Fightful Boxing Newsletter (1/4): Fightful Boxing Awards, Final World Title Results Of 2017, First P4P Rankings Of 2018

The year 2017 has officially concluded and so the time has come for the Fightful Boxing Newsletter Awards, handing out the awards for the best in boxing throughout this past great year in boxing.

This past year has been an incredible one with more emphasis on big-time fights, ESPN returning to broadcasting world title bouts and many of the sport’s s biggest names creating some of the most memorable moments in recent memory. As such, the awards will highlight several aspects of the sport as a whole and the committee of one (myself) has tried to select the best of the best. As with any awards that are won through voting or selection, it is not 100 percent objective. Perhaps there are some nominees that did not get a fair shake or were not the preferred choice for whomever reads, but these are solely the author’s picks.

UFC Announces Concussion Protocol With Its Performance Institute

If you, the reader, feel like other boxers or fights should have won some of these awards, I encourage you to make your picks in the Fightful forums, in the Disqus board below or on my Twitter account @CarlosToro360. Discussion and debate are part of what makes sports so interesting. In most cases, there are no right answers when it comes to selecting who or what is the best in the sport.

Without further ado, the following categories will have awards on this issue:

  • Knockout of the Year
  • Round of the Year
  • Upset of the Year
  • Prospect of the Year
  • Female Boxer of the Year
  • Male Boxer of the Year
  • Fight of the Year

But the world of boxing didn't end with the HBO card on December 16. There were two fight cards on December 30 and 31 in Japan with five world title fights taking place on those cards. Naoya Inoue and Ryoichi Taguchi emerged as the biggest winners for different reasons with Inoue getting major momentum for his move to bantamweight and Taguchi landing the biggest win of his career, unifying two light flyweight world titles by beating Milan Melindo.

All of this and more is discussed on the first 2018 edition of the Fightful Boxing Newsletter.

Fightful Boxing Newsletter (1/4) Table Of Contents:

  1. Knockout Of The Year and Round Of The Year (Page 2)
  2. Upset Of The Year and Prospect Of The Year (Page 3)
  3. Female Boxer Of The Year (Page 4)
  4. Male Boxer Of The Year (Page 5)
  5. Fight Of The Boxer (Page 6)
  6. Weekend Recap (Page 7)
  7. Results From The World Of Boxing (Page 8)
  8. Fightful Boxing Rankings (Pages 9-10)
  9. News And Notes From The World Of Boxing (Pages 11-12)

Knockout Of The Year: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai KO4 Roman Gonzalez 2

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai had a lot to prove when he stepped into the ring against Roman Gonzalez on September 9, 2016. He shocked the world when he beat Gonzalez on pay-per-view back in March when some thought Sor Rungvisai did not deserve the win despite him knocking down Gonzalez in the first round of that fight (in which that moment alone almost could have been an honorable mention for upset of the year).

In the main event of HBO’s highly-acclaimed “Superfly” event in September, Sor Rungvisai silenced all doubters by dishing a right hook to Gonzalez’s chin. Sor Rungvisai was the more aggressive fighter early on, punishing Chocolatito with hard right hands and the former champion couldn't get into a rhythm. Sor Rungvisai managed to knock down Chocolatito early in the fourth round. But the champion was not done as he continued to punish Chocolatito, eventually landing a vicious right hand that stopped Chocolatito in his tracks and knocked him out cold.

The knockout definitely proved that Gonzalez’s time as one of the best boxers in the world has ended and that Sor Rungvisai is indeed one of the best boxers in the super flyweight division. It was a beautiful knockout that sent shockwaves in the boxing world and potentially put a halt to a Hall of Fame caliber career.

Honorable Mentions (In No Order):

  • David Lemieux KO3 Curtis Stevens
  • Deontay Wilder KO1 Bermane Stiverne
  • Mikey Garcia KO3 Dejan Zlaticanin
  • Jermell Charlo KO1 Erickson Lubin
  • Terence Crawford KO3 Julius Indongo

Round Of The Year: Ievgen Khytrov vs. Immanuwel Aleem, Round 2

This pick may come with some bias, so here is the backstory.

Back in January 2017, about six months after I got hired to be a boxing reporter for Fightful, I got a press credential to attend the Badou Jack vs. James DeGale fight at the Barclays Center.

The undercard had a number of big names, both local to the area and around the world of boxing. I was beyond excited and I got to interview several of these big names, including promoters Eddie Hearn and Lou DiBella, realizing the dream of a then-21-year-old Carlos.

I arrived at the Barclays Center where the card took place (after about maybe 30 minutes of walking around the perimeter of the arena trying to find where media are supposed to go) and finally made my way to ringside. One of the fights on the undercard was Ievgen Khytrov vs. Immanuwel Aleem, a fight between two unbeaten, exciting prospects in the middleweight division.

The first round gave us a preview of things to come. The second round was about as action packed as humanly possible. The third round followed up on the action from round where Aleem knocked down Khytrov and then did the same in the sixth round. Aleem ended up winning the fight in the sixth round, but it gave the rest of the card, which had the likes of Jack, DeGale, Gervonta Davis, Jose Pedraza and Amanda Serrano, a lot to follow.

Sure this round, and the fight itself, didn’t have a lot of stakes involved, but if we’re talking about the confines of just one round, the action and workrate, it’s hard to top the second round of the fight that put Aleem on the map as a true, rising contender at 160 pounds (that is, until Aleem got knocked out by Hugo Centeno Jr. in three rounds back in August).

Honorable Mentions (In No Order):

  • Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko, Round 5
  • Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin, Round 12
  • Miguel Roman vs. Orlando Salido, Round 8
  • Dominic Breazeale vs. Izuagbe Ugonoh, Round 3
  • Jarrett Hurd vs. Austin Trout, Round 6
  • James DeGale vs. Badou Jack, Round 12

Upset Of The Year: Caleb Truax defeating James DeGale to win the IBF super middleweight title

Boxing had many noteworthy events take place in 2017. From a record-setting crowd attending Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko to a UFC champion fighting Floyd Mayweather in a boxing fight, this past year had no shortage of noteworthy moments inside the squared circle.

One reason fans tune in to watch boxing is because anything is truly possible. Time and time again, upsets have defined boxers’ career, for better or worse. In this case, it was for the better for Caleb Truax, who ended the year as a world champion when he was supposed to be an afterthought, a tune-up for James DeGale in order to prepare himself for bigger fights in 2018, likely against whomever finishes as the winner of the World Boxing Super Series.

Truax was a 16-1 underdog heading into the fight against DeGale. Historically speaking, it’s uncommon for Americans to travel overseas to fight British world champions and leave victorious, although we saw that happen earlier this past spring. Truax defied the odds by not shying away from DeGale in the fight, hurting the former champion multiple times throughout the fight while DeGale had to play catchup for most of the bout.

From Fightful's live coverage of the fight:

Round 5: Truax throws a hard right hand to DeGale, who blocks it. Truax has DeGale on the ropes and lands a left hook and Truax lands a right hand, hurting the champion. Truax lands another hard right uppercut to DeGale. Caleb Truax continues to land more shots and hurts DeGale again. Blood is coming out of DeGale’s mouth. Truax still has DeGale on the ropes and goes to work on DeGale. DeGale comes back and lands a left hook to Truax’s body. Truax’s best round of the fight thus far.

