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Monday, January 24, 2022

2021 Boxing Roundup; Alvarez, Serrano, Fury Wilder

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After a year in which boxing’s amount of bouts and noteworthy events was considerably reduced, 2021 delivered in a big manner.

Looking back on the previous 12 months, the year can best be defined as “the year of the upset,” with multiple big championship battles that felt like afterthoughts coming into the fight panning out drastically different than the majority of the world anticipated. It was by far the most loaded category when it came to choosing the “best of” in boxing for 2021.

Some of the choices were significantly more straightforward. Canelo Alvarez made 2021 a watershed year in his career by dazzling in the ring and doing it with as busy a schedule as any significant boxer on the planet.

Other boxers shone brilliantly as well, winning championships and putting on spectacular performances that will be remembered for years. Some of them finished them off with magnificent knockouts that will be remembered for a long time.

Many of those breathtaking fights will have long-term consequences. Let’s take a look back at the previous 12 months and acknowledge those that stood out above the others in terms of combatants and performances.

Men’s fighter of the year: Canelo Alvarez

Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez's team have contacted Dmitry Bivol about world title  fight, Russian's promoter confirms | Boxing News | Sky Sports

With so many talented fighters to select from throughout boxing’s several categories, picking a victor in this area may be tough. However, when it comes to picking the greatest men’s boxer of the year, activity is always a big factor, particularly when it comes to separating the best from the rest.

In 2021, the sport’s top star, Alvarez, participated three times. In February, he began his campaign with a stay-busy victory against a hapless Avni Yildirim. Alvarez dispatched Yildirim in only three rounds before moving on to the main event.

With a bone-shattering performance against Billy Joe Saunders in May, Alvarez (57-1-2, 39 KOs) added a third 168-pound belt to his current collection. In Round 9, Alvarez hammered the Englishman with a right uppercut, breaking his orbital bone in three places. Saunders did not play in Round 10.

With 73,126 spectators, the fight at AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, set a new indoor boxing attendance record in the United States. At 168 pounds, Saunders was unbeaten and rated in the top three on ESPN. Saunders was known for his defensive prowess and quickness, but Alvarez wore Saunders down with a series of well-placed body shots and a relentless pressing strategy that set him up for the finish.

Then, in November, with an 11th-round TKO of Caleb Plant, Alvarez achieved a long-held ambition of becoming the undisputed champion. Plant, like Saunders, was a top-3 super middleweight who was recognized for his defense and mobility. Alvarez slashed his body with hooks and crosses, then scored two knockdowns in Round 11 before the fight was stopped by referee Russell Mora.

Alvarez is the undisputed men’s fighter of the year for 2021, after his two victories against previously unbeaten opponents.

Women’s fighter of the year: Amanda Serrano

Amanda Serrano Wins Dominant Decision Over Yamileth Mercado - Boxing News

The seven-division world champion had another outstanding year, winning all three of her bouts by unanimous decision, including a KO victory over Daniela Romina Bermudez in March and unanimous wins over Yamileth Mercado and Miriam Gutierrez in August and December, respectively. She also triumphed in two weight classes, Bermudez and Mercado at featherweight and Gutierrez at lightweight, as has been her pattern.

The victory against Gutierrez was especially impressive since Serrano seemed to have been scarcely hit while Gutierrez’s face was bloodied and battered.

While other fighters had strong years as well — more on that later — Serrano’s spectacular performances drew a large crowd. Two of her bouts were on pay-per-view events, while the third was on NBC Sports Network in the United States.

Thanks in large part to her association with YouTube sensation-turned-boxer Jake Paul, Serrano has begun to bring women’s boxing into the mainstream. That helped separate Serrano apart from the pack in a year when many boxers earned names for themselves.

Fight of the year: Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder 3

Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder 3: Biggest takeaways from an epic trilogy title  fight – The Athletic

The third bout between Fury and Wilder wasn’t just a slam dunk for the best fight of 2021; it will go down as one of the greatest battles in the heavyweight division’s illustrious history.

Fury and Wilder did indeed save the best for last, in a bout that seemed to be over until an arbiter intervened. All of the hostility surrounding the proceedings fostered genuine animosity between these two large guys, and they more than justified their contempt with the way they competed.

It wasn’t so much a boxing contest as it was a battle. Fury marched forward and winged bombs, exactly as he did in the second combat. After Fury knocked down Wilder in Round 3, it looked like the fight was over, but the American beat the count and continued.

