Female boxing was big this year, very big. Though the sport is not for everyone, female boxing has grown and grown in popularity, this something that didn’t seem possible back when female boxing was struggling for acceptance, let alone looking to pull in big numbers as far as live gate and PPV numbers are concerned.
This year, we saw the likes of Katie Taylor, Amanda Serrano, Claressa Shields, Savannah Marshall, Alycia Baumgardner, Mikaela Mayer and other superb female fighters pull in huge crowds and fan attention as they put on some great action fights.
But who is deserving of The 2022 Female Fighter of the Year award? It seems the pick comes down to two names: Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields.
Taylor, a genuine superstar and the reigning undisputed lightweight champion, fought twice this year. The unbeaten 36 year old from Ireland fought Amanda Serrano in April, in what was for some The Fight of the Year regardless of gender. It was a huge event, filling Madison Square Garden. The fight lived up to the considerable hype, with Taylor having to dig deep to pull out the split decision win that left us all asking for more. A rematch has been spoken of ever since.
Taylor then fought the unbeaten Karen Carbajal in October in London. This was, in comparison, a pretty easy and straightforward night’s work for Taylor, as she pounded out a unanimous decision win. Next year, Taylor aims to have a monster of a sell-out fight at Ireland’s enormous Croke Park. As popular as she is, as special as she is, Taylor is more than capable of filling the venue she says it has long since been her dream to fight at.
Taylor sees out 2022 with a 22-0(6) record.
Claressa Shields, the self-proclaimed “Greatest Woman of all Time,” also boxed twice this year and, as was the case with Taylor, one of her two fights was a massive event. Back in February, in Cardiff, Wales, Shields fought Ema Kozin, getting the ten round UD. This fight was merely a warm-up, however – for a huge fight with the unbeaten Savannah Marshall in what would be a middleweight unification showdown. A rematch of sorts (Marshall having beaten Shields in the amateurs way back in 2012) the October fight really did capture the attention of the public. Going out on regular Sky Sports, not Box-Office, the fight pulled in big numbers.
It was also a very good fight, with 27 year old Shields backing up all of her trash-talk; her sizzling skills dazzling both Marshall and the fans, her unanimous decision victory most deserved. There is already talk of a rematch, with Shields disputing the fact that there was a rematch clause in place (Marshall recently stated that she has activated the rematch clause). Shields has plenty of other options and she says, fairly enough, that a rematch would not be in the UK. Shields did the travelling last time, to London, so why not have the return in America?
Shields sees out 2022 with a 13-0(2) record.
So who was the better overall fighter of the year when it comes to Taylor and Shields, unified champions both? It’s a tough one to call, but I go Shields. Just.