Yes, 2022 is likely to be remembered for all the fights that didn’t happen: Tyson Fury vs. Anthony Joshua, Errol Spence Jr. vs. Terence Crawford, and Chris Eubank Jr. vs. Conor Benn.
However, as we close out the year, let’s stay positive and show some appreciation for what the sport of boxing did provide. We had unforgettable fights, dramatic knockouts, colossal upsets, underappreciated champions kicking open the door to stardom, and inspiring storylines.
The drama that boxing can provide is unmatched and it’s impossible to get through a calendar year without some very special moments. This year was no exception and now is the perfect time to serve up some reminders.
The Sporting News now presents its maiden year-end awards.
Men’s Boxer of the Year: Dmitry Bivol
If Russian technician Dmitry Bivol had sat down on January 1, 2022, and planned out the perfect year, he wouldn’t have been too far away from what became a reality. The reigning WBA light heavyweight champ upset then-pound-for-pound No. 1 Canelo Alvarez on a 12-round unanimous decision and, for an encore, handed the previously unbeaten Gilberto Ramirez his first professional defeat in 45 starts.
Women’s Boxer of the Year: Claressa Shields
In 2022, the self-proclaimed GWOAT Claressa Shields set about proving her ring moniker once again. The Flint, Michigan, star scored a 10-round shutout win over Ema Kozin before turning her attention to an undisputed title bout against undefeated knockout artist Savannah Marshall. Shields boxed brilliantly, displaying her vast array of skills and unrivalled athleticism to claim a 10-round unanimous decision in an unforgettable scrap in London.
Fight of the Year: Katie Taylor vs. Amanda Serrano
It took a long time to get Ireland’s Katie Taylor and Puerto Rico’s Amanda Serrano in the same ring. When it finally happened, at Madison Square Garden on April 30, no one was disappointed. In a brilliant stylistic pairing, Taylor matched her quick-fisted, fleet-footed finesse against Serrano’s hard-hitting, southpaw fury. The two mixed like nitro and glycerine. Taylor retained her undisputed lightweight crown on a 10-round split decision, surviving mid-round hell to out-speed Serrano down the stretch. It was billed as the biggest women’s fight of all time and it may have been the best of all time.
Knockout of the Year: Leigh Wood
The incredible featherweight collision between England’s Leigh Wood and Ireland’s Michael Conlan was a contender for Fight of the Year. But any fan who saw it will never forget the climax. Southpaw Conlan scored a brutal first-round knockdown and imposed his boxing skills on Wood throughout the first half. Slowly, however, the tide turned. As Conlan began to fade, Wood upped the pace, and floored his man in the 11th. With bullet holes in his fuel tank, Conlan was running on empty when he was spectacularly knocked out and sent head-first out of the ring in Round 12.
Upset of the Year: Dmitry Bivol over Canelo Alvarez
The unbeaten Dmitry Bivol exuded quiet confidence during the build-up to his WBA light heavyweight title defence against heavily favoured Mexican icon Canelo Alvarez. The Russian star took that confidence into the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and boxed brilliantly. Canelo struggled to penetrate the champion’s defence and was consistently peppered by quick two-fisted assaults. The only downside was the scoring, with all three judges awarding Bivol a 115-113 (seven rounds to five) win. Frankly, the margin of victory should have been wider.
Story of the Year: Usyk and Lomachenko fight for Ukraine
When 2022 began, Vasiliy Lomachenko was determined to regain the lightweight championship he’d lost to Teofimo Lopez, and unified heavyweight king Oleksandr Usyk was focused on repeating his epic triumph over Anthony Joshua. By late February, both Loma and Usyk were returning to their home country of Ukraine, which was under attack by Russian forces. Persuaded by their own military to get back in the prize ring, Usyk outpointed Joshua in August, and Loma scored a decision win over Jamaine Ortiz two months later. Consider this scenario the next time a fighter gives an excuse for poor performance.