By Anthony “Zute” George – I am not sure what it is with boxing, but it is a sport that consists of a plethora of false narratives. 2021 was a terrible year for boxing is one of a gazillion. Indeed, on a personal level, 2021 was a year I would like to soon forget. Both Marvelous Marvin Hagler and my brother Richard died. My ultimate hero and my baby brother, gone from this world forever. With that being said, the actual action that took place inside the squared circle for the calendar year was far from terrible.
Many compelling fights took place that was well worth our time. Here are just a few:
- Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Roman Gonzalez 2
- Josh Taylor vs. Jose Ramirez
- Stephen Fulton vs. Angelo Leo
- Stephen Fulton vs. Brandon Figueroa
- Oscar Valdez vs. Miguel Benchlet
- Brandon Glanton vs Efetobor Apochi
- Francisco Torres vs. Jose Benavidez Jr.
If you missed any of those fights, chances are you were too busy bellyaching on social media about how boxing sucks.
If you need more convincing, 2021 was a year where a warrior like Gabriel Rosado got his. Also, George Kambosos’s stunning upset over Teofimo Lopez was a fantastic battle worthy of being voted fight of the year, but probably will not be. That is because 2021 was a memorable one for the heavyweight division.
First, Joseph Parker and Dereck Chisora put on a great show. In defeat, Chisora established himself as a great competitor with a chin to admire for all time. Next, Oleksandr Usyk added to his legacy by besting Anthony Joshua in an exciting fight. Of course, these fights were outdone by the third contest between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. Any unbiased boxing observer would recognize that fight as one of the greatest heavyweight title fights of all time. You know, all those geniuses who opined that they did not want to see the third fight because it was a waste of time?
Indeed, a year that such a fight took place should be a celebrated one.
This praise of 2021 does not suggest that there is no room for improvement for 2022. Here is my wishlist for the upcoming year.
- Tyson Fury vs. Oleksandr Usyk. If 2022 is going to be better than 2021, this fight must occur, preferably by June. I admit I am not that hopeful this will happen. When Fury is not raising the cringe meter beyond repair by singing Happy Birthday/American Pie to Bob Arum, he diminishes Usyk as a worthy opponent. Also, I do not think the same dollar signs can be made with this fight as was seen with the Wilder fights. Which would be the only reason to take such a risk. Perhaps Joshua fights and defeats Usyk in a rematch, which would put the wheels in motion for Fury and Joshua. Fury vs. AJ would be easier to make but probably not as good a fight.
- Terence Bud Crawford vs. Vergil Ortiz/Jaron Ennis/Yordenis Ugas. There are a few other acceptable names, but Bud Crawford must fight somebody worth our time. Not somebody we know he cannot lose against, not someone who has already lost against big names. But one of these guys. I cannot fathom anyone not thinking such a fight would be the best thing for boxing.
- Tank Davis, stop playing games. Tank and his team need to stop spewing nonsense about how the best fighters we all want to see him fight are not famous enough. Or whatever idiotic comments he and Leonard Ellerbe spew. Guess what, Tank? If you fight a Josh Taylor or a Lomachencko, they will not be the only ones who get their biggest payday.
- Shakur Stevenson vs. Oscar Valdez. Top Rank Boxing should be ashamed if we do not get this fight in 2022. It would be nice if the boxing scribes take a break from kissing Bob Arum’s 90-year-old ass and put the pressure on if Stevenson and Valdez are matched up against lesser competition.
- More George Kambosos. How could we not want that? George is one of the great stories in all of sports. Boxing should feel lucky he belongs to them. Fighting multiple times against the top competition would point 2022 in the right direction.
I could go on, but I am a realist. This list is probably more in keeping with pie in the sky than reality. That said, save for things shutting down because of Covid, I still have faith that 2022 will be a great year for boxing.
We should understand that it serves us no good focusing entirely on what we do not get in the ring. Instead, let the actual action that takes place stand on its own because it typically does a stellar job. It is unlikely most of the greatest moments from 2021 appeared on anyone’s wishlist in 2020.
Therefore, my biggest wish for 2022 is, despite not being named Muhammad Ali and Harry Greb, we recognize and appreciate the efforts of the pugilists who still risk their lives for our entertainment. My wish is cumbersome because we still need to apply pressure on the top fighters in the sport to fight each other. Based on the social media rhetoric, the average person has difficulty distinguishing these two dynamics. However, we can do it. In the same way, we can praise Bob Arum for all he has accomplished yet put him on notice when he does not deliver the fights we want. Or any promotion company you wish to address.
Will anything change in 2022?