4th annual Boxingnews24 Top to Bottom Review
By Charles C.B.: Here’s to another round! 2022 started with so much potential and had the makings of one of the best years in boxing in recent memory based on potential alone, all things considered.
Unfortunately, as a boxing fan and poster like myself (Chuck_TheBoxingGuru), we fell short of the early potential; we have seen our favorite sport held back yet again, which is a recurring issue. As a result, we missed out on some big potential match-ups but subsequently have been blessed to have witnessed some highly entertaining boxing from the men and the ladies alike.
On the contrary, we’ve been subjected to some disappointments, be it controversial decisions or bouts that were not made due to the usual politics with boxing. Therefore, my objective is to give a comprehensive and objective round-up of boxing in 2022 similar to years past from a fan and boxing poster perspective and highlight some of the good, bad, and ugly of our favorite sport this year. And lastly, highlight the wish list of fights that would keep us all intrigued going into the coming year of 2023, which we can only hope to be an incredible year as boxing returns for the year.
KO OF THE YEAR:
So let’s get into it! 12 Mar 2022 Leigh Wood vs. Michael Conlan DAZN/Matchroom. In a fight-of-the-year type bout between two mid-level warriors for the WBA regular featherweight title, these two put on a show for 12 rounds in front of their countrymen at the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham, England. Anyone who watched it, however, will always remember the finale. Conlan, a southpaw, brutally knocked down Wood in the opening round and dominated the first half of the fight with his boxing prowess. But gradually, the tide began to change.
Wood picked up the tempo as Conlan grew weaker and floored his opponent in the eleventh. Conlan was running on empty when he was stunningly knocked out with an inside short right hand and was hurled head-first out of the ring in Round 12. He had bullet holes in his gasoline tank. WHAT A FIGHT! Both men deserved credit for their performances in this bout-of-the-year candidate.
In a gradual step-up type bout, Nico “Ali” Walsh violently KO’s Alejandro Ibarra in the first round in his fifth pro bout and second of four appearances in the ring this year, 30 Apr, 2022 ESPN/Top Rank “Ali,” as the grandson of the great Muhammad Ali, unleashed a left hook. This straight-right combination bounced Ibarra’s head off the canvas. Ibarra, who was out on the right-hand contact, was almost instantly waved off by the ref. Nico Walsh may be a world-class
prospect, which remains to be seen, but he is well on his way in staying both active and stepping up marginally, as most prospects should be; looking forward to seeing more of him.
Maybe the most expected stoppage of a significant bout this year is Gervonta Tank Davis vs. Rolly Romero on 28 May 2022, PBC/SHOWTIME. Typically when two heavy-handed boxers fight, the bouts start slow and are often jab-heavy, and this bout went by that axiom. However, Tank and Rolly came in in-shape and ready to execute the game plan. Rolly is a dense boxer mentally, which to his credit, is what makes him exciting. Still, he is constrained and mistake-heavy, and due to this, Tank, who is by far the superior talent, sets him up for counters, lulling him to sleep for the first three rounds until he begins to pick up the pace and starts throwing power shots in the openings that Rolly inevitably provided. The moment happened toward the end of the sixth round on a back foot short check hook with Rolly lunging into the shot, and that was all she wrote; I would have placed this KO at the top, but this bout was a very well-promoted mismatch, Tank is levels above Rolly Romero as a boxer, and it showed.
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR:
One of two of the most apparent categories this boxing year is Dmitry Bivol vs. Canelo Alvarez on 7 May 2022 DAZN/Matchroom. Mexican Super Star Four division former P4P #1 Boxer Saul Canelo Alvarez opened up as a six-to-one favorite in what looked to be a routine route on paper in celebration of the Cinco De Mayo holiday weekend. But, surprisingly, that’s not what we got; in what would turn out to be an utterly dominant performance for Bivol, Canelo was met with a blitzkrieg of high-level tactical defensive prowess from Bivol, set up by a consistent pace of jab work in addition to showing off his punch arsenal that was left out of the scouting report. Bivol put on a performance of a lifetime, but what made it bigger was how onesided the affair was.
