12 rounds of bombs, blood and battle
By John J. Raspanti
Whittling down the 2019 fight of the year can be tough. Some years are tougher.
2019 is one of them.
Daniel Roman and TJ Doheny went to hell and back last April. Consistent body work by Roman weakened Doheny, but not before the former champion almost dropped Roman.
Jose Ramirez, ahead on two cards, and even on the third, withstood some cracking right hands to knock out Maurice Hooker in thrilling fashion.
Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis went mano-a-mano in London, with Taylor prevailing by majority decisions after 12 fierce rounds, but not without drama, as Prograis almost rallied in the last round to stop Taylor.
Gennadiy Golovkin threw hands with Sergiy Derevyanchenko for 12 rounds of brutal action at Madison Square Garden in October. Golovkin floored Derevyanchenko in the opening stanza, making some think the fight would end quickly.
Visiting the canvas seemed to wake up Derevyanchenko. He battled back, strafing Golovkin with various punches – leaving the former undisputed middleweight champion tired and backing up.
Golovkin hung tough – escaping with the win in what appeared to be the toughest fight of his Hall of Fame career.
In the months leading up to the Errol Spence Jr. and Shawn Porter fight in Los Angeles, Spence kept telling anyone who would listen that he would knock out Porter. The oddsmakers were listening. They made Spence a huge favorite. Porter was not.
He battled Spence tooth and nail, pushing the undefeated welterweight champion like nobody before. Spence cemented his split decision victory with a dramatic 11th round knockdown.
Great fights, all of them, but the best of 2019 was between heavy-handed, and undefeated, Japanese dynamo, Naoya Inoue, and future Hall of Famer, Nonito Donaire.
The back story was fascinating. Inoue, 26, grew-up idolizing the 37-year-old Donaire. His last two fights had been blowouts. Some were saying he was invincible.
Donaire had dropped down in weight to compete in the World Boxing Super Series tournament. Few had given him a chance to make it to the finals, but there he was, after winning a quarterfinal fight over an injured Ryan Burnett. He knocked out late replacement, Stephen Young, to earn a spot in the finals against the heavily-favored Inoue.
The resulting fight was 12-rounds of back and forth action. Inoue, younger and fresher, won the fight by unanimous decision, but not before almost being stopped by Donaire a couple of times.
Donaire landed his money punch, a left hook in round two that opened a cut over Inoue’s right eye in round two. The cut never stopped bleeding.
Inoue said after the war that the shot had caused him to see double for the rest of the bout. His orbital bone was also fractured. No matter. He rattled Donaire throughout, dropping the former champion with a vicious left hook to the ribs in the 11th round.
Donaire grimaced, got up, and hurt Inoue later in the round. They traded more leather in the 12th round, leaving everything in the ring.
It was that kind of fight
The Naoya Inoue versus Nonito Donaire is the Maxboxing 2019 Fight of the Year