Best 10 Boxing Fights of 2016
By: Jordan Seward
With the new year approaching it’s time to reflect on the best boxing action of 2016, so in no particular order….
Orlando Salido vs Francisco Vargas
The two Mexicans treated us to a classic right up to the final bell for Vargas’ (23-0-2) WBC World Super Featherweight title. Vargas, coming off the back of Fight of the Year for 2015 faced a true, steely warrior in the 36-year-old Salido (43-13-4). It was a back-and-fourth slug fest between two champions who don’t know when to quit. In the end the pair couldn’t be separated and the judges correctly scored it a draw.
Tony Bellew vs Ilunga Makabu
The real life rocky story that saw Bellew (28-2-1) finally crowned a world champion. Just after starring in the new rocky film ‘The Bomber’ got his third bite at the cherry facing a dangerous and feared Congolese who had chalked up 18 knockouts in 19 fights. A packed crowed inside his beloved Everton football club’s stadium were stunned when Makabu (19-2) sent Bellew rolling over at the end of the first. The Everton man climbed off the canvas Balboa esque and rallied to stop Makabu in the third with a flourish of heavy punches to claim the vacant WBC World Cruiserweight strap.
Dillian Whyte vs Dereck Chisora
This one had it all. Filled with controversy from the start these two Heavyweights threw everything but the kitchen sink. A table was thrown though. At a press conference. Which, as a result meant the British title wasn’t on the line. But after all the talk, the bad mouthing and the attempted scrapping Whyte (20-1) and Chisora (26-7) done it properly in the ring and fought out a clean and action-packed-12-rounder. Both men were rocked and absorbed a lot of punishment, but Whyte’s superior stamina was just about enough to nick it for him on the judges’ scorecard by split decision.
Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter
Thurman (27-0) was getting in the ring with probably the best opponent he’s faced. The only man to previously have defeated Porter (26-2-1) was Kell Brook, but, in a fierce competitive fight, Thurman successfully defended his WBA World Welterweight title dishing out Porter’s second loss of his career with a 115-113 unanimous decision. Although the announcement was greeted by booing, the stats suggested Thurman deservedly had his hand raised at the end, landing 43.6% of his punches while his opponent made 35.6%.
Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev
The fight that everyone scored differently. It was a fight we all wanted as soon as Ward made the jump up from Super-Middleweight. The defensive suave of Ward (31-0) met the aggressive power of ‘The Krusher’ (30-1-1) at the T-Mobile Arena, in Las Vegas. The American, fighting on home turf, was put down in the second round for only the second time in his illustrious career. But Ward, as Ward does, after falling behind on the cards managed to take the second half of the fight and claim Kovalev’s WBO, IBF and WBA Super World Light Heavyweight titles by unanimous decision.
Carl Frampton vs Leo Santa Cruz
After unifying his IBF super-bantamweight title by outpointing Scott Quigg, the Northern Irishmen capped off his impressive year by adding Leo Santa Cruz’s (32-1-1) WBA Super World Featherweight belt. ‘The Jackal’ (23-0) jumped up a weight division and battled it out with the Mexican champion in an absolute barn burner. After a hard and punishing 12 rounds it went to the judges’ scorecards and Frampton, was given the nod. Now, just for us, they’re doing it all again at the MGM Grand on the 28th January. Not a bad way to start the new year.
Hosea Burton vs Frank Buglioni
Words were exchanged between the pair in what was a heated build up to this Light-Heavyweight contest for the British title. But when the fighting started it quickly turned in to a very watchable and enjoyable scrap. Both Burton (18-1) and Buglioni (19-2-1) continuously plowed forwards, in attempts to assert their dominance. They were both taking serious damage and in the twelfth-round Burton’s chickens came home to roost. The 28-year-old was slowing down and deserved to hear the final bell but with just one minute left in the bout Buglioni landed some hurtful blows and the ref waved it off.