Being the great boxer that he is, Canelo adjusted to Bivol, and with each adjustment made by Canelo, Bivol instantly stifled the attempt, completely taking away the adjustment; Canelo was dominated physically but more so mentally. Bivol put on a show. Canelo found breaking through the champion’s defense difficult and was frequently subjected to rapid two-fisted attacks. The scoring was the main drawback, with all three judges giving Bivol a 115-113 victory (seven rounds to five), which to say it was egregious would be an understatement. Still, unfortunately, as is to be expected in Canelo bouts, this fight was no closer than nine rounds to three for Bivol in a commanding performance by Bivol.
Speaking of performances, let’s show some love to the ladies in what was to be on paper the biggest bout of the year in women’s boxing, Clarrisa Shields vs. Savannah Marshall 15 Oct 2022 ESPN/Top Rank, In what was supposed to be the most brutal bout of both ladies career the fight turned out to be a dominate performance of high volume counter punching offensive masterclass by Clarissa. Shields won the opening round of the bout by employing an aggressive strategy in addition to the technical defense for which she has become renowned throughout her career to stave off Marshall’s strength. Shields frequently leaned on the ropes during the battle, perhaps in an effort to wear Marshall out a little. Marshall was peppered with shots looking for counterwork, which was few and far between. Clarissa is the best female boxer in the world by some margin.
In an additional honorable mention, the newly crowned WBC, WBO, WBA, IBF, Ring Lineal Lightweight Champion of the World, Devin “The Dream”, Haney dominated former unified lightweight champion George Kambosos not once but Twice 5 Jun, 2022, and 16 Oct, 2022 ESPN/Top Rank . Haney, 23, entered the fight with the WBC lightweight title, or he didn’t, depending on whether you still need that. In any case, he left with the WBC, WBA, IBF, and WBO belts after defeating Kambosos. He also received lineal recognition at 135 pounds and won the Ring Magazine title. Haney outboxed Kambosos from the opening bell to the last bell with superior boxing, making quick adjustments, and in the unneeded rematch displaying the power that fans have been waiting to see from him to win by unanimous decision, ending all doubt as to who is the best boxer at 135 by proving to be a class above Kambosos and winning 23 of 24 rounds through two bouts.
UPSET OF THE YEAR:
This year’s upset of the year was obvious, which was Bivol over Canelo; that said, in this portion of the piece, I’d like to highlight two other bouts in this category for the sake of bringing awareness to a few other bouts that some may not have seen. Hector Garcia defeats Chris Colbert via a 12 decision. 20 Aug 2022 Showtime/PBC. There was a lot on the line, and the late replacement seized the opportunity. Garcia defeated Colbert by unanimous decision on a Saturday night in a contest for the WBA super featherweight title after dropping Colbert in the seventh round. With the three judges’ unanimous decision victory at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Garcia improved to 15-0. Garcia started more fired up than Colbert, who had never lost before.
The Dominican fighter chased Colbert around the ring, throwing more punches due to his haste. In the seventh round, Garcia’s constant pressure paid off when he connected with Brooklyn, New York boxer Colbert with a crushing left hook when the latter had his back to Garcia. Garcia persisted in applying pressure to Colbert throughout the next five rounds. When Garcia wasn’t lunging in with a barrage of quick punches, Colbert sat with his back against the ropes and displayed little of his own zeal, and the unanimous decision in favor of the underdog was already well on its way.
Shane Gill wins over Steve Robinson in a decision after six rounds 5 Feb, 2022 ESPN/SKYSPORTS. Heavyweight contenders Steve Robinson and Shane Gill engaged in a thrilling shock in one of my favorite undercard bouts of the year in Cardiff. Robinson, who resembled the antagonist from “Rocky,” was given the nicknames “USSR” and “Ivan Drago,” and he had an excellent performance to stay on his feet while being hammered by Gill. He had only engaged in combat once before, and his adversary had won. But Gill kept prolonging the fight from the first bell, landing overhand rights on Robinson. Despite sustaining severe facial injuries, Gill persisted in obtaining the verdict and sending the well-liked Robinson back to the drawing board.
