Some years you have just one fighter who has stood head and shoulders above the rest, making it easy to pick your fighter of the year. But 2016 has produced a number of fighters who could easily win it. Check out who the FirstClassBoxing team have picked for there 2016 ‘Fighter of the Year’.
Andrew McCart (@Andy_FCBoxing)
My 2016 ‘Fighter of the Year’ is WBA featherweight world champion Carl Frampton and it’s not even close. At the start of the year Frampton took on his bitter rival and unbeaten world champion Scott Quigg in Manchester. The fight was won by split-decision (I don’t know how anyone scored it for Quigg) by the 29-year old Northern Irishman. Who unified the super bantamweight division. Then, in the summer of 2016 Frampton moved up a weight to take on another unbeaten world champion in Leo Santa Cruz. It was a tremendous all action fight, but it was ‘The Jackal’ who had is hand raised. Making him a two weight world champion. So, let me break it down, Frampton beat two unbeaten world champions, away from home, unified one division and became a two-weight world champion all in one year. Easy choice for me.
Jerome Souza (@Jerome510)
My choice for the 2016 Fighter of the Year is Light Heavyweight Champion Andre Ward. After coming back from injuries that kept the usual busy Ward restricted for a few years (along with promotional issues), Ward debuted as a full-fledged Light Heavyweight in March. Eight months and two victories later, Ward gets off the canvas to overtake the unbeaten pound-for-pound Light Heavyweight Champion Sergey Kovalev. Say what you will about the decision being controversial, but Ward deserves much more credit for his victory. Ward is blamed for the fight ending in a close decision and being awarded the victor. That is out of his control. Ward won seven rounds against Kovalev on all three judges scorecards. Ward also came back from injuries and won three fights in 9 months against two undefeated fighters and a once-beaten Alexander Brand. Prior to Ward, Brand’s only defeat came via Split Decision loss from current WBC Super Middleweight Champion Badou Jack. Ward’s first victory at 175 lbs was against an undefeated Sullivan Barrera. Ward outboxed Barrera in the fight and sent him to the canvas as well. After Barrera’s KO over the undefeated Vyacheslav Shabranskyy, one could make a case for him being a Top Ten 175 pounder. Ward’s three victories against a combination of quality opposition convinced me that he was this year’s best overall fighter.
Dallas Orysiuk (@Chargers204)
There were a few names I contemplated for 2016’s fighter of the year: Terrence Crawford, Joe Smith Jr., Canelo Alvarez, Andre Ward and Errol Spence Jr. But based on the quality of opposition and the decisiveness of the victories… my 2016 fighter of the year is Vasyl Lomachenko. He only fought twice in 2016, but in those two fights, Lomachenko made his time in the ring really count. In his first fight of the year, Lomachenko destroyed Roman Martinez in 5 rounds and ended the fight with a highlight reel knockout. Then last month Lomachenko showed his dominance again, dominating and toying with Nicholas Walters, causing him to quit on the stool in the seventh. Not only did Lomachenko dismantle two very solid opponents, but with each fight he continues look better and better, that is why I vote Vasyl Lomachenko as 2016’s fighter of the year.
Jake Collins (@MelancholyFolly)
For me, Frampton was the clear winner. That was until construction worker Joe Smith Jr knocked out both a world title challenger in Fonfara and a boxing legend in Hopkins. He was a heavy underdog in both and showed something that makes boxing beautiful: sometimes, the regular guy really can win. An ancient Hopkins and short of world level Fonfara may not be the most prestigious names to take an L this year, but for Smith Jr they’re so much more than that. I hope he has an even bigger 2017.
Alex Beard – (@alex_beard17)
Andre Ward – While cases can certainly be made for the likes of Frampton, Lomachenko and Crawford; there can be no argument that for me Andre Ward is the fighter of the year. His win over Sergey Kovalev was controversial, yes, but it remains a victory over a fellow top five pound-for-pound fighter, something that nobody else managed this year. That win, coupled with easy decisions over Alexander Brand and Sullivan Barrera (a win that looks even more impressive in light of Barrera’s starching of previously-unbeaten Vyacheslav Shabranskyy recently) means that Ward is the outstanding choice amongst several excellent candidates for fighter of the year.
FOTY – Andre Wardby