Fightful scored round 5 for Truax 10-9

Of course to many, the obvious choice for this award would be Jeff Horn’s shocking win over Manny Pacquiao. Although that upset had a bigger mainstream impact because we’re talking about Pacquiao, one of the best boxers of this generation. But that fight ended in a dubious decision that many, including ESPN’s own broadcasters, didn’t believe Horn was the rightful winner. The same could be said when Srisaket Sor Rungivsai defeated Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez back in March. Some people, including myself, believed Gonzalez should have won the fight, but there is no doubt that Sor Rungvisai deserved the win just as much as Gonzalez did.

But for DeGale vs. Truax, there was no doubt whatsoever who the rightful winner of the fight was. Although the fight ended in a majority decision, it was obvious just by looking at both fighters after the dust settled who would ultimately reign supreme. Truax was a massive underdog but did not look the part. He was solid through the entire fight and did everything needed to exploit DeGale’s ring rust after being away from the ring for almost a year due to injuries sustained in his excellent fight against Badou Jack last January that ended in a draw.

Truax sent the entire 168-pound division into chaos since DeGale was figured to be the centerpiece behind a lot of big fights in 2018. DeGale had possible fights against Chris Eubank Jr., George Groves and David Benavidez lined up for him, but now all of that is basically out the window, for now at least, thanks to this upset.

Pacquiao’s loss was certainly shocking and prevented some intriguing matchups from taking place, but the welterweight division still had others such as Errol Spence Jr., Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter to fall back on as key figures in the division.

Truax’s impact on the super middleweight division remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain: This type of upset is not one that you see every day. It may not Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson levels of unbelievable, but Truax’s win can be put on a level just below it.

Honorable Mentions (In No Order):

Prospect Of The Year: Diego De La Hoya

This may be a somewhat controversial pick because Diego is related to Golden Boy Promotions’ Oscar De La Hoya and has given Diego many opportunities to fight on the big stage, whether it is on ESPN in the main event or on the card for one of the biggest pay-per-views of the year.

But no one can deny that Diego has taken advantage of every time he steps into the ring. Diego started his career about five years ago with a lot of promise and a standout amateur career. Diego has had more than 250 amateur fights and was a member of the Mexican national team, meaning he had a lot of potential but a massive target on his back due to his family name. Nevertheless, Diego has thrived under the spotlight and under the immense amount of pressure he must feel every time he steps into the ring.

At just 23 years old, Diego is poised to challenge for a world title at some point in 2018 or 2019 after a 4-0 record in 2017. Last year alone, Diego captured the WBC Youth World, NABF and WBO-NABO super bantamweight titles and competed on the Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin pay-per-view card, dominating then-undefeated former bantamweight titleholder Randy Caballero throughout 10 rounds.

It’s hard to say what his future holds or how good he can really be. But at the very least, Diego could provide a substantial challenge to the towering figure of WBC super bantamweight champion Rey Vargas, who retained his title in December with a relatively easy victory over Oscar Negrete.

If there was one thing that could hurt his case would be the fact that he was set to headline a Golden Boy Boxing on ESPN card in December but missed weight and had his fight pulled.

Honorable Mentions (In No Order):

  • Ryan Garcia
  • Josh Kelly
  • Daniel Dubois
  • Jamie Munguia
  • Vergil Ortiz
  • Teofimo Lopez
  • Josh Taylor
  • Jon Fernandez

Female Boxer Of The Year: Claressa Shields

In recent years, sports has started to take an increased interest in women becoming a part of the mainstream sports landscape and 2017 was a big year for female boxers. There is probably no one who made a bigger impact in women’s boxing than Claressa Shields.

Shields has turned into a women's boxing star since winning her second Olympic gold medal in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, becoming the first American boxer to win two Olympic gold medals. She turned pro soon afterwards and has found nothing but success.

Shields’ 2017, her first full year as a professional boxer, was about as successful as one can be. Her first fight in March, her second professional fight, saw her win the NABF female middleweight title in a fight that headlined a boxing telecast for the first time in the network’s history (Back in January, Amanda Serrano headlined a boxing card on Showtime Extreme, a different channel on the Showtime family of channels).

It was only at that point that people started to take notice in her incredible potential as a professional boxer. Shields followed up the win in March with a win over last-minute replacement Sydney LeBlanc in June to pick up the vacant WBC Silver female super middleweight title.

Shields won the unified WBC and IBF women's super middleweight title after a TKO win over champion Nikki Adler in the fifth round of a ShoBox: The Next Generation card. What's amazing is that this was Shields' fourth career pro fight.

The fight was very one-sided from the beginning, with Shields dominating the fight with various combinations and limiting Adler to having little offense in the fight. Shields was so confident in her victory that she even began to have both of her hands down in the fifth round, swaying them back and forth, taunting the champion.

Boxing is just one of several sports where women have been viewed more as stars. Other combat sports, such as mixed martial arts and professional wrestling, have also gotten more popular thanks to recent female stars.

When I spoke with legendary boxing referee Joe Cortez back in 2017, he said the sport is entering a new era, an era where women can thrive and are thriving as athletes and as role models, one that women such as Shields and Amanda Serrano currently are.

“It’s a new generation,” Cortez said. “Female boxing it’s the in-thing now, rightfully so. I have three daughters myself, so I’m glad seeing women doing stuff in boxing and in any sport. I think they should have equal rights such as anybody else to do what they want to do, [make] their dreams come true and be a fighter like Serrano is. Now you’re going to see 50 percent of the fans are going to end up being female and I think that is great for boxing.”

Shields isn’t just a star in the making: she already is one. Shields has risen up the ranks like no female American has done so in recent memory. From Olympic hero to world champion, Shields appears to be one of Showtime’s long-term projects in the hopes she becomes this generation’s Laila Ali, who coincidentally, was an inspiration to Shields.

At just 22 years old, Shields has been breaking down gender barriers and is quickly becoming one of sports' next biggest female athletes, showcasing a level of dominance that is (dare I say) Ronda Rousey-esque in her respective sport. Showtime is fully behind raising women's boxing and with Shields as their go-to star, young women all over the world have a role model to look up to in the hopes that they themselves could become a world champion boxer like Shields.

Honorable Mentions (In No Order):

  • Amanda Serrano: Serrano made her case as the best female pound-for-pound boxer with a year that saw her win all four of her fights with relative ease. Serrano defended her WBO super bantamweight title twice and became the first Puerto Rican boxer in history to win a world title in five different weight classes.
  • Katie Taylor: Taylor was extremely busy in 2017, winning six fights and not having a break between fights longer than three months. Taylor captured world title gold in October by winning the WBA lightweight title and then later defending it in December.
  • Cecilia Braekhus: Braekhus continued to show that she is perhaps the most unbeatable female boxer on the planet. Breakhus defended her unified IBF/IBO/WBA/WBC/WBO welterweight titles (yes five titles) in winning all three of her fights in 2017.
  • Naoko Fujioka: After losing to Jessica Chavez in 2016 with the WBC flyweight title on the line, Fujioka bounced back by winning a world title in two different weight classes in 2017. Fujioka defeated Isabel Millan in March to capture the WBA flyweight title and then beating Yokasta Valle in December to win the WBO light flyweight title, becoming the second woman in 2017 to win a world title in five different weight classes throughout her career.

