In his latest column with Metro.co.uk, the British boxing legend hands out his awards for boxing in 2021.
Fighter of the Year: Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
It has to be Canelo Alvarez. He has fought top level opposition in Billy Joe Saunders and Caleb Plant, not to mention Callum Smith at the end of last year.
He took a world title off each of them to make history by becoming undisputed champion at super-middleweight and he has proved he deserves to be no1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
When you think of the year the likes of Tyson Fury and Josh Taylor have had there have been a lot of big achievements this year. But I think you have to give it to Canelo. The quality of the fighters he has beaten and the manner in which he broke them down says it all.
Fight of the Year: Fury vs Wilder III
Without a doubt, it was the trilogy fight. It was funny, I think a lot of us would have gone into that thinking, ‘Jesus, what are we watching this for again?’ That’s how I felt after the way Tyson battered him in the second fight.
But it had everything and credit to Wilder for having a big role to play in that. It was the best fight we have seen this year and maybe one of the best heavyweight fights of all time.
Upset of the Year: Kiko Martinez beats Kid Galahad
Josh Warrington’s shock defeat to Mauricio Lara back in February was up there for sure but Kiko Martinez beating Kid Galahad for the IBF featherweight title was a huge upset.
A lot of people will say that Kiko is a former world champion, was a much bigger name than Lara and would have had a better chance of getting the win than many would have given Lara against Josh. It is a toss of a coin between those two but I don’t think anyone expected Kiko Martinez to do what he did.
Coming over to the UK and knocking out the hometown hero in Galahad was incredible. I think you can go for that one.
Knockout of the Year: Kiko Martinez against Kid Galahad
It’s a hard one this year. Conor Benn might have had a late entry against Chris Algieri the other week but the way Kiko Martinez put Galahad to sleep with that shot in November to win the title has stuck with me.
Prospect of the Year: Dalton Smith
Dennis McCann is impressing a lot of people down at bantamweight but I’ll go with Dalton Smith.
He’s racked up another three wins this year, picking up his first two belts in the English super-lightweight before going on the road to get the WBA Intercontinental away in Austria to stay undefeated.
His dad Grant is doing a great job training him and they have got big plans for him.
I think Zelfa Barrett also deserves a mention after ending the year on a high against Bruno Tarimo. That win has earned him a title shot at super-featherweight and he’ll be looking to move to the next level in 2022.
Villain of the Year: Deontay Wilder
He got a lot of praise after the third Fury fight but let’s remember, at times this year Deontay Wilder hasn’t exactly covered himself in glory.
He did with that performance back in October, but I still remember him refusing to shake Fury’s hand after the fight when he went over to his corner, that has stuck in my mind.
And that’s before we even go back and look at all the excuses he came out with at the start of the year. Accusing Fury of cheating, claiming his water was spiked, claiming his coach Mark Breland was working against him, claiming I put plates in the gloves!
Yes, he managed to redeem himself in the third fight and won back a lot of respect. But after the final bell when Tyson went to shake his hand, he put his foot in it again.
Fightzone Moment of the Year: Jack Massey’s win
There have been some huge moments on Fightzone this year but Jack Massey’s win over Bilal Laggoune to win the IBO cruiserweight title was right up among them.
Jack has come on leaps and bounds since that night against Richard Riakporhe in 2019 and this year he has showed how far he’s come.
He’s been down to my gym and I’ve been up to the Phoenix and seem him in sparring often, he is coming into his own now and is looking better than ever.
It has been a great first year for Fightzone, the shows have opened the doors for fighters who might not have got the opportunities to prove themselves elsewhere. We’re getting a closer look at the next generation of talent who are being given a great platform to shine.
We’ve had some great title fights from domestic to world level too, with Hannah Rankin’s double world title win down in London another big highlight.
Next year is already looking like it’s going to be even bigger with fights moving to new destinations in the UK and even oversees. For the first year, I don’t think it could have gone any better.
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