Elite skill isn’t always the main ingredient to make a great fight. First and foremost, it’s the indomitable will to succeed against all odds. These 10 fights represent that theory across the spectrum.
10. TOM DORAN TKO2 LUKE KEELER, 4/2/16
This shootout was a rematch for their 2015 encounter in the Prizefighter tournament. Doran won that one by decision. This time, the two engaged in a shootout with both being hurt severely and going down in the first. A too anxious Keeler got caught and brutally dispatched early in the second.
9. GENNADY GOLOVKIN TKO5 KELL BROOK, 9/10/16
As much as styles makes fights, great crowds can also elevate a battle. When Kell Brook moved up to middleweight to face Gennady Golovkin, he had the entire O2 Arena cheering for him to pull a momentous upset. The faster Brook stunned Golovkin several times, but the brutish power of the middleweight champion broke Brook’s orbital bone and forced his corner to wave the white flag.
8. ROMAN GONZALEZ UD12 CARLOS CUADRAS, 9/10/16
Roman Gonzalez received all he could handle in his super flyweight debut against WBC champ Carlo Cuadras. Gonzalez’s aggression and combination punching gave him an early advantage, but Cuadras began to time his counters and do massive damage in the middle rounds. By the late rounds, Gonzalez had to dig deep through swollen eyes to get the victory and fourth title in as many weight classes.
7. JESUS SOTO KARASS SPLIT DRAW10 YOSHIHIRO KAMEGAI, 4/15/16
A phone booth fight for 10 full rounds. Kamegai excelled with his body work while Soto Karass landed the more eye-catching head shots. One of the few times a draw felt like the right verdict.
6. KEITH THURMAN UD12 KEITH THURMAN, 6/25/16
This fight was years in the making and did not disappoint. Thurman’s landed his best powers shots as Porter bulled inside to work the body. In the end, Thurman was able to get the edge with judges via his eye-catching combinations. A rematch is definitely warranted.
5. CARL FRAMPTON UD12 LEO SANTA CRUZ, 7/30/16
Carl Frampton moved up to feathwerweight and literally took on the biggest challenger in towering WBA champion Leo Santa Cruz. Frampton did what no on else had done before him in stifling Santa Cruz’s non-stop pressure with superb counter-punching and occasional brawling.
4. TONY BELLEW TKO3 ILUNGA MAKABU, 5/29/16
One good left hook deserves another. Bellew was floored in the first, and rebounded in the third to dispatch Makabu in round three.
3. JAMIE CONLAN KO8 ANTHONY NELSON, 4/30/16
These guys left a literal pound of flesh in the ring. Nelson was dropped in round one, but landed enough to leave Conlan cut and bruised. Conlan would taste the canvas in the third and seventh stanzas before storming back for a dramatic body shot KO in the eighth.
2. DILLIAN WHYTE SD12 DERECK CHISORA, 12/10/16
Nothing like a fight between two guys who despise each other. After a few dustups outside the ring, these two made good on fight night. The older Chisora had his chances to win, but his lack of stamina allowed Whyte to be more active and escape with a one-point split decision win.
1.FRANCISO VARGAS MAJORITY DRAW ORLANDO SALIDO, 6/4/16
During this battle, Jim Lampley aptly asked the question “How do men do this?” You won’t find a fight in 2016 that displays such sustained savagery. Salido, usually the boss when it comes to trench warfare, found himself wobbled several times by Vargas’ combinations. On the flip side, Vargas’ bloody and misshapen face wore the price for going to war with Salido. There were so many swings in momentum that a clear winner wasn’t discernible, and Vargas kept his WBC crown with a majority draw.