2021 has been a great year for boxing.
While it has been challenging to keep moving forward in the face of the continuing Covid-19 pandemic, the sport has thankfully continued to deliver many exciting thrills and spills.
The stand out moment has to be the third fight in the Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder heavyweight trilogy. The October bout exceeded all expectations and saw both fighters hitting the canvas.
The unforgettable match up ended when Briton Fury’s right hand sent American Wilder down, with the referee calling an end to proceedings and Fury retaining his title.
In stark contrast to Fury’s success, Brit Anthony Joshua experienced a crushing low with his defeat at the hands of Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk in September.
Usyk became only the third ever boxer to win world titles both at cruiserweight and heavyweight. The result put paid to AJ’s much hoped for undisputed unification bout with Fury. Instead AJ has triggered his rematch clause with Usyk, aiming to win back his lost belts in early 2022.
In May, Scot Josh Taylor made boxing history by becoming the first British fighter to become undisputed world champion in the four-belt era.
His victory came in a Las Vegas showcase against American Jose Ramirez. Next year Taylor can look forward to defending his super-lightweight title in February against England’s Jack Catterall.
Not too far away, in Texas, also during May, Billy Joe Saunders became the seventh British fighter to face Mexican Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
Despite it being a pretty evenly balanced fight heading into the eighth round, a Canelo uppercut soon stopped the fight. Not only did Saunders end up in hospital with a fractured eye socket, but the question as to whether he will return to the ring remains open.
Canelo finished off his year with one final bout, taking on Caleb Plant. While Plant held his own, he almost inevitably succumbed to Canelo in the 11th round.
Another British boxer who might prefer to forget 2021 is Josh Warrington. He failed to win twice against Mexican Mauricio Lara, first in February by TKO and again in September after Lara sustained a cut over his right eye in the second round.
In April Carl Frampton’s corner threw in the towel in the battle for the WBO super-featherweight title against American Jamel Herring in Dubai.
Immediately after the defeat, Frampton announced his retirement.
A most interesting exhibition bout came in June when YouTuber Logan Paul took on Floyd Mayweather.
While no winner was declared – after continuous clinching from Logan throughout the fight – Mayweather nevertheless said his opponent was better than he had expected.
One of our favourite parts of 2021 was seeing the rise of female boxers. The likes of Britain’s Savannah Marshall and Ireland’s Katie Taylor became household names.
Marshall retained the WBO female middleweight title against Swede Maria Lindberg in April and Zambia’s Lolita Muzeya in October.
Taylor enjoyed three victories during 2021, against Brit Natasha Jones in May, American Jennifer Han in September, and Kazakhstan’s Firuza Sharipova in December.