FIGHT OF THE YEAR:
In what was easily the most entertaining boxing match of the year for me, we go back to the ladies. Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serano 30 Apr, 2022 DAZN/Matchroom. It took a while to match up Amanda Serrano from Puerto Rico with Katie Taylor from Ireland. No one was disappointed when it eventually occurred on April 30 at Madison Square Garden. Taylor’s quick-fingered, fleet-footed delicacy was brilliantly paired with Serrano’s hard-hitting, southpaw ferocity. Like nitro and glycerine, the two react together. On a 10-round split decision, Taylor successfully defended her unchallenged lightweight title. She overcame the hellish middle rounds to out-speed Serrano in the latter rounds. It was touted as the biggest women’s battle in history, and it very well may have been the best. In what was a very close bout where many thought Serrano won, which certainly doesn’t insinuate robbery but was a close and controversial bout, the boxing world deserves a rematch for this bout.
Sebastian Fundora vs. Erickson Lubin 9 Apr, 2022 SHOWTIME/PBC. Honestly, what a fight! Two hungry young contenders laying it all on the line, Sebastian Fundora and Erickson Lubin, put on a magnificent show in Las Vegas, trading vicious punches and thrilling knockdowns in an entertaining action fight that was stopped by Team Lubin’s brave and intelligent corner intervention after nine rounds, giving Fundora the victory. The betting favorite was Lubin (24-2, 17 KO). He got the battle off to a good start by keeping his distance while jabbing hard at Fundora’s chest. But in the second round, things took a drastic turn as Lubin’s willingness to exchange in the pocket paid off for Fundora with a thunderous knockdown from an uppercut. Lubin never again appeared to be calm. When he could keep it up, he had decent success from a midrange distance. However, Lubin continued to engage in forehead-to-collarbone combat with Fundora (19-0-1, 13 KO), and this strategy greatly benefited Fundora.
Fundora was far better at handling Lubin’s strength than Lubin was at taking Fundora’s punches, and it appeared that Fundora would win the bout easily and quickly. However, Lubin refused to change or was unable to do so. He chose the unconventional “double Zoolander,” refusing to move in either direction while Fundora pressed him and used uppercuts to tenderize his face. Lubin steps back, although he led on all three cards at the moment of the stoppage. Lubin was also ahead, according to Steve Farhood of Showtime. Although the defeat was devastating (and embarrassing), the performance was excellent.
We’ve previously seen Lubin recover from a setback, so he’ll gather his strength and move up the ladder. However, Fondora’s future is promising since he is currently in a position for a title opportunity; the fight was a barn burner.
ROBBERY OF THE YEAR:
Our least favorite category on the yearly list, and it is my practice to avoid using hyperbole like “ROBBERY” for very close bouts due to how critical word usage is for clarity, but in my selection this year, Josh Taylor defeated Jack Catterall 26 Feb 2022, ESPN/Top Rank in Glasgow in a highly contentious split decision to maintain his unchallenged super-lightweight world titles. The challenger boxed expertly and achieved a knockdown, but the judges did not give the challenger credit and gave the champion the win. Josh Taylor, a very proud Scotsman, got a bit of home cooking in the presence of his hometown crowd; Taylor did not do enough to win this bout; if we are scoring bouts by round, most in boxing saw this decision as highly questionable. I live scored the bout 8-4 for Catterall in what I viewed as a clear win in a very active affair.
There is this sub-narrative in boxing that you have to “clearly dominate” a sitting champion to walk away from his belts; let me preface that such a notion is nothing short of poppycock, as our British counterparts often say. Catterall was robbed of glory and the opportunity to be a coveted, undisputed champion. With the rematch set for the first quarter, let’s hope boxing and both men get the warranted decision this time. Some argue that the performance by Taylor was merely an aberration that remains to be seen.
