I decided to write today because I was able to catch the replay of Billy Joe Saunders’ impressive win over David Lemieux. This was a fight that I am really grateful came the way it it did to close out an impressive year of fights (sorry Naoye, it’s not like your Dec 30 fight was put there for you to lose 😏) but also highlights some of the repeating sins of boxing. Really makes me reflect on the rebounding health of the sport despite the way boxing industry and audiences wants to ruin things sometimes.
This time of year always makes me want to reflect on boxing’s highlights and this was a big one, a very welcome reflection given a very tough year for America in particular. Boxing’s global platform really helped distract me this year and there’s so much to look back and remember about boxing’s great moments of the year.
This past April was arguably the best moment to talk about Boxing 2017, when Anthony Joshua took over the throne from Wladmir Klitschko. Bravery, grit, determination was not only on the pay-per-view screen, but bubbling in my soul as the 11th round started and ended with Joshua’s fist raised. The UK’s cup poureth over, and it wasn’t hard for me to bandwagon and look over the pond to enjoy the new heavyweight champ’s coronation. The respect between the two fighters afterward is what the sport is all about, and to me the undisputed fight of the year as we’re still reeling over the greatness of this fight.
After that in May, Andre Ward put away Kovalev again in a rematch that made me really believe in the spirit of old school boxing. Ward doesn’t fight with anger but with grace. He doesn’t respond in spite, but with determination. He doesn’t doubt his preparation, and fears no man. This is old-school boxing, and the fact that Kovalev, a boxer that at the first fight I was definitely backing, did not recognize or respect these truths really disappointed me. Andre retired after this fight which inflamed Kovalev even more. The actions and words of Andre’s opponent really put a blemish on this fight but can’t deny that the rematch really made a mark on my 2017.
The last fight that I think made a mark on my 2017 was September 16th’s Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez. A true gift to the fans and it didn’t disappoint. Gennady’s trademark focus and grit went to another impossibly high level and Canelo also prepared for us a new level of slickness and art, but could not move the Kazakh Mountain. Bored commentators wanted to see signs of GGG’s aging or tried to unnecessarily elevate Canelo’s slickness, but all they did was ruin the fight. What this fight did to me was firstly, welcome Canelo into the stacked middleweight class, and cement GGG’s growing legacy.
I want to offer some consolation too for a fight that also left a mark on my 2017 but for a different, more somber reason. Nobody died, but the media certainly made it feel like it was so, because on the same date above, the darling of the super flyweights, Roman Gonzales was stopped by Srisaket Sor Rungvisai. The distance Roman fell because of this fight seemed insurmountable, and I was confused. Why were we ignoring the massive amount of wins this man had given us in previous years? Why can’t we just watch him bounce back in his next fight? He lost one fight, and yet to boxing media, his career is post mortum.
This is what I meant about the repeating sins of boxing industry and the boxing audiences. The boxing sport has two sides, two very different sides that must co-exist peacefully for an audience to truly appreciate the sacrifices our heroes, our fighters must go through to fight in the world stage. Boxing is a sport that is primal and can be rudimentary, sure, but that’s only an easily interpretable gateway to a sport that is rich with history and emotion. It really is like dancing to me, an art that you can just appreciate on the surface and deep in its soul simultaneously. We really shouldn’t turn our back to fighters that have lost, we should celebrate their fights and encourage their return or celebrate whatever else they would want to do.
Billy Joe Saunders vaulted into the elite of the middleweights last night with 12 rounds of old-school, UK-boxing that sets the end of the year and gives Canelo something to think about. Another sin of Boxing being that the darlings of the sport today treat fight announcements like album releases (Co-founder Rudy Mondragon and I call it the Fuckboi-effect) and consequently their careers like rap-labels. That’s why it was refreshing for BJS to come in the ring with confidence overflowing, disregarding Lemieux’s now tired intimidation tactics to embarrass him for 12 rounds and what could’ve been 15, if they would let Saunders fight it. This fight might be a footnote for a stacked 2017 year but its a fight that really preps me for 2018.
Canelo is taking his sweet time as De La Hoya’s darling after the embarrassment of announcing his fight with GGG right after skipping rope with Chavez Jr. who just showed up for a paycheck. He had already called out the winner of BJS and Lemieux unnecessarily so he can wait for GGG’s senility to give him a win late 2018. The way BJS fought last night? I really hope De La Hoya and Canelo’s plans get severely ruined in 2018. As for BJS, I hope his evolution continues as he’s going to need it for his rise in 2018.
This year I want to thank my 2017 Boxing tastemakers who will undoubtedly continue to be the visionaries of boxing for 2018: co-founder Rudolfo Mondragon, BBC Boxing, SundayPuncher, LeeWylie, Reznick, OfficeHanchoBoxing, Sweetfights, Lalosboxing, Boxingego, and the rest of the awesome “You-don’t-know-shit-about-boxing” community. It’s going to be hard to top 2017 but man, you know I can’t wait for it.