2023 – What an amazing year for boxing!
2023 is the world’s first full year back to normal after the Covid COVID-19 pandemic. We have seen more artists touring, sporting events return to normal and more legendary boxing matches than ever before. In this article, I dive into why 2023 has been a great year for boxing.
Gevonta Davis v Ryan Garcia
On April 22nd, we saw the explosive match between Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis and Ryan. The two lightweight fighters were undefeated before the fight and held impressive records: Davis with 28-0 (26 KO) and Garcia with 23-0 (19 KO).
There may have been no title on the line, but that did not stop the excitement and buzz behind the fight. Garcia tried to dominate in the first half, while Davis took a slow, steady approach and assessed his opponent; it seemingly worked as in the 7th round, Davis knocked out Garcia with a blow to the body of the right of Garcia’s stomach, Ryan continued for only a second before taking a knee and clutching his right side.
Spectators praised the fight, and was hugely lucrative; reportedly, the fight sold over 1.2 million PPV buys on Showtime for $84.99. Additionally, it generated around $22.8 million in ticket sales and gained extra profit from sponsorships and advertising.
Devin Hanney v Lomachenko
After much back and forth between both opponents on May 20th, the long-awaited fight between Devin ‘The Dream’ Hanney and Vasily ‘Lomo’ Lomoachenko finally went down.
Talks of the fight started around five years ago after Lomachenko defeated Luke Campell and won the vacant WBC title, shortly after Devin Haney defeated Zaur Abdullaev and won the WBC interim title, becoming the WBC mandatory challenger.
Lomachenko decided to be named the WBC “franchise champion”, and Haney was promoted from interim to world champion. This led Haney to accuse Loma of “ducking him”. Haney struck a deal with unified lightweight champion George Kambosos Jr., fighting for the undisputed championship. Loma did not take up the offer to fight Kambosos, instead opting to fight for his country after Russia invaded Ukraine. Haney went on to defeat Kambasos, becoming the undisputed lightweight champion.The fight was rematched, and Haney won again.
Talks of the fight between Hanney and Loma began pretty soon after the Kambosos fight. Haney expressed his preference for the battle to occur before March because he is Muslim and did not want it to conflict with Ramadam. He accused his promoter, Top Rank,of favouritism towards Loma, claiming them and Loma’s management pushed the fight till May to force him to stay weight-drained for longer. The deal was at last signed off for a battle on May 20th.
The fight went a complete 12 rounds at the MGM Grand Arena; Loma came in as an underdog for the first time in his career, and despite Hanney having ten years on Loma- he dominated in the later rounds, particularly the 11th and 12th rounds. However, Hanney was crowned victorious in a unanimous decision scored by the judges, which many viewers disagreed with as they thought Loma performed better on the night, including fellow boxer Shakur Stevenson, who had previously anticipated a Haney victory. Haney praised Lomachenko and called him “his toughest opponent yet.”
Errol Spence v Terrence Crawford
Yet another explosive fight took place in Las Vegas, Nevada, this time between welterweight champions Errol ‘The Truth’ Spence and Terrance ‘Bud’ Crawford. Both boxers, before entering the ring, were undefeated.
The match was heavily anticipated and debated between the two fighters for years before the fight. In 2018, after meeting at Chesapeake Energy Arena, they expressed their desire to fight each other. In 2019, Crawford defeated Amir Khan by TKO; he called out Spence for a bout. In November 2020, Crawford beat Kell Brook, the first opponent to fight both Crawford and Spence, and Bud called out Spence once again. In April 2022, Spence returned to the ring after a career-threatening surgery after he was involved in a severe car accident where his Ferrari flipped over and he was ejected from the car. Spence defeated Cuban boxer Yordenis Ugàs by TKO and afterwards called out Crawford.
In September 2022, Crawford and Spence were very close to sealing the deal on negotiations to fight for November 19th, but plans fell through at the last minute. Crawford told ESPN, “I agreed to all of their [B.S.], and they’ve been dragging their ass for months. Spence was nowhere to be found while I was trying to make the deal. I explained to Al Haymon and Errol that I was going to fight before the end of the year. … David Avanesyan is a very tough task. He’s knocked out his last six opponents and this guy is dangerous. Once I’m successful against Avanesyan, my plan is still the same: whup Errol Spence’s ass.”
Spence replied on Twitter, “[He’s] been stalling for months. I could’ve fought in November… been fighting at this weight for over a decade this shit ain’t easy or fun.”
In December, Crawford beat Russian boxer Avanesyan by KO, and of course, talks of Spence v Crawford soon fired up again. In March 2023, Spence and Crawford revealed that they finally had a phone call to seal the deal of the fight. In May 2023, the contract was signed, and the date was set that, at last, Spence and Crawford would battle it out for the undisputed welterweight championship on July 29th with WBA Super, WBC, IBF AND WBO welterweight titles.
To many viewers’ surprise, Crawford was the clear winner of the match from start to finish, even managing to knock down Spence twice- a first for his career and inevitably beat Spence by TKO in the 9th round. He became the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world and is the first male to become undisputed in two weight classes.
Canelo Alvarez v Jermell Charlo
Last weekend, we saw possibly the most anticipated fight of the year, Saùl ‘Canelo’ Alvarez v Jermell’ Iron Man’ Charlo, finally take place in Las Vegas, Nevada. The two undisputed champions battled it out in the ring to determine who is the world’s middle-weight champion.
One of the reasons for the excitement around this fight is that this is the first time in boxing history that two undisputed champions in different weight classes collide.
The Mexican superstar Canelo was a favourite to win, with a 58-2-2 record, while Charlo came in as an underdog in this match but still held a pretty impressive record of 35-1-1 before the match.
For several reasons, it was certain that Canelo had the upper edge and was a favourite to win. Alvarez is the more experienced boxer; Canelo and Charlo are the same age; however, when it comes to boxing age, Canelo is far more experienced.
This was Charlo’s first fight in the 168-pound division, moving up not one but two weight classes. Charlo’s last match was against Brain Castano in May 2022, where he scored a TKO and earned undisputed status. However, this meant he spent sixteen months out of the ring. This does not take away from Charlo’s incredible skill level – the majority of his fights do not go the distance and end in either a KO or TKO due to the power behind his punches, which is evident to any viewers who have watched one of his fights.
However, viewers were left disappointed by Charlo’s performance last Saturday- the fight went the total distance- Canelo won by UD. Canelo, of course, brought his A-Game, but Charlo’s performance left a lot to be desired and was underwhelming; we did not see his usual ruthless and powerful fighting technique, and many said it didn’t even look like he was trying to win the fight- which his opponent Canelo agreed with, in the post-fight conference and seemed Charlo was only there for a paycheck and appeared to look like he was simply happy not to be KO by Canelo stating post-fight “He Didn’t Knock Me Out. He Knocked Everybody Else Out’. Charlo plans to return to his regular weight class of 154 and called out welterweight champion Terrance Crawford after his loss. Meanwhile, Canelo was trying to enjoy his victory before finding his next opponent.
The year is ongoing, and many exciting boxing matches are still set to occur before the end of 2023. Next is Tommy Fury vs. YouTube superstar KSI on October 14th, and then the other Fury brother- Tyson Fury, will take in Francis Ngannou on October 28th. Usually ringside making predictions, Shakur Stevenson has set a date for his own fight- and will fight Edwin De Los Santos on November 16th. To end the year on a great year for boxing, the deal has been signed after a very long time- in the fight of all fights, Tyson Fury will battle it out in the ring with Oleksandr Usyk on December 23rd.