Boxing in 2020: Who wins the end-of-year awards?

Deontay Wilder is knocked down during his second fight with Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury drew with Deontay Wilder in December 2018 but claimed an emphatic victory in the rematch in February

The coronavirus pandemic has had a huge impact on boxing, but it did not prevent some memorable fights in 2020.

A score was settled in Las Vegas, some epic duels played out behind closed doors and a new star was born.

World IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington, one of those fighters forced to put their plans on hold, watched his gym-mate pull off an upset.

He joins BBC Radio 5 Live boxing correspondent Mike Costello and analyst Steve Bunce to pick the winners of their end-of-year awards.

Best fight of the year - Wilder-Fury II

'This was written in the stars' - Fury on beating Wilder

Warrington: It was a heavyweight title fight, a rematch, a grudge match. You had the drama in the first fight, and how this one panned out... after watching it I wanted to put 15 stone on and become a heavyweight myself. It was an unbelievable performance from Tyson Fury.

Deontay Wilder caught Tyson with a few shots but the way Fury came back, he almost laughed at him. He was like the Terminator - 'I can take those shots, I can keep going'. Nobody expected Fury to knock Wilder out and finish him the way that he did.

British fighter of the year - Tyson Fury

Costello: It was such a monumental fight and occasion, with record receipts on the gate for a heavyweight fight in Las Vegas. There was all the expectation after the 12th round of the first fight, when Fury got up when nobody expected him to. The way he took it to Wilder stands out as the single best British performance of the year.

Female fighter of the year - Terri Harper

Harper and Jonas
Terri Harper (right|) retained her WBC world super-featherweight title with a draw against Natasha Jonas in the garden of Matchroom's headquarters

Bunce: This time last year she'd only just put down the knife she'd been peeling potatoes with in a chip shop.

She was overmatched twice last year - intentionally - and came through those fights.

This year she won the world title, she had that brilliant defence outside against Natasha Jonas, then she has another fight at the end of the year. I can't think of any other fighter - male or female - that's come through three world title fights this year.

Warrington: The transition's come so quickly for Terri - she's gone straight into the deep end and battled. There's no airs and graces about her and she doesn't mind taking on a challenge.

World fighter of the year - Teofimo Lopez

Teofimo Lopez with father and trainer Teofimo Lopez Sr
Lopez is trained by his father, Teofimo Sr, and beat Vasyl Lomachenko in October to become the undisputed world lightweight champion

Bunce: The scale of the fight and the quality of the victory, Lopez owned Vasyl Lomachenko. That performance was brilliant. The kid's on the cusp of becoming a real player at whatever weight he washes up at.

Costello: You measure the value of a win by the quality of the opponent, and beating Lomachenko in the way that he did... His dad's been talking so bullishly for two years about what he would do and he actually turned up and did it.

Teofimo started welling up during an interview beforehand and the phrase he used was 'I wish he would just be my dad'. I said 'maybe we're heading into new territory here'. Boxers don't cry - or so we're told - and I thought there might be something about this man, that somebody is big enough to cry on camera. That kind of honesty and openness could be a big part of Lopez's appeal, as well as this father-son story.

Best round of the year - Jose Zepeda v Ivan Baranchyk, round two

Jose Zepeda (right) fights Belarusian Ivan Baranchyk
Jose Zepeda (right) knocked out Ivan Baranchyk in the fifth round of their light welterweight fight in October

Costello: There were eight knockdowns in five rounds, four apiece. You could pick any round. But in round two they both get floored.

Baranchyk gets floored in the early stages and at one stage tries to hold on to Zepeda because he's so badly hurt, then he decides to back off on to the ropes.

Zepeda comes at him again and it's not even a wild swing; it's quite a calculated right hand he catches Zepeda with, and he goes down. You're four and a half minutes into the contest and there have been four knockdowns already.

Biggest upset of the year - Maxi Hughes beats Jono Carroll

Scott Quigg fights Jono Carroll in Manchester
Jono Carroll (right) beat former super-bantamweight champion Scott Quigg in March, before losing to Maxi Hughes in August

Warrington: Maxi's gran passed away last year and he was done with boxing. He'd had enough. He's 10 years deep [in his career] and all he ever wanted to do was win a title. He lost last year to Liam Walsh and was going to pack it in. His grandad said 'just try to win a belt'.

He had a month off and felt he had more to give. An opportunity arose to fight Jono Carroll in little old Wakefield. He was a 10-1 underdog. Jono had momentum, he's mixed it at world level, and people thought Maxi was just a stepping stone.

Maxi was training with my dad (Sean O'Hagan) and the way he's been working in the gym, he's constantly focused. Seeing the relief after he got the win, it was unbelievable. We had to go and meet him - me and five of his other gym-mates, all socially distanced, throwing toilet roll and water all over the place because we couldn't get any champagne.

'After-timer' of the year - when we got it all wrong...

Tyson Fury picture with a Mike Costello quote
Fury floored Wilder in the third and fifth rounds before the American was stopped in the seventh

Costello: I thought Deontay Wilder would make the necessary adjustments to get closer to Tyson Fury. I didn't believe what Tyson and (trainer) SugarHill Steward were saying about him being more aggressive, but very soon into the contest I realised what they were saying about Wilder not being anything like the fighter on the back foot that he is on the front. Maybe we all knew that already, but no-one else did that to him like Tyson Fury.

Bunce: Delfine Persoon had become an amateur again to take part in the European (Olympic) qualifiers and was given a boxing lesson by Nikoleta Pita. I said 'that's it, Mike; that's the end of the Katie Taylor rematch. We'll never hear from Persoon again'. Seven months later she's going 10 rounds with Katie.

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