Male Boxer Of The Year: Terence Crawford

This year was a very tough one to decide a male boxer of the year. For most, it was a two-man race this year between Crawford and Vasyl Lomachenko. For me, what made me decide Crawford over Lomachenko mainly lies with my personal criteria for boxer of the year. I value a fighter’s wins and what he has accomplished in those fights. Crawford’s 2017 boiled down to one thing: unification.

I had mentioned earlier in 2017 how important unification fights are to the sport and there is greater unification than one that has one boxer holding all four main alphabet world titles (WBA, WBO, WBC and IBF). Crawford accomplished that when he knocked out Julius Indongo, who held two of the four titles, on ESPN. Many like to applaud Lomachenko's ability to finish off opponents in a way that forces them quit before getting knocked out people forget Crawford has that same devastating power that many in the 135-pound division feared for so long.

Crawford is on a path to achieve true greatness as a boxer after it seemed like HBO gave up on Crawford becoming a mega star when Crawford's lone pay-per-view main event did an abysmal buyrate. Since then, Crawford made title defenses against overmatched opponents. When the fight against Indongo came, many had thought that this fight had the potential to be a great fight, the first since Crawford's excellent fight against Yuriorkis Gamboa. Instead, Crawford made the fight non-competitive and quick with a demolition that resembled a Goldberg squash match in World Championship Wrestling in the 1990s.

Although a common criticism regarding Crawford is that he's not a media friendly athlete and is his own worst enemy in getting to the point where he becomes a household name. Mild mannered outside of the ring, but an absolute animal inside the ring, Crawford accomplished something only a handful of men throughout boxing's history has done: become the true, undisputed champion of the world. Such a title deserves to be awarded with Boxer of the Year.

Other boxers, such as Keith Thurman, Errol Spence Jr. and Andre Ward, didn’t get my honorable mentions list due to them having only fought once, one of my criteria to be eligible (you need to have fought at least twice within the calendar year), but they do deserve at least some mention due to having big wins (Thurman beating Danny Garcia, Spence beating Kell Brook and Ward beating Sergey Kovalev).

Honorable Mentions (In No Order):

  • Vasyl Lomachenko: Perhaps raised his stock the most out of anyone not named Anthony Joshua in 2017. Got the biggest win of his career on December 9 when he beat Guillermo Rigondeaux to the point he had to surrender after six rounds. There is the caveat that Rigondeaux had to move up two weight classes for the fight, but it still is an incredible win over someone many had tabbed as a top 10 pound-for-pound boxer.
  • Srisaket Sor Rungvisai: Sor Rungvisai shocked the world when he beat Roman Gonzalez back in March in a “Fight of the Year” candidate that resulted in a controversial decision. Sor Rungvisai emphatically proved doubters wrong by knocking Gonzalez out in a brilliant performance on HBO’s “Superfly” card back in September to retain the WBC super flyweight title.
  • Mikey Garcia: Garcia returned to prominence in a big way by winning the WBC lightweight title by knocking out Dejan Zlaticanin in January. Garcia didn’t defend the title but followed the win up with a move to 140 pounds and soundly beat Adrien Broner in one of the more intriguing matchups in the summer of 2017. Garcia was dominant in both of those fights, solidifying himself as a top 10 pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
  • Anthony Joshua: Joshua perhaps picked up the signature win of 2017 when managed to knock out Wladimir Klitschko in front of 90,000 people at Wembley Stadium to unify the WBA and IBF heavyweight titles, becoming a megastar in the United Kingdom and effectively put himself as the top heavyweight in the world. Joshua then beat Carlos Takam on short notice back in October after Kubrat Pulev, Joshua’s original opponent got injured weeks before the fight was scheduled to take place.
  • Gennady Golovkin: Golovkin faced the stiffest test of his career in March at that point when he barely beat Daniel Jacobs on pay-per-view. The extremely close decision didn’t stop Golovkin from getting the super fight he so desperately has been chasing for years against Canelo Alvarez (who beat an out-of-prime and apathetic Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in May which is why he’s not listed as an honorable mention). The fight against Alvarez was very good, but ended in a draw that most feel like Golovkin should have won.
  • Ryan Burnett: A little more than four years after starting his pro career, Burnett won the IBF bantamweight title by beating Lee Haskins in June. Burnett then became the top bantamweight boxer in the world when he unified the IBF and WBA titles when he beat Zhanat Zhakiyanov in October in Northern Ireland.
  • George Groves: Groves’ quest to championship glory finally came when he beat Fedor Chudinov in May to win the WBA super middleweight title in one of the feel-good moments in British boxing from this past spring. That win earned him the top seed in the World Boxing Super Series’ super middleweight tournament where he displayed incredible power in a knockout win over heralded British contender Jamie Cox in the quarterfinals.

Fight Of The Year: Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko

This really isn’t a surprise to most people and this fight had been deemed fight of the year when it happened in April, but I find no value in picking any other fight and being a contrarian just for the sake of being one and going against the grain.

Back in the long days of the Fightful Boxing Podcast, I had said this fight was one of the greatest heavyweight title fights in history and although this fight won’t be on the same historical level as the legendary fights Muhammad Ali, Joe Frazier, George Foreman and Rocky Marciano had in their respective careers, no other heavyweight title fight has had as much impact on the sport since perhaps James “Buster” Douglas beating Mike Tyson.

Everything I had said and written about this fight still holds true to this day. This fight had just about everything you’d expect out of a great fight such as this.

In front of a record crowd attendance that easily dwarfed this year’s WrestleMania, this mega event had it all: the perfect matchup between the old king of the heavyweights and the new, young lion trying to take the crown, WrestleMania-style entrances, 90,000 boxing fans (a British boxing record) filling Wembley Stadium and Michael Buffer, the boxing voice for many a fan in the 21st century being the Master of Ceremonies of sorts, and this was all before the fight even started.

As for the in-ring action, it was about as dramatic as one can hope. Like I had said back in April, this fight told an incredible story that was akin to a three-act Shakespearean masterpiece that proceeded as follows:

Act 1 (Rounds 1-4): Our main characters are introduced, the setting is Wembley Stadium and the spectators are the 90,000 fans and millions watching all over the world. The fight starts off slow, with both men trying to feel one another, find out about each other’s strengths and weaknesses: a human chess match as you will. The crowd clearly has their favorite in the young Anthony Joshua, but both men do an effective job at settling down and focusing on the task at hand. After all, these are our main actors and their job is to do their best, give the performance possible and win. The fourth round sees Joshua make a calculated move to attack using the jab, putting more and more pressure on the aging former champion, setting up for a big moment soon after.

