UK boxing took a bit of trouble in 2021 with world champions like Anthony Joshua, Josh Warrington, Terri Harper and Kid Galahad losing their world titles.
But a handful of stars like Maxi Hughes, Savannah Marshall, Leigh Wood and Sunny Edwards have leapt into the limelight with big wins and performances.
But some of the best fights don’t always feature a world title, flawless performance, or even a packed stadium.
Across the UK there are brilliant fights for regional titles, English and UK honors and good ol ‘bragging rights every weekend.
We have seen underdogs create surprises, comrades refuse to be beaten, sparring partners become stars and away corners get the result.
But some of the best fights hardly need a result. There are times when the valiant loser limps away with so much credit and respect.
There were chess matches and all-out wars that left both men covered in blood and glory.
It’s been tough, but SunSport has tried to narrow it down to a handful of the best of 2021:
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Tyson Fury vs. Deontay Wilder October 3 – 9 – Las Vegas
Fighting fans of this generation so often feel deprived of the old glory days of Rumbles in Jungles, Thrillas in Manillas and Brawls in Montreal, but it was a wonderful throwback and a reminder of the greatness of the sport.
The two were tied at 2-2 for trips to the canvas, sort of pulling their giant, shattered bodies to their feet four times in total.
And then the Gypsy King went to the well one more time to collapse Wilder and keep his WBC crown and confirm his name at the top of the pile.
Wilder redeemed himself, Sugar Hill Stewart’s exciting corner work came as a bonus later and everyone remembered why these men – the heavyweight world champions – are at the top of all sports.
Troy Williamson vs. Ted Cheeseman – October 9 – Liverpool
If Bermondsey braveheart Cheeseman has now retired at the age of 26, with a beautiful young family and various businesses, he leaves behind a magnificent body of work that any fighter would be proud of.
The Tony Sims-formed ace has gone through back-to-back wars with Asinia Byfield, Sergio Garcia, Kieron Conway, Scott Fitzgerald, Sam Eggington, JJ Metcalf and finally Williamson – all over the span of three breathtaking years.
His record for this amazing race reads WLDLWWL but everyone is worth going back and watching him again.
The seventh round alone of this barnstormer was incredible as both men suffered barrage of penalties but remained standing.
But Williamson – who bravely went to the promotion and broadcaster of Cheeseman – knocked him out violently with a left hook on round 10.
Joe Joyce vs Carlos Takam – July 24 – London
The 36-year-old Juggernaut was supposed to enjoy a nice tune-up fight against the teak slugger who suffered losses to Anthony Joshua and Derek Chisora, but it turned into hellish affair.
Joyce’s famous granite chin was tested a terrifying number of times during the first five laps before unloading and securing a contested stopping victory.
It was missing the show of Fury vs Wilder 3 and the bloody chess match of Williamson and Cheeseman, but the Copper Box was filled with gasps and moans as all the Briton’s fans feared he would blow up his high ranking. in a stunning upheaval.
Of course, Putney’s frozen giant assured everyone he had everything under control.
Sam Eggington vs. Bilal Jkitou – September 10 – Coventry
This gorgeous Midlands ruck wouldn’t have looked out of place at Madison Square Garden or MGM, Las Vegas.
Mick Hennessy put on an exciting headliner that was so popular it was shown at a local movie theater soon after.
Eggington – still only 28 – already has around three career fight of the year contenders and he’s gone to war with the unknown Frenchman again.
The Brummie secured a split decision victory after 12 rounds of relentless middleweight action.
It was a reminder that Hennessy – who usually has to play third fiddle to Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren – can always put on a brilliant ball, when he has the right dance partners.
Anyone who watched the first clash would certainly argue that Channel 5 is rebroadcasting it in 2022.
Jack Cullen vs. Avni Yildrim – July 31 – Essex
The Turkish middleweight had a lot of experience in previous losses to Chris Eubank Jr and Canelo Alvarez, so he was the big favorite to travel to the UK and beat the Englishman.
Little Lever’s Meat Cleaver – the man with the North Face tattoo on his shoulder after a drunken bet – couldn’t stand it though.
A brilliant mob of Cullen’s friends and family paid Â£ 750 PER TICKET to cheer on their local legend.
And he rewarded them with a wonderful performance to win wide on all three cards.
The 28-year-old beanpole is one of Britain’s must-see boxers as he has had some brilliant battles with John Harding Jr, Felix Cash, Zak Chelli, John Docherty and Yildrim.
Joseph Parker v Derek Chisora ââ- December 18 – Manchester
After the first installment last May ended in a lukewarm points win for the New Zealander, few wanted to see these two middle-aged millionaires talk and trade punches again.
But 37-year-old British ring icon Chisora ââput on a magnificent display of courage to survive three counts and end the fight on her feet and swinging for the rafters.
Parker, 29, packed with 10 more pounds of muscle since the first clash, pulled off a sickening uppercuts hat-trick that Del Boy couldn’t handle.
One folded ace Finchley to his knees and the other two knocked him down the ropes where Howard Foster gave him eight seconds to recover.
In reality, Parker is no closer to a world title, with Tyson Fury, Oleksandr Usyk and Dillian Whyte tying them up for at least a few years.
So it just showed how proud the two men were in fighting to crash insanely and then share the Five Guys burgers that Chisora ââbought for everyone backstage.
When the Zimbabwe-born warrior retires he will be missed and it is unlikely that we will ever see his likes again.
Katie Taylor v Natasha Jonas – May 1 – Manchester
Nine years later, since those two lit up the London 2012 Olympics, with Irish icon Taylor taking gold, the Pioneers have met as pros once again.
Taylor put his four lightweight world titles and undisputed status on the line as Liverpool’s Jonas sought revenge.
Over ten brilliant laps – sadly only two minutes in the female code – we saw constant pinch and tuck action.
Jonas landed the biggest shots, Taylor the most precise points.
Eventually, the judges inside the eerily empty arena scored 96-94, 96-95 and 96-95.
It wasn’t elite women’s boxing, it was just elite boxing.