“Heartbreak Of The Year” – Gervonta Davis vs Ryan Garcia (April 22, 2023)
Gervonta “Tank” Davis’s seventh round KO of Ryan Garcia felt like a corkscrew in my heart.
For weeks I was depressed. I didn’t even feel like watching boxing anymore (don’t worry, I powered through).
In a moment of need, I asked #Boxing Twitter if it was normal to be this upset over a fight.
And #Boxing Twitter, not always known for being the most sensitive folks in the world, actually took time to console me, tell me it was natural to be upset, and, if I didn’t believe them, to check out what soccer fans do when their team loses.
I blame myself for being a fan first. When it comes to mega-fight PPV events, I tend to root for the guy not accused of domestic violence or of abandoning a pregnant woman begging him for help in an upside down car.
Conversely, I feel Ryan Garcia is a good role model for young people, especially those struggling with mental help.
In my mind, the fight was Good vs Evil, and I feared Good was outgunned.
Prior to round one, I nervously tweeted “If Ryan loses, I’m going to need everyone to check in on me like I’m a teenage girl who’s the subject of an early Belle & Sebastian song.”
At the time, only two people checked in on me: a Twitter friend from Scotland, and Chris Smith from “Paranormal Activity 3” (thanks Joseph and Chris).
Lesson: It was never Good vs Evil.
It was just Ryan vs Tank. Also, Belle & Sebastian jokes don’t fly on #Boxing Twitter.
“Fighter Forcing Me To Like And Admire Him Even If I Really Don’t Want To” Of The Year – Jake Paul
When Jake Paul entered the sport four years ago, there was a vague hope, even amongst irritated boxing fans rolling eyes at the sentiment, that he may “bring new eyes to the sport”.
These folks, myself included, would state diplomatically “Jake Paul’s good for boxing*,” but with an obvious asterisk implied at the end of the sentence.
Four years later, Jake has shown remarkable talent for shining light on those around him.
The awareness he’s raised for Women's Boxing in general, and Amanda Serrano’s career specifically, is incontrovertible.
Paul’s Most Valuable Prospects cards spotlight up and coming fighters, helping fill a void left by Showtime’s dearly departed ShoBox, and now he’s partnered to train with and accompany the US Boxing team to the Paris 2024 Olympics.
Whether you like him or not, facts are facts. It’s time we say “Jake Paul is good for boxing” without the asterisk at the end of the sentence.
“Holy Shit, They Actually Did It!” Of The Year – Katie Taylor
I absolutely did not think Katie Taylor could beat Chantelle Cameron in a rematch.
Watching Taylor move up from Lightweight to Junior Welterweight to fight Cameron (May 20, 2023) felt like being retraumatized by Canelo vs Bivol all over again (I need to learn to stop being a fan first!).
Taylor looked outworked and bewildered in the first fight, just as Canelo did against Bivol.
And, just like after Canelo/Bivol ended, I felt like I was at a funeral. I followed Taylor/Cameron 1 by moping around the room, grumbling to no one (because I was by myself) that “weight classes are there for a reason!”
In the rematch, however, Taylor seemed surprisingly renewed and invigorated.
I actually said out loud during the fight “Holy shit, she’s doing it!” while watching Katie accomplish what I’d deemed impossible (maybe it is ok to be a fan first?).
Taylor’s defeat against Cameron was the first time I thought “All right, maybe Canelo actually does have hope against Bivol in the rematch.” And having hope feels good.
“Fight That Makes Me So Mad It Subtracts Days From The End Of My Life Every Time I Think About It” Of The Year – Devin Haney vs Vasiliy Lomachenko
LOMA. WON! You hear me screaming into you, The Void? LOMA. WON.
Yes, it was a close fight! I scored it 115-113. It was a close fight that LOMA. WON.
“Loma beat Haney” is a hill I will die on. I will go to my grave as certain that Loma defeated Haney as I am that GGG defeated Canelo in their first fight.
Some may wonder “Beowulf, is Haney/Loma or Canelo/GGG really going to be what you’re thinking about on your deathbed?” Probably. I’m not proud of it, but it sure sounds like something I’d do.
“Fighter Who Is Really Good At Twitter” Of The Year – Sunny Edwards
Jesse “Bam” Rodriguez knocked out Sunny Edwards in the ninth round of their thrilling Flyweight championship match on December 16, 2023. It was a decisive victory.
While Sunny is still a threat to literally every other person in the Flyweight division, I could not help but notice he can also be very funny on Twitter.
Whether outsmarting a commenter, or doing a masterful self-own, Edwards is elite both in the ring and in 280 characters or less.
“Nothing I'm Doing Is Working So I Guess I'll Just Throw The Dude Out The Ring Like Tossing Laundry Into A Hamper” Of The Year – Montana Love
(Credit where credit’s due though – Stevie Spark stuck that landing. If boxing doesn’t work out for Spark, maybe he can train with Simone Biles.)
Other Prospect Of The Year – Richard Torrez, Jr.
Was Richard Torrez, Jr. the Prospect of 2023? Of course not.
But he is a prospect of 2023. More importantly, American heavyweight prospect Torrez, Jr. versus British heavyweight prospect Johnny Fisher would be a phenomenal “Prospect Vs Prospect” matchup. It’s time boxing fans join me in willing this fight into existence.
“Boxing Event Outside The Ring” Of The Year: Fetch Clay Make Man at The Kirk Douglas Theatre, Los Angeles, CA.
Fetch Clay, Make Man by playwright Will Power, directed by living legend Debbie Allen, stars Ray Fisher as Muhammad Ali, and Edwin Lee Gibson as early Hollywood actor Stepin Fetchit.
Set days before Ali’s May 25, 1965 rematch with Sonny Liston, the story covers Ali’s efforts to convince Fetchit to teach him the fabled “anchor punch”.
Spoiler Alert For A Fight Nearly 60 Years Ago: Ali used the anchor punch to knock Liston out in the first round.
The production was stunning from start to finish, yet I left unsure how much of the story was true. The anchor punch itself I was obviously aware of, but this was the first I’d heard of Stepin Fetchit’s involvement.
Arriving home afterwards, I popped in “When We Were Kings” to keep the Ali train going. Despite seeing the documentary a million times, this was the first time I’d caught the following exchange:
“Fetch Clay, Make Man” was extraordinary from start to finish; transcendent theater about boxing illustrating the inherent transcendence of boxing. Bravo boxing 2023. On to 2024!