The year 2015 largely saw boxing start the changing of the guards, with Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao settling their score with less drama, and Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez and Roman Gonzalez continuing their winning streaks. In the heavyweight division, Tyson Fury beat Wladimir Klitschko to wrest three championship belts.
Definitely there were more dramatic championship bouts in the Ultimate Fighting Championship but boxing continued to thrive because of the millions of dollars circulating within the boxing world— thanks to the Mayweather-Pacquiao superbout, among others.
But the changing of the guard is not yet over in boxing and expect to see more key bouts next year between the new generation of superstars and the veterans who are future Hall of Famers. And unless the promoters have it their way, the new generation of superstars will steal the thunder from the veterans who in turn will have no choice but to hang up their gloves.
Three key bouts this year signaled the changing of the guard: Mayweather vs Pacquiao; Miguel Cotto vs Alvarez; and Fury vs Klitschko. Also, the rise of Roman Gonzalez to the top position of The Ring pound-for-pound rankings further emphasized the rise of the new generation of boxing superstars.
The lack of thunder in the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight only showed that both of them are past their prime, and the American called it quits after defeating Andre Berto for his last bout. On the other hand, Pacquiao asked for rematch but did not get it and has scheduled one more bout next year.
If either Pacquiao (57-3 with 38 KOs) or Mayweather (49-0 with 26 KOs) won in a resounding manner in their May 2 superbout, that would have paved the way for either of them to take on the new generation of superstars in the welterweight to middleweight divisions. And there are plenty of them starting off with Golovkin (34-1 with 31 KOs) and Alvarez (46-1 with 32 KOs).
But when they clashed, Pacquiao and Mayweather were clearly detached from their deadly forms that made them the former top fighters in the sport. With that scenario, Alvarez and Golovkin, among others, are now ready to take the place of Pacquiao and Mayweather.
And on November 21, Alvarez earned $15 million in his unanimous decision win over veteran Cotto (40-5 with 33 KOs).
While Cotto looked durable in his fight against Alvarez, it would be hard to imagine him taking on the new talents in the welterweight to middleweight divisions. And it would be suicidal for him to fight Golovkin.
In the heavyweight division, Fury (25-0 with 18 KOs) won clearly on November 28 over Klitschko (64-4 with 53 KOs) whose reign as heavyweight champion was more than nine years.
Although Klitschko cannot be totally written off yet, it is very hard to see win winning convincingly over heavyweight titleholder Deontay Wilder and rising contender Anthony Joshua. When they started dominating the heavyweight scene more than a decade ago, the Klitschko brothers, Wladimir and Vitali who stand 6’6” and 6’8 respectively, almost had the monopoly of height and heft in the division. But Fury (6’9”), Wilder (6’7”) and Joshua (6’6”) can match the Klitschkos when it comes to size and are much younger. Wilder’s record is 35-0 with 34 KOs and Joshua’s is 15-0 with 15 KOs.
Fury’s beating a Klitschko proves the Ukrainian giants are not invincible although it is worth noting that the elder and bigger Vitali (45-2 with 41 KOs) has better punch resistance and hits harder than his sibling.
How Vitali deals with either Fury, Wilder and Joshua or all of them next year will be definitely interesting.
When it comes to The Ring pound-for-pound rankings, a flyweight in Roman Gonzalez took over from Mayweather. And being a three-division champion with a perfect 44-0 with 38 KOs record, there is no doubt Gonzalez deserves to be top dog in The Ring rankings.
What cannot be overlooked from the records of the next generation of boxing superstars is most of them are hard hitters. Even those not mentioned earlier like welterweights Terrence Crawford (27-0 with 19 KOs) and Keith Thurman (26-0 with 22 KOs) have good punching power.
Let’s hope 2016 will really be knockout year for boxing.