2018's most memorable bits of boxing

ABS-CBN Sports on Dec 26, 2018 02:36 AM
2018's most memorable bits of boxing
Manny Pacquiao knocked out Lucas Matthysse back in July to become the WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Champion (AP PHOTO)

The sweet science is always a source of headlines in the sporting world, especially in a country that's full of fight fans like the Philippines.

Over the last twelve months, we've seen comebacks, championships, and even a little controversy. 

Here are some of the best bits of boxing from 2018! 

 

PAC BACK ON TOP

2018 saw Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao once again claim world championship gold following a bitter and controversial loss to Jeff Horn in 2017. 

Fighting in Asia for the first time since 2014, Pacquiao challenged reigning WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Champion Lucas "La Maquina" Matthysse in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia back in July. 

Billed as a durable, heavy-hitting brawler, Matthysse was supposed to be the one to threaten Pacquiao with a KO finish. 

Instead, looking like the Pacquiao of old, it was the Filipino star who came out aggressive, landing bombs until finally scoring a seventh-round TKO finish, his first since 2009. 

Just months shy of his 40th birthday, Pacquiao was a world champion for the eleventh time in his storied career. 

 

THE BREAKUP

Prior to Pacquiao's win over Matthysse, the Filipino boxer made headlines the world over after a split from long-time trainer and head coach Freddie Roach

In April, months before Pacquiao's return to the ring against Matthysse, reports surfaced that Pacquiao, for the first time in over 15 years and 34 bouts, would not be working with the Hall of Fame trainer. According to various sources, the split stemmed from a disagreement between Pacquiao and Roach following the loss to Jeff Horn back in 2017. 

Taking Roach's place as head trainer was Pacquiao's best friend, Buboy Fernandez, and judging from the result of the Matthysse bout, it paid dividends. 

Still, the split didn't last too long. 

Soon after Pacquiao's first WBA title defense against Adrien Broner was announced, both Pacquiao and Roach have confirmed that they will be working together once again

This time however, Roach will be serving more of a consultant role, guiding Fernandez who remains as Pacquiao's head trainer. 

 

CONTROVERSY SURROUNDS CANELO-GGG 2

In 2017, middleweight stars Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez went to an exciting 12-round draw that warranted a rematch in 2018. 

In January, it was announced that the two warriors would square off once again in a Cinco de Mayo rematch. The rematch was put in jeopardy however, when Canelo tested positive for a banned substance in March. By April, the fight was off after the Mexican star decided to withdraw from the highly-anticipated rematch. 

The fight eventually pushed through in September, with Alvarez picking up the majority decision win to hand Golovkin his first career loss, and more importantly claim the WBA (Super) and WBC Middleweight World Championships. 

Three months later, Canelo would stop British boxer Rocky Fielding in the third round to capture the WBA (Regular) Middleweight World Championship as well. 

 

ALL-FILIPINO

For the first time in 92 years, two Filipino boxers faced off for a world championship when reigning IBF Super Flyweight World Champion Jerwin "Pretty Boy" Ancajas defended his title against Jonas "Zorro" Sultan in California. 

In the historic meeting, it was Ancajas who emerged victorious, defeating Sultan via unanimous decision as the reigning IBF 115-pound champ continued his run of dominance with five successful title defenses.

Four months later, Ancajas would retain his world championship once again, but this time after figuring in a split draw against Mexican Alejandro Santiago. 

 

DONNIE NIETES MAKES THE JUMP

Speaking of all-Filipino bouts and going to a draw, Donnie Nietes and Aston Palicte experienced both in just one bout. 

Following a spectacular albiet short-lived run at Flyweight, which saw him capture and retain the IBF's 112-pound title, Nietes made the decision to move up to the 115-pound super flyweight division, where he'll be in the same pool as the big names like Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, Juan Francisco Estrada, and compatriot Jerwin Ancajas. 

Nietes' debut bout at 115 however, would be against fellow Negrense in Palicte, and it would be for the vacant WBO Super Flyweight World Championship in September. 

In what many believed as a win for Nietes, the 12-round bout went to a controversial split draw, that denied Nietes of the distinction of joining Manny Pacquiao and Nonito Donaire Jr. as the only Filipinos to capture four world titles in as many divisions. 

Nietes still has the chance to do that before the end of 2018 however, as he gets another shot at the title on New Year's Eve when he meets Japan's Kazuto Ioka in Macau. 

 

BUD MOVES UP

Following years of dominance at junior welterweight, Terence "Bud" Crawford also made the jump up to a heavier weight class, and immediately made a splash. 

Facing off against WBO Welterweight World Champion Jeff Horn, Crawford announced his arrival at 140-pounds with a dominant TKO win over the Australian in June. 

Four months later, Crawford successfully defended the title against Jose Benavidez Jr. with a 12th-round TKO victory. 

 

FLASH FORWARD

Nonito Donaire Jr's 2018 didn't start off as well as he would have wanted. 

The Filipino Flash lost his April bout to Carl Frampton for the WBO Interim Featherweight World Championship, prompting questions regarding the former four-division world champion's future. 

In a surprising move however, Donaire announced that he would be going back down to super bantamweight and would be taking part in the World Boxing Super Series' super bantamweight tournament. 

Matched up in the quarterfinal round against Ryan Burnett back in November, Donaire scored what many consider an upset, winning via TKO after the Irishman suffered a back injury. As a result, Donaire advanced into the next round of the tournament with the WBA (Super) Bantamweight World Championship around his waist. 

Up next for Donaire will be WBO Super Bantamweight World Champion Zolani Tete of South Africa in the semifinals. 

 

WILDER AND FURY GO TO WAR

In one of the most talked-about heavyweight bouts in recent history, WBC Heavyweight World Champion Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury put on a 12-round war that ended in...surprise, surprise, a split draw. Fury used his movement and technique to dictate the pace over Wilder throughout the 12-round bout, but the reigning champion dropped the British challenger in the final round that led to the draw decision, setting up what could be another highly-anticipated rematch in the future. 

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