Best of Boxing 2023 Awards

2023 has now drawn to a close and it is time to reflect on the best of boxing throughout the year.

We didn’t get many of the promised bouts for the year; AJ vs Fury never took place, Eubank vs Benn didn’t happen, and Fury vs Usyk has been delayed for another year. Vergil Ortiz never returned, and neither did Kell Brook or Billy-Joe Saunders.

But we did get Crawford vs Spence, a long-awaited Undisputed Welterweight bout between two great unbeaten Americans. We did get Day of Reckoning, a card featuring 6 heavyweight bouts. Stateside,

And we did get a long of great action off-PPV, whether that came at York Hall with Cain vs Baluta, in Sheffield with Wood vs Warrington, or Stateside from Golden Boy with Munguia vs Derevyanchenko.

Today we crown the Best of Boxing 2023 Awards.

Fight of the Year

Jaime Munguia vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

Jaime Munguia vs Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

This bout from Golden Boy had everything. Unbeaten star Jaime Munguia was being beaten severely against Derevyanchenko. Munguia absorbed heavy damage during a competitive bout, and entered the latter rounds down on the cards. Sergiy Derevyanchenko gassed, and Munguia had enough left in the tank to secure a win.

In round 12, Munguia knocked down Derevyanchenko. Derevyanchenko beat the count, but spent the final minutes on his bike as he clung on for the scorecards.

Munguia picked up a Unanimous Decision, winning by a single point on two judges scorecards. The bout is unmissable and the best of boxing in 2023.

Honourable Mentions: Inoue vs Tapales, Wood vs Warrington, Canelo vs Ryder, Beterbiev vs Yarde, Rodriguez vs Edwards.

Fighter of the Year

Leigh Wood.

Leigh Wood

It is an unusual choice to select a fighter with a loss in 2023 for FOTY, but Wood deserves the accolade.

Wood lost via RTD to Mauricio Lara in February following a heavy knockdown, losing his WBA World title in the process. He refused to step aside and let Josh Warrington challenge Lara in May, and insisted on a rematch.

Wood fought and won the rematch via Unanimous Decision, scoring a knockdown and thoroughly outworking his adversary Lara. He banished his demons, and sought a hometown bout at Nottingham Forest’s City Ground football stadium.

Wood didn’t get his wish, but he did get a big bout against Josh Warrington. Wood was heavily behind on the cards when he landed a heavy flurry of shots on Warrington. Warrington beat the count, but the bout was waved off with Warrington on unsteady legs and facing the wrong way.

Wood picked up various Fight of the Year awards in 2022 for his victory over Michael Conlan, and has gone one further this year in earning Fighter of the Year.

Honorable mentions: Naoya Inoue, Bam Rodriguez, Devin Haney, Tim Tszyu and Jared Anderson.

KO of the Year

Ja’Rico O’Quinn. Peter McGrail vs Ja’Rico O’Quinn.

Peter McGrail vs Ja'Rico O'Quinn

Always subjective, but the manner in which Ja’Rico O’Quinn finished his bout against McGrail was remarkable. McGrail is the latest esteemed amateur to be promoted by Matchroom Boxing, and appeared on the undercard of Bam Rodriguez vs Sunny Edwards. His younger brother Joe McGrail had already scored a TKO earlier in the night.

McGrail entered as a heavy favourite against O’Quinn, and it is easy to see why. McGrail dominated O’Quinn, winning every second of every round. McGrail knocked his opponent down in round 2, and again in round 4.

McGrail pushed for a KO, but in round 5, the bout ended quickly. O’Quinn caught McGrail with a single power shot, and left him laying on the canvas. A massive upset and completely against the script of the fight.

Honourable mentions: Dalton Smith (vs Sam Maxwell), Zhilei Zhang (vs Joe Joyce 2), Liam Smith (vs Chris Eubank Jr 1), Junto Nakatani (vs Andrew Moloney), Samuel Antwi (vs Mason Cartwright). For the women, Julissa Guzman (vs Ramla Ali 1).

Performance of the Year

Devin Haney vs Regis Prograis.

Haney vs Prograis

Devin Haney already cemented his status at Lightweight before moving up to fight WBC Super Lightweight champion Regis Prograis in December 2023. Haney entered as a clear favourite, and the A-side, against the champion. But to dismantle Prograis in the manner he did was something special.

Haney won every single round on all 3 judges scorecards, and scored a knockdown against Prograis. Prograis spent 36 minutes being thoroughly outclassed, as Haney moved into the realm of generational talent.

Honourable mentions: Joseph Parker (vs Wilder), Bam Rodriguez (vs Edwards), Devin Haney (vs Lomachenko), Leigh Wood (vs Lara II). For the women, Katie Taylor (vs Cameron II).

Best Overall Show

Day of Reckoning.

Day of Reckoning

The success of Day of Reckoning, from an entertainment perspective, hinged on whether we got upsets and knockdowns. And we got exactly what we wanted.

We got to see the unbeaten Russian giant Makmudov made to look robotic by Kabayel, who scored a TKO as a massive underdog.

We also got to see Deontay Wilder get destroyed by a rejuvenated Joseph Parker. Parker had been written off by everyone following the Joyce loss, yet dances circles around Wilder who never pulled the trigger, and lost almost every round.

Daniel Dubois also got to punish Jarrell Miller over 10 rounds, wrapping up a stoppage in the final seconds. Miller is entertaining but entered overweight and was outclassed.

We got KO’s. Junior Fa got TKO’d by Frank Sanchez after he scored 3 knockdowns. Zorro got KO’d by Opetaia. Mark De Mori was knocked down before the stoppage.

All in all, this proved the best card of 2023.

Honourable Mentions: Magnificent 7 (Queensberry), Lara vs Wood II (Matchroom), Eubank vs Smith I (Boxxer), Haney vs Lomachenko (Top Rank), Fury vs Ngannou (Queensberry).

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