2020 has been a nightmarish year from many points of view and our beloved sport has also suffered the negative consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic that has devastated the world. In relation to boxing, there have been many months without fights, several bouts have been cancelled due to the positivity of athletes to the virus, several major events postponed until 2021. Nonetheless, even if among a thousand difficulties and often in the absence of public, we still managed to have great emotions: spectacular fights have made us jump on the sofa, crazy KOs have petrified us, incredible surprises have left us speechless.
So, let’s go and award for the first time our DeeperSport Awards to the outstanding protagonists of boxing in 2020! We are definitely not an important website and those awards are rather useless but still it was fun to write this article. Of course, the awards below surely will trigger controversies and several boxing enthusiasts will have a different opinion. Some decisions have been close calls. Please feel free to comment. Usually I find great benefits from your comments and some great fights I missed have been flagged.
Fighter of the Year: Teofimo Lopez
His historic achievement accomplished on October 17th, when Teofimo Lopez succeeded in winning all the four lightweight world belts dethroning the Vasyl Lomachenko, is worth to the young man of Honduran origins our recognition of boxer of the year. Despite few boxing fans believed in him, Teofimo Lopez has fulfilled his pre-fight promises thanks to a perfect tactical strategy accompanied by extraordinary technical properties and dominant physicality.
Second Place: Tyson Fury, for his overwhelming performance in the rematch with Deontay Wilder in which he kept his promise to win by KO. Since the very first round, Tyson Fury has attacked Wilder and after the 4th round the American boxer was done. Insane performance of who I consider the current best heavyweight boxer of the world.
Third Place: Saul Canelo Alvarez, for having taken the role of number one in the super middleweight category by inflicting on the giant Callum Smith a very hard defeat on points. This was the first tough call since also Jermell Charlo deserves the third place for having reunified three world belts by knocking out Jeison Rosario after 3 knockdowns.
Fight of the Year: Jose Zepeda beats Ivan Baranchyk
An authentic war, a knock-down festival, a never-ending whirlwind of emotions. Even though there are no world titles at stake, the match between Zepeda and Baranchyk has all the characteristics to become a cult of modern boxing. In only five rounds there have been even eight knockdows, four on each side. A show so unrepeatable that it’s doubly a pity it hasn’t been seen live in an arena full of people. The icing on the cake, a terrible KO that literally knocked poor Baranchyk unconscious, who collapsed to the canvass in an unnatural position and remained on the ground for several minutes.
Second Place: Juan Francisco Estrada vs Carlos Cuadras, if the first match was spectacular, this rematch was eye-popping!
Third Place: Saul Canelo Alvarez vs Callum Smith, the outstanding performance of the Mexican superchampion is a mini boxing course each boxing prospect should watch every night before sleeping. That is the way you fight against someone with longer reach and taller than you.
Knock-Out of the Year: Gervonta Davis vs Leo Santa Cruz
This was the hardest call. Gervonta Davis got first position due to the fact that inflicted the first defeat in Leo Santa Cruz’s career and won the WBA (Super) belt. A world-class uppercut brought in an impeccable way to put asleep Leo Santa Cruz.
Second Place: Alexander Povetkin on Dillian Whyte, a masterful blow of inhuman power executed with impeccable technique and in a dramatic moment of the fight. Thanks to this uppercut, Povetkin, knocked down twice in the fifth round, has risen from his ashes, despite his age, to win the fight against the predictions.
Third Place: Ryan Garcia vs Francisco Fonseca, quick solution for the promising Californian boxer with lightning-fast hands that in the first round closed the bout with his splendid left hook.
Boxing Upset of the Year: Teofimo Lopez vs Vasyl Lomachenko
We already talk about this boxing bout above. Teofimo Lopez, the young boxing promise, has defeated the legendary champion leaving the world speechless.
Second Place: Daniel Dubois vs Joe Joyce, the young British boxer got seriously injured by the devastating jabs of his compatriot Joyce. Many boxing fans may disagree with me, but I personally truly believed in DDD considering him already a world-class boxer. This was also the only prediction I missed in 2020.
Third Place: Joseph Diaz beats Tevin Farmer, same as above, I guess the boxing world and many insiders had elevated (too early) Farmer to the rank of the champions. This time not me though.
When it comes to comebacks, it’s impossible not to think of him: after a frightening accident, the dynamics of which suggested fatal, or at least disabling, consequences, Errol Spence miraculously managed to recover, fully regaining his best days. His decision to come back directly against a dangerous adversary like Danny Garcia has aroused some perplexity among the insiders, but the facts have proved Errol Spence right. Very clear victory and first place in the welterweight ranking solidly reaffirmed. Now the whole world waits for the challenge with Terence Crawford.
Second Place: Alexander Povetkin, back to the limelight with the magnificent KO on Whyte when many thought he was finished.
Third Place: Roman Gonzalez, he won’t be the same boxer he used to be, but with the beautiful victories over Yafai and Gonzalez, Chocolatito has shown he is still a champion.
Prospect of the Year: Edgar Berlanga
Another close call. However, winning 16 fights in a row is not easy, but winning 16 fights in a row in the first round… It is just insane and hard to believe! Edgar Berlanga is a 23-year-old super-middleweight boxer from New York but with Puerto Rican origins. Berlanga continues to outdo himself breaking his own record of consecutive first round KO’s with every fight. Now he is at 16: who will stop him?
Second Place: Bektemir Melikuziev, the 24-year-old Uzbek boxer is already considered a potential superstar, and he is scheduled to fight former world champion Sergey Kovalev on January 30th, in Moscow. Gifted with portentous footwork, extraordinary timing and excellent variety of shots, Melikuziev could be the new face to focus on for the coming year.
Third Place: Jesse Rodriguez, 20-year-old Texan boxer with 13 victories so far and an excellent knockout percentage.