Here are our Boxing Awards for the first half of 2017:
Fighter of the Half-Year: Andre Ward There is room to criticize Tony Weeks for his officiating work during Andre Ward’s TKO of Sergey Kovalev earlier this month. But let’s not deny Ward’s brilliant work. Kovalev is a legitimate, pound-for-pound star. He gave Ward all he could handle last November, with many people (myself included) feeling that he deserved a narrow win. This time around, Ward clearly separated himself from his rival, in the process proving that he is the greatest pound-for-pound fighter in the sport right now.
Fight of the Half-Year: Anthony Joshua Round 11 TKO Wladimir Klitschko For the first time in a generation, boxing fans were treated to a truly epic heavyweight clash. This was two very big, athletic boxers with serious power, both digging deep and trading momentum swings. Klitschko rattled Joshua in the fourth. Joshua came back and dropped Klitschko in Round 5, but Klitschko beat the count and turned things around, putting Joshua in bad trouble before the end of the frame. Klitschko dropped a still rattled Joshua in Round 6 and looked set to prevail over the younger man. By Round 11, Klitshko was looking to hang tough through the bell, but Joshua finally stopped him for good. This was a clash to stand alongside great heavyweight bouts like Bowe-Holyfield I and II, Holmes-Norton and the three Ali-Frazier wars.
Knockout of the Half-Year: Joshua over Klitschko High drama and action brought to a thrilling conclusion by the man set to redeem the heavyweight division.
Breakout Fighter of the Half-Year: Errol Spence Jr. Everybody knew Spence was something special coming into this year. His stoppages last year of Chris Algieri and Leonard Bundu were stunning. But it remained to be seen how he would respond to an opponent who could present him with serious problems. He answered those question last May against Kell Brook, a truly dangerous welterweight. Spence had to hang tough and adjust before taking control of the bout and stopping the Brit in Round 11. It was a brilliant performance.