Boxing in 2021 was the year of upsets and the unexpected heavyweight classic

Boxing in 2021 was the year of the upsets.

From Mexican Mauricio Lara stunning Josh Warrington way back in February to George Kambosos Jnr taking the throne of king of the lightweights from Teofimo Lopez before he even got the seat warm.

There was Spain’s Kiko Martinez rolling back the years to knock out Sheffield ace Kid Galahad and become a world champion again at 35.

Manny Pacquiao’s legendary career was ended by a surprise loss to Yordenis Ugas, although at 42 the end was always coming for the fantastic Filipino.

Spain’s Sandor Martin shocked American star Mikey Garcia in a non-title fight.

But it was a reminder to those across the Atlantic that being a European champion is a real achievement.

On British soil, ‘The Iceman’ Jason Cunningham upset two favourites in Gamal Yafai and Brad Foster to end the year with the European bantamweight strap.

While many will point to Anthony Joshua’s defeat by Oleksandr Usyk in their WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight clash as one of the biggest shocks.

Not for me, though. Not sure you can call the undisputed cruiserweight champion and an Olympic gold medallist beating anyone an upset.

But it was still a victory that shook the heavyweight division up.

Not as much as Daniel Weinstein though, remember him?

The US arbitrator delivered arguably one of boxing’s biggest shocks of the year when he handed Deontay Wilder a third fight with Tyson Fury.

The world was waiting for Joshua against Fury to be announced for August 14 in Saudi Arabia.

When one judge in California pulled the rug from under promoters, managers, advisors and even Middle East royalty as he settled a contract dispute in favour of the Bronze Bomber when everyone had backed Fury walking away from it.

It felt like a seismic blow for the sport at the time but, like it always seems to do, boxing bounced back.

And Weinstein’s decision gave us the fight of the year when Fury knocked out Wilder in the 11th round of a brutal war.

The fourth round in Las Vegas when Wilder floored The Gypsy King almost led to another huge upset.

The electricity inside the T-Mobile Arena at that time will be hard to ever forget before Fury climbed off the floor twice to batter Wilder into defeat.

Fury is an obvious candidate for British fighter of the year but Josh Taylor going to Las Vegas with no supporters to beat Jose Ramirez and become undisputed light-welterweight king surely gets him that accolade.

And 2021 cannot be mentioned without bringing Canelo Alvarez into the conversation. He started the year with two belts at super-middleweight and ended it with all four.

Let’s see what 2022 brings.

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