Mega-matchups and money-fights: A look back at boxing in 2017
Like it or not, Floyd Mayweather versus Conor McGregor was boxing's biggest story in 2017. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Whoever said that boxing was dead probably didn’t pay too much attention to the sport in 2017.
‘The Sweet Science’ delivered a number of the sporting world’s most memorable moments in 2017, from mega-money fights to dream matches, let’s take a quick look back at some of the biggest stories in boxing from the past 12 months.
(AP Photo/Tertius Pickard)
2017 had a number of notable upsets, which included the fall of the mighty Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzales.
Once considered as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, Chocolatito blasted through his first 44 fights, including world title wins at minimumweight, light flyweight, flyweight, and super flyweight. On March 18th however, Gonzales ran into an unheralded Thai boxer by the name of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.
In his North American debut, Sor Rungvisai shocked the world by handing Chocolatito his first career loss and snatching the WBC super flyweight world title. Six months later, Sor Rungvisai proved that the win was no fluke as he knocked Gonzales out four rounds into the title rematch.
Speaking of massive upsets, arguably the biggest upset of the year involved none other than our very own eight-division world champion Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao.
In his first title defense since coming back from retirement and defeating Jessie Vargas for the WBO welterweight world championship, Pacquiao was set to take on a relatively unknown Australian boxer in Jeff “The Brisbane Hornet” Horn in Brisbane, Australia back in July 2.
Experts and fans alike immediately counted Horn out, some event went as far a saying that the fight would last only a maximum of six rounds.
By the end of the night however, Horn proved that he wasn’t just fodder for the eight-division king. From an unknown, Horn etched his name in the history books by dethroning the great Manny Pacquiao via unanimous decision at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
While the decision was met with a lot of criticism, records will show that Horn beat Pacquiao. The now-famous Aussie followed his title win up with a successful defense against England’s Gary Corcoran just last December 13th.
KINGS, OLD AND NEW
While the upsets were definitely notable, there were also a ton of big wins from champions, new and old.
The longest-reigning Filipino boxing world champion Donnie ‘Ahas’ Nietes added a third world title to his list of accomplishments after outpointing Thai Komgrich Nantapech AKA Eaktwan BTU Ruaviking in Cebu to capture the vacant IBF flyweight world championship back in April 29th.
The ALA Boxing star becomes a three-division world champion after also previously holding titles in the minimumweight and light flyweight divisions.
2017 was also memorable year for another ALA Boxing standout, Milan ‘El Metodico’ Melindo, who finally captured world championship gold by knocking out Akira Yaegashi in Japan to become the new IBF world light flyweight champion.
It took Melindo three tries to finally get his hands on a world title, and after successfully defending the IBF belt against Hekkie Budler back in September, he’ll look to make 2017 arguably the best year of his career by taking on WBA world light flyweight king Ryoichi Taguchi in a title unification bout in Japan on the very last day of 2017.
While guys like Nietes and Melindo have already been household names for years, a young king is leaving his mark in the Filipino and international boxing scene.
“Pretty Boy” Jerwin Ancajas also had himself a stellar 2017, defending his IBF world super flyweight title three times.
In a span of 12 months, Ancajas stopped Mexico’s Jose Alfredo Rodriguez, Japan’s Teiru Kinoshita, and Ireland’s Jamie Conlan, all in devastating fashion to cement himself as a dominant force in the super flyweight division.
The future definitely looks star-bright for the Manny Pacquiao protege.
In the international scene, Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford continued his dominance over the super lightweight division.
August 19th, Crawford knocked out Julius Indongo in just three rounds to become the undisputed king of the super lightweights, holding the IBF, WBA, WBO and WBC world super lightweight championships.
Middleweight juggernaut Gennady Golovkin also remained on top of the game and the pound for pound rankings after keeping the IBF, IBO, WBA Super and WBC world middleweight championships. He did however, get his first non-win of his career. we’ll get to that in a little bit.
