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The Fight of the Year of the Week of the Year

The cruel strictures of the English language allow us all just one Fight of the Year per annum. Breathless broadcasters who just saw a six or seven punch exchange rush to nominate their night’s work for the honor. Three-punch monte dealers who read Orwell as a linguistic how-to manual rather than a cautionary tale insist after many a mediocre show that their just-finished showcase was a contender for the title.

Hyperbole and hucksterism can’t change basic facts, though. For as long as we’re all subject to the unrelenting lexical tyranny of Messrs. Webster and Merriam, only one fight can be the real Fight of the Year.

BUT! A fight doesn’t need a superlative award to be supremely entertaining.

Regular Bad Left Hook podcast listeners are familiar with the concept of a Fight of the Year of the Week. If you’ve never heard us discuss one before? Well, the start of a new year is a great time to resolve that the mistakes you made in 2022 won’t be repeated in 2023, and your weekly process of self-improvement starts here.

In short: A Fight of the Year of the Week is one that delivers fun and excitement, minus one or two of the usual elements found in an actual Fight of the Year. If nobody got up from a knockdown, if the action was hot but the swings in momentum were limited, or if the distance was a little too short for the drama to fully blossom? That’s a Fight of the Year of the Week. All the in-the-moment heat of a Fight of the Year, but without all the final ingredients to qualify for the ultimate honor.

This time of year, everyone with a keyboard and desperate need for content during an empty portion of the boxing calendar declares their pick for Fight of the Year. Here at Bad Left Hook, we’re going a different direction, and instead honoring The Fight of the Year of the Week of the Year.

Which fight was the absolute best of the year among those that didn’t have all the factors to truly be the best of the year? Read on to find out!

[NOTE: In the spirit of the award, main events or undercard fights featuring a world title are ineligible. Hiroto Kyoguchi vs Esteban Bermudez was a bloody delight, and Daniel Dubois vs Kevin Lerena was a short but thrilling show with lots of up and down action and a wild reversal of fortune. Each was a worthy Fight of the Year of the Week, but neither feels deserving of this year end award. Hopefully, the winners of those fights can find solace in their championship belts instead.]

Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

THIRD PLACE: Joselito Velazquez vs Cristofer Rosales

Main Event: Estrada vs Chocolatito 3, Dec. 3

Where can I (legally) watch it right now?: DAZN

What did Bad Left Hook have to say about it?

“An excellent, action-packed fight for all 10 rounds. A hell of a fight.”

This flyweight showdown between a former Olympian and a former world champion almost wound up buried on prelims (a theme among this year’s best Fights of the Year of the Week), but subbed in late as the main card opener. Thank goodness it did.

Know in advance that you’ll need to look past the trunks of Cristofer Rosales, adorned with two different names on them, neither of which appear on his passport. If you can do it, your reward is a tense, see-saw battle between two men who were a little too old to qualify as “prospects,” and both needed a showcase win to get into the mix at flyweight.

I’ll steal from our live coverage commenters and say this one was all fought like the last 30 seconds of a final round, with wild swings of momentum throughout. There wasn’t much drama in the announcement of judges scores, but there was plenty between the bells.

Photo by Leigh Dawney/Getty Images

SECOND PLACE: Alen Babic vs Adam Balski

Main Event: Buatsi vs Richards, May 21

Where can I (legally) watch it right now?: DAZN

What did Bad Left Hook have to say about it?

“An absolute brawl, a ten round hockey fight with constant hooks and uppercuts flying in both directions… A supremely entertaining display of caveman violence and aggression.”

The work of Alen Babic is meant for the animal inside us, not the aesthete. The Croatian leviathan delivers fights that are appropriately nasty, brutish, and short. Babic isn’t a stylist, but he is a showman, a fun presence on any card and a lively character that always puts on a show. Against Adam Balski, he fought through adversity he’d never faced before, and showed for the first time that his fan-friendly style can still carry him all the way to a final bell.

This is not a fight that future prospects and students of the sport will use as a tutorial. This is a demolition derby where technique and style are limited, at best. Frankly, the main difference between this fight and a classic Godzilla movie brawl is the absence of cardboard buildings waiting to be smashed.

What this fight does offer is a shock first round knockdown, a wild foul right before the final round, and enough delightful hooks in between to make Sweden’s pop music manufacturing industry jealous. Embrace your own inner Savage, and enjoy.

Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank Inc via Getty Images

The 2022 Fight of the Year of the Week of the Year: Lindolfo Delgado vs Omar Aguilar

Main Event: Navarette vs Baez, Aug. 20

Where can I (legally) watch it right now? ESPN+ (ring introductions start at 2:45:04)

What did Bad Left Hook have to say about it?

Nothing at the time, because it wasn’t part of the main card. But, in the next week’s podcast, Scott and I called it “a tremendous fight” and “an eight-round closet classic,” assuring listeners that: “If you love boxing, you will love this fight.”

Top Rank preliminary cards are natural habitats for prospects taking open book tests or just shamelessly padding out hollow records. They aren’t usually the place to find quality matchups between legitimate contenders with shiny, flawless records.

But, sometimes when the boxing gods put a Nico Ali Walsh-shaped front door in our face on a main event, they’re generous enough to open a magnificent window on the prelims, too. And so it was that we received a fantastic showcase between Omar Aguilar and Lindolfo Delgado, a pair of undefeated junior welterweights with 36 combined knockouts in 39 fights.

Aguilar was the betting favorite entering the ring, and he got off to a fast start, whipping power shots with jab frequency whenever Delgado was in his reach. Delgado countered early in a way that commentary described as “want[ing] to measure twice and cut once,” which usually means a slow pace and limited action.

Not in this fight, though, which started delivering on its potential in less than two rounds. Both men brought serious heat, Aguilar attacking relentlessly and Delgado working the tragically rare combination of active, heavy-handed counterpunching. Noses bled, eyes swelled, a very questionable ruling was made on a no-knockdown call… This fight delivered to a degree that had Hall of Fame boxers turned commentators Andre Ward and Tim Bradley literally giggling and squealing with delight.

Though the late rounds downshifted from ‘breathtaking’ to merely ‘very, very entertaining,’ a 10 or 12 round version of this fight broadcast on a main card would be a worthy shortlist contender for the full-on Fight of the Year. Instead, it was a little gem appreciated by devoted completists and degenerate addicts of the sport who can’t tear themselves away from the undercard to an undercard.

If you’re neither of those things, and it slipped past you? Treat yourself to a replay during the holiday lull. It’s cracking good entertainment, and the inaugural Fight of the Year of the Week of the Year.

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