From Fightful’s live coverage of the fight:

Round 4: Klitschko starts with a solid 1-2 punch, his cleanest punch connected in the fight. The two men clinch again. Joshua lands a hard right hand, but it doesn't fully connect. The two men clinch again and Joshua gets a stern warning for dirty hitting. Joshua lands a hard right to Klitschko's body. Counter right by Joshua and Klitscko is still gun shy after the solid start in the round. They cinch and Joshua hits a couple of short right hooks to the body to end the round.

Fightful scored round 4 for Joshua 10-9

Act 2 (Rounds 5-8): The second act begins with Joshua landing a ferocious flurry of punches that hurt the giant, a sight unseen in many years. The crowd is shocked to see Klitschko down and elated to see Joshua potentially ending the fight right here and now. What the crowd, and Joshua, didn't know is that Klitschko was only saving his best up to this point. After the knockdown, the crowd of 90,000 at Wembley saw the former champion and longtime veteran take control of the fight momentarily and dominate Joshua, who seems to be confused and somewhat lost in his own hubris.

It was the first time Joshua had been beaten around in this manner and he didn't know what to do. All of his opponents had mentally or physically surrendered whenever Joshua gets on a roll. It was the first time in Joshua's pro career that someone dared to fight, with Klitschko preventing Joshua from taking the mantle of best heavyweight in the world away from Klitschko. Klitschko scores a knockdown in round 6, silencing the record crowd in London. It looked like Joshua might not be worth the hype after all.

Round 5: Joshua explodes out of the gate and lands several solid hooks and uppercuts, hurts and cuts Klitschko and Joshua knocks down Klitschko. After the knockdown, Klitschko gets his turn at numerous flurries and Joshua is then tired and eats a hard left hook from Klitschko.

Fightful scored round 5 for Joshua 10-9

Round 6: Joshua throws a few body shots and Klitschko is jumping back and forth, showing a spring in his step after being knocked down. Joshua's mouthpiece flies out and then Klitschko gets his revenge by knocking down Joshua. Klitschko is on the offensive and has Joshua in the corner. Klitschko lands a clubbing right hand to Joshua and the two men clinch once more. Joshua eats another left jab.

Fightful scored round 6 for Klitschko 10-8

Act 3 (Round 9-11): Despite the mental shakedown Joshua must have felt when he was knocked down, Joshua rebounded from the fight beautifully, seemingly gaining a wealth of experience from every hit he received from the future Hall of Famer. It seemed that Joshua truly has broken his previous limits and has surpassed Klitschko. Joshua opens the 11th round by dominating Klitschko, showcasing his evolution with every passing second and knocks down Klitschko for the second time in the fight. Like the hungry young lion ready to pounce on a weakened foe, Joshua continued to relentlessly attack Klitschko, knocking him down again and ending what was a masterful performance for Joshua.

Round 11: Joshua starts off very well landing a right and Klitschko is moving back, getting rocked in the opening seconds of the round. Joshua lands a short left hand before Klitschko clinches. Joshua knocks down Klitschko for the second time this fight and once he gets back up, Joshua is back to attacking the head and Klitschko goes down again! Referee stops the fight and Joshua is the new face of heavyweight boxing.

Official result: Anthony Joshua defeated Wladimir Klitschko via TKO, round 11, 2:25, to retain the IBF world heavyweight title and win the vacant WBA "super" heavyweight championship.

This fight was a rare example of a fight getting an insane amount of hype and delivering on everything promised. Was it the hardest hitting fight of the year? No. Was it the most action-packed bout with the highest punch volume? Not even close. Did both men finished the fight looking like they just finished 15 rounds in a Rocky movie? Absolutely not. But those aren’t the only ways to judge a fight on how good it is.

It’s about encapsulating the human spirit inside the squared circle, showcasing the strength of one’s will and physical abilities, invoking one’s passion and trying to overcome adversity and telling a story between two fighters who will do what it takes to prove they are the absolute best. To many people, these boxers are larger-than-life people and fans all over the world flocked to London in order to watch something truly special.

What they got is the gracious fall of one legendary boxer and the true rise of who could potentially become the next global superstar the sport desperately needs. Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin are still the top two stars in boxing, but the sport needs the heavyweights to succeed in order to bring back the popularity fans yearned since 2017 is the year the stars of the past generation passed the torch one way or another. With fights against Joseph Parker, Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury looming over the horizon, Joshua (or whomever beats him) is primed to have an even bigger 2018, which seems tough given the he toppled a giant in the heavyweight division and a first-ballot Hall of Famer. This fight only solidified Joshua’s status as boxing’s next big thing.

Honorable Mentions (In No Order):

  • Canelo Alvarez vs. Gennady Golovkin
  • James DeGale vs. Badou Jack
  • Milan Melindo vs. Hekkie Budler
  • Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Carlos Cuadras
  • Jarrett Hurd vs. Austin Trout
  • Miguel Berchelt vs. Francisco Vargas
  • Srisaket Sor Rungvisai vs. Roman Gonzalez 1
  • Takashi Miura vs. Miguel Roman
  • Miguel Berchelt vs. Francisco Vargas
  • Orlando Salido vs. Miguel Roman
  • Keith Thurman vs. Danny Garcia

Weekend Recap:

Japan held its annual year-end boxing card at the Ota-City General Gymnasium, signifying the true end of the boxing year with three world titles fights headlined by Ryoichi Taguchi’s WBA and IBF light flyweight unification by beating Milan Melindo via unanimous decision.

Taguchi headlined the New Year’s Eve show for the first time in his career. The win came after his December 31, 2016 fight against Carlos Canizales ended in a draw. Although Taguchi retained the title, it wasn’t the same performance as the one he had in 2015 when he retained the WBA title against Luis De La Rosa. Taguchi also had a standout performance on the 2014 New Year’s Eve card against Alberto Rossell. Taguchi’s journey to the top of the division started in 2013 when he beat journeyman Ryan Bito, starting Taguchi’s current streak of five straight years fighting on the New Year’s Eve card in Tokyo.

Aside from giving fans a major boxing event before the year ends, these cards usually serve to create a new star in Japanese boxing. If ever there was a boxer that established himself as a major star in the country, it’s Sho Kimura, who defended his WBO flyweight title against Toshiyuki Igarashi. This was Kimura’s first test as the WBO champion after surprising many and beating Chinese star Zou Shiming earlier this year.

With the rise of New Japan Pro Wrestling’s January 4 Tokyo Dome show’s popularity in pro wrestling and the Rizin FF promotion quickly making its mark on combat sports in the country of Japan, it’s becoming increasingly important to make the New Year’s Eve boxing card as important and star-studded as possible, especially in the wake of Takashi Miura and Takashi Uchiyama’s retirement taking place in 2017. As a result, this year’s card had the first unification bout since the Ota-City New Year’s Eve cards started in 2012.

December 31: Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo

Ryoichi Taguchi defeated Milan Melindo to unify the WBA and IBF light flyweight world titles by unanimous decision (117-111, 117-111, 116-112): As expected of a Milan Melindo fight, this was nothing more than a total war with cuts, headbutts and blood pouring all over canvas and the fighters. Melindo got an early lead in the first couple of rounds. Taguchi started landing better punches as Melindo abandoned the jab in the third round and Taguchi’s body punches were starting to make their mark. As the fight progressed, Melindo kept getting hurt until then unleashing a flurry of punches midway through the fight. The comeback attempt by Melindo ended up short as Taguchi and Melindo accidentally clashed heads with each other, producing a deep and bloody cut on Melindo. Taguchi gave Melindo another cut in the 12th round, leaving the former champion a bloody mess by the end of the fight. Melindo’s physical state was similar to that of his last fight, when he barely escaped with the title when he beat Hekkie Budler on September 16.