Thomas Williams Jr. vs Edwin Rodriguez
A fiery, hard fought contest… while it lasted. At the StubHub Center, on the undercard of Andre Berto’s knockout win against Victor Ortiz, Rodriguez, (28-2) displayed courage, grit, determination, and, a chin. In this two-rounder, it was Williams Jr (20-2) who was landing the more powerful and hurtful shots but a number of times Rodriguez remained upright and proudly came firing back. In the end, it took a monster left hook to knock the resolute 31-year-old out.
Gennady Golovkin vs Kell Brook
As far as unexpected fights go, this one took the biscuit. You couldn’t have called it. This was not a fight many had in mind, but, when it was made it was all the talk. The IBF World Welterweight champion, Brook, jumped up two weight division to face the feared Middleweight kingpin at the O2 Arena. Looking in great shape and as confident as ever the Englishman made a great start to the fight. However, as the fight went on we began to realise Brook wouldn’t be making history as Golovkin’s power started to take its toll and Brook’s trainer, Dominic Ingle threw in the towel stopping proceedings in the fifth round.
Anthony Crolla vs Ismael Barroso
After prizing away the WBA World Lightweight title from Darleys Perez in their second meeting, Crolla, (31-5-3)made his first defence against the man who, effectively, sent world title challenger Kevin Mitchell into retirement. As expected, the Venezuelan (19-1-2) started strong and, typical of a Joe Gallagher fighter, Crolla did not. He absorbed some early punishment and probably lost the first five rounds. It became clear after six though, that Crolla’s tactics were spot on, as the challenger noticeably began to tire. He had thrown all he had and was on empty, Crolla seized his chance and overwhelmed his opponent, eventually stopping him in the seventh.
Tony Bellew Vs Ilunga Makabu – Fight Report
Jordan Seward reports ringside at Goodison Park
Tony Bellew (27-2-1)17ko turned his dream into a reality by knocking out Ilunga Makabu (19-2)18ko in three rounds to capture the WBC World Cruiserweight title.
After two failed attempts at a world title it was third time lucky for the Everton man, but it could have been all so different. The Bomber had to rise off the canvas like a true champ, Rocky Balboa esque if it were, after a heavy knockdown in the first round.
As Everton FC echoed around the ground the two engaged, sizing each other up. Bellew marched onto the front foot with the fans urging him on. The 33-year-old was noticeably the bigger man and had Makabu tied up on the ropes early on in the first, switching from upstairs to down at will. Then, the noise came to a sudden halt. The man from the Democratic Republic of Congo silenced the arena as he landed one single left, flush on the chin which sent Bellew rolling over. The home crowd were stunned, but their man dragged himself up off the deck to beat the eight count.
Bellew came into the second round tentative, even a jab seemed to wobble his legs. As the round went on he came into it more, edging forward and had Makabu on the ropes again landing right hooks to the head and lefts to the body. In the third round the Bomber showed his own power, backing Makabu up with a left hook. He had his man on the ropes and was patient, picking each shot carefully.
Makabu was well out of his comfort zone and looked like a sitting duck, but replied with a solid looking left of his own. The 33-year-old walked through it and landed a left to the body sending his opponent back to the ropes again. The initial left hook had rocked him. An uppercut, a chopping left and a couple of right hooks later, Makabu was out cold. Only the ropes held up his sagging body as the referee waved it off.
Tony Bellew sank to his knees in celebration, he done it, a world title in his home city. It wasn’t quite the script he had planned for sure, it was more like a Sylvester Stallone one in truth, but nonetheless the result was the same. The win ended Makabu’s 19 fight win run and is Bellew’s seventh win out of seven fights since moving up to Cruiserweight.
After the fight the new WBC World Champion said “This was a terrible camp, I had no idea how I was going to beat Makabu. But there is not a man on this planet that want’s it more than me and I scare myself, the lengths I’m willing to go, I was willing to die tonight. There was no way I was losing at Goodison Park; my career would have been over.
“When I went down I wasn’t hurt, but he broke my nose immediately and he punches like a truck believe me, but there is so much punishment I can take and give at Cruiserweight. Losing was not an option, it didn’t go according to plan but everything I have ever dreamed of came true and I cannot believe it. I am the best Cruiserweight in the world and now I want Denis Lebedev and I want to unify the division before the end of the year”.