It has been a momentous year for the world of boxing in 2016 with some of the greatest fighters of a generation going toe-to-toe in some of the most epic bouts in recent memory. However, when we look back, which fights will stick in the mind the most? Here is our view of the best boxing fights of the year.
Jesus Soto-Karass vs Yoshihiro Kamegai, 15th April, Belasco Theater
This super-welterweight clash was expected to be an absolute war from the very beginning with two fighters intent on making a big impression. The two men did not fail to live up to the pre-fight expectations. The winner would remain in the hunt as a world title contender and the loser would be left licking their wounds and considering a different direction.
The fight lasted 10 rounds of total blood, sweat, and tears. Neither man was willing to give any ground to their opponent. The intensity of the fight was at a level not matched by any over recent years. Both fighters brought their come-forward approaches to the match-up and they did not exchange blows until the bell rang at the end. The winner could not be decided by the judges and the match was declared a draw on points. It can be argued that neither man deserved to lose after such an epic battle.
Canelo Alvarez vs Amir Khan, 7th May, T-Mobile Arena
It was always going to be a tall order for British boxer Khan as it was announced at the start of the year that he would be moving up two weight divisions to fight the WBC Middleweight world champion Alvarez. Khan had been on a five-fight winning streak and was the reigning WBC Silver welterweight champion. However, this was a new challenge entirely against Alvarez who had only suffered defeat once in his career and was coming off the back of an impressive victory over the iconic Miguel Cotto.
Khan was coming into the bout as the 12/5 underdog with Alvarez listed with bookies as the 33/100 favourite. It was a price that punters were not put off by and leapt at the chance to back the heavier fighter. The fight was one of the largest in terms of betting revenues for sportsbooks online in the UK due to the involvement of Khan. Many online sportsbooks have seen a significant growth worldwide along with classic casino games as people try their luck to win a real money prize. Despite proving the critics and sports bettors wrong and appearing to be the far superior boxer on points after five rounds, the weight difference and sheer power of Alvarez soon told when he knocked Khan out in the 6th round. The fight was confirmed as the 34th highest grossing fight in Las Vegas history surpassing bouts such as Floyd Mayweather Jr versus Andre Berto and Manny Pacquiao versus Timothy Bradley.
Francisco Vargas vs Orlando Salido, 4th June, StubHub Center
The hype ahead of this fight reached unimaginable levels due to Vargas being involved in one of 2015’s best fights of the year against Takashi Miura. Vargas was riding the crest of a wave as the reigning WBC Super-Featherweight title holder and even though the fans expected a decent challenge from the veteran Salido, nobody could have anticipated what was to come.
In a fight where Compu-Box recorded a staggering 1,593 power punches, the two fighters battled through every round leaving nothing in the ring. By the end of the bout, both men were bloodied and exhausted. The judges could not split the two fighters and a decision to award a majority draw was given. Agonisingly, it was Salido’s second failed attempt to win a super-featherweight world title due to a draw after his previous fight with WBO champion Roman Martinez had ended the same way. It will take something special to better this fight in 2016.
Keith Thurman vs Shawn Porter, 25th June, Barclays Center
On paper, there only seemed like being one winner here. Reigning WBA Welterweight champion Thurman was undefeated in 26 fights and was defending his title for the sixth time. Porter was in a recovery process after a disappointing loss to British boxer Kell Brook which saw him lose the IBF Welterweight title.
Porter started the more promising and it actually looked like a shock may well be on the cards after the first few rounds as the challenger caught the champion off guard with some early pressure. However, the class of Thurman came to the fore as he adapted his tactics to cope with Porter’s onslaught. It was the first fight shown live on CBS since Muhammad Ali infamously lost his title to Leon Spinks back in 1978.
Jesus Soto-Karass vs Yoshihiro Kamegai, 10th September, The Forum
Just five months earlier, these two fighters had been involved in one of the fights of the decade in a bout that ended in a draw. It was regarded as a fair result given how much both men gave but a re-match felt like an obligation with the fans demanding to see an outright winner from this contest once and for all.
It seemed almost impossible that a re-match could match the intense levels of the first fight but it did exactly that. The only difference this time was that a definite winner was declared with Kamegai stopping Soto-Karass with a lethal right hook in the 8th round. The match was once again a total slug-fest leaving fans on the edge of their seat. A third match-up seems very unlikely which is a huge disappointment for fans.