Women’s Boxing in 2021 & What Lies Ahead in 2022
What was started previously continued in 2021. Despite a heavily restrictive boxing calendar to you know what, women’s boxing has continued its upward surge. And with some force.
Since I decided to focus more on women’s boxing two years ago I have lost count of how many female fighters I have interviewed. But as an indication of how the women’s side of the sport is growing, there are many more I have not interviewed yet.
This year has been another strong one for women’s boxing. More and more fighters are turning over including world-class amateurs. British Olympic heroes Lauren Price and Karriss Artingstall will soon announce where they will be based in the promotional landscape. Both could be future stars.
Don’t be surprised if the likes of Hannah Robinson and other members of the Team GB set-up also decide to turn over before the next Olympics come around.
The lack of depth and talent will soon be a thing of the past. The ranks are deepening but to keep the upward trajectory going, we need great fights. We need great rivalries. We are most certainly getting there.
Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall look set to clash in 2022. Boxxer dug deeper into their pockets than others to get the fight on. It could and should have happened already. A little less money spent on fireworks and other more superficial things and more thought to the purse of the fighters would have secured the fight long before now. Shields is the self-proclaimed GWOAT. She might be right. Marshall could be her biggest rival to be hailed as the best female on the planet. Their fight will settle many an argument.
Shields and Marshall is potentially the biggest fight in women’s boxing. But there are other notable contenders. Another good sign.
Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano also look set to clash next year. They will hit New York in the opening months of 2022, Taylor looked a little more beatable on her most recent meeting. Serrano could be in the right place at the right time.
The American Mikaela Mayer gave us the fight of the year against Maiva Hamadouche. Alycia Baumgardner served up the performance of the year in her destruction of Terri Harper in Sheffield. Sadly we may have to wait for Mayer vs Baumgardner. But when it happens, it could be the best pure fight of the lot. This is a fight that must not be lost in boxing politics.
Harper will return at lightweight next year. The new division is a little less crowded than her old one. If Taylor beats Serrano, you can easily see Taylor vs Harper this time next year if Harper can rebuild her fragile confidence with a few wins.
It might look highly premature, but we might be a little closer to Chantelle Cameron and Sandy Ryan than many people think. Cameron has business left in the Matchroom in-house light-welterweight unification tournament, but if Cameron is the fighter left standing, a fight with Ryan moves a step nearer.
Ryan might only be 3-0, but she is a fighter in a hurry. Cameron and Ryan have sparring history. Ryan might be the best prospect in the sport. Cameron vs Ryan could be some fight. It could be the fight.
Ebanie Bridges will look to build on her success in 2021. A year that started with a fight in a car park ended with a fight in a football stadium. Bridges proved many things this year. She will look to prove much more next year. A fiercely ambitious and hard-working fighter will chase another shot at a world title. Don’t rule out the Australian proving a few more people wrong in the next 12 months.
Shannon Courtenay ended the year as a former world champion and the arch-rival of Bridges has much to prove going forward. Despite the judges trying their best to save her, Jamie Mitchell well beat her in Liverpool this year and it is hard to see the result changing in their inevitable rematch.
Natasha Jonas should already be a world champion. Jonas deserved better against Harper in 2020, a draw that was hotly disputed at the time should have gone her way. A wafer-thin defeat to Taylor earlier this year showed that ‘Miss GB’ more than belongs at world level. Now signed with Boxxer and Sky another tilt at a world title should present itself sometime in 2022. With lessons learned from the fights with Harper and Taylor, it could easily be third time lucky for Jonas.
There are plenty of other fighters who will advance further in 2022. Look out for the likes of Rhiannon Dixon and Chloe Watson to enhance their reputations. Both are incredibly talented and will go far.
Louise Orton hopefully and belatedly will make her professional debut next year. She has been kicking her heels in frustration for two years. I have called Orton British boxing’s best-kept secret, that should change very soon.
Nicola Hopewell is currently on the outside looking in. Fighting away from the crowd in many ways, Hopewell has talked about having no regrets and wanting an opportunity on the big stage. 2022 could and should give her that.
Another Australian Skye Nicolson has recently turned pro and is another talented addition to the ranks. Nicolson has the look of a future world champion and a very good one at that.
Emma Dolan is yet another fighter to keep an eye on. Dolan has pedigree, and trust me, she will be much more widely known in 12 months time.
Fighters like Hannah Baggaley and Georgia O’Connor are interesting recent additions to the professional ranks. Both are more than worth investing your time in their journeys. Carly Skelly is on the fringes of the world title picture, 2022 could be a big year for her. Ebonie Jones had a debut that promised plenty. Her development and progress will be of real interest going forward.
Hannah Rankin now a two-time world champion deserves a big fight in 2022. The new unified light-middleweight champion of the world has options for the year ahead and hopefully, that big night presents itself next year.
Ellie Scotney has had a stop-start professional career so far. But she is highly rated for a reason. The switch to Shane McGuigan should see her flourish next year. Scotney has the right connections and at some point in 2022, she will be given an opportunity to realise that potential. Scotney is unlikely to let her opportunity go. She is far too good to do so.
There are far too many fighters to mention in one article, which again shows how far the sport has come. We have seen women’s boxing grow quickly from the times of apathy and indifference, and with an ever-expanding roster of new talent, we are still only at the beginning of the story.