Highlights, frustrations and hopes: end of year survey part 12

Boxing Monthly
05/01/2018 3:58pm

Boxing Monthly canvassed over 100 figures from boxing for their reflections on 2017 and hopes for 2018. In the final instalment of this series, contributors Haroon Ahmed, Marcus Bellinger, Shaun Brown, Mark Butcher, Luke Byron, Anthony Cocks, Colin Harris, Andrew Harrison, Gary Lucken, John Angus MacDonald, James Oddy, Callum Rudge, Luke G. Williams, Chris Williamson and Paul Zanon have their say…


Haroon Ahmed
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
The amount of quality fights made. After years of anticipation, Canelo vs GGG was finally made and I found it a very interesting fight. The year started off well with Badou Jack vs DeGale, and along the way we had plenty more top quality bouts. Spence vs Brook was another I enjoyed, but for sure the fight of the year was Joshua vs Klitschko. The in ring action was amazing, but the whole spectacle was just something else.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Amir Khan's inactivity. He started the year saying he'll have three fights. He ended the year in the jungle, with 0 fights to his name. Another disappointment would be the retirement of Andre Ward. At the time I thought it was a good idea for him to leave whilst on top, but the light heavy weight scene right now is buzzing, and I just wish he was part of it.
My hopes for 2018 are...
The return of the Gypsy King! I'm sure everyone is hoping for Fury to return, to add some much needed spice to the heavyweight division. The Fury-Joshua-Wilder triangle will be amazing. It'll also be interesting to see whether or not Haye can return to his past glory, and enter the elite heavyweight scene. Before that, he'll have to beat Bellew though. I also hope we see Khan vs Brook. But I'm most looking forward to the likes of Spence, Thurman and Crawford (hopefully) fighting each other at 147lbs.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
As usual, to stop promoters blocking fights and allowing the best to fight the best.

Marcus Bellinger
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
My highlight without doubt for 2017 came on May 20 when Daigo Higa destroyed Juan Hernandez in six rounds to announce himself as 'the man' at flyweight. Having been on the Higa train for a while it was nice to see his potential come to fruition.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
No real massive disappointments for me but Kosei Tanaka vs Ryoichi Taguchi not occurring was a bit of a letdown as it would have been only the second all-Japanese unification clash.
My hopes for 2018 are...
For all major promoters/ TV channels to continue to put their best foot forward and continue the excellent momentum from this year.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
There are a couple of obvious things such as more accountability for poor judges and more uniform drug testing and punishment for drug cheats but I'll go with just a single WBA champion in each division - not sure I believe in miracles though!

Shaun Brown
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Being perfectly honest it would probably be sitting inside Bramall Lane to see George Groves win his first world title at the fourth attempt.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
The amount of airtime and attention given to that circus that was Mayweather vs McGregor. Oh, the consistency of bad scorecards too. Drives me nuts.
My hopes for 2018 are...
That the best fight the best, particularly at welterweight.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Better judging.

Mark Butcher
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Joshua vs Klitschko. 90,000 fans; knockdowns and wild shifts in momentum; the drive and dignity of Klitschko offset by the discipline and desire of Joshua. A heavyweight title fight for the ages.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
The WBA's continual recognition of multiple world titles in every division to shamelessly bolster sanctioning fees and its income. It's madness this organisation still has any kind of respect. It's so thoroughly transparent.
My hopes for 2018 are...
A healthy and battle ready Tyson Fury. Anthony Joshua vs Tyson Fury breaks boxing. If Tyson can get back to even 75 per cent of his former self, he poses serious problems for the sport's golden boy.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Co-operation between British boxing's top two promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren. Imagine Matchroom vs Queensberry crossover shows. If egos could be put to one side, the permutations are endless. Significant, lucrative PPV fights or even tournament style shows involving lesser lights would be something special. But Anthony Joshua vs Charles Martin II is more likely.

Luke Byron
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Groves finally securing the WBA world title and Sam Eggington making the most of his chance on the big stage, beating Paulie Malignaggi.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
The GGG vs Canelo scorecards.
My hopes for 2018 are...
A Welterweight Super Series would be excellent. Crawford vs Spence particularly.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Less tune-up fights.

