest practitioner right now, kicks off his. Nery is as fine an option as any to face him, but, because it’s the frickin’ “Monster,” Nery has absolutely no prayer of winning. I don’t love laying -800 on any wager, but I see value in that current price on Inoue at FanDuel. Use it as a gimme parlay leg to inflate your odds on another bet, then sit back and watch a master at work.

Vasiliy Lomachenko-George Kambosos Jr, May 11 Though Lomachenko and Inoue are quite different stylistically and not at the same stage in their careers, we can mostly copy-and-paste the above to here. Kambosos, a one-fight wonder who became lineal lightweight champion against a badly compromised Lopez will be easy pickings for Loma. But what kind of boxing fan would dare miss a chance to watch Loma do his thing? If it’s Lomachenko versus one of those robots that detects spills in supermarket aisles, I’m there.

Fury-Usyk, May 18 And we’re back to where we started. In the grand scheme of things, a delay of three months and a day is no big deal. We’re still getting the lineal heavyweight champion against his clear number-one contender, and all four recognised alphabet belts coming together, in a fight that helps define the era and determines the path forward. And what once was perceived as a bout with a clear favourite-underdog split is now a virtual pick’em. At FanDuel, for example, the three-way line has Fury -120, Usyk +115, and a draw +1600. Was Fury’s struggle against Ngannou down to poor preparation? Or has hard living, hard fights against Deontay Wilder, and his age started to catch up with him? Usyk will provide answers. Hardcore boxing fans don’t need cowboys, cartoons, or CGI rhinos to get fired up for this one.

Artur Beterbiev-Dmitrii Bivol, June 1 This hasn’t been made official yet, but reports have it just about inked. And it’s basically the light-heavyweight equivalent of Fury-Usyk. Full unification, lineal champ versus top contender; both undefeated; distinct clash of styles; nearly even odds. It would be nice to live in a world in which these fights could all happen without the involvement of Saudi money, but the current realities of our spinning blue marble are what they are, so we may as well at least enjoy the boxing action.

Shakur Stevenson’s return No, he was never retired. And as stupefyingly dull as his last fight was, the good news is his next one can’t be any worse. Stevenson announced on Monday that he’s coming back in June, and, who knows? Maybe the sublimely skilled lightweight will line up an opponent who can push him. And if it’s another stinker, well… chances are everything else happening between March 8 and June 1 will more than make up for it.