BBN have rated the top fights during 2017 and there was a lot to choose from.
Thirty-six minutes of one-sided mastery was what Billy Joe Saunders delivered over in hostile territory in Canada – his first fight overseas – against the native David Lemieux to retain his WBO middleweight belt and send a serious message to Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez.
Some predicted the one-sided beatdown would happen, but others were untrusting of the Romany Gypsy due to his previous examples of ill-discipline and under-conditioning.
With the revered Dominic Ingle in the corner, BJS’s decision to relocate to Sheffield’s Wincobank gym was a huge success as he totally took the home fighter to school in a world championship contest.
The first Smith v Williams encounter in April was a frenzy of bad words, Twitter exchanges, genuine bad blood, and became even more manic on fight week.
Smith missed the weight limit, adding to the drama, and meant that only the Welshman could win the vacant interim WBA super-welterweight title on the line, but the Liverpudlian benefited from a size advantage in the ring.
Despite Smith’s superior mass, it was Williams who started the bout more successfully, using his greater boxing skill to negate the brawn and bullish style of his opponent.
Williams was regarded as one of the best prospects in British boxing and was living up to the hype in the early stages of the contest, his speed was dominating, but the stubbornness and toughness of ‘Beefy’ weathered the early storm and gradually wore down the lesser experienced opponent as the fight progressed.
A cut to Smith’s eye in round-seven made it look like he might be on borrowed time when the doctor took an extended look at the split, but in round-nine, Smith took matters into his own hands and intentionally butted Williams in full view but somehow got away with the blatant offense.
Although Williams was ahead on all three ringside judges’ scorecards – 86-85 – severe lacerations to his right eye from the seemingly intentional head clash was enough for Gary Lockett to withdraw his light-middleweight charge in the ninth-round, handing the win to Smith, who boasted he would have stopped his fallen opponent in the next round anyway.
The far from conclusive ending immediately set up the re-grudge-match for November, but next time Smith took the points decision with no arguments.
There was a distinct lack of boxing skill on display in this non-title heavyweight contest between bitter rivals Tony Bellew and David Haye.
Instead, the sold-out crowd in The O2 were treated to a dramatic soap opera where two hate-filled enemies see-sawed back and forth in a desperate and frantic attempt to conquer and exert bragging rights over the other.
Haye came out swinging like a white-collar boxer who was high on endorphins and over-eager to score a knockout in his first ever foray in the ring.
The Hayemaker was utterly dreadful and former figure of hos old self. His timing and speed were so far off, anyone watching their first ever David Haye fight would not have believed he was once a fine athlete with blistering speed in the heavyweight division.
Bellew was not out of his depth like everyone thought he would be pre-fight and took Haye’s best punches and still smiled.
He boxed to a game plan and made Haye look daft at times when he lunged in desperately. He patiently countered the overeager Bermondsey boxer and bided his time intelligently.
He then got a lucky break in round-six when the 36-year-old suffered a horrendous Achilles heel injury that rendered him useless for the rest of the fight.
Remarkably, he managed to box on for a further five-rounds! It was an astonishing act of bravery and heart but the Evertonian sensed blood and did not relent, eventually crashing Haye through the ropes in the penultimate round to win the fight beyond all expectations in a real-life Rocky story.
The atmosphere in the Greenwich arena was off the scale and the fervor could be felt through every television set that paid the PPV price and definitely got their money’s worth.
Their first fight was an amazing display of skill of the highest calibre with the Belfast man edging the Mexican to become a two-weight world champion.
In the eagerly-awaited rematch in Las Vegas in January this year, the decision was reversed the other way with the Central American relieving his former conqueror of his WBA Super world featherweight title and his unbeaten record with another close points victory.
Frampton was humble in defeat and admitted the scorecards had delivered the accurate verdict, also adding that he would love to complete the trilogy – music to our ears!
The super-middleweight unification fight between Londoner James DeGale and Sweden’s Badou Jack was enthralling and theatrical, and the controversial majority draw ensured that there were endless debates to follow.
Jack was knocked down in the first-round and didn’t look competitive enough to begin with, but ended so strongly, flooring the visiting fighter in the final round in New York.
One of the judges gave the decision to DeGale by 114-112, but the other two scored it 113-113, meaning both fighters retained their world titles – IBF (DeGale) and WBC (Jack).
‘Chunky’ suffered damage to his ear drum and lost teeth during the incredible contest.
The Brit was making the third defence of his IBF belt with a fine start, knocking the Swede down with a straight left inside the opening three-minutes.
But he allowed Jack ‘The Ripper’ to get back into the contest and had success with a number of body shots in the sixth -round, dislodging ‘Chunky’s’ gumshield with an uppercut in the eighth-round, which also displaced his front teeth.
DeGale landed some punches in the 10th, but was floored by a short uppercut in the final round, which ultimately cost him the victory he believed to be heading for.
Former five-weight world champion Floyd Mayweather, who promotes Jack, called the decision ‘bad for boxing.’
Either way. The fight was one hell of a spectacle on the night and continues to improve further each time you watch it.
April 29 2017 produced one of the most epic heavyweight battles of all-time. The ageing but still awesome “Dr. Steelhammer” took on the up-and-coming AJ for his IBF world title in front of a crowd of 90,000 at Wembley, equaling the British record of Len Harvey and Jock McAvoy set in 1939 and making it the biggest crowd for a heavyweight fight in 90 years.
They fought a cautious chess match for the first four rounds. In the fifth, Joshua turned up the heat and barraged Klitschko to the canvas. However, the old master rose up and dominated Joshua for the remainder of the round, with the Watford man just making it to the bell. Wlad continued to conquer into round-six, recording a knockdown – the first and only one of AJ’s professional career.
Both men were wary of each other for the following few rounds until a reinvigorated Joshua again flicked on a switch and crashed Klitschko to the canvas in the penultimate round after a peach of an uppercut almost took his head off.
Klitschko rose again but Joshua decked him for a second time, then continued to bombard the Ukrainian with unanswered shots until the referee called a halt to the exhilarating see-saw contest.
In the UK, the fight set a domestic record for PPV buys at over 1.2 million, exceeding the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight. In Germany, the fight was watched by an average 10.43 million viewers, while in his native country Ukraine, the match averaged 4.4 million viewers, becoming the most watched sporting event of 2017 in the country.
And it was all done in the most gentlemanly way possible, great sportsmanship displayed throughout, still generating hype that was off the scale without any need for trash-talking or any other attention-grabbing shenanigans that boxing is often in disrepute for.