In a closer fight and more controversial affair than a robbery, but ill put it here anyway, Dillian Whyte vs. Jermaine Franklin 26 Nov 2022, DAZN/Matchroom, in a “get back” fight off of being KO’d by WBC Heavyweight Tyson Fury. Whyte chose Franklin as a tune-up and was presented with an unexpected challenge. Franklin clearly won the first half of the bout using Whyte’s bodysnatcher moniker against him, punishing Dillian Whyte to the midsection; quite frankly, no pun intended, all fight landing approximately 50% of his total punches to the body. Whyte, who has an excellent jab, rallied late, winning most of the rounds on the backstretch; I thought Whyte lost a close bout but, for the 3rd time in his career, pulled out the close bout in the cards in from of his compatriots. Whyte was lucky to get a win because back-to-back losses and losing to what is seen as a low-level Heavyweight in Franklin would have ended his career. Dillian Whyte is not even an average defensive heavyweight; this contributes to his, dare I say, more than a handful of close bouts in his career.
PROSPECT OF THE YEAR
My 2022 Prospect of the year is Keyshawn Davis making three appearances this calendar year; he dominated all three and stopped two, but none worse than Esteban Sanchez; I will preface that Esteban Sanchez did not come to lay down; he was tough; and ready to fight, but with that tough mindset, Davis PUNISHED Sanchez the fight was stopped in the sixth round after Esteban was beaten to a pulp. Davis is mature and patient beyond his years. He sets up his work with the jab and runs off combinations at a high level while being defensively responsible. Davis is coming! I really look forward to what he has coming in 2023. Top Rank and Bob Arum are making building prospects look like an art form.
One of my favorite young boxers in the sport, we go up to the Heavyweight division. I’d like to show some love to Bakhodir Jalolov, as many have likely not seen his skills on display. I urge you to check him out very skilled, a big heavyweight prospect with an elite jab, outstanding feet, and punch placement but the crown jewel of his style, above all else, is his feet; he has the ability to fight in all directions on offensive and defense and is not risk-averse but is a patient boxer that waits for his openings. I believe Bakhodir Jalolov is a potential player in the future at Heavyweight. He has the tools to be a Heavyweight champion with the correct tutelage.
The fight in question that sparked my intrigue was Bakhodir Jalolov vs. Jack Mulowayi, 10 Jun 2022 PBC/SHOWTIME, where he showed his southpaw style and enormous power Bakhodir has scary potential, and I went back and checked out all of his bouts. I could find. He is one to watch for going forward.
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR:
2022 Fighter of the year honors go to WBA (Super) Light Heavyweight Champion Dmitry Bivol, and quite frankly, he couldn’t be a more obvious choice this year. Dmitry Bivol, 32, is the clear favorite to win Fighter of the Year in 2022 after dominating pound-for-pound king, albeit not consensus, Canelo Alvarez on May 7 and handily defeating previously unbeaten Gilberto Ramirez on November 5. In Las Vegas, Bivol defeated Alvarez, upending the sport. The Mexican boxing champion hadn’t dropped a fight (officially) since Floyd Mayweather overwhelmed him back in 2013. So it appeared impossible to defeat him on cards. Then Bivol did it… effectively. In the end, he outboxed one of the best boxers of his generation by picking Alvarez apart from a distance with his jab and well-timed combinations while absorbing surprisingly few blows himself. It was the performance of the year. I scored it 117-111, nine rounds to three. Subsequently, Bivol dominated the previously unbeaten and untested Zurdo Ramirez expectedly, not high on Zurdo because he had been moved along terribly for the better part of a decade, and it showed once Bivol took his size away from him inevitably, he had no answers and was easily outclassed. Bivol had a great year and earned his spot here and on the P4P list.
In most years, Devin “The Dream” Haney would have been a fighter of the year for the types of performances he displayed in dominate fashion this year over Australian former unified champion Kambosos; this year being Bivols, Devin grabs the Honorable Mention in this category.
