With the calendar turning to July, we are now at the midway point 2022. The year in boxing has been a good one that has featured a strong slate of fights, and a host of marquee boxers putting forth performances that only fortified their reputations.
Here's a look at the five biggest stories of the half-year....
- Year of Bam
Coming into '22, Jesse 'Bam' Rodriguez was a highly touted yet relatively unknown prospect. But as he was given the 11th hour notice to face Carlos Cuadras back in February in place of Srisaket Sor Rungvisai for the WBC 115-pound title, he burst onto the scene with a dazzling display of boxing to win a wide 12 round decision.
Ed Mulholland for DAZN
Then a few weeks ago, he scored an eighth round stoppage of Sor Rungvisai, to solidify his claim as one of the elite fighters in this division. At just 22 years old, Rodriguez is not just the youngest world champion in the sport, he's quickly becoming one of it's most accomplished.
If he can stack another solid victory (or two) the rest of the year, Rodriguez is the odds on choice to win 'Fighter of the Year' honors.
- Bivol Boxes Canelo In
Coming into this battle, Saul 'Alvarez' was on a roll. He had just cleaned out super middleweight and ventured back up to face WBA light heavyweight titlist, Dmitry Bivol. A boxer who was more respected than revered. The Mexican star was a solid favorite over Bivol as they squared off on May 7 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
But from the very beginning of this bout, Bivol was in charge. Behind his solid jab, and deft in-and-out footwork he was able to consistently corral Canelo, who was a step behind the whole night. Over time, Bivol became more emboldened and began to strike Alvarez with rapid fire combinations that left him on the defensive.
The official scores (115-113 across the board) do not reflect just how definitive this victory was for Bivol, who stamped his arrival as a boxer to be reckoned with.
- Devin Down Under
Sometimes you got to do what you've got to do. And for Devin Haney that not only meant going to Australia to face George Kambosos for all his lightweight belts, but he had to then pledge to go back and do it again should he win.
Mikey Williams for Top Rank
Well, not only did he win, Haney won in such dominant fashion, that there is really no interest in running this back. Haney boxed effectively and was simply too quick for Kambosos, who made the mistake of trying to counter-punch a master boxer. While the likes of Jorge Linares and Joseph Diaz had moments versus Haney in his previous two bouts in 2021, there were no such outbursts from Kambosos.
The crowd of over 40,000 at Marvel Stadium never had much to cheer for on this June night. No longer can you call him an 'email champion' -- he's now undisputed.
- No Dispute for Charlo
When they battled last summer in San Antonio, while the fight between Jermell Charlo and Brian Castano was ruled a draw, the majority of observers believe it was the Argentine that should've had his hands raised in victory.
So they ran it back in mid-May, and Charlo left no doubt about things this time around. After overcoming some rough moments from the hard-charging Argentine, he was able to wear down Castano with his faster, more powerful punches down the middle. One of the biggest adjustments made by Charlo was that unlike their first bout, he didn't get caught up on the ropes for long stretches.
Finally, in the 10th round Castano was sent to the canvas twice, and there was no doubt who was the better man on this night -- and the worlds best '54 pounder. Beyond that, Charlo now has to be considered one of the very best fighters in the world pound-for-pound.
- Ladies Nights
In 2022, female boxing has taken a huge leap. First there was the memorable 10 round war waged by Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano on the night of April 30 at Madison Square Garden. But not only was it one of the best bouts of the year, they also did boffo box-office numbers.
On this evening, it truly was ladies night.
And moving forward, on September 10 we have a doubleheader from the O2 Arena in England, that has Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner -- who have been engaging in a very entertaining back-and-forth on Twitter the past few months -- for all the belts at junior lightweight. On that same bill, the undisputed middleweight title is on the line as Claressa Shields takes on Savannah Marshall, in what is clearly a long simmering grudge match.
You can argue if woman's boxing has arrived, but there's no denying that it's come a long way from just a few years ago.
DAZN has a card from O2 Arena that features the heavyweight rematch between the old war horse, Dereck Chisora, and Kubrat Pulev. Back in 2016 they engaged in what was rather forgettable 12 round bout that was won by Pulev.
The most interesting bout for me on this card is the return bout between Israil Madrimov and Michel Soro. Their first bout was ended as Madrimov seemingly stopped Soro with a barrage of punches late in the ninth. But the problem is that there was a bell to end the round that nobody heard.
Eventually, while Madrimov was still ruled the victor, the WBA ordered an immediate rematch between the two, as this bout was a WBA final eliminator.
Later on Saturday night, Showtime has a card from the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, that features the first title defense of WBC featherweight titlist, Mark Magsayo, who has to face the difficult (to watch) Rey Vargas. Back in January, Magsayo defeated long-reigning Gary Russell for the green belt.
The next entertaining fight that Vargas will be involved in, will be the first one.
There's an interesting co-feature on this broadcast that has former 122-pound belt-holder, Brandon Figueroa taking on Carlos Castro. In his last outing, Figueroa lost a hard fought decision to Stephen Fulton in what was a junior featherweight unification bout back in November.
This telecast begins with the talented Frank Martin, who will be opposed by Jackson Marinez.