Like the thrilling heavyweight boxing tales of the 1970s and 80s, 2018 brought the year to a close with some magnificently-brutal and entertaining clashes.
In May, we saw Tony Bellew's slick and lethal dismantling of the "once upon a time", finely tuned and highly skilled knockout merchant that was, former WBA heavyweight champion, David Haye.
The fight was obviously peddled to the nines by Eddie Hearn, with Haye tipped as the bookies favourite once again - most boxing fans' last hope and fantasy that he would rekindle his old obliterating punching venom and lay the loud-mouthed scouser, out for the count this time around. However, 'The Haymaker' swung recklessly - widely missing Bellew, dragging and anchoring his right leg across the canvas like it was shackled to heavy ball and chain.
After inflicting three bad knockdowns over Haye, 'The Bomber' powerfully unloaded with a nasty barrage of menacing shots, killing the fight off, and well and truly chinning his man into retirement. 2-0 Bellew.
Then came July, and the boxing world was treated to an explosive, heavy-handed slugfest between Dillian Whyte and Joseph Parker.
Parker timbered to the deck in the ninth after a freight-train of a left hook from Whyte, smashed into the Kiwi's granite chin; an oomph of spume-like slaver spat from his mouth as he dropped to the deck. A spectacular delivery from the Brixton bull, but an equally spectacular recovery from Parker, who somehow, managed to beat the count, only to later reciprocate in the twelfth - a straight right rocking 'The Body Snatcher' to the ropes before his legs gave way and he was dropped. Past experiences from being hurt kicked like mule, and Whyte "took a knee", stayed down until the eight count.
A points for Dillian on the night, but a cracking fight between the pair.
Two months later, Anthony Joshua is troubled early doors by the smaller, yet ferocious, Alexander Povetkin. The Russian is vicious in the opening rounds, landing cleanly, swiftly and powerfully; hurting Joshua with solid cracks to the nose as blood pissed-out. AJ grimaced through the crunching blows as leathered knuckles fiercely greeted his face in blistering fashion. However, by the third, Joshua adapted and overcame the hindrance of fighting the shorter man; his power and momentum becoming somewhat blunted as he threw shots downhill, as opposed to straight ahead or upwards.
In an almost crouching-style position, hooks and uppercuts begin to smash into 'The White Lion' - Joshua finding a rhythm in his attack. In the seventh, the target of Povetkin's banged-up face is a swollen, red ruin - and after a torrent of punishment and two knockdowns, the ref waives off the bout, for Joshua had doled-out a battering and pasting upon the brave Russian.
Another successful defence scored by AJ.
December 1 - Tyson Fury shocks all his doubters by schooling formidable powerhouse puncher, and WBC champion, Deontay Wilder over twelve rounds.
Wilder detonated with some artillery, putting 'The Gypsy King' down in the ninth with a shady shot to the back of the head, then again in the twelfth with a brutal left hook, right hook combination that knocked out Fury for about five seconds.
No-one will ever know how Tyson beat the count and finished off the round by peppering 'The Bronze Bomber' with jabs and "one-twos" until the final bell. An enthralling night of heavyweight boxing and one for the history books.
And closing the year, Whyte vs Chisora 2 - a fight that picked up in the thirteenth round. Chisora was a beast that night; bullying Whyte about the ring, unleashing beefy hooks to the body, winning rounds, leading slightly on the judges' scorecards. Ever so slightly "nicking the rounds" until Whyte leathered Chisora with a massive and thunderous left hook that sent "Del Boy" crashing to the canvas, eyes flickering as he stared up at the arena lights.
So, with a year of succulent, heavyweight bouts, it's safe to be brutally honest that 2019 has yet to deliver on its unofficial promise of 'big' fights, involving 'big' names - the absolute 'cream' of the division.
Dillian Whyte has been snubbed once more by the WBC, Fury and Wilder have side-stepped each-other for lesser opponents, and Anthony Joshua was left 'high and dry' due to Miller's performance-enhancing shenanigans. So now, AJ faces Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr on June 1 at Madison Square Garden.
Let's take a look at what the two heavies bring to the table:
The IBO, WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion is regarded as the "complete boxer". A fighter who possesses a furnished slew of proficient boxing skills and attributes, whilst being equally equipped to slug it out in a gritty brawl when the s**t hits the fan. (His fight against Wladimir Klitschko back in 2017 being testament to that).
Going into his defence against Parker, Joshua switched style and tactic, following the Klitschko fight - gone were the days of walking opponents down, emptying his tank early on - a lesson was definitely learned.
AJ deployed a more chess-match enforcement style of fighting; far less exhilarating on the eye in my opinion - but a "safety net" strategy and a clear demonstration of his ability to adapt to opponents. However, during the Povetkin clash, glimmers of the early Anthony were back: he let his hands go and the results were devastating, effective and entertaining.
With a sole, narrow points defeat to Joseph Parker on his record (32-2-0), Ruiz Jr enters this fight with high-flying ambitions of becoming world heavyweight champion - that much is for definite.
Ruiz is no palooka and certainly carries knockout power - more than enough to put AJ to sleep if he lands. Make no mistake, Ruiz's not even close enough to breathe same air as Josh, but, this is a fight where he'll turn up, pressure Joshua, unload with great, swinging, slugging shots, giving it everything he's got, but never really being equipped to deviate from his nominal role of Joshua's "stepping stone".
The duration of the bout, will, I'm sure, depend on AJ's discretion come fight night. Ruiz's aspirations of flattening Joshua to become heavyweight champion will undoubtedly be grounded to a bloody halt, early to mid rounds.
The rough, tough, Mexican-American will leave the grand and glittering stage of 'the Garden' bruised and battered but with a nice few quid in his pocket.
Thereafter, hopefully, a real heavyweight contest will save the division in 2019. Here's to it.