The year 2020 has been a turbulent one, a global pandemic put the whole world at a standstill. Slowly but surely the global cogs are turning once more and boxing is back in full swing.
This year it has been the year of who stays ready in the gym as that call can come at any time and 2020 proved to be that time for many fighters.
We have seen blood, sweat, tears and controversy through the boxing schedule with many fighters shining, many boxers breaking through and just as many underwhelming.
In this article we take a look at five fighters who have shined bright this year and taken the negatives and turned them into positives for their careers.
In fifth place is Clay Collard.
Collard started 2020 with a dismal record of 4-2-3 after losing to Bektemir Melikuziev in November ’19.
‘Cassius’ Clay was drafted in purely as an opponent for the then undefeated Quashawn Toler who was 9-0 back in January. Collard caused the upset when he defeated Toler.
Just four weeks later Collard was back in the ring, like a true road warrior fighting with great regularity. The opponent this time was 5-0 Raymond Guajardo. Clay once more took his opponent’s ‘0’.
Then the lockdown began putting a halt to boxing until June, where Collard found himself back in the ring with yet another undefeated prospect, David Kaminsky.
You guessed it, Collard was victorious once more. He then became a regular fixture for Top Rank in their ‘Bubble’ setting where he defeated Lorawnt T Nelson and Maurice Williams, before facing his sixth opponent of the year, and his fourth undefeated opponent.
Unfortunately, 2020 didn’t have the fairytale ending for Collard as he fell short against Quincy LaVallais. However, winning five of six fights with a ‘journeyman’ tag is something to be proud of and showed the world what Clay Collard is capable of.
In only his third year as a professional, Joe Joyce finds himself highly ranked in the governing bodies rankings with a world title shot in his sights for 2021 thanks to a successful 2020.
Joyce had to wait a seven months before getting some in-ring action this year, a full year since he had last fought.
In a ring rust-shaking bout the ‘Juggernaut’ dispatched of Michael Wallisch inside three rounds with relative ease.
November saw the long overdue colossal clash with rising star Daniel Dubois.
A fight that had been highly impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic saw numerous postponements and some thought it couldn’t happen without fans in attendance.
Against all odds the fight went ahead with no gate revenue.
The bookmakers made ‘Dynamite’ Dubois a heavy favourite but Joyce defused the 23-year-old inflicting serious damage to the prospect.
Joyce finds himself in the driving seat for a showdown with his amateur rival Oleksandr Usyk, potentially for the WBO World Championship should current champion Anthony Joshua vacate the title.
Undefeated Elvis Rodriguez has had a real breakthrough year in 2020 having almost double the amount of fights he had heading into the year.
In January, Rodriguez’s record read 5-0-1 (5KOs) showing he carried plenty of power.
December 2020, Elvis’ record now reads 10-0-1 (10KOs). Five bouts this year have all ended inside the distance as the Dominican Republican sends a message of intent to all Super Lightweights out there.
Should 2021 continue in the same form for the 24-year-old it won’t be long before he is knocking on the door at the top of the division which contains the likes of Josh Taylor, Jose Ramirez and Regis Prograis.
Under the tutelage of Freddie Roach, Elvis could truly become a force to be reckoned with.
With his exciting style and knockout power he will surely become a fan favourite.
The Light Heavyweight from Manchester had been quietly going about his business under the radar claiming the Commonwealth title in 2019 whilst the limelight was firmly on Callum Johnson, Joshua Buatsi and Anthony Yarde.
‘King’ Arthur dominated proceedings when he faced Scunthorpe’s tough man Dec Spelman. This set up a showdown with Anthony Yarde.
Spelman, who has faced both men, predicted before the bout that Arthur would defeat Yarde, much to the surprise to the boxing fans.
At times boxing can be like a circus and on that night Lyndon Arthur was the lion tamer as he jabbed his way to victory much to the disgust of Yarde and his team.
Once more the bookmakers got it horribly wrong. This is boxing and anything can happen.
Arthur now finds himself with a world ranking and two titles heading into 2021 which looks set to be an even bigger year than 2020.
An eagerly-anticipated super fight in the Lightweight division took place in October with Ukrainian, Lomachenko the favourite to use his experience and ring craftsmanship to defeat the young pup in Lopez.
Teofimo however didn’t read the script, instead he tore it up as he dominated proceedings for the first seven rounds seemingly not dropping a round.
The Brooklynite continued, sticking to his game plan throughout, not letting Lomachenko get a grip of the fight.
Although, having had just the one fight in 2020 it is the magnitude of the bout which lands Lopez our top spot for this year.
Lomachenko has recently come out stating he felt the judges were biased in this bout and demands a rematch. Should Lopez agree to the second fight it would start 2021 nicely for the 23-year-old.