BIG FIGHT FEEL
(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)
Some of the boxing world’s biggest matches also took place in 2017, and we’re not talking about THAT match just yet.
The big boys went to war, as Anthony Joshua needed eleven rounds to stop heavyweight legend Wladimir Klitschko back in April 30th. The unbeaten British heavyweight captured the IBO world heavyweight title while retaining the IBF and WBA Super world titles as well.
In a highly-anticipated rematch of their 2016 war, Andre Ward remained undefeated in 32 professional bouts after knocking out Sergey Kovalev back in June to retain the IBF, WBA Super, and WBO world light heavyweight championships.
In what was probably the most highly-anticipated boxing match of the year, Gennady Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez battled to a twelve-round draw that eventually left fans wanting more.
Some thought GGG’s power would prevail. Others thought Canelo’s speed would be the answer.
Fans got a glimpse of both in a 36-minute war.
It’s likely that we’ll be seeing these to greats share the ring at least once more in 2018.
Vasyl ‘Hi-Tech’ Lomachenko put on another masterful performance as he forced erstwhile-unbeaten former world champion Guillermo Rigondeaux to quit on his stool. Many expected Rigo to finally solve the puzzle that was Lomachenko, but instead, the former Ukrainian Olympian made his fourth opponent in a row say ‘No Mas’.
TIME TO HANG THE GLOVES UP
(AP Photo/John Locher, File)
2017 also marked the end of the line for a number of greats in the world of boxing.
Following an eleventh-round KO loss to Anthony Joshua, Wladimir Klitschko called it a career. The Ukrainian heavyweight great retired with a 64-5 professional record, with 53 wins coming via KO. He held the WBO, IBF, WBA Super, and IBO world titles in his 21-year career.
In what was the most surprising retirement of the year, Andre Ward called it a career following his KO win over Sergey Kovalev. The 33-year old Ward amassed a 32-0 professional record with 16 KO wins and world title runs as a super middleweight and a light heavyweight.
On the same weekend, a pair of former Manny Pacquiao opponents called it quits, as Timothy Bradley and Juan Manuel Marquez both retired in August.
34-year old Bradley ended his career with a 33-2-1 professional record with 13 wins via KO and world title runs in the super lightweight and welterweight divisions.
A legend in the Mexican boxing world, the 44-year old Marquez put together a 56-7-1 professional record with 40 wins coming via KO, none more memorable than his 2012 stoppage of Pacquiao. JMM had world championship runs at featherweight, super featherweight, lightweight, and super lightweight.
Finally, Miguel Cotto also called it a career after a 41-6 record with 33 knockouts. The Puerto Rican boxing great enjoyed world title runs at light welterweight, welterweight and light middleweight.
A couple of Pinoy boxers also made successful returns to the ring, and are eyeing world championship gold next.
Following his loss to Jessie Magdaleno, Nonito ‘The Filipino Flash’ Donaire switched things up and made his return back in September, fighting under the brand new Ringstar Sports promotion. Donaire defeated Ruben Garcia to claim the WBC Silver featherweight championship and hopes to regain world title gold in 2018.
After a year off, Mercito “No Mercy” Gesta also had himself an excellent 2017, defeating Gilberto Gonzales and Martin Honorio to earn a world title shot against Jorge Linares in 2018.
THE MONEY FIGHT
(AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Easily the biggest story of 2017 in boxing featured a first-timer and a retired legend.
After months of call-outs and verbal sparring, a crossover super-fight between Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather and Conor McGregor was finally made official in June.
What happened next was a whirlwind of media appearances, illiterate jokes, money-filled backpacks, and profanity-laden suits.
People broke down McGregor’s chances, and broke down how much each man was going to make for the so-called ‘money fight’.
When fight night came on August 27th, as expected, Mayweather defeated McGregor via tenth-round TKO, but the polarizing Irishman shocked a lot of people by lasting ten rounds with one of the best to ever enter a boxing ring.
From a money standpoint and a media standpoint, this was THE biggest fight of 2017.