Looking back at boxing in 2018, it was sort of an illusion. If you listened to the moaning and groaning on social media, you would be led to believe that there was nothing good about boxing in 2018. All the fighters are worth shit and not worth the dirt thrown on Harry Greb’s corpse.
Indeed, there was plenty to gripe about in 2018. There are still too many champions, the sanctioning bodies are still playing by a set of rules that makes Washington D.C on the up and up, terrible decisions happen far too often, and, worst of all for me, we did not get to see our most desired fights.
In 2018, we were teased with Deontay Wilder against Anthony Joshua and Lomanchenko against Tank Davis. Neither happened. If fact, Tank only fought once in 2018, very early in April. Solid talents like Edner Cherry and Tony Lightning Luis were also limited to one fight this year. The latter because of business disputes, the former, well…Cherry Bomb has not had a fight since April for no apparent good reason.
However, if you look back at the actual fights that happened in 2018, there was a lot to be happy about. As typical with boxing, the sport has very few problems when it comes to the action in the ring, and man, did we have some action this year. Here are my picks for some year-end boxing awards.
Knockout of the Year: Nayoa Inoue KO 1 Juan Carlos Payano:
Going into to this Payano was supposed to pose a challenge for The Monster. JCP had boxing ability and strong chin. Well, the fighter that Hall of Famer Jeff Fenech told me was the “best fight pound for pound by far today,” disposed of this tough challenger in one round. As perfect and sweet a one two that you will ever see. A highlight reel for the ages.
Honorable Mentions: Dillian Whyte KO 11 Derick Chisora, Derrick Chisora TKO 8 Carlos Takam, Teofimo Lopez KO 1 Mason Menard, Danny Garcia TKO 9 Brandon Rios, Jermall Charlo KO2 Hugo Centeno Jr.
Fight of the Year: Murat Gassiev TKO 12 Yuniel Dorticos:
Not enough is said about this fight and I failed to see a better fight in a year of great fights. What did this fight not have that boxing fans all crave for? Great skill. Savage exchanges. Technique. Eb and flow. Fight still in the balance in the last round. A stunning finish. The only thing missing from this fight was no American television. If that is the only reason more people do not vote for this fight, shame on you. A classic that should be on the short list for fight of the decade let alone the year.
Honorable Mentions: Dillian Whyte W12 Joseph Parker, Derrick Chisora TKO 8 Carlos Takam, Deontay Willder TKO 10 Luis Ortiz, Dillian Whyte KO 11 Derrick Chisora, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai W12 Juan Francisco Estrada, Oleksandr Usyk W12 Mairis Bredis.
No, I did not include Alex Saucedo TKO 7 Leonardo Zappavigna. Not because I did not think it was a great fight. It was. But I felt these other fights were better in terms of being more competitive. Apart from that incredible fourth round, a no doubt round of the year, I was never thinking Lenny Z had a chance to win this fight. While all the fights that I mentioned hung in the balance until the very end and had just as much action and drama as Saucedo versus Lenny Z. The one big advantage this fight does have was that it was shown on prime time on ESPN. More eyeballs mean more recognition.
Fighter of the Year:
Oleksandr Usyk. The only no brainer of the year. Usyk won three times in 2018 against top competition. And after a close call with Briedis, he was absolutely dominate. Unifying all four major sanctioning bodies in the cruiserweight division. Usyk showed a little bit of everything this year and went on the road for all three of his victories. There is no other choice here.
Honorable Mentions: Dillian Whyte, Josh Taylor, Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Josh Warrinton, Nayoa Inoue, Terrence Crawford, Regis Prograis.
2018 will certainly go down as one of the best in recent memory. It was a great year for the heavyweights, as well as a solid year for its biggest stars. With the apps of ESPN+ and DAZN readily available in the United States of America for a fairly reasonable price-I am not sure how these apps work in other countries- boxing fans in the U.S. can now see a lot of fighters from overseas, the wonderful World Boxing Super Series 140-pound Tourney and all of the great undercard fighters and fights. Indeed, technology was also a big winner for boxing in 2018. Promising to make 2019 even better.