2018 Boxing Awards

2018 boxing awards

Photo via Sky Sports

Welcome to our 2018 Boxing Awards!

Here are the categories:

Boxer of the Year
Fight of the Year
Breakout Star
Who’s Next

We have some new blood this year. In addition to myself, Duan (@DuanDub), and Robert Silva (@ROBERTSILVA5768), we’ve added Matt Prentice (@MattPrentice_), Stefano Summa (@SteSumm) and Nick Mahmood (@HayabusaCT) to our panel.

Let’s get to the awards.

Boxer of the Year

Duan: Oleksandr Usyk
I don’t think there’s any real room for debate this year. Usyk scored three big wins, securing the Super Series, unifying his division and headlining his first massive PPV event along the way. He goes into 2019 as a big international star and with the move up to heavyweight mooted, the best could still be yet to come.

Duan’s previous winners:
2017: Anthony Joshua
2016: Vasyl Lomachenko
2015: Canelo Alvarez
2014: Sergey Kovalev
2013: Timothy Bradley
2012: Carl Froch
2011: Andre Ward
2010: Sergio Martinez
2009: Amir Khan
2008: Manny Pacquiao

Robert: Oleksandr Usyk
The single, greatest year a Cruiserweight has had in over 30 years. Usyk was nothing short of amazing in 2018. Three huge wins in becoming the first undisputed champion in his division in 11 years. He defeated Mairis Breidis and Murat Gassiev, two undefeated World Champions, to not only lay claim to the undisputed title but the World Boxing Super Series Title at Cruiserweight as well. The fight with Breidis was an excellent, close and compelling fight. Usyk controlled the second half of the fight to earn the decision. His win over Gassiev was a boxing masterpiece. Usyk completely outboxed and outclassed the Russian Gassiev, winning almost every minute of every round to win the WBSS and Undisputed Championship. Finally, last month, his sensational eighth round knockout of Creed star and former Cruiser champ Tony Bellew was the perfect ending to the greatest year a Cruiserweight has attained since Evander Holyfield’s incredible 1987, which also resulted in Holyfield winning Fighter of the Year. In my opinion, Usyk is second only to Holyfield in the history of the much maligned Cruiserweight division. 2019 looks to be the year Usyk, like Holyfield, makes his move to Heavyweight. Only time will tell if he attains similar success.

Robert’s previous winners:
2017: Vasyl Lomachenko
2016: Terence Crawford
2015: Canelo Alvarez
2014: Sergey Kovalev
2013: Danny Garcia

Matt: Oleksandr Usyk
31-year-old Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk all but locked up this award by mid-year when he became the first undisputed cruiserweight champion in the four-belt era. His 2018 included unification bouts on the road against Mairis Briedis in Latvia and Murat Gassiev in Russia, followed by a stellar performance against Tony Bellew at Manchester Arena. The 2012 gold medalist has now set his eyes on the heavyweight division, looking to cement himself as one of the great boxers of this generation.

Stefano: Oleksandr Usyk
The history books of cruiserweight boxing need to be rewritten after the superb year the Ukrainian had, overriding every opponent he faced (Briedis, Gassiev and Bellew) with sublime stylistic features, notable mental strength while always fighting on enemy’s turf and leaving no point of discussion as the best in his division with all 4 major titles around his waist. His rumored transition to heavyweight will definitely be a story to follow in 2019.

Nick: Terence Crawford
Crawford started the year by relinquishing his lineal and unified Junior Welterweight belts by moving up to Welterweight and winning the WBO title over Manny Pacquiao conquerer Jeff Horn. He then returned home to pack the Century Link Center in Omaha with a 12th-round finish over previously undefeated Jose Benavidez Jr. A potential super fight looms for him in 2019 with the winner of March’s Spence-Garcia bout.

GG: Oleksandr Usyk
I love Nick’s pick, but I have to go with the rest of the fellas and say Usyk. I remember watching his fight with Bellew and thinking that doom was coming; impending doom for Bellew. And it eventually came. With arms that look like cobras, I’m very interested in seeing what he does at heavyweight if he does make that jump soon.

