A great year for boxing


File: Boxers Canelo Alvarez (R) and Gennady Golovkin (L) exchange blows during their WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight championship fight at the T-Mobile Arena on September 16, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

JOHANNESBURG - This year has produced a number of blockbuster fights.

Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko’s showdown in April will go down as a contender for fight of the year.

File: Britain's Anthony Joshua (R) throws a punch at Ukraine's Wladimir Klitschko during the fourth round of their IBF, IBO and WBA, world Heavyweight title fight at Wembley Stadium in north west London on April 29, 2017. Credit: AFP

The unforgettable welterweight bout between Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman, which took place in March in Brooklyn, New York, is also another bout that will be remembered for many years to come.

And how can we forget the middleweight grudge match that took place in September between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin?

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Boxing fans have been yearning for these sorts of matchups. The sport has been on a decline for many years and the only way to revive it is to see the best fighting the best when it matters most.

Boxing fans are sick and tired of seeing mismatches where they already know the outcome of a fight even before the pugilists have stepped inside the ring. This is sometimes unavoidable at the start of a career, but has become a trend which sees boxers in their prime avoid fighting other top contenders until many years later.

The so-called ‘Fight of the Century’ in 2015 is case in point. The mega-fight between two of the biggest stars of this era, Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather and Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao took six years to make.

File: Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in the seventh round of the welterweight WBO, WBC and WBA Super title fight in Las Vegas, Nevada on May 2, 2015. Credit: Reuters

Six years too long, unfortunately, as Paquiao was well past his prime by the time the fight happened. Although it became the most lucrative bout in boxing history it was a boring affair that left many fans bitterly disappointed.

The sport should learn from these mismatches going forward. Boxing fans want to see pugilists fighting against each other during their primes and the sport can only be rekindled if great rivalries like Ali-Frazier, Hagler-Hearns, Gatti-Ward and Morales-Barrera are made.

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After all, boxing is about entertainment and it will be cruel if promoters and the boxing fraternity alike don’t fulfill this mandate.

This year’s top matchups will end in grand style when two double Olympic gold medallists go toe-to-toe on December 9th. 

The WBO super featherweight bout between southpaws Vasyl Lomachenko and Guillermo Rigondeaux should give fight fans hope of another epic year of boxing in 2018.