A fantastic year for British boxing: Cruiserweight to Heavyweight
It has without doubt been an unprecedented year of success for boxing within the United Kingdom. With an action-packed 2015 coming to its end, the country currently boasts an impressive twelve world champions across the board – outperforming every other competing country in the sport.
In the final part of the series, I give a recap of each division to see how the British scene has excelled over the past 12 months.
British cruiserweights have very much been in the mix at world level. Ola Afolabi – the Londoner based in LA – won the IBO world title by defeating Rakhim Chakhkiev in November, having failed to claim the IBF version earlier in the year against Argentina’s Victor Ramirez. After defeating Afolabi, Ramirez made his first defence against another Londoner in Ovill Mckenzie. The rejuvenated 36-year old Mckenzie has had a great year – defending his British and Commonwealth belts and picking up the WBA continental strap in the process. He rightly felt aggrieved when he didn’t manage to round of the year by defeating Ramirez – the bout controversially scored a draw, when most had the Brit winning.
Tony Bellew has continued his progress since moving up in weight and remains on course for a third world title shot. The 33-year old most recently defeated world level contender Mateusz Masternak to claim the European strap. On the same night, Welsh favourite Enzo Maccarinelli defeated former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr and will also be hoping that he can get himself in position for another world title attempt. Elsewhere Jon-Lewis Dickinson, Stephen Simmons, Matty Askin and Tony Conquest have all finished the year on winning form; while Craig Kennedy and Tommy McCarthy still boast a perfect unbeaten record, as they continue to progress.
It probably won’t be argued by too many that boxing’s marquee division may finally have been brought back to life, both on the world level and in Britain too.
Tyson Fury’s ousting of Wladimir Klitschko in late November, in a long overdue shot for the Briton of Irish heritage against the long-reigning kingpin of the 200lb+ division, marked a huge moment in British boxing history – Fury becoming one of only a few British heavyweights to unify the division. After fighting several eliminators and then doing a lot of waiting around in 2015, the self proclaimed ‘gypsey king’ – expertly guided by his uncle and trainer Peter – finally got his shot and took it with both hands, becoming the number one fighter one worldwide.
The unbeaten Anthony Joshua continued his meteoric rise up through the ranks and has claimed the Commonwealth and British titles in his last two fights. The Olympic champion – promoted by Matchroom boxing and Sky Sports – has grabbed the public’s attention and media spotlight since turning professional. His most recent bout against fellow unbeaten contender Dillian Whyte headlined a hugely successful PPV event and Joshua is already touted to do so on a regular basis in the coming years. Whyte – although defeated by Joshua – has gained enough credibility and support, that he can easily come again.
Elsewhere, Dereck Chisora has had an unbeaten, yet quiet year, subsequently leaving promoter Frank Warren and joining Sauerland Promotions as he seeks another title route in 2016. David Price will consider himself very unfortunate. The giant Liverpudlian was knocked out cold by Erkan Teper as he challenged for the European title back in July, only to recently find out the German had been using banned drug substances. The 21-year old Hughie Fury has remained unbeaten and moved to 18-0, the highlight being a points decision victory over Ukraine’s Andriy Rudenko.
Matt Horan is a lead writer for WBN. Follow on Twitter @mhoran123