5 best boxing fights in 2021 including Fury vs Wilder and Canelo’s destruction

Not everything went to plan for boxing fans in 2021.

Billed as the year when Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua finally met in their long-awaited heavyweight unification bout, a bit of legal wrangling, not to mention Oleksandr Usyk, threw some spanners into the works.

Chris Eubank Jr's much hyped grudge fight with Liam Williams in Cardiff was also put back until after Christmas after the Welshman picked up an injury in training, while supporters of Dillion Whyte were also left deflated when he was forced to cancel his clash with Otto Wallin.

And for those who like their their social media and reality TV as much as they do their boxing, the Jake Paul and Tommy Fury feud didn't get the culmination we were promised after the Englishman picked up a bacterial chest infection.

However, there's been no shortage of epic bouts to compensate these past 12 months.

And while the trilogy clash between Fury and Deontay Wilder went down as a fight for the ages, and undoubtedly took top billing in terms of publicity, there were other classics to linger long in the memory.

Here, we pick out five of the best of them.

Chisora and Parker put on a war

The December rematch between these Joseph Parker and Derek Chisora left little open to dispute.

There was no questioning the winner, with Parker ahead on all three scorecards after flooring Chisora three times. And nor was there any doubts over Chisora's resilience, with 'Del Boy' showing true guts and fortitude to reach the final bell.

Little over six months ago however, the pair put on the mother and father of all slugfests in Manchester, and on that occasion there was plenty still up for discussion afterwards.

The British fighter is of course no stranger to pre-fight hype, and while at least the tables were left in tact this time, he bizarrely threatened to withdraw from the bout the day before after losing the coin toss which determined who would walk to the ring last.

That dispute was duly sorted out, and perhaps the biggest compliment we can pay Chisora is to say that for once, his performance then lived up to the earlier histrionics.

He felled the Kiwi fighter just seven seconds into the first round, and seemed destined to brawl his way to the victory before Parker rallied in the latter stages.

His fightback proved enough to earn a split decision – albeit a dubious one – and while it wasn't 12 rounds to win any awards for aesthetic beauty, it was a 'scrap' to captivate the purists.

Taylor takes it all from Ramirez

Both were unbeaten, both were holding world title belts, and both were hell-bent on being crowned the undisputed light welterweight champion in Vegas.

Small wonder then, that back in May both Jose Ramirez and Josh Taylor were prepared to endure immense punishment in order to fight to the finish.

The American dominated the early going, but just moments after inflicting a cut above Taylor's eye in the sixth round, suddenly found himself on the canvas.

That sparked Taylor into the ascendancy, and he floored Ramirez again in the seventh with a vicious left uppercut before the pair produced a final five rounds of epic intensity.

Taylor duly took a unanimous decision, a scenario that seemed unlikely at the midway stage, and with it Ramirez's WBC and WBO titles – to go with his WBA (Super), IBF, and The Ring belts.

If ever an effort was worthy of being labelled an undisputed champion, this was it.

Bridges becomes more than a model

Prior to battling Shannon Courtenay for the vacant WBA women's world bantamweight title, Ebanie Bridges' most well known assets probably weren't her boxing hands.

By then famed for turning up at weigh-ins wearing racy lingerie, she had been accused by Courtenay, amongst others, of using the sport to flaunt her body more than her in-ring skills.

And while it was the Watford fighter who would ultimately take the title with a unanimous points win, it was also a bout that proved Bridges belonged with the best for the right reasons.

In what transpired into a bloodbath, Bridges staved off severe swelling above her left eye, not to mention a savage right hand from her opponent in the fifth round, before mounting late offence of her own.

The Australian got up from her corner for the final three minutes despite admitting she could only see out of one eye, and would later post photos that depicted just how severe the horrific injury was.


Courtenay, whose superior jab proved critical on the night, took the points verdict. But following what 5 Live boxing analyst Steve Bunce called "the best women's fight we've ever seen in this country," the 'Blonde Bomber' left the arena with new-found respect.

Canelo finally plants his man to the floor

For 10 rounds, Canelo Alvarez didn't have it all his own way against Caleb Plant.

So the Mexican addressed his frustration by crucifying his opponent in the 11th.

Alvarez was seeking to unify all four belts in the super-middleweight division but in Plant, he faced an opponent unbeaten in his 21-pro fight career.

And it was soon easy to see why, with Plant managing to evade the icon's legendary stalking tactics for much of the contest, whilst at the same time working his left jab to serious effect.

Unusually rattled, Alvarez was sanctioned for a low blow midway through as commentators and pundits began to speculate on a possible upset of epic proportions.

You're not considered one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters of all time without being able to bide your time though, and in the penultimate round Alvarez would floor his rival with a left hook and then again with a right uppercut.

Both times, Plant stumbled back to his feet, only to finally succumb when he couldn't sustain a barrage of punches from the all-time great.

Home fans at the MGM Grand had hoped for an historic underdog win. They ultimately did witness history – just not in the way they wanted.

Tyson takes out Wilder once and for all

Ali v Frazier, Holyfield v Bowe, Patterson v Johansson, when pundits now analyse the greatest boxing trilogies of all time, Fury v Wilder is firmly in the debate.

If their first clash was tainted by farcical scorecards, and their second an anti-climax, then their third and final hurrah in Vegas last October proved a fight for the ages.

It's original scheduling was a notion that angered British boxing fans, with Wilder winning a legal case that ruled 'The Gypsy King' had to halt negotiations to face Anthony Joshua and instead complete their three-fight agreement.

Fury's build up was anything but smooth, delaying the fight due to Covid-19 before having to deal with his new-born child spending time in intensive care.

He didn't start like a man ill-prepared though, knocking his bitter rival down in the third round – only for the American to storm back and floor Fury twice in the fourth.

An epic duel followed, with Wilder's resilience coming to the fore before Fury finally ended matters in the 11th with a clean right hand.

Whether Fury v Joshua ever now happens remains to be seen. But if it does, it will need to raise a roof or two to match what these two put on.

As endings to stories go, it was quite the final chapter.

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