THE RING Year-End Awards 2017: Finalists for ‘Fighter of the Year’
What a year 2017 has been for boxing.
There were 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium in London for Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko. Floyd Mayweather and UFC star Conor McGregor made the world stop. Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin threw down in the superfight that everyone wanted to see.
And that was just the tip of the enswell.
For the first time in recent memory our editorial staff struggled to shortlist almost every one of our 10 categories. There was disagreement (there always is) but we’ve now managed to pull together five official nominees per category for year-end honors.
The categories are: Fighter of the Year, Fight of the Year, Knockout of the Year, Trainer of the Year, Upset of the Year, Event of the Year, Comeback of the Year, Round of the Year, Prospect of the Year and Most Inspirational.
Leading up to revealing the winners, we will present nominees in two categories each day. As always, we would love to hear your opinions. Category 10: Fighter of the Year.
The finalists (in alphabetical order) are:
Crawford schooled Felix Diaz on his way to a convincing 10th-round stoppage in May, but the best was yet to come. On away missions, dangerous Namibian southpaw Julius Indongo had claimed IBF and WBA junior welterweight titles from Eduard Troyanovski and Ricky Burns respectively. Indondo then ventured to Nebraska, to clean house against Crawford. He didn’t have a prayer. Crawford closed the show with a massive left hand to the body in the third round to emerge as undisputed champion.
Despite already being the IBF heavyweight titleholder, Joshua truly arrived when he stopped Wladimir Klitschko in 11 rounds. On April 29, approximately 90,000 fans at Wembley Stadium watched Joshua tick all the remaining boxes. Could he hang at elite level? Yes. Could he recover from being badly hurt? Yes. Would he carry his power late in a fight? Yes. Joshua also took out Carlos Takam in 10, but the Klitschko victory was the coming-out party of a lifetime.
We’re running out of superlatives. Wins over Jason Sosa and Miguel Marriaga were expected, but the level of Lomachenko’s performances had bordered on otherworldly. “Hi-Tech” promised to make a statement against fellow two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux in December and he did just that. The reigning WBO junior lightweight titleholder toyed with the Cuban star, turning what many expected to be a competitive contest into a turkey shoot.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
In March, Sor Rungvisai was considered mere cannon-fodder for pound-for-pound king Roman Gonzalez, but the powerful lefty from Thailand hadn’t read the script. Sor Rungvisai handed “Chocolatito” his first loss in 47 fights via controversial decision, then confirmed his superiority by scoring a devastating fourth-round knockout in a September rematch. Sor Rungvisai is now a two-time WBC junior bantamweight titleholder and pound-for-pound entrant.
The vast majority thought Sergey Kovalev had displayed tactical superiority over Andre Ward last year, but Ward claimed a close unanimous decision. The judges were not required in the rematch, which took place in June. Ward adjusted; mixing speed and skill with trademark elusiveness and hitting power. The eighth-round stoppage was controversial, but Ward was having a field day and proved himself the better man. “SOG” retired as an unbeaten two-weight world champion and the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet.
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