The five nominees for the Boxing Writers Association of America Fighter of the Year have been named. Here’s the list.
Crawford, 30, went 2-0 on the year, beating Felix Diaz and Julius Indongo. With the win over Diaz in May, he retained the WBC and WBO 140-pound titles. When he beat Indongo in August, he fully unified the junior welterweight division, adding the IBF and WBA belts to his collection. Crawford dominated both fights, winning each by stoppage.
The unbeaten Crawford (32-0, 23 KO) is now moving up in weight, having vacated his belts after achieving literally all he could at 140. The WBO have named him mandatory challenger at welterweight, and that fight with Jeff Horn is being negotiated.
Garcia, who just turned 30 this month, sat out from January 2014 until July 2016 due to a promotional dispute with his old firm, Top Rank. He returned under the Premier Boxing Champions banner for a win in 2016, and in 2017 really got his career back on course.
Garcia will be staying at 140, as he’s scheduled to face Sergey Lipinets for the IBF belt on February 10.
Joshua, 28, made his biggest splash to date as a professional on April 29, when he and former world champion Wladimir Klitschko engaged in a thrilling heavyweight slugfest, with both coming off of the canvas, and Joshua eventually wearing Klitschko down and stopping him in the 11th round. It’s the clear favorite for Fight of the Year, the best heavyweight fight in ages, and a true big fight instant classic.
Joshua won another bout in October, defeating Carlos Takam by 10th round TKO.
2018 should be interesting for Joshua, as there’s big talk of a unification with WBO titleholder Joseph Parker of New Zealand, and a potential end of year showdown with former champion Tyson Fury, who hasn’t fought since 2015 but would still make for a massive box office attraction.
Lomachenko, 29, sits atop many pound-for-pound lists at this point, with the main argument now coming down to Lomachenko and the aforementioned Crawford.
Lomachenko is the only fighter on this list who fought three times in 2017. In April, he tore through Jason Sosa on HBO, before Top Rank sent its fights to ESPN. In August, he dropped Miguel Marriaga twice before stopping him. To close the year, he faced fellow two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux in a highly-anticipated meeting of sweet scientists, true amateur legends. Lomachenko again embarrassed an opponent, and Rigondeaux quit after six rounds. In fact, all of those opponents quit, and he’s on a streak of RTD victories dating back to his November 2016 win over Nicholas Walters.
2018 will be interesting for Lomachenko. Will he be forced to move up in weight again, finding no suitable challengers willing to face him at 130? Sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be this good.
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai
Srisaket, 31, had a massive breakout year in the super flyweight division. It didn’t start like he’d end on on the Fighter of the Year shortlist, as yes, he beat former pound-for-pound king Roman “Chocolatito” Gonzalez in March, but there was plenty of controversy in that decision.
The rematch in September, headlining HBO’s big, somewhat experimental “Superfly” card, left no doubt. As Gonzalez tried to get his revenge, Srisaket simply overpowered him, and knocked out the former king in the fourth round.
The Thai puncher is now set to face Juan Francisco Estrada in the headline bout of “Superfly II” on February 24. If he wins there and keeps this streak going, he could find himself on this list again next year.
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Srisaket Sor Rungvisai