By Rory Hickey: 2021 has been an eventful, fruitful yr for boxing. I often hate how the month of December turns into a retrospective of your complete yr, like there’s some examination on the final twelve months coming. However on this case, remembering all of the twists and turns may be tough in a yr with nice fights, large upsets, and many intrigue. It may be robust to recollect what occurred final week, not to mention twelve months, one year, or eight Kambosos-Lopez date modifications in the past.
In March, Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez and Juan Francisco Estrada battled within the long-awaited rematch of their first battle in 2012. By some means on this occasion, the sequel exceeded the unique. Estrada and Chocolatitio threw punches in bunches. 2,529 punches had been thrown by the 2 males, setting a brand new tremendous flyweight report, as Estrada gained a controversial break up resolution to even his report towards Chocolatito to 1-1. A deciding third bout will seemingly happen in January.
Talking of trilogies, in October, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder had the third installment of their contentious rivalry to resolve the massive canine within the heavyweight division. As many anticipated, Fury bested Wilder to present their trilogy an final conclusion. Wilder’s efficiency and persistence in defeat gave his popularity a lift. The lineal heavyweight champion wrapped up his 2021 by serenading legendary promoter Bob Arum with renditions of “Joyful Birthday” and “American Pie” in celebration of Arum’s ninetieth birthday. Fury’s birthday stylings got here simply earlier than Vasiyil Lomachenko defeated Richard Commey in a battle of former light-weight champions.
Within the crowd at Madison Sq. Backyard for Lomachenko’s victory was his good friend and fellow Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk. In late September, Usyk shocked Anthony Joshua to take Joshua’s heavyweight championships and upset the profitable apple cart of Joshua going through Fury in a heavyweight super-fight. Usyk has mentioned he would contemplate returning to his previous weight class of cruiserweight to face boxing’s money cow, Canelo Álvarez.
2021 was yet one more banner yr for Canelo. In February, the unremarkable Avni Yildrim gained the golden ticket to get a career-high payday and be cannon fodder for Canelo in a “keep busy” battle. The rest of the yr was the conclusion of Canelo’s quest to turn into the undisputed tremendous middleweight champion. Within the conventional Cinco de Mayo weekend bout, Billy Joe Saunders had his undefeated report and proper orbital bone smashed to bits by Álvarez. After efficiently defending his three belts Canelo had one opponent in thoughts for his remaining bout of the yr– Caleb Plant and his IBF tremendous middleweight championship. In what was a extra aggressive bout than most anticipated, Plant held his personal earlier than lastly succumbing to Canelo within the eleventh spherical. Having secured his quartet of gold at 168 kilos, Álvarez now has his sights on the cruiserweight division.
Canelo Álvarez is now undisputedly the largest family identify within the sport, as Manny Pacquiao introduced his retirement following his loss to Yordenis Ugas. Ugas was throughout the ring from Pacquiao solely as a result of Errol Spence had a retinal tear and wanted to withdraw from the battle simply seven days earlier than the bell rang. Although calling any boxing retirement everlasting is silly, Pacquiao has different issues to maintain him busy, particularly campaigning to turn into president of the Philippines. As for Ugas, he wish to face Spence however will as a substitute battle obligatory challenger Eimantas Stanionis.
Fortunately, Errol Spence can be again in motion quickly. Ideally, that will be towards Terrence Crawford; that battle has been mentioned for ages however has but to materialize. Crawford obtained a Christmas present that has been on his checklist for years, a bout towards considered one of Prime Rank’s quite a few welterweights in Shawn Porter. Crawford stepped on the gasoline within the latter levels of the battle to beat Porter, who introduced his retirement post-fight.
Earlier than transferring as much as welterweight, Crawford campaigned on the 140-pound division, the place he turned the undisputed tremendous light-weight champion. Lower than 4 years after Crawford unified the division, Josh Taylor matched the feat in 2021. Taylor bested Juan Carlos Ramirez in a extremely anticipated unification bout on the finish of April. Every man walked into Las Vegas with two titles, and Taylor emerged with all 4.
We additionally appeared poised to have a unified champion on the 154-pound division when Jermell Charlo vs. Brian Castano confronted one another on July seventeenth with all 4 belts on the road. An thrilling battle was marred by controversial judging, because the bout led to a break up resolution draw. The destiny of the junior middleweight division stays in limbo as a Charlo-Castano rematch will seemingly happen in February.
Shifting down a few weight lessons, the light-weight division crammed practically a decade’s value of intrigue into 2021. To shut the yr, George Kambosos Jr. shocked Teofilmo Lopez in a contender for the battle of the yr to win Lopez’s belts and doubtlessly ship Lopez as much as the 140-pound division. Kambosos flew to Las Vegas the next weekend to observe Devin Haney efficiently defend his light-weight belt towards JoJo Diaz. Gervonta Davis, who defeated Mario Barrios and Isaac Cruz this yr, will hopefully issue into an undisputed champion at 130 kilos. Hovering like a darkish cloud above these champions is the beforehand talked about Vasiyil Lomachenko, who just lately in contrast himself to Voldemort as a result of nobody will say his identify. Lomachenko’s shoulder is lastly wholesome, and he appeared as formidable as ever in 2021. Then there’s the gifted, Instagram-famous Ryan Garcia. He got here off the canvas to defeat Luke Campbell for an awesome win two days into 2021- that turned out to be the excessive level of the yr for Garcia. His battle in the summertime was scrapped for Garcia to concentrate on his psychological well being. He was then to return to the ring in November, solely to endure a major hand harm in coaching to have that bout pushed into 2022.
Shakur Stevenson solidified his standing as considered one of boxing’s high younger fighters within the 130-pound division. In late October, Stevenson knocked out the beforehand unbeaten Jamal Herring to win the WBO tremendous light-weight championship convincingly. Herring had arguably his most spectacular victory earlier within the yr, dominantly defending his title towards Carl Frampton, sending The Jackal into retirement. Considered one of 2021’s battle of the yr contenders happened within the 130-pound division. Oscar Valdez knocked out fellow countryman Miguel Bercheldt in a surprising upset that doubled as a contender for the perfect knockout of the yr.
That was boxing in 2021 in a nutshell. I apologize if I missed a battle or missed a storyline. And I do notice there are nonetheless two weeks left within the yr. Forgive me if Artur Beterbiev and Marcus Browne placed on an prompt traditional. If Logan Paul wins one other boxing match towards somebody who isn’t a boxer, I nonetheless wouldn’t have included that.
This previous yr has been difficult in some ways, however boxing has returned to some semblance of normalcy. The game won’t ever be perfect- unhealthy judging, dream fights not occurring, and frustration with sanctioning our bodies will at all times be part of boxing. The previous trope that boxing is useless can be utilized by sanctimonious writers and trolls on Twitter till the tip of time, whatever the sport’s continued existence. Boxing has thrived in 2021 going into 2022, spanning from the decrease weight lessons as much as the heavyweight division. Fighters throughout the globe have discovered success. All there’s left to say is that I can’t wait to see what 2022 has in retailer.