The past 12 months has been a strange year to say the least, with all the various ongoings of COVID-19 often bringing fear and inconsistency into our lives.
But one thing that has remained a constant is the stream of excellent fights we’ve seen, which is why it’s fitting at the end of it all to count down the ‘Top 10 Best Boxing Fights of 2021’.
Before we dive right in, it’s important to remember this is just our personal opinion. You may have other fights that spring to mind, and that’s totally fine.
So without further ado, here are GiveMeSport’s top 10 boxing fights from the past year.
10) Stephen Fulton vs. Angelo Leo
• Date – 23/01/2021
• Location – Uncasville, Connecticut, USA
• Victor – Stephen Fulton
We kick off our top 10 with the earliest fight on the list, and it certainly kicked off the year with a bang.
Stephen Fulton was a patient man and had to wait several months until he could have a crack a the WBO’s junior featherweight belt – so when he finally got the opportunity, he certainly didn’t pass it up.
The unbeaten Philly native put on an elite-level performance, with a high-intensity display of skill and power, which gave Leo his first-ever loss and saw Fulton come away with the 122-pound strap.
A great start to the year and a fitting start to our list.
9) Joseph Parker vs Derek Chisora 2
• Date – 18/12/2021
• Location – Manchester, United Kingdom
• Victor – Joseph Parker
Following a controversial result in the initial bout in May, the two squared off again in Manchester in what was a packed crowd at the AO Arena.
It was an entertaining affair that didn’t disappoint, but it was clear to see that Parker had complete control throughout – with Chisora actually being knocked down on three separate occasions.
To Chisora’s credit, he did manage to stay in the contest up until the final bell, but it wasn’t to be, meaning Parker made it 2-0 against the Brit and settled the debate between the two once and for all.
8) Terence Crawford vs Shawn Porter
• Date – 20/11/2021
• Location – Las Vegas, USA
• Victor – Terence Crawford
Crawford retained his WBO welterweight title and extended his streak of stoppages to nine in front of a packed crowd in the states.
The pivotal point of the fight occurred in the 10th round when a devastating right hook to the temple followed by a left hook to the face forced Porter’s trainer to throw in the towel.
What made this fight even more memorable is the aftermath, where Porter stunned reporters by announcing his retirement from professional boxing in a post-fight interview.
7) Josh Taylor vs Jose Ramirez
• Date – 22/05/2021
• Location – Las Vegas, USA
• Victor – Josh Taylor
Another thriller in Las Vegas at number seven, as we saw Josh Taylor beat Jose Ramirez by unanimous decision to become undisputed WBA, WBC, IBF and WBO light-welterweight world champion.
The 30-year-old emulated Ken Buchanan by becoming Scotland’s second ever undisputed king, whilst being the first to do so in the four-belt era.
The reason for this fight being so good is the heavily contested nature throughout which also included some big moments. The pair were even in the first three with Taylor looking sharp and Ramirez replying with bursts of excessive punches.
Round six saw Taylor sit down Ramirez and once again doing so in the seventh with an uppercut that sent shockwaves around the venue. In fairness to Ramirez, he fought back well knowing he needed a knockout in the last three to win the bout, but he couldn’t and Taylor emerged victorious in what was an intriguing battle between the pair.
6) Manny Pacquiao vs Yordenis Ugas
• Date – 21/08/2021
• Location – Las Vegas, USA
• Victor – Yordenis Ugas
Billed as ‘The Legend’ vs ‘The Olympian’ and ‘The Show Must Go On,’ one of the big-name fights this year was certainly Manny Pacquiao’s return to the ring after two years of absence.
Yordenis Ugas beat Pacquiao by unanimous decision in Las Vegas, putting on a really impressive technical performance on just 11 days’ notice to retain his WBA welterweight title.
The 35-year-old Ugas threw far fewer punches than Pacquiao, but his hits were much more precise.
The fight itself was somewhat underwhelming, but I think it stakes a place on the list to see one of the greatest to ever do it back in action.
5) Brandon Glanton vs. Efetobor Apochi
• Date – 27/06/2021
• Location – Minnesota, USA
• Victor – Brandon Glanton
What a fight. Dubbed as one of the fights of the year at the time, it certainly has remained up there in the memory of boxing fans in 2021.
Relatively unknown Brandon Glanton emerged victorious after a split decision win after what was a really fantastic battle with Efetebor Apochi over 10 rounds.
From start to finish, this one was intense. It was finally settled fittingly through the means of a late knockdown from Glanton, which just swayed the judges’ vote.
As we said, this one was jam-packed with action from start to finish, so if you haven’t seen it – go and watch. This is a must-see for any big boxing fan.
4) Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs Billy Joe Saunders
• Date – 08/05/2021
• Location – Arlington, Texas, USA
• Victor – Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
This fight certainly produced one of the most iconic boxing images this year, a bedraggled Billy Joe Saunders with an eye instantaneously swelling to the size of a golf ball.
Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez was the victor in this battle for four world titles at super middleweight, with Alvarez producing an absolutely devastating uppercut which left Saunders unable to rise from his stool in the eighth round.
Just as Saunders was looking to find his feet, the Mexican then unleashed another assault to the Brit’s right eye which caused instantaneous damage and all but ended the brutal affair when Saunders’ trainer called the fight off due to his inability to see.
If this wasn’t enough, the fact this was in front of whopping 73,126 fans in attendance, with the electric atmosphere adding to the chaos of the frightening blow.
3) Juan Francisco Estrada vs. Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez 2
• Date – 13/03/2021
• Location – Dallas, Texas, USA
• Victor – Juan Francisco Estrada
Bring on the trilogy. If it’s anything like the second – we’re in for a treat.
Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez combined for a ridiculous record of 2,529 punches thrown in a super flyweight division fight back in March.
The bout went on for an unbelievable 12 rounds, never once seizing in excitement or pace from the fighters. Estrada was the one to emerge as the victor, but it could’ve easily swung either way. The two fighters were an absolute joy to watch for spectators and the sheer intensity made it one of the most exciting fights of the year for sure.
An agreement is pretty much in place for the trilogy to happen and we’re sure the battle will be as electric as the one we saw back in March.
2 – Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk
• Date – 25/09/2021
• Location – London, United Kingdom
• Victor – Oleksandr Usyk
Surely one of everyone’s boxing highlights of the year, billed fittingly as ‘The Perfect Storm,’ this certainly got fans across the globe massively excited.
In this battle of two of the best, Usyk did exactly what he said he’d do; follow an undisputed cruiserweight title success by becoming the unified heavyweight champion of the world – and didn’t he do it in style?
Usyk dethroned Joshua in his own backyard with a performance that showed such speed and agility and proved just how good the Ukrainian is.
Both men certainly felt the effects of the gruelling 12-round duel, both having damaged eyes apiece, but Usyk’s all-round brilliance meant he edged it at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
1) Tyson Fury vs Deontay Wilder 3
• Date – 09/10/2021
• Location – Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
• Victor – Tyson Fury
Fury put his WBC heavyweight title on the line in the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, but made a massive statement by retaining his title after an absolute belter of a knockout.
The fight was so eagerly anticipated, and it lived up to its name. It provided an absolute thriller that went all the way to the 11th round before Wilder was dropped.
The Gypsy King sunk the American in the third round and was actually forced onto the canvas twice in the next by his opponent after a mass onslaught from Wilder in the fourth.
But this was to be the last meaningful assault Wilder launched at Fury and he grew in confidence as the contest went on, eventually leading to jubilation in the 11th for the man-mountain.