2018 was a wonderful year for boxing fans and aficionados of the sweet science. Jab Hook's selections for the 2018 superlatives of boxing are totally subjective, they are based only on impressions and personal preferences. These are neither right, nor wrong. What were your lasting impressions of boxing in 2018? Please post!
FIGHTER of 2018: Oleksandr Usyk, not just winning, but showing the many ways he can win. Jab feels Usyk is like the optimal boxer and such an exceptional athlete. Usyk is an amazing competitor whose concentration in the ring allows him to implement tactics at will. He is so good that he has choices of which strategy he prefers. He is simply the best in the ring today.
Female-FIGHTER of 2018: Claressa Shields is carrying female boxing on her shoulders. Award-winning amateur, undefeated pro boxer, three belt world middleweight champion, super-middleweight champion who has beaten all the best female-fighters currently available. Watch out Christina Hammer, T-Rex is on the prowl for your head in 2019.
FIGHT of 2018: Vasiliy Lomachenko vs Jorge Linares, Lomachenko takes the lightweight belt via 10th round KO to win a title in a third weight division. The action and boxing expertise seen in those 10 rounds was out there! Fast combinations, beautiful footwork, shots blocked and punches taken. Blood and glory as Loma went through the gears taking Linares apart, the phenomenon crushing the wunderkind.
KNOCKOUT of 2018: Teofimo “El Brooklyn” Lopez‘s brutal right hook to the temple that KO'd Mason Menard on his feet and made him land on his face.
Calculated, cold-hearted, and called “The Seven”, it was a snapping punch from Teofimo that stopped the world in Menard's brain. Lopez has again caught the attention of the boxing world, and we can hardly look away.
ROUND of 2018: Deontay Wilder vs Tyson Fury Round 12, Jab calls it the “resurrection round” because Tyson Fury figuratively rose from the dead with the priest-like Jack Reiss hovering over him. Dramatic, touching, amazing, and if you don't know why Jab picked it, watch it.
COMEBACK of 2018: Tyson Fury has been overlooked and underestimated so often that he sees it as his advantage. Tyson has unending faith in himself, but we all thought he wasn't ready yet. Fury picked on the baddest puncher out there, a bomber who puts lights out like an exploding fuse and we all though he was crazy. But he did it, and wow did he do it. The “Gypsy King is back!
UPSET of 2018: Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hooker traveled to Terry “Turbo“ Flanagan's hometown of Manchester, England and won a split decision after clearly beating the former WBO lightweight champ. The unknown boxer from the streets of Dallas, Texas became the WBO Jr. Welterweight World Champion. Hooker just outboxed Flanagan and really earned that belt with an upset win.
PROSPECT OF THE 2018: Teofimo Lopez, “El Brooklyn” has 82% KOs and is hungry and strong enough to take a big bite out of the lightweight division in 2019. Honestly, Teofimo is turning into a contender already. So far, Lopez has been handled well by his dad Junior Lopez. He has also one of Jab Hook's favorite boxing nicknames, too. It will be interesting to see how his career is handled in 2019-20. Yes, “El Brooklyn” has talent, skills, power and confidence, but boxing is a very unforgiving business. His match-ups need to be selected judiciously to allow him to grow and develop as a boxers. As good as Lopez is already, he still has lots to learn in the ring.
TRAINER of 2018: Anatoly Lomachenko does it his way and works! He prepares his boxers holistically and uses a range of creative, effective methods to give them advantages in the ring. The Ukrainian boxing master focuses principally on his boxers, rather than their opponents. His tactics are varied and tailored to the moment, but his strategies are specifically designed over rounds toward a clear, accumulated victory with the chance of a sudden ending at any moment. “PapaChenko” is the architect of Oleksandr Usyk's career and literally created “NoMasChenko”, two of the most awesome boxers fighting today!
MANAGER of 2018: Egis Klimas is a self-made millionaire who loves boxing. He recognizes talent and treats his boxers with respect. He's a savvy businessman who can handle the mixedup, crazy world of boxing so well that his boxers don't have to worry. Klimas gets them the best deals and the best match-ups to create big events. With names like Lomachenko, Usyk, Gvozdyk, Kavaliauskas on his long roster, we can expect more exciting events from Egis Klimas in 2019 and beyond.
EVENT of 2018: Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady Golovkin II was so anticipated, so often discussed, and was also nearly canceled. Then it turned into such a compelling prizefight. Canelo proved to be the best middleweight today by winning a close bout against GGG, whose star is clearly fading. Canelo won because he took the center of the ring, controlled the pace and rhythm of most rounds, and wonderfully worked GGG's body slowing him down and softening his power. Battle of the corners: the Reynosos dominated Abel Sanchez! Golovkin is past his prime, but GGG could still be dangerous if he gets a new trainer and goes back to boxing. It was a great fight and a trilogy would be welcomed by the boxing world, but mandatory opponents and unification bouts are also lining up.
MOST INSPIRATIONAL of 2018: Tyson Fury openly and honestly shared his pain, his experiences with mental health troubles, and addiction with the public. “The Gypsy King“ was the last Unified Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, sitting at the absolute top of the boxing world on November 28, 2015. Then the Champion fell in flames back earth, unable to get back into the ring for 1000 days! Tyson struggled to recover and change his life after drugs, alcohol and binge eating. He made no excuses, he apologized, he exposed his demons and himself for all of us to see. That is a rare example of true courage and humility. Tyson Fury inspires Jab Hook, in the ring and in life.
REFEREE of 2018: Mark Nelson is so experienced, so expert as a boxing official, he's almost always in the right position in the ring. He seems to blend into the woodwork and let the fight develop, unless he needs to intervene. Calm and alert, Mark knows the rules inside out and applies them judiciously. Like his recent 8 count for Alex Saucedo who fell against the ropes after “Mighty Mo” Hooker hurt him early in the 7th round. Mark Nelson protects the boxers in his ring!
“Jab Hook”, aka “Brooklyn” Joe Healy is an aficionado that wears many hats in the boxing world. Born in Brooklyn and living in Munich, “The Sweet Science” is his passion. Please feel free to contact him as Jab Hook on FaceBook, or at AficionadoKO@gmail.com .