Another year is in the books and it was a doozy both in and out of the ring. Fans said farewell to Showtime and hello to Amazon Prime. Tank-Davis-Ryan Garca lit up the box office, Terence Crawford and Naoya Inoue lit up the month of July with twin career defining performances, Tyson Fury got knocked on his ass by an MMA fighter making his pro debut, and week after week quality fights dotted the landscape for almost all of twelve months.
It was a year to remember and now we’ve arrived at boxing Oscars season. On the men’s side, BoxingScene honors so far have gone to:
- Fighter: Naoya Inoue
- Fight: Jaime Munguia-Sergiy Derevyanchenko
- Knockout: Brian Mendoza-Sebastian Fundora
- Prospect: Ernesto Mercado
- Upset: Rafael Espinoza-Robeisy Ramirez
On the women’s side, awards went to:
Combining some elements of the men’s and women’s sides, here are the best of the rest in boxing from BoxingScene for 2023.
Round of the Year: O’Shaquie Foster-Eduardo “Rocky” Hernandez, Round 11
On the final Showtime Boxing podcast, Eric Raskin favorably compared the eleventh frame of this junior lightweight title fight to round 9 of Mickey Ward-Arturo Gatti I. For those who can’t get enough of unrestrained violence, there is little higher praise. Hernandez built a huge lead in the fight, threatening to upend Foster in his first title defense after winning the vacant WBC belt with a decision over undefeated featherweight tiltist Rey Vargas. Foster turned aggressor, bringing the fight and hurting Hernandez in the eleventh. As described by Jake Donovan, “A right uppercut by the defending titlist buckled the knees of Hernandez, who barely avoided the canvas but spent the next 30 seconds constantly looking to his corner and seemingly unaware of his surroundings. That changed midway through the round. A right hand by Hernandez left Foster stunned along the ropes, as the two traded for the balance of the frame.” According to CompuBox, Foster landed 38 of 68 punches while Hernandez scored on 30 of 77 with only four jabs, all from Foster, landed in the frame. Foster would finish Hernandez the following round but it was the previous round that created the best three-minute memory of 2023.
Honorable Mention: Tyson Fury-Francis Ngannou Round 3, Rafael Espinoza-Robeisy Ramirez Round 6, Amanda Serrano-Danila Ramos Round 12, Terence Crawford-Errol Spence Round 2
Trainer of the Year: Brian “Bomac” McIntyre
Terence Crawford picked up the biggest win of his career in 2023 by knocking out Errol Spence. The man in the corner was as happy as his charge, and why shouldn’t that have been the case? McIntyre built one of the great talents of this century in an area of the country, Nebraska, where football is king, queen, and royal court. McIntyre also contributed to a career saving win for Chris Eubank in a rematch with Liam Smith. It was a banner year for the man best known as “Bomac.”
Honorable Mention: Shingo Inoue, Bill Haney, Ross Enamait
Event of the Year: Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia
One fighter was built in a fairly traditional way. Gervonta Davis was built on superstar cards, developing his profile under the umbrella of the biggest attraction of the 21st century. He gradually built his brand by selling tickets in locations from coast-to-coast, working his way into a pay-per-view regular while winning belts at junior lightweight and lightweight. Ryan Garcia built a massive social media following, almost never fought on free or cable television, and never bothered fighting for a title. It combined for a superfight, 21st century style, with over a million buys in the richest event of 2023. Davis won by knockout but the real win was seeing that there are new ways to get rich in boxing.
Honorable Mention: Terence Crawford-Errol Spence, The End of Showtime Boxing, The December Saudi Heavyweight Showcase
Network of the Year: Showtime
As they hit the exits, Showtime delivered one last year of thrills for fans. While much of their best came on pay-per-view, it was a year full of memorable encounters. They brought Saul Alvarez back into their fold, pulled off Davis-Garcia and Crawford-Spence, and delivered David Benavidez his two most significant wins over Caleb Plant and Demetrius Andrade. Subscribers got their fair share of action as well with Brian Mendoza’s stunning upset of Sebastian Fundora, and the continuing ascents of Tim Tszyu and Surbriel Matias. After a nearly forty-year run, Showtime ended boxing’s premium cable era with a bang.
Honorable Mention: ESPN/ESPN+, DAZN
Comeback of the Year: Joseph Parker
Joseph Parker might have won and lost a title at heavyweight, but over the years there has always been a gap between what looked possible early in his career and what actually developed. Parker was as eye-catching a prospect as any heavyweight in the world early on but then the competition got tougher and he could often seem like a fighter both caught between styles and caught not wanting it bad enough. In losses to Dillian Whyte and Joe Joyce, he proved his character. The latter loss in September 2022 was a brutal affair and his first knockout loss, leaving one to wonder if Parker’s best moments were past him. After some rehab assignments, a clash with Deontay Wilder promised to say whether Parker was still a contender. Parker capped a 4-0 campaign in 2023 with a near shutout of the most dangerous right-handed puncher in the world.
Best wishes and health to everyone who takes a moment to read us here at BoxingScene for the rest of 2024.
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at email@example.com