Fightful Boxing Newsletter (12/27): Year In Review, 2018 Awards Part One

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (12/27) Table Of Contents:

  1. 2018 In Review (Page 1)
  2. Matchroom Boxing: Whyte vs. Chisora 2 (Page 2)
  3. Fightful Boxing Awards: Male Boxer Of The Year (10-6) (Page 3)
  4. Fightful Boxing Awards: Female Boxer Of The Year (10-6) (Page 4)
  5. Fightful Boxing Awards: Fight Of The Year (20-11) (Page 5)

2018 In Review:

When looking back at this past year in boxing, where do you even begin? The sport has undergone so many changes that it almost feels like we’ve had several years’ worth of news happen in this just one year.

For starters, the number of new stars that have been made since the start of 2018. Guys like Isaac Dogboe and Jaime Munguia were pretty much relative unknowns in the sport, but have gone to impress with their fights and win world titles seemingly out of nowhere.

Women’s boxing has taken several steps forward in looking to be treated the same as the men. Not once, or twice or thrice, but four times HBO aired a women’s boxing fight live on its channel, something that is unheard for HBO. Prior to 2018, HBO had aired no live women’s boxing fights and by the end of 2018, they had a boxing card open and finish with a women’s boxing fight.

Thanks to added exposure from various broadcast channels, women like Katie Taylor, Amanda Serrano, Cecilia Braekhus, Claressa Shields and Heather Hardy have become bigger stars in the sport with potential superfights among each other being very interesting fights to watch out for in 2019. Women’s boxing may not be at the level of its male counterparts just yet, but it certainly has taken steps in the right direction to prove that the women can provide great moments just like the men do.

Speaking of HBO, of course there is perhaps no bigger story of 2018 than the slow death of the network when it comes to airing boxing. Throughout most of the year, HBO limped to its end with lackluster boxing cards and unexciting fights and that end finally came earlier this month with the final boxing card in the network’s history.

Back in September, HBO announced that starting 2019, they would no longer plan towards making boxing broadcasts. It was an incredibly sad time for boxing fans who grew up with HBO giving them some of the biggest events and stars the sport has to offer.

But the final live broadcast for HBO, which took place earlier this month at the StubHub Center, gave fans perhaps one of the weakest and least impressive shows in recent memory, resulting in historically low ratings. While the in-ring action was not exactly great or compelling, the broadcast did have perhaps the best tribute to its long history towards the end of the show with Jim Lampley making a return and the rest of the HBO crew reminiscing about their time with the network and concluding with a video package that is perhaps among the best made boxing videos of all-time.

Just as HBO’s tale with boxing has ended, a new one started with the incredibly ambitious long-term project that is DAZN. Perform Group’s big sports streaming service, DAZN launched in the United States in September with the aim being to be the premier destination for boxing in the country. While DAZN did initially acquire the rights to Matchroom Boxing shows and the World Boxing Super Series, it never really made a truly big splash to make it truly stand out from the rest of the boxing content providers in the United States.

That is until it announced that Canelo Alvarez signed a historic 11-fight contract to fight on DAZN that is worth $365 million and with that deal came Golden Boy Promotions, giving DAZN another boxing company to make fight cards with.

The first fight in Alvarez’s deal with the company just recently concluded with a major show in Madison Square Garden that ended with Alvarez knocking out Rocky Fielding to win the WBA “regular” super middleweight title and becoming a three-division world champion.

With that first fight done, Alvarez’s next fight could take place on May 4, 2019 with the possibility of a third fight against Gennady Golovkin or a unification bout against IBF middleweight champion Daniel Jacobs being the favorites to be Alvarez’s next fight.

Lastly, in perhaps one of the most unexpected developments of the year, the sport of boxing was revisited by its ancestral sport: bare-knuckle boxing. Earlier this year, commissions around the United States gave the green light for bare knuckle boxing to make a fully legal run in the country.

There are a couple of bare knuckle boxing companies around but the one that stands above all others is Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship (BKFC). That company spearheaded the sport’s return thanks in large part to promoter David Feldman and former boxer and modern bare knuckle boxing legend Bobby Gunn. Together, they were able to create a company that has enticed former boxers and MMA fighters to be a part of a growing phenomenon.

Their inaugural show this past summer in Wyoming became the talk of social media, trending worldwide on Twitter and having a successful pay-per-view. I was told that the show did around 150,000 buys which is an excellent buyrate considering the unknown territory bare knuckle boxing is heading. Gone are the days of the sport being underground and away from the public eye and BKFC is looking to take the sport and make it a truly global endeavor. After just three shows in the United States, BKFC is going south of the border for their first show in 2019 when it goes to Mexico. Looking at what the company has in store, don’t expect BKFC to stay idle during this time of expansion as countries from all over the world are taking notice of the sport and looking to bring it in their lands sometime in the future.

It’s a new alternative and sub-genre for the sport of boxing, which in and of itself is enjoying its own Renaissance in the United States thanks to big television networks ESPN and FOX looking to double down on boxing and bring it back towards the mainstream media.

After everything that has happened in 2018, boxing could be heading for a make-or-break year in 2019 that will surely be an entertaining ride for pundits of the sport.

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