GG’s previous winners:
2017: Vasyl Lomachenko
2016: Andre Ward
2015: Gennady Golovkin
2014: Sergey Kovalev
2013: Floyd Mayweather
2012: Nonito Donaire
2011: Andre Ward
2010: Sergio Martinez
2009: Manny Pacquiao
2008: Manny Pacquiao

Fight Of The Year

Duan: Dereck Chisora Vs Carlos Takam
This is the second year in a row I’ve chosen a heavyweight bout. I think that’s a good reflection of what’s happening in boxing right now. After a long time out of the spotlight, we’re starting to see the balance of power swing back towards what’s traditionally been the sport’s prestige division. Probably three out of my top five fights this year were at maximum weight. None though was more gripping than Chisora/Takam. A classic heavyweight slobberkocker with the kinda brutal drama that only the big men bring.

Duan’s previous winners:
2017: Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko
2016: Jamie Conlan vs Anthony Nelson
2015: Dave Ryan vs John Wayne Hibbert 2
2014: Tommy Coyle vs Daniel Brizuela
2013: Timothy Bradley vs Ruslan Provodnikov
2012: Brandon Rios vs Mike Alvarado
2011: Erik Morales vs Marcos Maidana
2010: Mikkel Kessler vs Carl Froch
2009: Bernard Dunne vs Ricardo Cordoba
2008: Tie between Antonio Margarito vs Miguel Cotto and Steve Cunningham vs Tomasz Adamek

Robert: Canelo Alvarez Vs Gennady Golovkin 2
2018 was another sensational year in terms of great action fights in boxing. What separates the Canelo-GGG rematch was the level of skill exhibited by both future Hall of Famers. For the first time in his career, GGG was forced to box from the outside. While he was befuddled by Canelo’s aggression and wicked body punching the first half of the fight, the second half showed GGG adjusting and almost pulling out the decision with an incredible display of offense. It was that rare fight where both fighters came out looking better than before the fight began – Canelo for his incredible guts in taking the fight to one of the biggest punchers in Middleweight history, and GGG for showing boxing acumen no one knew he had. Both men also displayed the two best chins in boxing, as they both were hit with shots that would’ve knocked out Cruiserweights. One of the best scientific action fights in recent memory.

Robert’s previous winners:
2017: Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko
2016: Francisco Vargas vs Orlando Salido
2015: Krzysztof Glowacki vs Marco Huck
2014: Lucas Matthysse vs John Molina
2013: Timothy Bradley vs Ruslan Provodnikov

Matt: Canelo Alvarez Vs Gennady Golovkin 2
There was no shortage of great fights in 2018, but this one had it all. The two best middleweights in the world did battle once again and told a phenomenal story over twelve grueling rounds. When it was all said and done, a razon-thin decision gave the younger Alvarez the nod, leaving fans across the globe wanting for a third act.

(Honorable mentions include Alex Saucedo vs Lenny Zappavigna and Vasyl Lomachenko vs Jorge Linares.)

Stefano: Canelo Alvarez Vs Gennady Golovkin 2
Controversy creates cash if it delivers the goods when push comes to shove. The second interaction between GGG and Canelo, marred by rumpus in its build up due to the scandalous ending of the first fight and the Mexican’s failed drug test, did just that by displaying a well-balanced and combative bout. Leaving fans again with a debatable final score and a strong desire for a third and final meeting between the two.

Nick: Deontay Wilder Vs Luis Ortiz
There’s still something to be said about a Heavyweight Title fight. With Anthony Joshua packing arenas with less than stellar competition overseas and lineal champion Tyson Fury just starting to begin his comeback, the two best Heavyweights met on March 3, 2018. It was a wild affair with Ortiz winning the first four rounds with his superior skills, until Wilder landed a power shot in the 5th to drop Ortiz. Then came Round 7 where Ortiz was ever so close to finishing Wilder. Wilder never dropped, but Ortiz was rewarded with a 10-8 round by all three judges. Wilder recovered and dropped Ortiz two more times in the 10th and got the stoppage win.

