A serious contender for fight of 2018 would be Vasyl Lomanchenko vs Jorge Linares at Madison Square Garden in May, as Lomanchenko became the fastest man to win three world title belts at three difference weights. Despite the victory this was undoubtedly the Ukrainian’s toughest fight in the pro ranks, he had to recover from a sixth-round knockdown after been caught with a stiff straight right hand. But in the 10th round a short and powerful left hook left Linares unable to continue. This doesn’t tell the whole story as there were plenty of positives for Linares to take from this defeat, he was even ahead on one judge’s card, behind on another and level on the third. In the aftermath of the fight Twitter went into meltdown as the likes of Oscar De La Hoya and Lou DiBella had their say on the action which had taken place. After GGG v Canelo II, this is a rematch that most fight fans want to see.
Deontay Wilder and Luis Ortiz served up a thriller at the Brooklyn Centre in New York in March, Wilder survived the biggest crisis of his destructive career so far. Despite dropping Ortiz in the fifth round, the Cuban found a way back into the fight and clearly hurt Wilder in the seventh. Entering the championship rounds the American found his way to motor through the gears, stopping his opponent with a cracking uppercut which resulted in Ortiz hitting the canvas for the second time during the 10h. Wilder was delighted with the outcome: “a true champion always finds a way to come back. I showed everyone I can take a punch. Ortiz was a great opponent and I take my hat off to him.” It was the perfect set up for a unification match-up between Wilder and Anthony Joshua, although that fight is unlikely to take place this year.
James DeGale proved his critics wrong with a fantastic performance reclaiming his IBF world super-middleweight title from Caleb Truax at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in April. With his career at a crossroads “Chunky” showed the heart of a true champion by overcoming a deep cut over his right eyebrow during the third round which affected his vision for the rest of the fight. He also had to contend with contentious refereeing decisions including a harsh point deduction for nudging his shoulder in the clinch and letting a deliberate headbutt by Truax go unpunished. This didn’t deter DeGale who has now won, defended and regained his IBF title in the USA. Getting back to winning ways has put DeGale back amongst the elite of the super-middleweight division, with a future battle between the winner of George Groves and Callum Smith final of the World Boxing Super Series on the horizon