Frontproof Media's 2017 End of the Year Awards: Fighter of the Year
Published: January 13, 2018
One day 2017 will be looked back upon as one of the most exceptional years the sport of boxing has had in quite some time. Like many years surrounding the squared circle the year was filled with ups and downs. Many may remember the year 2003 where a young Manny Pacquiao emerged in the spotlight with his brutal destruction of then top pound-for-pound fighter Marco Antonio Barrera. That same year Nicaraguan slugger Ricardo Mayorga surprised fans by twice defeating top technician Vernon Forrest. Forrest was coming off of a banner 2002 where he twice beat Shane Mosley.
In 2017, one fighter came out of boxing's doldrums and flipped the boxing world upside down. That fighter was Thailand's Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (44-4-1, 40 KOs). To start off the year, Rungvisai challenged the then number one ranked pound for pound fighter in the world Roman Gonzalez (46-2, 38 KOs). The fight took place at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin’s middleweight title defense against Daniel Jacobs. That night Rungvisai changed the boxing landscape by winning a close majority decision.
Many fans and pundits had the Nicaraguan fighter winning the bout. However, it was close enough that the fight could have been argued in favor of Rungvisai. The fact that the match was also one of the best fights of the year alleviated some of the controversy surrounding the scoring of the fight.
In September, Rungvisai was given the opportunity to step in the ring against Gonzalez in a rematch to erase any doubts from their first encounter. This time the Thai fighter was utterly dominant beating up on Gonzalez from the start. Rungvisai scored a vicious and shocking knockout in the fourth round with a right hook. The knockout was one of the best to have taken place in the entire year and certainly against the most high profile opponent.
In 2017, Rungvisai took part in possibly the fight of the year and knockout of the year along with being the break out fighter of the year. For these reasons, Frontproof Media has awarded Srisaket Sor Rungvisai with our Fighter of the Year Award. While the Thai fighter may not be the best fighter on the planet, he made his name known on an international level in 2017. Rungvisai’s 2017 was similar to past award winners such as Glen Johnson in 2004 where he defeated Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver. The fight of the year award is not about who was the best fighter that year regarding skill level but who made the most significant impact and changes to their career in a 12-month span. Rungvisai’s career is now leaps and bounds ahead of where it was before 2017.
Rungvisai’s upcoming bout against Juan Francisco Estrada for the WBC super flyweight (115) championship is an opportunity for the Thai fighter to keep the momentum rolling from 2017 into 2018.
Terence Crawford (32-0, 23 KOs)
Gennady Golovkin (37-0-1, 33 KOs)
Vasyl Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs)
(Feature Photo: Getty Images)