The Grueling Truth’s Best of 2016: Boxing
Here at The Grueling Truth, we want to give a hearty thanks to all our listeners for tuning in week after week and turning this into a burgeoning website where the legends do in fact come to speak. Mike Goodpaster has been the engine that makes this growing vehicle move forward, and I have been lucky enough to sit co-pilot with him for most of the year, bringing you relevant boxing news and hopefully, the analytical skills to keep you interested. Thank you, Mike, and once again, thank you fans. It’s only going to get better, so continue to join us.
With that said, no year-end review is complete without a proper rewards ceremony.
The Bob Fitzsimmons Knockout of the Year Award:
Vasyl Lomachenko vs. Roman Martinez KO5/Jermall Charlo vs. Julian Williams KO5
2016 saw many knockouts worthy of consideration, but from our perspective, the ones seen in significant fights should count the most. That narrowed it down to these two.
Few saw Lomachenko as a powerful hitter until his slam-bang uppercut-right hook combination put the tough Roman Martinez down like a cheap rug. The sequence itself is indicative of the incredible things the Ukrainian is capable of, and he continued to showcase his pop in his next fight.
Charlo, an ever-improving fighter, scored one of the prettier counter uppercuts you will see against a guy many believed was a live underdog. The punch landed with pinpoint precision, and the effect was immediately felt, as Williams’ legs turned to something resembling noodles.
The Zale-Graziano Fight of the Year:
Francisco Vargas vs. Orlando Salido MD
The Yuri “Boreman” Foreman Snoozer of the Year:
Luis Ortiz vs. Malik Scott
Even Ortiz recognized this bout was a hiccup because he went and signed for a bout against a 9-1-1 no-hoper in David Allen to make up for it.
The “Fearless” Harry Greb Fighter of the Year:
Two big wins: One a domestic showdown, one on foreign soil, neither was a gimmie. The Santa Cruz win showed real class. He boxed beautifully and demonstrated that no matter how tough you are, you won’t be walking in carelessly.
The Jack Britton Breakout Fighter of the Year:
The best cruiserweight since Holyfield, for many of us. This year he became the quickest cruiserweight to win a title, breaking Holyfield’s mark by three fights. This wasn’t done by pounding out a few softies, however. Glowacki and Mchunu weren’t easy outs until Usyk made them look like it.
The Ray Arcel Trainer of the Year:
Shane McGuigan (Carl Frampton, David Haye, and George Groves)
There is a reason U.K. boxing is riding high right now, and Shane is part of it. His fighters had good years, with the three mentioned finishing at 8-0.
The Tex Rickard Promoter of the Year:
Matchroom Boxing (Eddie Hearn)
Anthony Joshua vs. Wladimir Klitschko has already sold 50k tickets, Gennady Golovkin-Kell Brook did good business, and so did Frampton vs. Scott Quigg. The proof is in the pudding, especially when the big American promoters either refuse to do business with one another or are too busy putting on cards few want to see.
The James J. Braddock Upset of the Year:
Joe Smith vs. Andrzej Fonfara TKO1
Smith had already been stopped, and Fonfara had his head up after beating that one son of Julio Caesar Chavez. Turns out most underestimated Smith. He came charging out of the gate, dropping Fonfara a few times and securing a place in the ranks. His vicious victory over Bernard Hopkins as a 3-1 underdog wasn’t half bad either.
The Lazslo Papp Prospect of the Year:
Say what you want about heavily hyped prospects like Spence, but his resume just isn’t on par with Gvozdyk’s. The former Ukrainian Olympian was 4-0 with all four by stoppage this year and against solid opponents. Just last year Nadjib Mohammedi was a title challenger. Gvozdyk made easy work of him, much like Kovalev. Gvozdyk looked better against Isaac Chilemba than Kovalev did, however, and stopped the game Tommy Karpency, as well. The guy is a top-10 contender in less than thirteen fights.
The Willie Pep Defensive Fighter of the Year:
Who else could it be? Rigondeaux has faced paltry opposition lately, and Ward hit the canvass. As good as Tevin Farmer looks he hasn’t quite shown his slickness at the highest of levels. The fact is that for as engaged as Lomachenko is offensively he’s absurdly hard to connect with. Very few men today could frustrate a world class opponent to the point of simply giving up, but that is exactly what happened in Lomachenko’s bout with Walters. And he’s only getting better.
The Jose “No Threat” Baret Bust of the Year
Though Fury won one of the most coveted titles in sports history, the heavyweight championship of the world (I mean the title you get from beating the best, not some alphabet trinket backed by some corrupt organization), he has done little to make us clamor for his return. He has not only smeared the sport that has brought him his fame (singing wouldn’t do the trick) but slandered the athletes who care about its success. He has done little more than post funny tweets in his time off. Hopefully, he doesn’t continue to rest on his laurels, but with his erratic behavior, it’s hard to tell.