International Year in Review

International Year in Review

 

By Vincent Morin

Professional boxing continued to entertain the masses in 2023 in addition to opening new horizons: notably in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. Three large-scale events took place in this country on the Arabian Peninsula this year: Tommy Fury vs Jake Paul, Tyson Fury vs Francis Ngannou and Anthony Joshua vs Otto Wallin were the main fights of these galas. Notwithstanding the burlesque clashes between influencers and the exhibition clashes involving fallen ex-pugilists, here is the year in review of international boxing!

 

FIGHT OF THE YEAR

The most spectacular men's fight of the year pitted Mexican Jaime Munguia (42-0, 33 KO) against Ukrainian Sergiy Derevyanchenko (14-5, 10 KO) in a real war on June 10 in Ontario , in California. In a real war, Munguia won at the last minute thanks to a body blow in the 12the round, allowing him to record an eight count to escape with a unanimous decision victory.

The women's fight of the year was between multiple Puerto Rican world champion Amanda Serrano (46-2-1, 30 KOs) and Mexican Erika Cruz Hernandez (17-2, 3 KOs). The latter had a blast during their world championship clash... with a total of 1917 punches thrown in 10 rounds... of two minutes!

 

BOXER OF THE YEAR

In 2023, the Japanese Naoya Inoue (26-0, 23 KO), former holder of the WBC light flyweight (108 lbs), WBO super flyweight (115 lbs) and unified bantamweight champion (118 lbs), is moved up the category to unify the four world super bantamweight belts (122 lbs).

He first won the WBC and WBO titles from the American Stephen Fulton (21-1, 8 KOs) on July 25, before capturing the IBF and WBA championships from the Filipino Marlon Tapales (37-4, 19 KOs). ). These two flawless performances during unification shocks make Inoue the Boxer of the Year.

Honorable mention to the American Terence Crawford (40-0, 31 KO). Even though the latter only competed in one duel, he defeated his compatriot Errol Spence (28-1, 22 KO) in such a dominant manner, a fighter who was still undefeated and ranked in the top 10 pound for pound of the planet, in a clash of unification of the WBC, WBA, IBF and WBO world titles of welterweight (147 lbs) on July 29 in Las Vegas, that Crawford earned himself the position of pugilist # 1 pound for pound.

 

BOXER OF THE YEAR

The Boxer of the Year is the Puerto Rican Amanda Serrano (46-2-1, 30 KO) thanks to three wins, including a furious shock considered the Women's Fight of the Year against Erika Cruz Hernandez, a one-sided victory against the popular New Yorker Heather Hardy and above all, for having fought a historic first women's fight of 12 rounds of 3 minutes against the Brazilian Danila Ramos (12-3, 1 KO).

Serrano at the same time made a snub to the WBC, refusing to box for their title, since this sanctioning body established in Mexico refuses women the right to box 12 rounds of 3 minutes during championship fights, as with men.

Honorable mention to Irish Katie Taylor (23-1, 6 KOs), who first lost her unified super-lightweight (140 lb) belts by majority decision to Briton Chantelle Cameron (18-1, 8 KO) on May 20 in Dublin, before taking his revenge by majority decision, November 25, still in Dublin.

 

KO OF THE YEAR

The KO of the year goes to Japanese left-hander Junto Nakatani (26-0, 19 KOs) for his violent back hand in a counterattack on Australian Andrew Maloney (26-3, 16 KOs), whom he knocked out at 12e storming into their WBO super flyweight (115 lb) world championship clash. The latter suffered from worrying convulsions after the knockouts.

Honorable mention to the American of Mexican origin Jose Valenzuela (13-2, 9 KO) for his superb left hook which extended New Yorker Chris Colbert (17-2, 6 KO) into the cables, on December 16 in Minneapolis , in Minnesota. It was a revenge for Valenzuela, who had escaped a unanimous decision during the previous face-to-face between the two gladiators, on March 25 in Las Vegas.

 

SURPRISE OF THE YEAR

After failing to make his professional debut, two-time Cuban Olympic gold medalist Robeisy Ramirez (13-2, 8 KOs) appeared to have the wind in his sails, having racked up 13 consecutive victories and amassing the WBO featherweight (126 lbs) world crown ) by the way.

The star of the Top Rank group, gold medalist at the London and Rio de Janeiro Games, where he defeated the American Shakur Stevenson in 2016, did not expect to lose his belt on December 9 in Pembroke Pines, in Florida, facing an obscure rival with an inflated record... that's exactly what happened.

The Mexican Rafael Espinoza (24-0, 20 KO), whose career took place exclusively in Mexico, in addition to two preliminary fights in the United States in 2014 and 2015, facing rather limited opposition, surprised the planet by bringing Ramirez in a trench war where both men visited the mat, before winning by majority decision.

Honorable mention to Joseph Parker (34-3, 23 KO) who dominated powerful American puncher Deontay Wilder (43-3-1, 42 KO) on December 23 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to win by unanimous decision.

We can also consider the performance of former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) champion Francis Ngannou against WBC heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury (34-0-1, 24 KO) as an honorable mention to surprise title of the year. Few people saw the mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter being able to compete with the number one heavyweight boxer on the planet in his first professional boxing match...let alone knocking him to the mat and losing a controversial split decision. !

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