In the debut issue of Fightful's Boxing Newsletter, lead boxing writer Carlos Toro published the first ever official Fightful boxing awards. You can check out those below, and be sure to read the full edition of the Fightful Boxing Newsletter!
Fightful Boxing 2017 Mid-Year Awards
1. Male Boxer of the Mid-Year: Anthony Joshua
Undefeated boxer? Check
Unified world heavyweight champion? Check
Brought order to the heavyweight division by stopping Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 people? Check
Boxing has been dying for a transcendent superstar in the heavyweight division and it may have finally gotten one in Joshua. Beating Klitschko cements his status as the heavyweight king and at only 27 years old, we have yet to see the best of Joshua. The dethroning of Klitschko as the best heavyweight in the world opens up the rest of the division and now there numerous stars and big-time matchups for Joshua to take for years and years to come.
2. Female Boxer of the Mid-Year: Amanda Serrano
Serrano accomplished what no other Puerto Rican boxer has done: win a world title in FIVE weight classes. She did so when she beat Dahiana Santana to capture the vacant WBO World female bantamweight title back in April in her second win of 2017 alone. Serrano has won world titles at lightweight, featherweight, super featherweight, bantamweight and super bantamweight.
Serrano is one of the best female boxers in the world and as boxing great Joe Cortez told me, Serrano is a boxing Hall of Famer. Serrano is set to defend her WBO female super bantamweight title in Puerto Rico against Laura Soledad Griffa later this month.
3. Prospect of the Mid-Year: David Benavidez
In a wide-open super middleweight division, Benavidez is slowly turning himself into a very attractive option for a world title fight. Benavidez already won both of his fights in 2017. He knocked out Sherali Mamajonov back in January and stopped Rogelio Medina early in their fight back in May. Benavidez is 18-0 as a boxer with 17 KO. The shocking part about Benavidez? He's only 20 years old and turns 21 in December. Benavidez has a ton of room to grow as a boxer and all the time in the world to gain experience until he is ready to win the world title. At the moment, he is both ranked in the top five of the WBA and WBC rankings and could potentially see himself fighting for a strap as soon as late 2017/early 2018.
4. Round of the Mid-Year: Ivan Baranchyk vs. Abel Ramos, round 3
Showtime does a great job of pitting exciting prospects together for their ShoBox: The Next Generation cards. The result is one of the best fights of 2017 between Baranchyk and Ramos. The third round of the February 10 fight was about as good a round as there is in boxing throughout the year. Baranchyk scored a knockdown midway through the round, looking like he might score another one in the round. After Ramos emphaticaly got back up, he was ready to get some payback on Baranchyk and scored a knocked with just seconds remaining in the round, shocking the Oklahoma crowd. Baranchyk would end up winning the fight, but there was really no losers. Both fighters had a great showing and the fans got to see one of the better fights of the year thus far.
5. Knockout of the Mid-Year: David Lemieux KO Curtis Stevens
If there was any doubt as to whether or not Lemieux is arguably the best knockout artist in the sport since losing to Gennady Golovkin a couple of years, watch this knockout.
Before the knockout, what fans got to enjoy was a quick, fast-paced and extremely exciting fight between two of the middleweight division’s hardest hitters. Lemieux got himself a match on the undercard of the Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. pay-per-view. It won’t be long until Lemieux is back to fighting for a world title, likely against WBO champion Billy Joe Saunders at some point in the second half of 2017/early 2018.
6. Fight of the Mid-Year: Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko
This fight was not only one of the most exciting boxing fights of 2017, it was one of the greatest heavyweight world title fights in history. While it may seem like hyperbole, there is no underlying the significance of this fight. While Klitschko lost in his last fight against Tyson Fury back in 2015, it felt more like a freak accident than a proper coronation to the heir apparent to the heavyweight division. This fight felt more like a passing of the torch in front of 90,000 people, a British boxing attendance record. How often do sporting events of any kind hold an event that attracts 90,000 people to attend?
Joshua, the younger and faster boxer, started off hot winning the early rounds of the fight and even scored his first knockdown of the night in the fourth round. Joshua celebrated a little too much after the knockdown and gassed himself, leaving Klitschko the perfect opportunity to come back and knock down Joshua in the following round.
What followed was Klitschko’s veteran experience in the middle rounds and taking advantage of a tired Joshua. Joshua then dug deep and showed mental fortitude and caught his second wind. Joshua started landing his trademark uppercut in the ninth round and eventually shifted the momentum back to him with two knockdowns in the 11th round. The referee stopped the fight with just 35 seconds remaining, officially crowning Joshua as the new king of the heavyweights.
A rematch will likely happen later this year and will provide another chapter in the story of Joshua’s still blossoming career.