THE NETWORK OF THE YEAR:
3. FOX/CBS/PBC With the largest stable of the three, PBC failed itself this calendar year, but I’ll get to that in a moment. PBC gave boxing some good to great bouts this year. Charlo vs. Castano, Lubin vs. Fundora, Russell Vs. Magsayo, Colbert vs. Garcia, Spence vs. Ugas, Fulton vs. Roman, Michel Rivera Vs. Frank Martin, and Lipents vs. Figueroa. All very good to great bouts this year to their credit. But PBC also grossly over-saturated the market with PPV, they had 5 PPV bouts this year, and only ONE had rationale due to it being one of the bigger unification in boxing. This business model is terrible for the sport at large, and due to that, PBC will get the bottom spot in 2022.
2. DAZN/MATCHROOM Outside of the circus/youtube bouts, I felt DAZN had a solid 2022; DAZN always does an excellent job of showcasing low and mid-level talent on their platform, which gives the guys that will never be world-class an opportunity to showcase their skills. DAZN also gave boxing “the ass-whooping of the year.” in Alexis Rocha vs. Blair Cobbs, which was quite entertaining. The fight of the year in Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano, and the upset of the year in Dmitry Bivol vs. Canelo Alvarez, were all quality nights of boxing. That said, the most extensive critique of DAZN is the robust schedule of “mismatches” or “showcase” bouts they display each year; there are tons of them on the DAZN Calender each year where there is a fight that is on display merely for the house fighter to look good. Jaime Munguía vs. D’Mitrius Ballard, Lawrence Okolie vs. Michal Cieslak, Gennadiy Golovkin vs. Ryoto Murata, Gilberto Ramirez vs. Dominic Boesel, Jamie Munguia vs. Jimmy Kelly and Vergil Ortiz Jr. vs. Michael McKinson all come to mind, and there are others. They are just fights of no value whatsoever. DAZN lands in the second spot.
1. ESPN/TOP RANK/SKY SPORTS/QUEENSBERRY For the third time in four years, ESPN takes the number 1 spot, and it’s once again well deserved. ESPN consistently gets the cards right in balancing with a meaningful bout and showcasing a young and coming talent. ESPN once again gave the sport the best fights in boxing. Haney vs. Kambosos, Stevenson vs. Valdez, Joyce vs. Parker, Taylor vs. Catterall, Loma vs. Ortiz, Fury vs. Whyte, Shields vs. Marshal, Baumgardner vs. Mayer, Navarrette vs. Baez, Stevenson vs. Conceicao, Davis vs. Tienda, and the list goes on and on. With ESPN’s agreement with the European broadcasters and our own domestic talent, they walked away with 2022, and it wasn’t close. Well done to ESPN.
2023 BOXING WISHLIST:
Spence vs. Crawford -The boxing world is tired of talking about it, so I won’t go on.
Wilder vs. Joshua –Still one of the biggest bouts the sport can offer; yes, boxing was robbed of this bout at its peak, but it is still very much a viable bout the sport would be interested in seeing.
Fury vs. Usyk –One of the biggest bouts that can be made in the sport today in an undisputed affair, it looks like we actually might get it.
Haney vs. Loma –A bout that is a bit overdue; it may be on the horizon for early 2023
Tank vs. Ryan Garcia –A bout that has already been signed. It has been on the wish list for the second year in a row.
Inoue vs. Fulton –A contrast of styles that will answer questions about both.
Teo Lopez vs. Regis Prograis – A bout that has been talked about recently, it would be a great bout for a Jr Welterweight division that is on the verge of heating up.
Navarette vs. Valdez –A must-see fight that may also be on the horizon for 2023.
END OF THE YEAR P4P LIST:
1. Usyk – This slot is a no-brainer. Usyk started his heavyweight campaign off somewhat rough vs. Chisora and Witherspoon, but Usyk dominated AJ in the first bout and proved he was a class above in the rematch. Usyk has the best combination of resume and skill for the number one spot.
2. Terrance Crawford – The most skilled boxer in the sport today, with a three-division champion to his credit, has a weak resume, to say the least; at 147, Crawford’s situation, combined with his stubborn nature, is a bit frustrating. Nevertheless, let’s hope we get the bout we want to see in 2023.