Sho Kimura defeated Toshiyuki Igarashi to retain the WBO flyweight title by TKO, round 9: Kimura dominated this fight from the beginning and wasted no time in establishing his presence over Igarashi. Kimura's body shots hurt his fellow countryman from the start and it seemed like it would be a matter of when, not if, Kimura stops Igarachi. Kimura looking good in this fight is a huge step in the right direction for Kimura's career. There were still some questions regarding how much of a legitimate champion he is even after defeating Zou Shiming to win the title.

Hiroto Kyoguchi defeated Carlos Buitrago to retain the IBF minimumweight title by TKO, round 8: As the first of the three world title fights taking place on this card, Kyoguchi had a lot of pressure coming into the fight. Like Kimura, Kyoguchi won the world title back in July and is making his first title defense on this card. Kyoguchi won the title by beating Jose Argumedo in this very venue. Kyoguchi didn't have much issue taking care of Buitrago inside eight rounds and remains one of the best Japanese boxers around.

December 30: Bunka Gym, Yokohama

Naoya Inoue defeated Yoan Boyeaux to retain the WBO super flyweight title by TKO, round 3: This was your typical Naoya Inoue squash match. Inoue scored a first-round knockdown thanks to a swift counter left to Boyeaux. Boyeaux tried to mount a comeback, but his punches didn't leave an impact on Inoue, barely landing on the champion. Inoue continued his offensive barrage in the third round, pressuring Boyeaux to drop to one knee on two separate occasions. Inoue scored the knockout midway through the third round, forcing referee Raul Caiz Jr. to put a stop to the contest, giving Inoue the win. Despite Inoue getting the win and retaining his title, it is likely the last time the champion will get to fight at super flyweight. Days before the fight, Inoue posted on social media that he would be making a move up in weight, likely to bantamweight, after failing to close a deal with WBA super flyweight champion Kal Yafai to unify the titles. With the move up to bantamweight, Inoue will most likely get a title shot in his first fight. Inoue will probably fight the winner of the Zolani Tete vs. Omar Narvaez fight set to take place in January.

Ken Shiro defeated Gilberto Pedroza to retain the WBC light flyweight title by TKO, round 4: Not much to see in this fight. Shirt dominated form the start and Pedroza looked overmatch since the start. Now that Shiro got by Pedroza with relative ease, he’s now looking at a potential super fight against Taguchi to unify the WBC, WBA and IBF titles. It’s somewhat unlikely that would be the next fight for Shiro and Taguchi as Taguchi will now likely have to defend his newly-acquired IBF title against Hekkie Budler, who barely lost to Melindo back in September in an outstanding and scrappy affair.

Results From The World Of Boxing:

January 1, 2018: Differ Ariake, Tokyo, Japan

  • Jun Yabuki defeated Yokkao Saenchaigym: TKO, Round 1
  • Toshiro Tarumi defeated Bunchuai Pongsoongnarn: TKO, Round 4
  • Momoko Kanda defeated Petchompoo Mor Krungthepthonburi: TKO, Round 2
  • Joe Blog defeated John Yano via UD
  • Shinnosuke Kimoto defeated Kyonosuke Kameda: TKO, Round 2
  • Shu Ikoshi defeated Dan Rejang: TKO, Round 3

December 31: Ota-City General Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan

  • Ryoichi Taguchi defeated Milan Melindo to unify the IBF and WBA Super World Light Flyweight Titles via UD
  • Hiroto Kyoguchi defeated Carlos Buitrago to retain the IBF World Minimumweight Title: TKO, Round 8
  • Sho Kimura defeated Toshiyuki Igarashi to retain the WBO World Flyweight Title: TKO, Round 9
  • Shingo Wake defeated Adundet Saithonggym: TKO, Round 3
  • Masataka Taniguchi defeated Pathiparn Prajuabsuk: TKO, Round 3
  • Shintaro Matsumoto defeated Dechathong Yempikun: TKO, Round 2
  • Yasuhiro Yamaguchi defeated Takuya Nakazawa: TKO, Round 2

December 30: Asociación Beniana de Boxeo, Trinidad, Beni, Bolivia

  • Esteban Hillman Tababary defeated Cesar Mamani: TKO, Round 2
  • David Urkiza defeated Jorge Guido: RTD, Round 2
  • Marcelo Antonio Gomez defeated Dario Yba Moye: TKO, Round 2

December 30: Csigahaz Muvelodesi Kozpont, Kistarcsa, Hungary

  • Prince Patel defeated Zsolt Sarkozi to win the vacant Universal Boxing Organization (UBO) Inter­Continental Bantamweight Title: KO, Round 2

December 30: Bunka Gym, Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan

  • Naoya Inoue defeated Yoann Boyeaux to retain the WBO World Super Flyweight Title: TKO, Round 3
  • Ken Shiro defeated Gilberto Pedroza to retain the WBC World Light Flyweight Title: TKO, Round 4
  • Satoshi Shimizu defeated Eduardo Mancito to retain the OPBF Featherweight Title: TKO, Round 7
  • Takuma Inoue defeated Kentaro Masuda via UD
  • Koki Inoue defeated Dong Hee Kim: TKO, Round 4
  • Kazuki Nakajima defeated Taiga Higashi via UD
  • Katsuya Yasuda defeated Ki Soo Lee via MD
  • Kazunori Yorimasa defeated Motoki Kikuchi via MD
  • Dan Sawai defeated Yuta Sugiyama: TKO, Round 3

December 30: Almaty Arena, Almaty, Kazakhstan

  • Firuza Sharipova defeated Djemilla Gontaruk to win the vacant International Boxing Organization World and vacant WBC Silver Female Super Featherweight Titles via UD
  • Inna Sagaydakovskaya defeated Jennifer Retzke to retain the interim WBC World Female Super Welterweight Title: TKo, Round 2
  • Ali Akhmedov defeated Ismat Eynullayev: TKO, Round 2
  • Jamshidbek Najmiddinov defeated Hero Tito via UD
  • Yerzhan Zalilov defeated Aidyn Yelzhanov via UD
  • Viktor Kotochigov defeated Rustem Fatkhullin via UD
  • Ali Baloyev defeated Ihar Karavaeu: KO, Round 2
  • Ruslan Rodzivich defeated Yedil Kozhamberdiyev via UD
  • Temirlan Raimkulov defeated Jiayidaer Bierlike via UD
  • Ibragim Iskandarov defeated Rasul Samadov: KO, Round 1
  • Daulet Kabi defeated Serhii Chychykalov via UD

