By Tris Dixon
It’s that time of year, where you mix moments of reflection with segments of unadulterated optimism.
It’s when you cast your mind back, as fight fans, to the highs that justify your faith in this, the noblest of arts, while kicking yourself at how the sport managed to again kick itself in the shins.
Yet for every disaster, erroneous scorecard or failed attempt to create a match of our dreams, we somehow often manage to shovel negativity to the rear of our mind’s eye and positively stare into next year, looking for triumphs from boxing on a weekly basis.
And, of course, there are grounds for optimism. Even the most deluded of us always have grounds for hoping the next year will be the best one yet.
But potentially 2018 really could be something special.
Start from the big guys and work down. There are positive noises about Deontay Wilder, Anthony Joshua and Joseph Parker staking their claims to dominate the heavyweight division while Tyson Fury looms large as the lineal champion saying all the right things about a spring comeback.
At cruiser, the WBSS will continue to give the fans what they want. Usyk faces Briedis and Gassiev meets Dorticos in contests for the purists.
At light-heavy, the names in the hat include Sergey Kovalev, Badou Jack, Sullivan Barrera, Bivol and Beterbiev.
The WBSS also caters for the fans at 168lbs, where the mouthwatering clash between Groves and Eubank is set to illuminate British boxing while Callum Smith’s imperious rise is scheduled to continue against Braehmer.
Down at middleweight, will we see Canelo-Govokin again? Does the timing now favour the Mexican? Will there be further controversy? Will Danny Jacobs make a big move, and what now for Billy Joe Saunders, who dazzled so brightly against David Lemieux? Will Jermall Charlo be able to put a dent in the division?
Six pounds south, will his brother Jermell continue to clean up, will Kell Brook be able to get his mojo back north of 147 and will Jarrett Hurd land a big fight?
Back down at welter, where Keith Thurman returns from a long injury layoff, Danny Garcia kicks off his ’18 campaign against Brandon Rios and Errol Spence meets Lamont Peterson next month. Amir Khan is also set to return, in the UK, having not fought since his spectacular loss to Canelo.
Then things really start to pick up when you move down in size, entering the likes of pound for pounders Terence Crawford, Mikey Garcia, Vasyl Lomachenko between junior-welterweight and junior-lightweight.
Will there be a featherweight tournament, with the likes of Lee Selby, Carl Frampton, Kid Galahad, Nonito Donaire and Leo Santa Cruz getting involved?
Will Zolani Tete land a meaningful fight at bantamweight, and will it be against Irish hotshot Ryan Burnett? At super-flyweight, who else is excited to see if Sor Rungvisai can carry on from where he left off, hopefully against Nayoa Inoue should he successfully negotiate his way by Juan Franciso Estrada.
Of course, talents will emerge and aging champions will fall and retire. This year alone we have bid farewell to Juan Manuel Marquez, Floyd Mayweather, Wladimir Klitschko, Timothy Bradley, Andre Ward and Miguel Cotto.
We know there might not be much time left in the boxing career of Manny Pacquiao, too.
Torches will be passed next year and boxing will endure.
Time might be running out for the likes of Adonis Stevenson, Jorge Linares and Erislandy Lara. It won’t be all good; it never is. But 2017 leaves us with enough hope and cautious optimism to make one stop and think that things might be improving.
You may be cynical and need to look hard for it but, hey, it’s Christmas Eve. Close your eyes and hope for the best.