After a year jam-packed with drama, Boxing Social’s Fight of the Year award came down to a straight shoot-out between Roman Gonzalez vs Juan Francisco Estrada 2 and Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3.
Other fights were mentioned by our panel in passing – among them future cult classics such as Brandon Glanton vs Efetor Apochi and Sam Eggington vs Bilel Jkitou- and George Kambosos Jr’s tremendous victory against Teofimo Lopez for the lightweight world championship – a 12-round thriller that saw both men hit the canvas – also received a nod.
However, ultimately, our panel were faced with a choice between those advocating for Estrada’s disputed points victory after a thrilling and technically brilliant war with Chocolatito and those who plumped for Fury and Wilder’s five-knockdown bar brawl epic, which the Gypsy King won – of course – via a conclusive eleventh-round knockout.
“Chocolatito vs Estrada for me,” argued Phil Rogers. “It contained technical brilliance, was a seesaw battle and featured an insane number of punches thrown (2,529). Fury-Wilder 3 was high on drama but low on quality.”
In the end, those advocating for Chocolatito-Estrada proved to be in the minority, though, with several members of our panel explaining why Fury-Wilder 3 simply had to be the fight of the year.
John Angus MacDonald explained: “The fight of the year should have dramatic shifts in momentum. Chocolatito-Estrada ebbed and flowed all night, but lacked those moments of high drama. Fury and Wilder produced a sloppy fight, but one which I bet had you screaming at the TV. In ten years’ time, one of these fights will be mentioned in fight of the decade discussions, the other will be relegated to under-appreciated classics lists.”
Shaun Brown concurred: “Fury-Wilder 3 is the fight of the year. It was a world heavyweight title fight where a boxer and a puncher decided to throw caution to the wind and just battered one another. Wilder was done from round three but the courage and tenacity he showed to keep going was incredible. Fury reportedly had an injury so he had to abandon his superior skillset and duke it out. It was a real donnybrook.”
“For me this category was a toss-up between Estrada-Chocolatito and Fury-Wilder,” Luke G. Williams argued. “Ultimately I believe that a fight of the year also needs – if possible – to be a transcendent ‘event’ as well as a great fight. That’s why I’m going for Fury-Wilder. Plus the five knockdowns – which saw the fight swing one way then another – made it a more ‘jump out of your seat’ spectacle than Estrada and Chocolatito. It also had the added bonus of no controversy – whereas Chocolatito was robbed versus Estrada!”
The final word, meanwhile, went to Graham Houston, who agreed that Fury-Wilder 3 should get the top honour. “There was the importance of the fight to consider, plus the drama of Fury surviving two knockdowns in one round,” he said. “At number two I’d go with Kambosos vs Lopez, which featured two knockdowns, one on each side, Teo cut severely and a huge upset unfolding before our eyes.
“But Fury-Wilder was the bigger event. Even when Wilder was getting beaten down the suspense was still there: could Deontay uncork one more big right hand?”