In Round 4, Wilder turned the tables on Fury, the third time “The Gypsy King” had been put to the canvas in this trilogy, when his damaging right hand floored him. Fury was taken down again a few moments later. Wilder seemed to be on the verge of exacting vengeance.

But, like Wilder in Round 3, Fury came back in Round 6 and took control for good. Wilder took a brutal pounding, but maintained a never-say-die mentality in order to avoid having the towel thrown in on his behalf. Wilder, despite being exhausted and battered, continued to deliver his game-changing haymaker and remained threatening.

Wilder seemed to be able to go the distance for a while, but the huge shots mounted up. In Round 10, Fury blasted Wilder with a looping right hand for his second knockdown.

Fury cornered Wilder in the corner and connected on a heavy right cross that left Wilder tumbling to the ground in a heap one round later. This time, the referee didn’t bother counting since Wilder had already given his all.

Wilder did not recapture the WBC heavyweight title, but in defeat, he earned respect after alienating many fans with a barrage of excuses and allegations after his second-round loss to Fury.

In Las Vegas, Fury and Wilder penned a heavyweight title classic that others in the division will struggle to match for years to come.

KO of the year: Fury-Wilder 3

Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3: results and summary - AS.com

Oscar Valdez’s left hand, which knocked out Miguel Berchelt, was a stunning knockout that earned him the 130-pound world championship. To that point, though, the fight was one-sided, and the conclusion was never in question. Because size counts, Fury-Wilder is the best knockout of the year. Even though Fury was in command by Round 11, the knockout had much more meaning and impact than the highlight reel.

Wilder had argued that the towel thrown into the ring from his corner by Mark Breland during his February 2020 fight with Fury had deprived him of the opportunity to rally. Fury sent Wilder out on his shield to end one of the greatest heavyweight championship trilogies of all time, and there could be no real or perceived dispute this time.

Upset of the year: George Kambosos Jr. def. Teofimo Lopez by split decision

George Kambosos Jr Scores Major Upset, Drops And Decisions Teofimo Lopez To  Win Titles – DopeClics

In a year full of surprises, Kambosos’ convincing decision victory against Lopez was the most surprising. Sure, Kambosos was ranked in ESPN’s top 10 when he made his selection, but neither were Sandor Martin, Mauricio Lara, or Kid Galahad. Lopez, though, was the only rated pound-for-pound fighter to lose.

Not only was it hard to find anybody other than himself and his father who selected Kambosos before the bout, but practically every prognosticator anticipated Lopez would win in the first round.

Lopez has just won a unanimous decision against Vasiliy Lomachenko in October 2020. But Kambosos didn’t believe the hype and put on a show to remember.

There was nothing unusual about this snafu. Kambosos boxed elegantly, jabbing with rhythm and his head slightly off the centerline. He made it a point to finish most exchanges with a strong right hand, and he was more than willing to battle ferociously on the inside.

The Australian proved he was serious right away, knocking out Lopez in the last seconds of Round 1. Lopez, on the other hand, showed he was up to the challenge and floored Kambosos in Round 10. This was also not a quick knockout. Lopez moved up on Kambosos, who seemed to be gravely damaged, and went for the kill.

In a life-changing performance, Kambosos was able to stave off Lopez’s onslaught and win the championship rounds to secure the triumph. In one of the finest action skirmishes of the year, both combatants emerged bloodied, bruised, and swollen.

Kambosos is now the unquestioned champion and shot-caller in the stacked lightweight class.

Prospect of the year: Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson Crushes Vladimir Tereshkin in Two Rounds - Boxing News

In 2021, the 22-year-old from Toledo, Ohio, really burst out, giving off the appearance of a future heavyweight champion.

Anderson began his career in February with a nasty sixth-round KO of Kingsley Ibeh, followed two months later with a second-round KO of Jeremiah Karpency.

In his last two bouts of the year, he TKO’d Vladimir Tereshkin in the second round on the Fury-Wilder 3 PPV undercard, and TKO’d Oleksandr Teslenko in the second round on the Vasiliy Lomachenko-Richard Commey undercard.

Anderson, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 240 pounds, has the stature and strength to be a genuine threat in the heavyweight class. He also has the jab and mobility, as well as the appropriate staff to develop him; he’s managed by James Prince and promoted by Top Rank, with matchmaker Brad Goodman putting him in the ideal spot in 2021.

Anderson is certainly prepared for even greater competition in 2022, such as Carlos Takam, Sergey Kuzmin, and Derek Chisora. Anderson, who spars with Fury, might be ready for a top-10 opponent by the autumn if he can secure a bout or two with a gatekeeper in the first half of the year.

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