Review of 2017
By Gav Duthie: It’s that time of the year again. Arguably the best year of boxing this century is coming to a close. Here is my personal categories and winners for what it’s worth.
Comeback of the year
Anthony Joshua beating Wladimir Klitschko is applicable for almost every category. The only reason this doesn’t win top spot is that Joshua scored the first knockdown of the fight. Tyron Brunson was a record breaking knockout artist but lost every time he stepped up including 4 in a row at one point. Things looked to be going the same way against former champion Kermit Cintron when Brunson was knocked down twice in round 4. Brunson rallied however in the very next round to knock Cintron down 3 times gaining a stoppage victory.
Winner – Zhanat Zhakiyanov WSD 12 Rau’shee Warren
Zhakiyanov was another attempt from Ricky Hatton’s stable to win a world title. It looked an impossible task after the slick American Warren moved seamlessly and dropped Zhakiyanov twice in the opening round. The Kazakh wasn’t deterred and produced an unbelievable display of stamina and persistence. He kept the pressure on the whole fight and Warren struggled with his inside game.
Knockout of the year
Boxing missed Mikey Garcia and they didn’t even know it. He was inactive for almost two years due to a dispute with management Top Rank. After a tune-up fight at the back end of last year he went straight for a WBC world title shot against Dejan Zlaticanin. After 3 rounds the Serbian Zlaticanin barely landed a punch but instead of coasting to a decision Garcia destroyed the champion with an uppercut and hook leaving the Serbian on the floor for several minutes. I also really liked David Benavidez knockout of Rogelio Medina. Medina had been knocked down a few times, but the finisher was spectacular with an 8-punch combination finisher.
Winner – Zolani Tete WKO1 Siboniso Gonya
It’s true that Gonya should probably never have been in there with Tete but the finish was spectacular. This was the first ever world title fight between two South African’s to be contested on foreign soil. Tete knocked Gonya out after 11 seconds of the first round with a perfect right hook and then called out unified champion Ryan Burnett.
The most high-profile fight of 2017 is undoubtedly Gennady Golovkin against Saul Canelo Alvarez. Many thought Golovkin did more than enough to win and cried conspiracy. However, although I agree the fight was quite close, there are probably worse decisions on a monthly basis at least but the high-profile ones get the most credit. Another was when Manny Pacquiao went to Jeff Horn’s backyard and outpunched, and out-landed the Aussie and nearly stopped him in the 9th but lost a decision. It wasn’t great but it’s fair to say Horn was allowed to fight his type of fight and Pacquiao looked past his best so with that in mind it can’t be the winner. Antonio Margarito v Carson Jones stank for me. Jones was all over him when the fight was stopped for a cut on the Mexican’s eye. Because the injury was caused by an accidental headbutt it went to the cards and Jones lost despite being on the way to a stoppage. For me the worst was another high-profile fight.
Winner: Sor Rungvisai UD12 Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez
Chocolatito in this fight overturned a tough start to this fight by bringing the fight to the Thai fighter. He got inside his range and dominated him with busier output and quality inside fighting. However, Rungvisai did exactly what he needed to in the rematch. He took away the controversy and knocked Gonzalez out next time around.
There are a lot of performances that I loved this year. Light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera derailing the hype train of Joe Smith Jnr over 10 rounds, Cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk battering and stopping former king Marco Huck. I liked Ryan Burnett’s victory over Zhanat Zhakiyanov because he out-boxed and out-slugged the tough Kazakh to unify the Bantamweight division. One of the best was saved until last with Billy Joe Saunder’s turning a supposed 50/50 into a non-event against David Lemieux as he out-boxed the Canadian winning almost every round and making him look like a novice.
Winner – Terence Crawford WKO3 Julius Indongo
Namibian Julius ndongo was looking like an absolute nightmare. He won knockout of the year in 2016 destroying Eduard Troyanovsky in 1 round and out-boxed Ricky Burns. With his height, reach and awkwardness I thought he might cause Terence Crawford problems. Not in the slightest. It was the taller man reaching in and getting punished. Crawford was punch perfect and finished the contest with a beautiful body punch to Indongo’s skinny torso.
Upset of the year
There have been a lot of these but the winner in the end was a standout. Some of the contenders were on British shores. Tony Bellew stopping David Haye in 11 rounds was a huge shock, even with the Achilles injury Haye was struggling before that. Sam Eggington lost his European title to light punching Mohamed Mimoune and Derek Chisora lost trying to regain the European title against Agit Kabayel. Both boxers struggled with the movement. Both losses for Chocolatito against Sor Rungvisai were huge upsets. Early in the year Jeff Horn defeating Pacquaio was a surprise but the winner happened very recently. Sadam Ali beating Miguel Cotto was also a shock.
Winner – Caleb Truax WMD 12 James Degale
In no world did I consider this a possibility. I was disgusted with the fight fresh from the memory of Anthony Dirrell destroying Truax in one round. Normally I would criticize boxers for looking past their next opponent. Degale has been all Benavidez this, Groves that but I honestly thought he would walk through Truax. The Anerican performed brilliantly and is now a deserved world champion.
Floyd Mayweather, Andre Ward, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto, Wladimir Klitschko,
This is a special hall of fame section seeing as I have never seen so many high-profile retirements. Floyd Mayweather came back to pound UFC star Conor McGregor. Miguel Cotto finished with a loss to Sadam Ali. Juan Manuel Marquez hadn’t fought since 2014 but officially retired and former foe Tim Bradley did the same. Wladimir Klitschko felt continuing could have done worse to his legacy than continuing.
Biggest shock – Andre Ward
Number 1 pound for pound with massive back to back wins over Sergey Kovalev. There was a new breed of challengers from Eastern Europe and the lure of following Terence Crawford as fully undisputed champion. In the end he decided enough was enough and I wish him all the best.
Scottish fighter Josh Taylor proved his British dominance against O’Hara Davies and then stopped former champion Miguel Vasquez for the first time. Jarrell Miller stepped up with wins over two former title challengers Gerald Washington and Mariusz Wach. Dimitry Bivol already looks a superstar and Oleksandr Gvozdyk is going the same way.
Winner – Yunier Dorticos
Just the one fight but wow it was a good one. Just missed out on my knockout selections but boxing needs Cuban’s like him. He doesn’t run and hide behind a big defence. He goes for the knockouts and obliterated Dmitry Kudryashov.
Fight of the yearFighter of the year
Forgotten light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera gets my first mention. He won 3 times in 2017 and despite his high ranking with most organizations didn’t get to fight for one of the 3 vacant titles when Andre Ward retired. His best win came against the highly touted Joe Smith Jnr. Anthony Joshua had a solid year with wins over Klitschko and Carlos Takam. Sor Rungvisai’s last 3 wins in 2016 were against fighters all making their debut. He had lost 4 times and had a padded record but performed brilliantly defeating pound for pound fighter Roman Gonzalez twice. The first was a controversial decision but he took the judges out of the equation with a stunning knockout of him later in the year. Jermell Charlo had a superb year stopping Charles Hatley and knocking out Erickson Lubin in 1 round. Narrowly missing out was Terence Crawford schooled an Olympic champion at the beginning of the year in Felix Diaz and ended the year as the first unified undisputed champion in 12 years stopping Julius Indongo in an easy four rounds.
Winner – Vasyl Lomachenko
He just edges it over Crawford because he had 3 fights and beat Guillermo Rigondeaux last weekend. This on top of his one-sided victories over Jason Sosa and Miguel Marriaga end a great year. Overall though I think with Crawford’s achievements overall, he is number 1 pound for pound after Andre Ward’s retirement.