The year 2023 must be regarded as an exceptional one in boxing. In terms of superfights, we were treated to Gervonta Davis KO 7 Ryan Garcia, Devin Haney UD 12 Vasiliy Lomachenko, and Terence Crawford TKO 9 Errol Spence.
Many fans had given up on seeing any of these matchups and we got all three.
Looking for more? Well, both Crawford and Japanese sensation Naoya Inoue emerged as double undisputed world champions. In the women’s game, pound-for-pound stars Katie Taylor and Chantelle Cameron took each other’s unbeaten records in a pair of closely contested bouts.
As always, there were great fights, highlight-reel knockouts and seismic upsets, but who reigned supreme in these popular categories? The Sporting News’ global boxing team voted and the results are in…
Fight of the Year
O’Shaquie Foster TKO 12 Eduardo Hernandez
- Date: October 28
- Location: Poliforum Benito Juarez, Cancun
In the tradition of unforgettable boxer-versus-brawler showdowns, O’Shaquie “Shock” Foster and Eduardo “Rocky” Hernandez produced a fight for the ages.
Foster, the reigning WBC super featherweight champion, entered as favourite. The 30-year-old Texan had won the vacant title at the expense of the previously unbeaten two-weight world champ Rey Vargas and his class was expected to be decisive.
Mexico’s Hernandez had home advantage and an edge in punching power. However, it was the challenger’s soldier-like bravery that made this fight what it was. Foster was backed up in the early rounds and outworked as Hernandez built a strong lead.
It was already a great fight when the bell rang for round 11. Early in the session, Foster rocked Hernandez to his heels with an explosive uppercut and the follow-up attack was brutal. Almost tired of being hit, the challenger responded with a vicious right that sent Foster reeling.
Now it was Rocky’s turn to tee off, but after bashing his foe with every punch in the book, Foster nailed his man again with a huge right uppercut. The action was insane and both men punched themselves to a standstill.
The one-minute rest period was crucial and it was Foster who recovered better. He piled on the punches in the closing round and forced a sensational come-from-behind triumph.
It was a fight that had everything.
Knockout of the Year
Junto Nakatani KO 12 Andrew Moloney
- Date: May 20
- Location: MGM Grand, Las Vegas
When this fight, on the undercard of Devin Haney’s close points win over ex-champ Vasiliy Lomachenko, was made, one feared for Andrew Moloney.
The Australian super flyweight has a warrior’s mentality, so despite the odds being overwhelmingly against him, he was always going to go out on his shield against fierce power puncher Junto Nakatani.
And that’s exactly what happened. Moloney struggled to find any worthwhile success, but he never stopped trying and had already pulled himself off the canvas twice as the bell rang for the twelfth and final round.
The finishing blow was frightening. With less than 30 seconds remaining in the bout, southpaw Nakatani measured his man with his right hand, dipped left, and launched a killer left hand to the jaw. Moloney was knocked out on impact, his head crashing off the canvas violently.
Thankfully, the Melbourne man made a full recovery and left the ring under his own steam. The win gave Nakatani the vacant WBO super flyweight title.
Trainer of the Year
Brian “BoMac” McIntyre
While the biggest story surrounding Brian “BoMac” McIntyre revolved around an incident that he’ll be trying his best to forget, there’s no denying the Omaha native’s impact on boxing in 2023.
McIntyre took Terence Crawford to the undisputed welterweight championship at the expense of long-time rival Errol Spence Jr., who was stopped in the ninth round of their July superfight.
The 53-year-old ex-pro also works with rising lightweight star Keshawn Davis, who won three fights in 2023. That run was marred somewhat after Davis’ most recent victory was changed to a no-contest when the American tested positive for marijuana.
However, another feather in McIntrye’s camp was his brief spell with British middleweight Chris Eubank Jr. After being stopped brutally by former world champion Liam Smith, Eubank Jr. enlisted BoMac’s services for the rematch. This proved to be a successful marriage, with Eubank Jr. boxing his way to a masterful 12-round decision in September.
The following day, BoMac was arrested at Manchester Airport after a firearm was found in his suitcase. The trainer was remanded in prison for several weeks, but walked free from court due to “exceptional circumstances.” Crawford, among others, appeared as character witnesses.
Despite making a terrible mistake, “BoMac” deserves his day in the sun.
Upset of the Year
Adrian Curiel KO 2 Sivenathi Nontshinga
- Date: November 4
- Location: Casino De Monte Carlo, Monaco
Sivenathi Nontshinga had come from nowhere to emerge as the dark horse at light flyweight and he was regarded as a legitimate threat to division leader Kenshiro Teraji.
The South African star had claimed the vacant IBF 108-pound title, courtesy of an action-packed points triumph over Hector Flores. Nine months later, in his maiden defence, Nontshinga dominated respected contender Regie Suganob.
Such was the quality of these performances that Nontshinga was being lined up for unification fights against the very best. All he needed to do was swat unheralded Mexican Adrian Curiel aside in Monte Carlo and the world was at his feet. Then it all went wrong.
Curiel applied plenty of pressure in the opening round and the champion did not look comfortable. As round two began, Nontshinga continued to retreat, and with his back to the ropes, he was vulnerable. With a minute gone, Nontshinga exited left and released a jab, but the challenger timed an explosive counter right to the jaw that laid him out cold.
It was a stunning upset, made even bigger by the method of victory and the quality of the fighter lying flat on his back.