3. Errol Spence Jr.– He collected the WBA from Ugas this past spring, and ESJ is the best welterweight in the world, but yet another incident combined with the stalled talks with Crawford made him and the former a bit inactive. Still one of the best boxers in the sport.
Nevertheless, let’s hope we get the bout we want to see in 2023.
4. Dimitry Bivol -His dominating performance over Canelo got him on the list, and another dominating performance against the untested Zurdo put him in the top 5 for me. Bivol’s resume isn’t anything special overall, but he is moving in the correct direction to meet up with Beterbiev for light heavyweight, undisputed.
5. Saul Alvarez – The most famous boxer in the sport, Canelo, will continue to move the needle after taking a dominating loss and fighting an old GGG who didn’t come to fight by any means, which gave Canelo a bad year in addition to needed surgery, and he will look to rebound in 2023.
6. Juan Estrada – One of the best small boxers in the sport, Estrada fought twice this year, one on a short turnaround against former p4p fighter Roman Chocolatito Gonalez in the final bout of their trilogy, winning for the second straight time over him; Estrada is a future Hall of Famer with one of the most profound resumes among active fighters.
7. Charlo – Super Welterweight Lineal Unified Undisputed Champion Jermell Charlo was in a fight-of-the-year type bout vs. former reigning WBO Brian Castano in a rematch to remove all doubt, winning via TKO on punches to solidify himself in the history books; Jermell Charlo doesn’t get the respect he has earned.
8. Naoya Inoue – I need help seeing a boxing rationale for Inoue being any higher on these lists; looking at his resume, I can’t really see a boxing rationale at all. The newly undisputed world champion and three-division world champion resume, respectfully, is the worst on the list. Inoue has done what he is supposed to vs. the level of the competitor in front of him, which is dominant. Still, when Nonito Donaire is by far your best opponent who was years past his best, it’s highly disrespectful to the sport to place him above fighters who have done far more and taken much more significant challenges. I have him at 8.
9. Tyson Fury – The most accomplished and most skilled current fighter at Heavyweight WBC, Tyson Fury, had an active but not high-level year in getting in the ring twice, once vs. Dillion Whyte and most recently vs. rival Derrick Chisora winning both in dominate fashion via KO, Tyson Furt has a potential blockbuster year in the making in his pursuit for undisputed.
10. Artur Beterbiev – Has been the most dominant Light Heavyweight and is unified. He makes a list due to the quality of performances in his tenure at 175; light heavyweight isn’t the strongest division, but it’s solid, and Beterbiev, outside of Bivol, has been the most dominant in his performances.
Taylor – Dropped him out of the p4p list, but an overall inactive year for the former Lineal Unified Undisputed Jr Welterweight champion, and his single bout was a highly controversial hometown decision which was the arguable robbery of the candidate; Taylor will look to set the narrative correct in the upcoming rematch in 2023.
Devin Haney – The most skilled boxer at 135 lineal unified undisputed champions, Haney is one of the future stars in the sport today; many would argue he deserves a spot with the year he had, but I do believe slots should be earned, and a Haney victory over Loma will put him on the list, looking forward to seeing him get back in early 2023 and his first bout at junior welterweight.
Shakur Stevenson – The two-division champion will start his journey at 135. Shakur has one of the best combinations of skills in the world, and is the future of boxing.
Stephen Fulton – The most skilled small boxer in the sport, bar none, boxing is looking forward to his clash with Inoue.
Regis Prograis – A year of redemption for Regis, who became the WBC champion over a very tough opponent in Zepeda. We look forward to seeing him back vs. a quality opponent in 2023.
- Dmitry Bivol vs. Jaime Munguia in the works for June 10th – Eddie Hearn
- Canelo Alvarez admits he has worries – the vultures are circling
- Canelo put on notice by Benavidez, he’ll force fight after Plant bout
- John Ryder to pressure Canelo Alvarez