Welcome to The Queensberry Rules’ annual year-end boxing awards, continuing throughout this week. Here’s how we do it around these parts:
The major categories are Knockout of the Year, Fight of the Year and Fighter of the Year. For each category, we give five finalists, with video and/or relevant info. On the second day after a category is introduced, we’ll give you the winner and explain why.
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR FINALISTS (in alphabetical order)
The reigning lineal middleweight champ defended his crown in a tight contest against Daniel Jacobs, ranked at the time only behind Gennady Golovkin among contenders. Then he leaped up two whole divisions to battle #2 light heavyweight Sergey Kovalev, whom he stopped in a Knockout of the Year finalist. Not a bad year for arguably the sport’s biggest attraction, who now tops many pound-for-pound lists.
The man they call “The Monster” kicked off 2019 with another of his breezy early KOs, stopping #6 bantamweight Emmanuel Rodriguez with a body shot KO that won honorable mention for one of the best of 2019. Then he got the first real test of his career against #4 Nonito Donaire, who showed he still had a lot in the tank, and won our 2019 Fight of the Year.
Lopez began the year as still mostly just a prospect and exited as a full-blown threat to perhaps the pound-for-pound king. A win over lightweight Diego Magdaleno heralded his arrival as a contender right off the bat, and a perfunctory win over Edis Tatli was followed by a surprisingly hard outing vs Masayoshi Nakatani. Lopez turned a match-up that was hard on paper vs Richard Commey into a beautiful KO. Next could be Vasiliy Lomachenko, and that it’s not a clear win for Loma says plenty about how far Lopez cam this year.
Old man Pacquiao still has it. The schooling of boxing’s reigning nincompoop Adrien Broner in January was mainly just for his fun and ours. Taking on one of the best young welterweights as Pacquiao faded, Keith Thurman? That was dangerous work. It was close on the cards, but everyone agreed Pacquiao won. And he did it a few months before turning 41 years old.
Taylor snatched the undefeated record of not just one but two junior welterweights, a division with a ton of parity. #8 Ivan Baranchyk proved less of a challenge than Regis Prograis, who was justifiably ranked #1 when Taylor faced him. It was a technical slugfest where Taylor came out on top, and only Jose Carlos Ramirez’s untimely win to propel himself to #2 kept Taylor from taking the 140-pound lineal throne with that victory.