2019 Review:12 Fights for Christmas
By Oliver McManus
If you’re one of those to get bored of all the Christmas folly then fear not. FightPost are here with our 12 Fights of Christmas ideal for a little bit of indulgent escapism. Take your desired device away from the in-laws and enjoy some ‘me time’. These are by no means the definitive 12 BEST fights of the year but just a selection of bouts worthy of your time.
Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire produced a contest worthy of the Muhammad Ali trophy when they met in November. The fearsome Japanese monster was predicted to continue his reign of brutality but Donaire stood toe-to-toe and refused to buckle. At 37 years old The Filipino Flash cemented his legacy as an all time great, even in defeat.
Sticking with the World Boxing Super Series and Josh Taylor’s victory over Regis Prograis is a certain contender for fight of the year. The fight was a super fight in every sense of the word; two champions meeting in the centre of the ring and giving no quarter. An intriguing battle of wit between jostling southpaws; agony was etched across their faces upon the final whistle. A fight that deserves to be showered in glory.
Welsh flyweight Jay Harris looked at his best when stopping Paddy Barnes inside four rounds. Harris had travelled to Barnes’ backyard, Belfast, to contest the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title and the pair went to war. After a quiet opening minute the rest of the contest saw both men walk forward and swing relentlessly. Harris dropped Barnes in the third with a body shot and stopped him with a similar shot in the fourth. Devastating stuff from the talented 29 year old.
Fellow Welsh fighter Chris Jenkins shocked a fair few pundits when he outpointed Johnny Garton in March. Rok’n’Rolla was in his second contest at welterweight with Garton in his first defense. Jenkins made the smoother start and carried it through the contest despite pockets of aggression from Garton. The Welshman found frequent success with an energy-sapping overhand right.
Marco McCullough’s stoppage of Declan Geraghty makes the list as much for sentiment as the quality of the fight. Both were in high demand when the super featherweights collided in May; McCullough felt the contest had been made unduly personal. The Belfast boxer was quickly approaching ching his 30s and was keen to issue a lasting statement. In the 3rd round a pummelling right hand landed flush to Geraghty’s head and the fight was done. It felt special at the time; even more so, now, given McCullough’s early retirement.
Fellow super featherweights Liam Dillon and Youssef Khoumari produced a tantalising fight in November. The pair were contesting the vacant English title and were on full throttle for the ten rounds. Dillon began by walking down Khoumari who responded, on the ropes, with a ferocious output. Both men absorbed punishment like a sponge does water in a bath and fought to an incredible draw.
Samuel Antwi became Southern Area champion after a thrilling victory over Jez Smith in February. A few customary jabs, by way of good manners, kicked off the fight before the tempo increased significantly. Smith had Antwi under the cosh in the first round and pinned him to the ropes; Antwi again found himself in an uncomfortable position in the fourth round. The away fighter found his rhythm in the seventh with gruelling liver punches dropping Smith on three occasions. Smith was in agony and more shots to the body saw the fight called to a halt in the eighth.
Over in Australia, Jeff Horn’s rematch with Michael Zerafa makes the list by way of a ridiculous ninth round. Few were able to watch the fight with rights only distributed in New Zealand and Australia but those who did were treated to an action-packed spectacle. Horn was comfortable for much of the contest but looked to be fatiguing when Zerafa rallied in the final few rounds. On the brink of being stopped he somehow dropped his opponent twice in the ninth when the writing looked to be on the wall.
Katowice, Poland played host to a remarkable middleweight brawl in April. Robert Talarek and Patryk Szymanski exchanged 10 knockdowns in the space of five rounds. The Polish boxers set out swinging from the first round and didn’t stop until the contest was over. Full time miner Talarek was dropped four times himself but, remarkably, was the victor after dropping Szymanski on six occasions. A fiery affair.
Punching poet Matt Windle’s gallant defeat to David Seymour was yet another on the conveyor belt of ‘area title thrillers’. The flyweights, contesting the Midlands belt, met on November 30th and the contest ebbed and flowed throughout. Windle looked better in the middle rounds and realistically did enough to take the win. Unfortunately not the first title tilt in which he’s been scuppered. REMATCH, PLEASE!
Kash Farooq vs Lee McGregor was always bound to be a beautiful display of boxing. It had made at a time that made sense – not left to marinate, brew or whatever term you wish to use. The pair were enthusiastic and eager to showcase their best attributes. Farooq was fighting at his ideal range – closing the gap and digging into the body. When McGregor was able to plant his feet there was spite to his shot selection. The bout was undone by controversial scorecards with McGregor declared the winner.
A less spotted barnburner saw Craig Morris and Jack Flatley spontaneously combust at the centre of the ring. The pair met in May with Flatley looking to become the first ever English champion named “Jack”. He managed to do so but not after working through hell. Flatley had his nose in front early on but Morris refused to relent. Ten rounds of frenetic, front-foot pressure that only ceased when the final bell rang.
The past 12 months in the boxing world has had an awful lot of talking points; often rooted in negativity. Fortunately the fighters continue to do what they know best and put on a show.
Until next year, Merry Christmas!