GG: Canelo Alvarez Vs Gennady Golovkin 2
The level of boxing here was extremely high. In two fights, we’ve seen near expert-level boxing and the sequel, though marred by horrendous promotion and Canelo’s drug test failure which shouldn’t have been a failure at all, delivered. I think some folks are frustrated by the decision, but I wasn’t. I had Triple G winning, but it was close enough to where I was fine with the decision.

GG’s previous winners:
2017: Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko
2016: Andre Ward vs Sergey Kovalev
2015: Francisco Vargas vs Takashi Miura
2014: Terence Crawford vs Yuriorkis Gamboa
2013: Timothy Bradley vs Ruslan Provodnikov
2012: Juan Manuel Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao IV
2011: Juan Manuel Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao III
2010: Amir Khan vs Marcos Maidana
2009: Juan Diaz vs Juan Manuel Marquez
2008: Antonio Margarito vs Miguel Cotto

Breakout Star

Duan: Callum Smith
Smith has been on the verge of a breakthrough for a really long time now and it was starting to feel like if it didn’t happen soon, that window might swing shut on him. He finally took that step by winning the Super Series and knocking out the division’s consensus number one in the final. He stands as the man to beat at Super Middle and there will also be some big fights waiting for him in the reignited light heavyweight division should that be where his sights are set.

Duan’s previous winners:
2017: Ryan Burnett
2016: Anthony Joshua
2015: Tyson Fury
2014: Carl Frampton

Robert: Naoya Inoue
Naoya Inoue is well on his way to being the greatest fighter ever to hail from Japan. At 25 years old, Inoue is primed to become a legendary, all-time great. 2018 saw him fight twice and he scored first round knockouts in both fights. His knockout of Juan Carlos Payano in the opening fight of the WBSS Bantamweight tournament was SPECTACULAR! A left jab, right cross combo that had Payano virtually comatose in a little over a minute of round one. Inoue has the greatest left jab, right cross combo since Thomas Hearns. Look for Inoue to win the WBSS tourney and become the biggest Asian star since Manny Pacquiao.

Robert’s previous winners:
2017: Anthony Joshua
2016: Errol Spence
2015: Deontay Wilder
2014: Nicholas Walters

Matt: Teofimo Lopez
Over two million viewers witnessed Teofimo Lopez put an exclamation point on the year with a phenomenal 1st round knockout over Mason Menard. Lopez, a 2016 Olympian, has the superstar look, charisma in front of the camera, and can back it all up in the ring. He looks to follow up a four-win 2018 where he captured two regional lightweight titles with a big step up in 2019. Top Rank promoter Bob Arum has said that he’s ready to strap the rocket to the 21-year-old Honduran-American and that an eventual pay-per-view bout against current pound-for-pound king Vasyl Lomachenko isn’t out of the question. The sky is the limit.

(Honorable mentions include Shakur Stevenson and Jaime Munguia.)

Stefano: Tyson Fury
I know, a former big-time world champion isn’t who would you expect as someone who broke from the pack. However, Fury’s incredible comeback story, culminated with his thrilling showing against Deontay Wilder, has to be regarded as the real revelation in 2018 boxing. Given that, turning back the clock to a year ago, the career of the “Gipsy King” was more than dead in the water and now it’s more alive than ever, with the addendum of gaining a North American exposure he’s never had (the buy rate of his first PPV outing is very telling in that sense) and his natural foil Joshua still doesn’t have.

Nick: Miguel Berchelt
He won the WBC Super Featherweight Title in 2017, but in 2018, he became the top guy in the weight class. He had three defenses and three stoppages, including his November stoppage over fan favorite Miguel Roman. Roman was on a four-fight win streak which included a win over Orlando Salido, the only fighter to defeat Vasyl Lomachenko.

