2015 was a year of major developments in boxing, though not necessarily all of those panned out in phenomenal fights. Keep in mind that such a label caters strictly to the fan-friendliness of the fight, and has nothing to do with the boxing skill exhibited therein. Mayweather vs. Pacquiao is a perfect example of how skill and spectacle are not necessarily a package deal. That being said, twenty-fifteen did have spectacle. Though there are several other “fight of the year” candidate lists out there, here is another to throw onto the pile:
Shawn Porter vs. Adrien Broner (144 lb.)
This was one of the biggest fights of the year for NBC’s baby of a boxing network “Premier Boxing Champions”. Prior to the fight, each fighter had but one loss on their professional record, and both were considered (and are still considered) to be monsters in their respective divisions. The fight took place at welterweight, which represented a step up in weight for Broner and a home field advantage for Porter. Porter took the lead on the scorecards early by blitzing Broner fast and often with hard hooks and rugged physicality. Keen eyes could tell that Broner exhibited a quick counter-punching game, though it was not enough to hold off Porter’s charges. Through the middle rounds, Broner had some success with fast jabs and single-shot counters, though Porter overcame the punches with sheer tenacity. Though the decision went to Porter, the fight will forever be marked by a leaping-left hook knockdown of Porter at the beginning of the final round, a testament to the Lamborghini-like horsepower that Broner has in his punches. The fight had many implications beyond simply a night of great boxing. Most obviously, it was a rivalry fight between two Ohio-born boxers: Broner from Cincinnati and Porter from Akron. But beyond that, it was truly a fight between two rising fighters in their prime, one that had the potential to propel the winner into great fights.
Anthony Joshua vs. Dillian Whyte (200 + lb.)
Joshua and Whyte had fought officially once before when they where both green amateurs, and Whyte won. That heightened the drama leading up to the fight, and increased the severity of the animosity between the men. It is one thing when professional fighters rematch and both men more or less know their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. In the case of Joshua and Whyte, the situation was much more ambiguous: both had been undefeated and neither had been able to gauge how much the other had improved in their professional careers. The fight turned out to be Anthony Joshua’s toughest test to date, and his longest. Joshua, who had thus far demolished his opposition within three rounds, was taken nearly seven tough rounds against an aggressive fighter in Dillian Whyte. Whyte established early that he was not reluctant to take the fight to Joshua’s front door. In the early rounds Joshua showed signs of discomfort from Whyte’s onslaught. In the middle round, Joshua found his rhythm and began landing hard counter right-hand punches, including a right uppercut that put Whyte down to the canvas. Joshua’s victory further secured his star status in the the British boxing community, and established him as a force to be reckoned with on the worldwide heavyweight stage.
Jamie McDonnell vs. Tomoki Kameda (118 lb.)
In the first of what would become a duo of fights between these two men, Kameda took the lead early and quickly with well-established speed and agility. The Japanese expatriate Kameda sought out opportunities to land hard right-hand counter shots over the jab of the taller McDonnell. Kameda found the mark in the third round with a pristine knockdown of the English McDonnell. Kameda slipped in a right hand around the guard of McDonnell, causing McDonnell’s knees to buckle. After he recovered, McDonnell became more active with his jab, lowered his stance so as to make it harder for Kameda to land an overhand right punch, and began to close the distance more frequently. As the fight wore into the championship rounds, McDonnell increase his punch output at close range, continuously strafing Kameda with compact punches inside. Ultimately, the judges awarded the decision to McDonnell, though the fight walked a tightrope the entire time with both fighters responding in kind to brutal offense.