A fantastic year for British Boxing: Lightweight to Super lightweight
Britain has come close to dominating the 135lb division over the past twelve months and there are a whole host of elite fighters coming from the British shores.
Terry Flanagan may be the best of the lot. After overcoming Stephen Ormond to win the European title early on in 2015, he got his shot at the WBO world championship. he won the title in slightly underwhelming circumstances after his opponent Jose Zepeda retired with a dislocated shoulder. However, he made sure he impressed in his first defence and was destructive and powerful as he stopped the USA’s Diego Magdaleno in the second round.
Fellow Mancunian Anthony Crolla also managed to win an elusive world title, as he claimed the WBA version. It took Crolla two attempts to get the belt after his first fight with Darleys Perez was controversially scored a draw. He made sure of victory in the rematch against the Colombian and stopped his opponent with a body shot in the fifth.
Ricky Burns was unsuccessful as he tried his luck up at super lightweight – outpointed by former world champion Omar Figueroa – and has since been undefeated back at his favoured weight. One of Burns’ old rivals Kevin Mitchell has very much had a year to forget. After looking back to his supreme best in defeating Daniel Estrada, the Londoner was stopped by Jorge Linares as he challenged for the WBC world title. In a pulsating and brutal battle, Mitchell developed a horrible cut on his left eye and was eventually halted in the tenth. He then received a great chance to bounce back, given a promising shot at the WBA interim belt in his next bout, but again was stopped – this time by the powerful Ismael Barroso. It is unsure where Mitchell will go from here.
Derry Mathews had previously won the interim belt earlier in the year – outpointing Tony Luis – and is now scheduled to challenge for Flanagan’s title in February. There was a huge shock as Olympic champion Luke Campbell tasted defeat for the first time in the professional ranks- falling to France’s Yvan Mendy in December. The skilful Campbell had previously stopped local rival Tommy Coyle, as the pair caught the attention of their home city of Hull back in August.
Scott Cardle won the vacant British title as he got the better of Craig Evans, before doing just enough to overcome home favourite Sean Dodd in a thrilling battle back in November. Evans went on to fight Tom Stalker on two occasions, with the WBO European title on the line – both fights remarkably finishing as a draw. Elsewhere, Ohara Davies impressively maintained his unbeaten record, while Kevin Hooper won the English title.
The 140lb division is packed and hugely competitive domestically and perhaps the current front-runner is Chorley’s unbeaten Jack Catterall – who has looked impressive in claiming the WBO inter-continental title and defending it on three occasions. John Wayne Hibbert and Dave Ryan have gone toe to toe for the Commonwealth belt on two occasions and have both tasted victory in hugely entertaining spectacles. It was a similar situation for Chris Jenkins and Tyrone Nurse, who twice battled it out for the British title. Although the first fight finished all square, Nurse came out on top in a very compelling rematch.
Lenny Daws finally got a second shot at the European title but in a great battle was bizarrely disqualified for what the referee saw as an intentional head-butt.
Elsewhere, Tommy Martin remained undefeated – winning the English title and the WBA continental strap, and after Martin vacated, Joe Hughes also managed to claim the English belt and has since defended it successfully. Ashley Theophane, Darren Hamilton and Johnny Coyle also won all their bouts of 2015 and will likely seek greater honours in the new year.
It was a disappointing year for Newcastle’s Bradley Saunders who lost his unbeaten record after being disqualified for an intentional head-butt against Renald Garrido in a fight he was well behind regardless. The former Olympian has had great trouble with hand injuries, so it is still up for debate as to whether he will fight again.
Matt Horan is a lead writer for WBN. Follow on Twitter @mhoran123