GG: Josh Warrington
Duan has always kept me abreast on the UK boxing scene and now that I listen to Costello and Bunce weekly, I feel like a UK boxing expert. Okay, not really. But, after Warrington beat Frampton late in the year and he was declared Bad Left Hook’s British Fighter of the Year, it made sense for me to put him here.

GG’s previous winners:
2017: Sri Sor Rungvisai
2016: Joe Smith Jr.
2015: Roman Gonzalez
2014: Terence Crawford

Who’s Next?

Duan: Josh Kelly
Kelly has all the skills to be a special talent. He has a very experienced team around him and they’ve shown supreme confidence in how they’ve managed his career so far. He’s already starting to mix it with the fringe contenders at 147, so if all continues as planned, he should have a major fight booked by the end of 2019. His promoter Matchroom has over 60 live shows worldwide next year which means he’s going to have plenty of opportunities to make his mark both at home and abroad.

Duan’s previous winners:
2017: Joshua Buatsi
2016: Michael Conlan
2015: Callum Smith
2014: Anthony Joshua
2013: Vasyl Lomachenko
2012: Khalid Yafai
2011: Canelo Alvarez
2010: Carl Frampton

Robert: Jarrett Hurd
Jarrett Hurd is on the verge of becoming an all-time great Super Welterweight. Whoever he fights next; Tony Harrison, Jermell Charlo, or Jaime Munguia, he will just walk through and knock him out. He’s a relentless, pressure fighter who wears you down with his incredible strength and endurance. He’s a special fighter who could put his name among the elite in 2019.

Robert’s previous winners:
2017: Errol Spence
2016: Jermall Charlo
2015: Errol Spence
2014: Roman Gonzalez
2013: Keith Thurman

Matt: Mikaela Mayer

2018 boxing awards

Photo via NY Times

Former 2016 Olympian Mikaela Mayer netted six wins in 2018 and captured her first regional title as a professional. Mayer made headlines in 2017 by becoming Top Rank Promotions first female signing and demonstrated noticeable improvement in each subsequent bout this year. Her growing ability to fight long with the jab and then punish her opponents with body work have been a recipe for success. Alongside fellow Olympians Claressa Shields and Katie Taylor, this trio looks to bring women’s boxing to the next level in the coming years.

Stefano: Daniel Dubois
Joshua, Fury and Whyte may be at the forefront of the British heavyweight movement, but there’s a young gun ready to step up as soon as the right chance comes. Daniel Dubois, 21 years of age, has been silently but violently making his name in the national scene (three regional titles won with 8 KOs in 9 fights) and, under the guidance of Frank Warren, seems to be on the verge of making it on a larger scale. After the ordered showdown in early 2019 against fellow prospect Nathan Gorman, he may able to reach that goal.

Nick: Josh Warrington
So far, Warrington’s short career has only led him to fight outside the UK once, a bout in Germany in 2015. But lucky for him two of the top three Featherweights in the world at the time reside there; Lee Selby and Carl Frampton. He defeated both in 2018, winning the IBF title from Selby, then upsetting Frampton in December, spoiling a potential trilogy bout with Leo Santa Cruz, a fight that only makes sense for Warrington to get in 2019.

GG: Jaime Munguia
Munguia had a pretty stellar 2018, yet it was an opportunity that he missed that was his biggest memory. According to Munguia, he was Gennady Golovkin’s chosen opponent for the May date that he once set with Canelo for their second fight, which was cancelled. Team Triple G wanted Munguia as their new opponent, but the commission didn’t approve him. It was for the best. Now, he can continue to grow as a young fighter, one who went 5-0 in 2018. He has an early test in January against Takeshi Inoue.

GG’s previous winners:
2017: Gary Russell Jr.
2016: Claressa Shields
2015: Anthony Joshua
2014: Nicholas Walters
2013: Ruslan Provodnikov
2012: Floyd Mayweather’s record (predicting Mayweather would lose in 2013)
2011: Miguel Cotto
2010: Amir Khan

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