Anthony Cocks
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
The number of quality match-ups made throughout the year and the big crowds they drew. The WBSS, Golovkin vs Alvarez, the SuperFly card, Joshua vs Klitschko at Wembley with 80,000 plus in attendance, Horn vs Pacquiao at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in front of 51,000, Crawford and Indongo unifying all four major titles at 140lbs, Ward-Kovalev II, and many more. Boxing has re-established itself as a top shelf sport of global significance.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
The unnecessary negativity directed at Jeff Horn by one-eyed fans who take Teddy Atlas’s bluster as gospel and broken-hearted Filipinos who are still struggling to come to terms with the fact that Manny Pacquiao was outboxed, out-thought and out-punched in a fair fight. Unfortunately when it comes to sooking about the result, Senator Pacquiao is as guilty as anyone himself.
My hopes for 2018 are...
The next generation of Aussie boxers to continue to win and improve; prospects to become contenders and contenders to win world titles. Guys like Nathaniel May, Rohan Murdock and Paul Fleming to get their opportunities on the world stage.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is…
More collaboration between promoters with a view to making more competitive, entertaining – and therefore lucrative – fights that the fans want to see.

Colin Harris
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
I think as a Brit it's hard to top Anthony Joshua's win over Wladimir Klitschko.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Seeing the WBA state multiple times that they were working towards one champion per division, only to then see a single champion lose his status as they recognised another fighter from a vacant title fight (Heavyweight: Joshua was joined by Charr / Super-Middle: Zeuge was joined by Groves / Middleweight: Golovkin was joined by Murata etc etc).
My hopes for 2018 are...
That the WBA get rid of their final two Interim champions and never bring the bauble back (I would ask for one WBA champ per division, but as per the answer to the previous question I wonder if that's too much to ask!). I'd also like to see more unifications, world champions fighting more than once a year, better control over PED's, less controversial judging, and Joshua, Wilder, Parker and Fury to battle it out for one heavyweight champion to reign supreme in our flagship division.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
A single world champion in each division.

Andrew Harrison
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Joshua vs Klitschko was incredible. A huge event and a great fight shown live at prime time in pubs across the nation showed how great, how popular boxing can be when the sport gets it right.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Drugs, again. There can’t be many heavyweights left who haven’t failed a drug test, yet more often than not, transgressions are swept under the carpet leaving fighters free to repeat offend and endanger the health of their peers. Boxing either needs to let everyone use whatever PEDs they please or start banning cheats for long stretches.
My hopes for 2018 are...
That top fighters fight more. It seems a long time since Errol Spence was in the UK hollering about “strap season”. While he may well round up all of the welterweight belts in due course, that’s one hell of a long season we’re talking about.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
One champion per division. It’s why we’re all so invested in the WBSS. Tournaments are a hit with fans because there’s a definitive result at the end of them. If boxing could return to a single champion per division, the sport’s popularity would rocket. I’m convinced of that.

Gary Lucken
The highlight of my boxing year was ...

Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko for sheer buttock-clenching, edge of the seat, rock 'em and sock 'em excitement.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Biggest frustration / disappointment - the WBA's ongoing recognition of "regular" and "super" world champions. Errant nonsense.
My hopes for 2018 are...
Someone, somewhere, unearths new footage of Harry Greb in action.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
Only one world champion per division. But of course that's not going to happen.

John Angus MacDonald
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
My highlight has been the number of high quality fights 2017 has produced. We’ve had unifications at: light heavyweight, welterweight, light welterweight, bantamweight and light flyweight. As well as unifications, we’ve had fights such as Joshua vs Klitschko, Golovkin vs Alvarez, Kovalev vs Ward, Frampton vs Santa Cruz, Brook vs Spence, Lomachenko vs Rigondeaux and WBSS tournaments at cruiserweight and super middleweight.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Sanctioning bodies were as frustrating as ever in 2017. The WBC Clean Boxing Program appeared to be positive step, but is ultimately meaningless when the WBC allow Luis Ortiz to maintain his ranking despite testing positive for two diuretics - his second anti-doping violation. The WBA’s decision to strip Guillermo Rigondeaux of his super bantamweight title following his loss to Vasyl Lomachenko at super featherweight remains baffling. The rankings remained as bizarre as ever: Patrick Nielsen in the top 15 with all four major sanctioning bodies prior to his loss to John Ryder, Nathan Cleverly continuing to be ranked by the WBA for three months after announcing his retirement, Fres Oquendo, BJ Flores and Guillermo Jones all holding top 10 rankings with the WBA at heavyweight.
My hopes for 2018 are...
I hope that the best continue to face each other. The WBSS will provide us with excellent fights at cruiserweight and super middleweight, while it looks likely there will be at least one unification at heavyweight. Add a rematch between Golovkin and Canelo and 2018 already looks promising.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
I think a lot of the issues with boxing could be resolved by having a single governing body in charge of the sport world wide rather than national or state commissions. This would allow uniformed anti-doping programs, global sanctions and accountability for judging etc

James Oddy
The highlight of my boxing year was ...

