Sports fights of the year | Boxing | Tyson Fury | Deontay Wilder | Teofimo López
Boxing fans don’t always get what they want. The heavyweight championship remains fractured, as another year goes by without an undisputed champion being crowned. The thriving lightweight division has yet to match any of its multiple undefeated champions against each other and Jake Paul continues to battle near-worthless shows against anyone but a professional boxer.
But what we’ve had a lot in 2021 is some incredible fights. There has been upheaval galore, who can forget that Kiko Martinez went back in time to eliminate Kid Galahad? There were some incredible knockouts, like Oscar Valdez’s dazzling finish against Miguel Berchelt. And there were classic wars. It is to this last category that we pay tribute here. These are The Sportsman’s picks for Fight of the Year.
Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez vs. Juan Francisco Estrada II
Rarely does a sequel surpass the original. ‘Chocolatito’ and Estrada served a fiery twelve rounds for the WBA lightweight flyweight title in 2012, but this year they delivered the Godfather II of the square circle.
Their March fight for the WBC, WBA and The Ring super flyweight belts was amazing. The pair combined to throw 2,529 punches, a record for weight. They weren’t distracted swings either, the quality of the show was amazing. It was a game of chess played at the speed of a Formula 1 race, with both men showing a sense of choice and a defensive sense among brutality.
‘Chocolatito’ won a controversial decision when they first met, and it was Estrada’s turn to get the surprise nod this time around. Logic has prevailed and the pair will face off again in 2022. Don’t be surprised to see this fight on next year’s roster.
Troy Williamson vs. Ted Cheeseman
The British title has a knack for getting the best out of boxers. This country’s iconic Lord Lonsdale Challenge Belt has been on the line for some of the greatest fights in history. Troy Williamson’s grueling victory over super welterweight champion Ted Cheeseman belongs to this list.
The pair rocked wild on the first bell, making no secret of how much they wanted the win at Liverpool. These frightening activity levels continued throughout, with the advantage coming and going frequently from fighter to fighter. At times, Cheeseman’s title-level experience seemed to win out, but Williamson wouldn’t be denied.
The fight had been close, but the end was emphatic. Williamson pinned Cheeseman to the ropes and threw a series of sharp uppercuts before ending things with a brutal left hook.
Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder III
On the same night that the heroics of Cheeseman and Williamson, WBC, The Ring and linear heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury sought to settle his affairs with Deontay Wilder once and for all. They had drawn a dramatic first fight, while Fury had dominated the second. The third will go down in the annals of boxing history.
After the American got off to a good start, he was knocked down by Fury in the third. Smelling the blood, the champion tried to apply pressure in the fourth, before being knocked down himself by a muffled combination. ‘The Gyspy King’ got up and was sent back to the canvas with a bracing right hook. His title and unbeaten record were in serious jeopardy.
Fury reasserted himself throughout the second half of the fight, and Wilder suffered unspeakable punishment from the champion. The punches he resisted seemed impossible to take, and yet Wilder resisted their concussion effects. Wilder would hit the canvas again in the tenth round, but somehow found the resilience to pick himself up. In the eleventh, Fury finally put one of the greatest heavyweight fights of all time to bed, bending Wilder with a right hand to his temple. The fight was over, but what these two warriors shared will live on forever.
George Kambosos Jr vs. Teofimo Lopez
Kambosos was meant to be a stepping stone. Admittedly, the champion only saw him as a bump in the road on the way to bigger fights to come. But Teofimo Lopez would be leaving the ring without his precious lightweight title belts and undefeated record, by the time the Australian is done with him.
Lopez came out determined to score a knockout and chased Kambosos with determination early on. His spirited demeanor surprised him, however, as Kambosos scored a surprise reversal. It wouldn’t be a routine title defense for Teofimo.
While Lopez’s dad, Teofimo Sr, gave him mixed messages around the corner, the underdog was clear in his intention. Throw endless punches, don’t step on something stupid, make Lopez uncomfortable. It was a game plan he played almost to perfection.
There was only one fly in the ointment, when Kambosos himself was knocked down late. But he responded with confidence and resumed the fight for “Takeover”. It was a glowing performance and an amazing fight from the new lightweight world champion.
Joseph Parker vs. Derek Chisora
A buzzer-beater to make this list, this past weekend saw a scintillating heavyweight war between the former WBO champion and the big old Finchley keeper.
Their first fight had been a narrow affair and at times entertaining, but it was an all-time classic. Parker has brought Chisora ââto the brink of abyss countless times, forcing a knockdown and two counts of eights standing. But whenever “Del Boy” was in danger, he fought with unwavering determination and had no shortage of crisp hooks.
The cheers that rang in Manchester Arena as the bell rang for the twelfth round was as much disbelief as it was joy. How had this fight continued at this rate for so long? The answer? Two very brave warriors who don’t know how to stop.