Boxers of 2016
2016 has perhaps not been a banner year for the sport. There was a lot of jostling for the crown that Mayweather vacated…
2016 has perhaps not been a banner year for the sport. There was a lot of jostling for the crown that Mayweather vacated. But in terms of big fights, there were only a few. What we do have is a lot of prospects really developing and intriguing matchups for 2017. We also have to recognize the boxers that did impress this year. Some beat ranked opponents while others were very impressive visually. Here is my top 15 ranking of 2016.
15. Anthony Joshua
Wins: Charles Martin, Dominic Breezeale and Eric Molina
This is purely an eye test pick for me. Joshua has looked much improved in the ring, picking apart opponents that are all solid. He showed confidence in the ring and his power seems to truly shock other heavyweights. He is set up for a date with Klitschko so is well on his way to going up this list next year
14. Manny Pacquaio
Wins: Jesse Vargas and Timothy Bradley
Despite retiring this year, Manny managed to fit in two bouts. Both saw Manny box to a comfortable decision win. The more impressive came against Timothy Bradley who is a higher rated opponent.
13. Gennady Golovkin
Wins: Dominic Wade and Kell Brook
The dominant middleweight once again finished a year with two stoppage victories. Neither was against the best opposition which stops a high ranking. Dominic Wade was overmatched and Kell Brook was two weights above the weight where he is a world champion. Impressive performances only go so far here.
12. Joe Smith Jr.
Wins: Fabiano Pena, Andrzej Fonfara and Bernard Hopkins
Two big underdog wins both by stoppage mean it was a huge year for Smith. He is definitely a name to take forward and Stevenson and Kovalev did not manage to stop Fonfara and Hopkins.
11. Chayaphon Moonsri
Wins: Go Odaira, Edo Anggoro, Saul Juarez and Silem Serang
The Thai fighter has dominated the minimumweight division. Despite mainly being unknown he has had a solid year. Anggoro and Serang are not the best wins. He did stop Odaira, a strong opponent from Japan. His best win has to be Saul Juarez who as underdog, he defeated by decision.
10. Jermall Charlo
Wins: Austin Trout and Julian Williams
The twin who has impressed me more this year has been Jermall Charlo. First he defeated Austin Trout. It may not sound that impressive but only Lara and Alvarez have beaten Trout. You have to be top quality. Then as underdog he stopped Julian Williams with one of the best uppercuts you will see this year. Jermall Charlo is really stating his case as one of the best light middleweights in the world.
9. Oleksandr Usyk
Wins: Kryzsztof Glowacki and Thabiso Mchunu
The cruiserweight division has never been that important. No one has ever really made people sit up and pay attention to the division. Usyk may be that guy. He dominated Glowacki who stopped longtime champion Marco Huck last season. He then stopped Mchunu and looks like he can rule this division for as long as he wants. He gets a lot of style points as his performances have been superb
8. Roman Gonzalez
Wins: McWilliams Arroyo and Carlos Cuadras
Arroyo is an okay win, without being anything special. Stepping up another weight division and handing an impressive defeat to unbeaten Carlos Cuadras did impress me. It was a good performance and hopefully Gonzalez just keeps on taking on the best opponents possible
7. Sergey Kovalev
Wins: Isaac Chilemba and Jean Pascal
Losses: Andre Ward
Potentially controversial, Kovalev deserves to be here. His two victories earlier in the year were impressive enough when he defeated Chilemba and Pascal. Then he took on Andre Ward, a pound-for-pound top three fighter. He lost a controversial decision where many believed he won after an early knockdown. Going that close with someone of that level is almost as impressive as any win.
6. Jezreel Corrales
Wins: Takashi Uchiyama
Almost definitely the shock of the year, Corrales stopped longtime champion Uchiyama. Uchiyama had been starting to get on the pound-for-pound lists but Corrales blasted him out in the second round showing incredible power and aggression.
5. Shinsuke Yamanaka
Wins: Liborio Solis and Anselmo Moreno
Yamanaka is one of the smaller names breaking into pound-for-pound lists. Performances like the two wins he had this year are a big reason why! First he got up from the canvas to stop Liborio Solis who deserved a decision over World Champion Jamie McDonnell in his next fight. He also cleared up any doubters from his split decision win over Anselmo Moreno by stopping him in a slugfest to win The Ring bantamweight title.
4. Terence Crawford
Wins: Hank Lundy, Viktor Postol and John Molina
Two stoppages came against solid opposition in Lundy and Molina. Both were stopped in impressive, violent fashion. The other win came against the unbeaten Viktor Postol. Meant to be a test of his credentials, Crawford dropped Postol twice and never looked in any trouble. Crawford passed the eye test in every fight but could have some better names on his résumé.
3. Carl Frampton
Wins: Scott Quigg and Leo Santa Cruz
A signature year for Frampton as he took on two huge opponents around his weight divisions. Quigg was a world champion, so he went to Manchester and took his belt. Then he went off to America and beat Leo Santa Cruz who took his first loss. The Santa Cruz fight was also an exciting fight for the fans and Frampton proved he has no issues in going away from home and beating the best the world has to offer.
2. Vasyl Lomachenko
Wins: Roman Martinez and Nicholas Walters
He entered 2016 as the world featherweight champion, lots of skill but without a huge signature win. Probably his best two wins came this year when he became super-featherweight world champion. To stop Roman Martinez was impressive enough but the way he systematically took apart Nicholas Walters was incredible. Walters was meant to be a tough opponent, rated top 15 pound-for-pound. It looked like they picked him up off the street as the movement and accuracy of Lomachenko destroyed him.
1. Andre Ward
Wins: Sullivan Barrera, Alexander Brand and Sergey Kovalev
The first two wins that Ward had this year may not have got him on this list. Brand and Barrera are solid wins but nothing spectacular. Then he took on divisional kingpin Sergey Kovalev. It was a brilliant bout, a controversial one where Ward saw his hand raised. Pretty much everyone has a different opinion but Ward is the only boxer with a win over a pound-for-pound top five opponent. He has to be here!