Both the cruiserweight and super-middle WBSS tournaments have produced some good fights, and, crucially, fights which needed to happen. Boxing needs legitimate match-ups regularly.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
The Mayweather/McGregor farce was only topped by the furore around Canelo/Golovkin. They were the biggest 'boxing' (perhaps entertainment for the former) events of the year and they both left a more casual observer frustrated and bewildered.
My hopes for 2018 are...
More big names meeting regularly, and more unification fights.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
A much more robust attitude towards PED abusers. This is a combat sport - at the moment, it's only a matter of time until a drugs cheat seriously injures or kills someone.

Callum Rudge
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Like Shaun, mine was being ringside to see George Groves win a world title at the fourth attempt. It was so heartening to see a fighter booed into the ring by the Manchester crowd back in 2013 vs Carl Froch, given a rapturous reception by the Sheffield support in May of this year. Even if you’re not a fan of Groves, it would take a cold person to not feel happy for him when he stopped Fedor Chudinov on the Brook vs Spence undercard. Having paid for my ticket I didn’t hold back in my support for Groves that night and was so pleased when he got the title he long yearned for.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Guillermo Rigondeaux’s performance vs Vasyl Lomachenko in early December. I’d been a fan for a long time and he barely tried.
My hopes for 2018 are...
That the top PBC fighters are more active and also that the WBSS is concluded without any injury pull outs.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
World wide two-year bans for those who fail drug tests. Too often boxers fail a test and are back boxing like nothing happened.

Luke G. Williams
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
Almost too many to mention in a vintage year such as this. Joshua vs Klitschko is an obvious standout - a fabulous occasion and a wonderful fight. I'd also like to give a mention to Srisaket Sor Rungvisai, the Thai boxer whose rags to riches tale and victories against Roman Gonzalez encapsulated so much that is great about boxing. The World Boxing Super Series also warrants praise - a brilliant format which has been superbly executed and is truly great for the sport - long may it continue.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
The MayMac circus, and the way it absorbed mainstream attention - I lost count of the number of non-boxing friends or acquaintances who asked me about it - yet not one of them quizzed me about GGG vs Canelo, or Vasyl Lomachenko, or even seemed aware of their existence. I've also become quite wearied by the way any close decision in boxing is greeted by (some / many?) as a 'robbery'. It's a vastly over-used word / term within a pugilistic context.
My hopes for 2018 are...
More great match-ups throughout the sport, and the next two WBSS tournaments to match or even eclipse the super middle and cruiser versions. Ah yes, and Anthony Joshua to fight Deontay Wilder prior to the winner facing a revitalised Tyson Fury at the beginning of 2019!
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
One champion per division or a single governing body are pipe dreams - so I'll go for better judging, but also less moaning about judging by fans and media.

Chris Williamson
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
The feeling that by accident or design the sport is getting it right again, listening to fan demand and the best are generally fighting the best. For those of us willing to put our hands in our pockets we can watch EVERYTHING, such is the blanket coverage on multiple platforms.
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Officiating of course. It’s incredibly frustrating for the sporting element to be as healthy as in living memory but for the same old awful officials to be reappointed only to ignore or miss obvious fouls and score bouts in truly incomprehensible fashion.
My hopes for 2018 are...
More of the same. More of the best fighting the best, compulsory PED testing, wider exposure on TV, more promising youngsters and investment in grass roots.. Oh and an undisputed heavyweight champ wouldn’t be bad.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is....
Officials and administrators as honest and hard working as the boxers they are supposed to be supporting.

Paul Zanon
The highlight of my boxing year was ...
From a selfishly personal perspective - interviewing Larry Holmes and Larry offering me a cheeseburger (which for the record I gladly wolfed down). From a non-personal perspective - I was delighted to see George Groves win the WBA 'super' title after three failed attempts...and also bouncing back after the sadness which came with the Gutknecht fight. I was hoping the Rigo vs Loma fight would go on to top my highlight list, but....
The biggest frustration or disappointment of my boxing year was ...
Performance enhanced boxers still hitting the steroid shakes before fights.
My hopes for 2018 are...
Less PED news headlines. More unification bouts.
The single thing that would most improve boxing is...
More tournaments like the World Boxing Super Series will help get the best of the best to battle it out and help with unifications.