We continue the Champions "Best of 2016" Awards with a look at the year in boxing. When some considered boxing to be dead, the practitioners of the sweet science stepped up and delivered a number of bouts that were all worthy of "Fight of the Year" honors.
- Vargas vs. Salido
- Thurman vs. Porter
- Frampton vs. Santa Cruz
- White vs. Chisora
- Easter vs. Commey
But only one will get that honor and it was a showdown that every bloodthirsty boxing fan would adore.
Winner: Orlando Salido vs. Francisco Vargas
When the fight was made between Orlando Salido and Francisco Vargas, the prevailing thought was that it would be a Fight of the Year contender. Rarely does a fight that we have high hopes for deliver. But this certainly did on all accounts.
Vargas was fresh off of a scintillating war that drew the 2015 Fight of the Year honors against Takashi Miura while Salido earned a split draw with Rocky Martinez. The fight had "war" written all over it.
From the opening bell, they just wouldn't stop punching.
On June 4th at the StubHub Center in Carson, California where, for whatever reason, boxing barnburners are a regular thing, Salido and Vargas pummeled each other for 12 high paced rounds. They both threw all that they had at each other without much regard for defense or their respective brains. Each round exploded into toe to toe exchanges that brought fight fans to their feet.
Perhaps it was the spirit of Muhammad Ali that drove them to such savagery. The legend had just passed away less than 24 hours before these two laced up the gloves.
Vargas was the better boxer and could have controlled the fight with his jab. But he didn't. His machismo got in the way and he slugged it out with Salido, who doesn't know the meaning of a jab. Each rounds had viewers questioning if they could keep up the ridiculous pace and they answered the bell to the next round with just as much brutality and action as the round before it.
The 6th and 10th rounds was especially memorable as they exchanged powerful shots and staggered one another. But neither was willing to back down. It was about as good as a fight could get. They combined for a CompuBox lightweight record of 1,593 power punches thrown. Absolutely ridiculous.
By the time the final bell rang, the fight was deserving of the draw it received. They'll have to do it again and we'll all be watching.
Runner Up: Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter
It's rare in boxing for the best to fight the best. After all, we had to wait an eternity to see the highly anticipated showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. But on a few occasions, fights between two rising stars are made. And even more rare is when these fights deliver.
The fight between Keith Thurman and Shawn Porter was broadcast on CBS in prime time, which meant that fight fans didn't need to have premium cable service or shell out cash for a pay-per-view to see it. Porter and Thurman engaged in some thrilling back and forth action that saw Thurman narrowly escape with the victory and retain his title with a 12 round decision.
One could argue that Porter won the fight considering that there were so many close rounds between the two. However, nobody could complain because the fight exceeded expectations as both delighted the crowd at the Barclays Center in New York and the viewers at home. Perhaps they will run into each other again and we can only expect yet another high octane affair.