As the year 2016 comes to the final stretch, boxing enthusiast cannot help but sit back and reflect on the year that was in the boxing arena. While there weren’t a Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Manny Pacquiao kind of boxing sensations in the course of the year, many 4 and 5 star boxers lit the stage with their pre-match eloquence, jaw breaking power punches, foot works and of course out-of-the ring brawls. Without further ado, here are 3 boxing fights that actually defined the 2016 boxing arena.
1. Francisco Vargas vs. Orlando Salido
The match took place on O4/06/2016 and happened just some 24 hours after the demise of the boxing great Muhammad Ali. To the delight of fans at the StubHub Center, the Mexicans put on a thrilling show and, ultimately, shared the spoils of the game.
Francisco Vargas, nicknamed El Bandido by his adoring fans, is a nine-time Mexican amateur champion (as of writing this article) in the Mexican amateur championship. The 35-year-old boxer entered the match as the defending WBC Super Featherweight champion. Vargas had previously won 18 matches in a row and was thus considered a hot favorite for this match. Of importance is that he had won 14 of the 18 matches through technical knockout.
Orlando Salido, on the other hand, came into this game as a two time world champion in the IBF featherweight category and WBO super featherweight category. He had previously fought Lomachenko, Orlando Cruz, and Roman Martinez and registered mixed results in the process.
The Mexican brawlers went for a toe-to-toe kind of contest much to the thrills of the crowd at StubHub. At the end of pulsating 12 rounds of action, 2,000 punches had been thrown and Vargas had suffered bruises all over his face thanks to repeated head butts by Salido. Even then, the thrilling contest ended as majority draw with two of the judges calling out 114-114 scoreline. Vargas kept his WBC championship while Salido was made to wait for another chance to win the coveted title. Overall, the fight registered a massive 954,000 viewership on HBO making it one of the prominent fights of 2016.
2. Roman Gonzalez vs. Carlos Cuadras
This was yet another battle of the titans that stretched all the way to the 12th round. The action took place on 10/09/2016 at the iconic INGLEWOOD forum, California. Nicaraguan Gonzalez came to the match on the backdrop of 10/11 knockouts in his previous outings. But Mexican Carlos Cuadras was no mean opponent either. He was, until this match, the WBC Super Flyweight Champion and his quick hands and a combination of punches drew raucous shouts from fans throughout the fight.
Roman Gonzalez, admiringly nicknamed “Chocolatito” by fans was the first Nicaraguan to win a title in each of four weight classes he took part. Be brought to this match an 83% knockout-to-win. Equally impressive, Gonzalez had won all the 45 matches he played prior to the match and was actually ranked as the world’s number one pound for pound boxer by The Ring.
Mexican Carlos Cuadras Quiroa came to the match as the defending WBC World Super Flyweight champion and had an impressive 73% knockout-to-win. Of the 36 matches played to the big game, Carlos had won 34, drawn once and lost once.
The Gonzalez vs. Cuadras was dabbed as the contest of the little guys. Even then, the match was nothing short of exciting. Gonzalez’s superb footwork and power punches were countered by Cuadras’ quick hands action and a winner’s mentality. The 12th round was especially exhilarating with both contenders put in a great show. After a bruising 12 rounds, and 1,822 punches, Roman Gonzalez was declared the new WBC World Super Flyweight champion ahead of the relentless Cuadras.
3. Jamie Conlan vs. Anthony Nelson
What a sensational match this was! Though it was only billed to be an undercard match, the Jamie vs. Nelson fight turned out to be one of the most enthralling boxing matches of 2016. Conlan, who eventually emerged the winner, was receiving all the shots in the opening stages of the match. By the seven rounds Conlan had already been sent to the canvas and not many expected the turn of events in eighth round.
Jamie Conlan from Northern Ireland had previously played 17 times winning 10 of those through knockouts. Conlan first major win was over Benjamin Smoes and won the WBO European Super Flyweight champion. He also defeated Jose Estrella of Mexico to win the WBO Inter-Continental belt.
Anthony Nelson has had varied results in his playing career winning four titles and 11/11 wins before this match. As opposed to Conlan’s profile though, Anthony had only registered 2 knock outs.
Despite their relatively low profiles in the boxing arena, the brawlers went on to register some thrilling touches on the ring at the Copper Box Arena, London. It was Conlan who dictated things at the early stages, with his younger brother Michael cheering him from ringside. But a combination of experience and sharp come-forward shots, Nelson fought off his opponent and actually pressed him to the ropes for long periods of time. By the seventh round, Conlan had gone down and was nearly giving up. It’s in the eighth round that Conlan mastered courage and registered some heroic punches that sent Nelson to the ground and ultimately delivered the title to him. It was billed to be small match but ended up attracting attention from the big men of the ring.
Whats to come:
The year 2016 has no doubt been great for boxing enthusiasts, fans and players alike. As the year 2017 unfolds, expect to witness even more matches on the cards. The most notable will be the David Haye vs. Tony Bellew, Adrien Broner v Adrian Granados and the mouthwatering Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko expected to take place in April of 2017.
In summary, while you didn’t see the big names such as David Haye, Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko squaring it of on the rings, upcoming boxers also proved to be a force to reckon. Brawlers such as Roman Gonzalez, Francisco Vargas and Orlando Salido proved to be equally vicious on the world stage you can only expect them to get better in the coming years.