The Five Best Boxing Fights of 2019

GGG, Errol Spence, and Naoya Inoue—three of the best pound-for-pound boxers in the world—were in some epic fights in 2019. Which bout deserves top billing?

Nonito Donaire Naoya Inoue WBSS Final Bantam 1 2019

Naoya Inoue of Japan (R) and Nonito Donaire of Philippines (L) fight in their World Boxing Super Series bantamweight final at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama on November 7, 2019. (Photo by Kazuhiro NOGI / AFP) (Photo by KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP via Getty Images)

Nonito Donaire Naoya Inoue WBSS Final Bantam 1 2019

Whenever I explain why I love boxing, as someone privileged enough to write and cover it regularly, I always tell people there's nothing like being in the building for a big fight. The energy, the breathtaking action of hearing punches fly through the air followed a microsecond later by the sound of it landing, the larger-than-life personalities, the bravado, the consequences...boxing is dramatic in ways so many other sports will never be. Yeah, it's fucked up for a lot of reasons and I'll repeat the line that it's often its own worst enemy. But for my money, nothing compares to witnessing a compelling championship fight between two guys putting their life on the line with the difference between winning and losing legitimately life-changing. 

I've been lucky enough to cover awesome fights over the years—Keith Thurman vs. Shawn Porter, Canelo vs. GGG II, Deontay Wilder vs. Tyson Fury—and, like the best kind of drug, when you witness an event as riveting as those fights you're hopelessly addicted. Predictably, 2019 didn't disappoint with its fair share of gripping matches, including the incredibly entertaining Errol Spence vs. Shawn Porter fight. Many will tell you that was the fight of the year. But, spoiler alert, we watched ours from the comforts of home since it took place across the Pacific. Boxing on a screen just ain't the same as in-person, but you can still appreciate the action and acknowledge a classic when you see it. And there were a bunch of classic fights in 2019 that we'll be talking about for years. Your top five will probably differ and for all of boxing's brutality and bullshit, part of its beauty lies in fun, gloriously subjective debates we can have about it like this. 

Honorable mentions: Jose Ramirez vs. Maurice Hooker, Artur Beterbiev vs. Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Andy Ruiz vs. Anthony Joshua I  

5. Julian Williams vs. Jarrett Hurd

Julian Williams Jarrett Hurd 2019

4. Josh Taylor vs. Regis Prograis

Josh Taylor Regis Prograis WBSS Super Lightweight 2019

3. Gennadiy Golovkin vs. Sergiy Derevyanchenko

Gennadiy Golovkin Sergiy Derevyanchenko October 2019

2. Errol Spence vs. Shawn Porter

Errol Spence Shawn Porter 2019 Getty 2

1. Naoya Inoue vs. Nonito Donaire

Naoya Inoue Nonito Donaire WBSS Final Bantam 2 2019

Latest in Sports