Frontproof Media's 2017 End of the Year Awards: Fight of the Year
By Hector Franco | Senior Writer and Editor
Published: January 15, 2018
In 1996, Evander Holyfield stepped into the ring against Mike Tyson as a massive underdog. That night Holyfield scored an 11th round stoppage over Tyson in a fight that he was expected to lose by an early and quick knockout. The match was awarded the fight of the year for 1996 in large part because of the magnitude and stage that the fight took place on, not necessarily the level of action that was exhibited inside the ring. That same year many fans would have awarded the fight of the year to Marco Antonio Barrera’s wild brawl with Kennedy McKinney to kick off HBO’s Boxing After Dark series. The award could have also gone to Arturo Gatti’s fantastic come from behind stoppage over Wilson Rodriguez. Frontproof Media has chosen to go with the latter.
At the beginning of 2017, almost one year to the day Badou Jack (22-1-2, 13 KOs) faced off against the United Kingdom’s James Degale (23-2-1, 14 KOs). The bout was a unification fight for the WBC and IBF super middleweight (168) titles and took place at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. With former super middleweight kingpin Andre Ward leaving the division, the throne was for the taking.
The bout was a back and forth affair with many changes in momentum. Degale, who is a former Olympic Gold Medalist scored a knockdown in the first round to give him an early lead. As talented as Degale is there have been lapses of focus in his bouts where he traded with his opponent to his detriment. This would be the story of his fight with Jack who had significant moments and even whole rounds where he completely dominated Degale. In the eighth round, Jack was able to stun the U.K. fighter several times beating him from pillar to post. In the final round, Jack was able to score a knockdown on an exhausted Degale to seemingly snatch the victory from Degale’s hands.
The scorecards were 114-112 for Degale and two scores of 113-113 making the bout a majority draw. Afterward, many complained about the scoring of the fight as many had Jack as the clear winner. While the scoring of the bout has come into question, what took place inside the ring is unquestionable. The fight exceeded expectations and provided fans with the best super middleweight bout to have taken place in quite some time.
Frontproof Media is awarding Badou Jack-James Degale with the fight of the year for 2017 as a matter of preference. Many bouts took place in 2017 that could have easily been the fight of the year depending on what you enjoy watching during a match. There was no clear winner for this award in 2017, but in a year with multiple fight of the year candidates, there isn't much room for complaining.
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Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Carlos Cuadras
Wladimir Klitschko vs. Anthony Joshua
Oscar Valdez vs. Miguel Marriaga
(Feature Photo: Marilyn Paulino)