December 29: Club Ferro Carril, Concordia, Entre Rios, Argentina

  • Erica Anabella Farias defeated Ana Laura Esteche via UD
  • Diego Ramirez defeated Damian Leonardo Yapur to retain the interim WBO Latino Welterweight Title via UD
  • Ezequiel Victor Fernandez defeated Diego Herminio Alejandro Sananco via UD
  • Maria Laura Cano defeated Andrea Soledad Sanchez via MD
  • Jonathan Alfredo Ruiz defeated Rafael Rosa Dos Santos: KO, Round 2
  • Yanina Del Carmen Lescano defeated Amanda Lopes via UD

December 29: Asociación Vecinal Barrio Díaz Vélez, San Lorenzo, Santa Fe, Argentina

  • Juan Ezequiel Basualdo defeated Nahuel Martinez to win the vacant WBA Fedebol Light Heavyweight Title: TKO, Round 3

December 29: Longyuan Hot Spring Resort, Diaobingshan, China

  • Ri Rong Ling defeated Moses Ededet Essien: TKO, Round 2
  • Qi Xiu Zhang defeated Vitalii Uzhyk: TKO, Round 1
  • Ge An Ma defeated Bing Bi Zhang via UD
  • Chao XU defeated Ryusei Shimizu via MD
  • Maksim Soldatkin defeated Guang Li: TKO, Round 1
  • Yi Fan Liu defeated Jong Hoon Lim: TKO, Round 3

December 29: Coliseo Municipal de Cienaga, Magdalena, Colombia

  • Milton Nunez defeated Jose Miguel Rodriguez Berrio: TKO, Round 3
  • Evert Bravo defeated Jose Antonio Cervantes: KO, Round 1
  • Santander Silgado defeated Daniel Noguera: TKO, Round 2
  • Francisco Cordero defeated Oney Valdez: TKO, Round 1
  • Calixta Silgado defeated Glenis Cardona: TKO, Round 5
  • Euclides Carcamo defeated Fausto Corrales via MD

December 29: Avezzano, Abruzzo, Italy

  • Gianmarco Cardillo defeated Ivan Di Berardin to win the vacant Italy Heavyweight Title via UD
  • Domenico Valentino defeated Davide Cali via PTS

December 29: The Dome, Swakopmund, Namibia

  • Vakufilapo Nashivela defeated George Mdluli: TKO, Round 1
  • Paulus Ambunda defeated Nasibu Ramadhan to win the vacant WBC International Silver Super Bantamweight Title via UD

December 29: Soidao Resort and Spa, Chanthaburi, Thailand

  • Amphol Suriyo defeated Moensaku Yor to retain the Asian Boxing Federation (ABF) Lightweight title: TKO, Round 4
  • Chaiyarat Sawangsoda defeated Weerachad Srisuk via UD
  • Karin Khongmueang defeated Wachana Khiaoon: TKO, Round 4
  • Ratthapon Sawangsoda defeated Pattharapon Seehanan: TKO, Round 2

December 29: Rapides Coliseum, Alexandria, Louisiana, USA

  • Selina Barrios defeated Lisa Porter to win the vacant NABF Female Lightweight Title via MD

December 28: Bangkok University, Thonburi Campus, Bangkok, Thailand

  • Yutthana Kaensa defeated Macrea Gandionco: KO, Round 4
  • Sarawut Thawornkham defeated Pakpoom Hammarach: TKO, Round 3

December 28: Wongwianyai, Bangkok, Thailand

  • Wanchai Nianghansa defeated Suphakit Khampha to win the vacant Thai Light Flyweight Title via UD
  • Yutthichai Wannawong defeated Wisitsak Saiwaew to win the vacant Thai Super Bantamweight Title vi UD
  • Kobilbek Tulabaev defeated Phutthiphong Rakoon to win the Asian Boxing Federation (ABF) Continental Lightweight title: TKO, Round 7

Fightful Boxing Rankings

Pound-for-pound

  1. Terence Crawford
  2. Vasyl Lomachenko
  3. Gennady Golovkin
  4. Canelo Alvarez
  5. Mikey Garcia
  6. Naoya Inoue
  7. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
  8. Keith Thurman
  9. Ryoichi Taguchi
  10. Sergey Kovalev

Heavyweight

  1. Anthony Joshua
  2. Deontay Wilder
  3. Joseph Parker
  4. Luis Ortiz
  5. Alexander Povetkin
  6. Kubrat Pulev
  7. Jarrell Miller
  8. Andy Ruiz Jr.
  9. Dillian Whyte
  10. Carlos Takam

Cruiserweight

  1. Oleksandr Usyk
  2. Murat Gassiev
  3. Krzysztof Glowacki
  4. Mairis Briedis
  5. Marco Huck
  6. Yunier Dorticos
  7. Firat Arslan
  8. Denis Lebediev
  9. Andrew Tabiti
  10. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk

Light heavyweight

  1. Sergey Kovalev
  2. Badou Jack
  3. Adonis Stevenson
  4. Oleksandr Gvozdyk
  5. Dmitry Bivol
  6. Sullivan Barrera
  7. Artur Beterbiev
  8. Eleider Alvarez
  9. Marcus Browne
  10. Joe Smith Jr.

Super middleweight

  1. Gilberto Ramirez
  2. George Groves
  3. Anthony Dirrell
  4. Andre Dirrell
  5. Chris Eubank Jr.
  6. David Benavidez
  7. Caleb Truax
  8. James DeGale
  9. Jose Uzcategui
  10. Tyron Zeuge

Middleweight

  1. Gennady Golovkin
  2. Canelo Alvarez
  3. Daniel Jacobs
  4. Billy Joe Saunders
  5. Jermall Charlo
  6. Ryota Murata
  7. Demetrius Andrade
  8. Andy Lee
  9. David Lemieux
  10. Sergiy Derevyanchenko

Light middleweight

  1. Erislandy Lara
  2. Jermell Charlo
  3. Jarrett Hurd
  4. Demetrius Andrade
  5. Julian Williams
  6. Austin Trout
  7. Sadam Ali
  8. Liam Smith
  9. Maciej Sulecky
  10. Kell Brook

Welterweight

  1. Keith Thurman
  2. Errol Spence Jr.
  3. Terence Crawford
  4. Danny Garcia
  5. Shawn Porter
  6. Jeff Horn
  7. Manny Pacquiao
  8. Lamont Peterson
  9. Jessie Vargas
  10. Lucas Matthysse

The rest of the rankings are in the next page.

