Top UK fighters of 2017
By Gav Duthie: There were some good fights in another solid year for British boxing. Here are my top 5 fighters of 2017 in the UK. Honorable mentions go to Lee Selby who had 3 solid wins in the year, Tony Bellew for beating David Haye and Kal Yafai for is two title defenses against Japanese opposition.
(5) Chris Eubank Jnr 26-1 (20)
Arthur Abraham UD12, Avni Yildirim WTKO 3
Chris Eubank Jnr started the year with his toughest test since Billy Joe Saunders. He faced two weight world champion Arthur Abraham. Being Chris only second fight at 168lbs this was seen as a difficult step up, but he won quite easily. The winner of this was also to be the last entry participant in the WBSS to face the highly regarded prospect Avni Yildirim. Eubank destroyed him in only 3 rounds.
(4) George Groves 27-3 (20)
Fedor Chudinov WTKO 6, Jamie Cox WKO 4
Groves was my UK fighter of 2016 with 4 wins, but the year ended tragically with German opponent Eduard Gutknecht in a coma suffering permanent brain damage. The ordeal affected Groves, but he moved forward with his title shot against Fedor Chudinov. They fought toe-to-toe, but George had a better range of punches stopping him in round 6. He fought the same way against the active Jamie Cox this time stopping him with a body shot. Groves and Eubank square up next year.
(3) Ryan Burnett 18-0 (9)
Lee Haskins WSD 12, Zhanat Zhakiyanov WUD 12
Both Burnett’s fights this year were for world titles. He finishes as a unified champion. He defeated Haskins with ease despite one judge mixing the two fighters up and scoring the win for Haskins. The fight with Zhakiyanov who also won a title earlier in the year was one of the best of the year, but Burnett was better in all departments. Hopefully Zolani Tete could be next.
(2) Anthony Joshua 20-0 (20)
Wladimir Klitschko WTKO 11, Carlos Takam WTKO 10
Contender for comeback of the year, fight of the year and fighter of the year due to this amazing contest with Wladimir Klitschko. The Takam contest probably raised more questions than answers about stamina but he still took apart a strong challenger.
(1) Billy Joe Saunders 26-0 (12)
Willie Munroe Jnr WUD 12, David Lemeiux WUD 12
Maybe BJS wins because his victory over David Lemieux is fresh in the memory but it really was a masterclass. Before he faced the talented Willie Munroe Jnr Saunders stock was very low. He stank out a leisure centre in Scotland against Akavov and that was his only fight in almost 2 years. Those two wins propels him into the mix with Golovkin and Canelo.