We have celebrated and endured a remarkable catalogue of truly extraordinary events. But if we’re honest with ourselves, we all just want a break.
So, why not take a drastic leap away from the serious and relive some of the more enjoyable moments, by metaphorically flicking through the highlights of what has been an outstanding year of British boxing.
Now here’s a question — where the hell do we start? The list of enthralling fights is much too extensive to go through them all. We’d be here until 2020. So instead, here is a list of the top five fights that got the blood pumping over the last year.
5. George Groves vs Callum Smith
To kick off the list we have the final of the Super Middleweight World Boxing Super Series between George Groves and Callum Smith.
After breezing through the disappointing Chris Eubank Jr, albeit suffering a dislocated shoulder, Groves entered the fight in rejuvenated form. He was ultimately unable to get to Smith, whose reach and technical ability proved too much.
A devastating left hook in the seventh round, followed by a barrage of punches to body and head, left Groves floored, shaking his head and unable to continue.
It was the name undefeated Smith needed on his resume to propel his status to elite. Could a potential fight with Canelo Alvarez be in the making?
Daniel Jacobs may be more likely for Canelo, but it certainly would be an intriguing matchup. Dillian Whyte vs Joseph Parker is certainly unlucky to miss out on this spot, but the importance and magnitude of the win for Smith makes the fight inconceivable to leave out.
4. Oleksandr Usyk vs Tony Bellew
Usyk is being touted by many as the world fighter of the year, and rightly so. After unifying the cruiserweight division, Usyk took on Tony Bellew, known for his ability to defy the odds.
Usyk started tentatively, but grew into the fight, with his skill and precision on show for all to see.
It was unfortunately too much for Bellew, who subsequently retired after giving his all to the sport. The Liverpudlian once again showed heart and, as always, provided value for money.
Usyk now plans to move up to heavyweight. There is an abundance of high-profile names sure to be on his list, but in all honesty, who in their right mind would want to fight him?
3. Dillian Whyte vs Derek Chisora
The public were licking their lips at the prospect of a mouth-watering rematch between the two British heavyweights that set Manchester alight on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s bout with Eric Molina.
Justifiably now a headline act, the rematch certainly didn’t disappoint. Most will have predicted a Dillian Whyte win, however upon surveying the impressive condition Chisora displayed at the weigh-in, an upset was certainly on the cards.
Chisora’s work rate was impressive throughout the fight and despite points deducted, Chisora was ahead on the judges’ scorecards at the point of the knockout. Whyte once again showed the devastating power his left hook emits in a win that capped off an impressive year.
Tyson Fury will be British fighter of the year in most people’s eyes, but impressive wins over Browne, Parker and Chisora certainly put Whyte in the debate.
2. Josh Warrington vs Carl Frampton
What. A. Fight. This was a 12-round epic displaying the highest quality of boxing. Frampton, with his punch selection, chin and bravery and Warrington with his relentless pressure seemingly implausible fitness levels.
The win marked an astonishing and unexpected year for Warrington. After defeating Lee Selby, Warrington continued to shock the masses with a sensational win over Frampton.
From the opening bell, the supposed non-existent power was evidently a myth. He hurt Frampton early and continued to do so throughout the fight.
The performance from Warrington was simply scintillating, but Frampton’s effort must also be applauded — especially as there may be few more opportunities to see him in the ring.
Where Warrington will go from here remains to be seen, but what a fight and what a year for the Yorkshireman.
1. Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury
At number one, of course it’s the remarkable return of Tyson Fury, who deservedly earned worldwide respect for his outstanding performance against WBC heavyweight champion, Deontay Wilder.
The final round alone cements this fight’s position as the highlight of the year. Wilder, who had been largely outclassed throughout the fight, proved he really does only need to be on his game for a matter of seconds.
His crashing pin-point one-two appeared to all to have ended the fight. Fury lay down and out, flat on his back — an image set to reverberate around the world.
Somehow, to the amazement of no one more than Wilder himself, Fury rose. Not only did he rise, but he put his hands behind his back, and continued to showboat.
His rise a tangible metaphor for his comeback from mental health issues and one that should be admired by all. Unquestionably, the moment of the year, not only in British boxing, but in boxing as a whole.
Featured photograph/Wikimedia Commons