Light welterweight

  1. Julius Indongo
  2. Viktor Postol
  3. Antonio Orozco
  4. Sergey Lipinets
  5. Terry Flanagan
  6. Eduard Troyanovski
  7. Regis Prograis
  8. Rances Barthelemy
  9. Kenichi Ogawa
  10. Tevin Farmer

Lightweight

  1. Mikey Garcia
  2. Jorge Linares
  3. Robert Easter Jr.
  4. Anthony Crolla
  5. Luke Campbell
  6. Dejan Zlaticanin
  7. Raymundo Beltran
  8. Denis Shafikov
  9. Ricky Burns
  10. Richard Commey

Junior lightweight

  1. Vasyl Lomachenko
  2. Miguel Berchelt
  3. Francisco Vargas
  4. Jezreel Corrales
  5. Alberto Machado
  6. Robinson Castellanos
  7. Miguel Roman
  8. Orlando Salido
  9. Jason Sosa
  10. Jhonny Gonzalez

Featherweight

  1. Leo Santa Cruz
  2. Gary Russell Jr.
  3. Abner Mares
  4. Lee Selby
  5. Oscar Valdez
  6. Carl Frampton
  7. Scott Quigg
  8. Jesus Cuellar
  9. Joseph Diaz
  10. Claudio Marrero

Light featherweight

  1. Guillermo Rigondeaux
  2. Jessie Magdaleno
  3. Nonito Donaire
  4. Moises Flores
  5. Rey Vargas
  6. Danny Roman
  7. Hugo Ruiz
  8. Marlon Tapales
  9. Julio Ceja
  10. Yukinori Oguni

Bantamweight

  1. Jamie McDonnell
  2. Luis Nery
  3. Ryan Burnett
  4. Juan Carlos Payano
  5. Shinsuke Yamanaka
  6. Zolani Tete
  7. Lee Haskins
  8. Zhanat Zhakiyanov
  9. Takoma Inoue
  10. Liborio Solis

Light bantamweight

  1. Naoya Inoue
  2. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
  3. Jerwin Ancajas
  4. Khalid Yafai
  5. Juan Francisco Estrada
  6. Carlos Cuadras
  7. Roman Gonzalez
  8. John Riel Casimero
  9. Rau'shee Warren
  10. Luis Concepcion

Flyweight

  1. Kazuto Ioka
  2. Donnie Nietes
  3. Daigo Higa
  4. Juan Carlos Reveco
  5. Kosei Tanaka
  6. Sho Kimura
  7. Moruti Mthalane
  8. McWilliams Arroyo
  9. Francisco Rodriguez Jr.
  10. Zou Shiming

Light flyweight/Strawweight

  1. Ryoichi Taguchi
  2. Ken Shiro
  3. Wanheng Menayothin
  4. Hiroto Kyoguchi
  5. Knockout CP Freshmart
  6. Milan Melindo
  7. Angel Acosta
  8. Tatsuya Fukuhara
  9. Hekkie Budler
  10. Jose Argumedo

News And Notes From The World Of Boxing

WBA:

1. Continuing its quest to cut down on the number of world champions per weight class, the WBA issued a statement further reinforcing the governing body's mission. Since they announced in 2016 that they would cut down on the ludicrously high number of titleholders (42 world champions on January 2016), the organization has ended 2017 with 24 world champions in boxing's 17 divisions. Some divisions, such as the featherweight division, plans to have "super" champion Leo Santa Cruz and "regular" Abner Mares fight in 2018 and other divisions could soon get rid of their interim titleholders, but from the looks of it, getting the WBA to have just one world champion per weight class probably won't happen in 2018 and it's doubtful at this point that it would happen in 2019.

2. The organization posted an article on their website recapping their annual convention.

WBC: The governing body has updated the statuses of all their world titles and any potential upcoming mandatory defenses:

  • Heavyweight (Champion: Deontay Wilder): Wilder made his mandatory defense in a rematch against Bermane Stiverne on November 4 and knocked him out in the first round. Wilder is now eligible to make a voluntary defense, likely against Luis Ortiz at the Barclays Center on March 4. In regards to a potential fight against unified champion Anthony Joshua, the WBC said it supports such a fight. Joshua and Wilder seem to be headed for a clash with all four main world titles on the line in the second half of 2018.
  • Cruiserweight (Champion: Mairis Briedis): Breidis will face Oleksandr Usyk in a unification bout in the World Boxing Super Series semifinals on January 27. The WBC said it will evaluate the status of a mandatory challenger for the WBC title once the tournament ends.
  • Light heavyweight (Champion: Adonis Stevenson): Stevenson will defend his title against former WBA champion Badou Jack on a date and at a site to be determined. Mandatory challenger Eleider Alvarez has been ordered to face Oleksandr Gvozdyk for the interim WBC belt and the winners will then be ordered to face each other in their next bout.
  • Super middleweight (Champion: David Benavidez): Benavidez is scheduled to defend his belt in a rematch with Ronald Gavril on February 17 at the Showtime card headlined by Danny Garcia vs. Brandon Rios. Benavidez barely defeated Gavril via decision to win the vacant belt on September 8.
  • Middleweight (Champion: Gennady Golovkin): WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman announced at the WBC convention that Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez must engage in a rematch, which is likely to happen on May 5. With the Golovkin vs. Canelo rematch nearly finalized, the WBC ordered mandatory challenger Jermall Charlo to face Hugo Centeno for the vacant interim belt.
  • Junior middleweight (Champion: Jermell Charlo): Charlo has made consecutive mandatory defenses against Charles Hatley and Erickson Lubin and is now free to make an optional defense. A final elimination bout to determine the next mandatory challenger has been ordered between Vanes Martirosyan and Maciej Sulecki.
  • Welterweight (Champion: Keith Thurman): Thurman, who has been sidelined since last March due to right elbow surgery, is supposed to return for an optional defense in April, rumored to be against Jessie Vargas. Former champion Shawn Porter, who lost to Thurman in June 2016, is the mandatory challenger. The Danny Garcia vs.Brandon Rios fight, which was recently announced as a Showtime headliner on February 17, has been upgraded to a final elimination bout to produce the mandatory challenger following Porter's eventual title opportunity.
  • Junior welterweight (Title Vacant): With Terence Crawford vacating the title in order to move up in weight, Amir Imam and Jose Ramirez will meet for the vacant belt on March 17 on ESPN. Regis Prograis and Viktor Postol are negotiating a bout for the vacant interim title. The winners of those of two fights will be ordered to fight.
  • Lightweight (Champion: Mikey Garcia/Diamond Champion: Jorge Linares): Garcia, who owns the full world title, has received special permission from the WBC to fight for the IBF junior welterweight title in February, when he faces Sergey Lipinets. The WBC would like for Garcia to return to lightweight following that bout and next face Linares if Linares retains his WBA world title against Mercito Gesta on January 27 in the first HBO card of the year.
  • Junior lightweight (Champion: Miguel Berchelt): Berchelt will defend his title against Cristian Mijares on February 10 in Cancun, Mexico. If Berchelt wins, he will be obligated to make a mandatory defense, but the opponent has yet to be decided. The WBC said it is in the process of voting on a request to appoint Miguel Roman as the mandatory challenger after Roman defeated Orlando Salido on December 9.
  • Featherweight (Champion: Gary Russell Jr.): The WBC said Russell Jr. will defend his belt in February though no date, location or opponent has been announced, much less even rumored. Once Russell has that fight done with, he'll be forced to make a mandatory defense against Joseph Diaz Jr.
  • Junior featherweight (Champion: Rey Vargas): Rey Vargas, who handily beat Oscar Negrete on the Miguel Cotto vs. Sadam Ali undercard, is allowed to make a voluntary defense and then will be ordered to make a mandatory defense.
  • Bantamweight (Champion: Luis Nery):Nery is due to face Shinsuke Yamanaka in March in a mandatory rematch as a result of a failed drug test Nery had before their first fight. Nery still keeps the title but will now fight Yamanaka, presumably, on an even playing field.
  • Junior bantamweight (Champion: Srisaket Sor Rungvisai): After retaining his title against Roman Gonzalez, Sor Rungvisai will make his mandatory title defense against former unified champion Juan Francisco Estrada in the main event of the "Superfly 2" card on HBO on February 24.
  • Flyweight (Champion: Daigo Higa): Higa is scheduled to defend his title against Moises Fuentes on February 4 in Naha, Japan. It is still uncertain if a unification fight with fellow countryman and WBO champion Sho Kimura will be in play in 2018 if Higa retains his title.
  • Junior flyweight (Champion: Ken Shiro): Shiro retained his title by knocking out Gilberto Pedroza in the fourth round in the co-main event of the December 30 card in Japan. With the win, Shiro must fight mandatory challenger and former champion Ganigan Lopez in a rematch from their first fight in May, rendering a unification bout with WBA/IBF champion Ryoichi Taguchi virtually impossible for the first half of 2018.
  • Strawweight (Champion: Wanheng Menayothin): Menayothin will have a chance at making history when he is due to next face mandatory challenger Leroy Estrada. Should Menayothin defeat Estrada, his pro record improves to 50-0, tying Floyd Mayweather's record which achieved 50-0 status when he beat Conor McGregor on August 26.

IBF:

1. In light of the controversial finish of the Kenichi Ogawa vs. Tevin Farmer fight on HBO on December 9, in which Ogawa won the IBF super featherweight title via a highly dubious decision, promoter Lou DiBella told BoxingScene.com that he hopes the IBF will grant Farmer an immediate rematch. The IBF has not commented on whether or not a rematch will be granted but it is entirely at play and it could happen in the spring should the rematch is ordered.

2. Back in December, the IBF have branched out to extending their titles to Muay Thai and crowned their first ever IBF Muay Thai lightweight and junior lightweight champions in Thailand. Saeksan Or Kwanmuang captured the lightweight title and Petchuthong Or Kwanmuang won the junior lightweight title. In an effort to further grow IBF's presence in Muay Thai, the organization established IBF Muay Thai under its umbrella and appointed Suwat Liptapanlog, former MP of Thailand, as Honorary President. Liptapanlog has a proven track record of growing the sport of boxing in Thailand and will be in charge of growing the IBF Muay Thai brand.

WBO:

1. Oscar Valdez had been scheduled to defend his WBO featherweight title on ESPN on March 10 for some time but has not had an opponent named for him. It appears that Valdez could be defending the title against former super bantamweight champion Scott Quigg. The fight will headline the Top Rank Boxing on ESPN at the StubHub Center in California.

2. Craig Evans' trainer Tony Borg revealed Evans will fight Roman Andreev on February in a WBO lightweight title eliminator. The winner of the Evans vs. Andreev fight will then fight the winner of the Raymundo Beltran vs. Paulus Moses fight for the WBO lightweight title, which is currently vacant due to former champion Terry Flanagan electing to vacate the title and move up in weight to challenge for the WBO junior welterweight title, which is also vacant.

United Kingdom:

1. Light welterweight prospect Ohara Davies has been pulled from the February 3 card at the O2 Arena in London after Davies published a series of tweets in an attempt to goad Tommy Coyle to fight him. The tweets in question were about Davies supporting British tabloid newspaper The Sun, which has been considered controversial due to Coyle's longtime criticisms of the newspaper's coverage of the Hillsborough tragedy. The Hillsborough tragedy was a human crush at Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield, England on April 15, 1989, during the 1989 FA Cup semifinal game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest. The Sun was one of a few newspapers that received near-universal backlash for their insensitive reporting regarding the matter and its aftermath years later. The Sun is a sensitive topic around the area and the tweets have been called an act of very poor taste and inappropriate by many boxers. Sims Sport Management, who manages Davies, has suspended the boxer effective immediately.

2. Former African welterweight champion Larry Ekundayo, who is now based in London, is the latest name to be added to MTK Global’s ‘High Stakes’ event at the Brentwood Centre in Essex on March 3, which will be streamed live on iFL TV. Ekundayo is coming off a loss to Gary Corcoran, who unsuccessfully challenged for Jeff Horn's WBO welterweight title.

3. Queensbury Promotions fighters Archie Sharp, Umar Sadiq, Ryan Garner, Mohammed Bilal Ali, Hamzah Sheeraz, and Boy Jones Jr. have all been to the Zolani Tete vs. Omar Narvaez taking place on Febraury 10 at the Copper Box Arena in London. Also on that card are Anthony Yarde, Daniel Dubois and Bradley Skeete, who are primed for a big 2018 that could see at least one of them get to point to challenge for a world title in 2019.

United States:

1. WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder and his pregnant girlfriend, Shuntel “Telli” Swift, are a part of the new reality series, “WAGS Atlanta.” The show, which premiered on E! on January 3, will focus on the lives of several active and retired professional athletes and their wives or girlfriends.

2. Former five-time world champion Vinny Paz has been released after turning himself one day after an arrest warrant was issued for a felony assault charge in Rhode Island. Paz is known for his comeback story after a car crash, which was showcased in the 2016 film "Bleed for This." He is accused of biting a man, knocking out his teeth and sending him to the hospital. Witnesses told police that Paz accused the man of stealing $16,000.

3. The Jose Uzcategui vs. Andre Dirrell rematch will likely take place on March 3 on the Deontay Wilder vs. Luis Ortiz undercard at Barclays Center. Uzcategui has stated the fight would take place on January 26, but the fight hasn't been signed yet.

Mexico:

1. Former world champion Antonio Margarito could make his return to the ring on May 5. According to Alexei Titov, the director of the promotional company RCC Boxing Promotion, unbeaten Magomed Kurbanov is scheduled to return to the ring on May 5 in Yekaterinburg, Russia and that negotiations are in place to potentially land Margarito as Kurbanov's opponent.

2. Oscar Valdez and Jessie Magdaleno, two of Top Rank's world champions, are on pace to move their training camps to Guadalajara, Jalisco, and must report on January 7 to begin serious training for their respective commitments, according to their mutual manager Frank Espinoza of California. According to the Espinoza, the area in Guadalajara has ideal facilities for the fighters to make a solid camp.

Japan:

1. Toshiyuki Igarashi, who unsuccessfully challenged Sho Kimura for the WBO flyweight title on the December 31 card in Tokyo has announced his retirement, confirming it in a press conference after the fight. After the fight, Igarashi's blog was updated saying thanks to those who have supported him over his long career. It was then stated that Igarashi had considered retirement a number of times, mainly due to the injuries that he has suffered in recent years. Igarashi, who is 33 years old, has been fighting professionally since 2006 and is a former WBC flyweight world champion.

2. In a reversal of things we have seen from Japanese boxers throughout 2017, a Japanese star is coming OUT of retirement. Three-division world champion Koki Kameda announced he would be returning to the sport after more than two years away from the pro ring. Kameda said he wanted to see what fights are available and wanted to see where he could get good fights. Kameda did not say what fights he would take, who will it be against or even at what weight he would be competing at. We should know more about Kameda's future in the coming weeks, however.

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