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The Micky Ward Round of the Year – 2016

“Ward nods as if to say ‘come on… come on… COME ON LET’S FIGHT!'”

It’s easy – well, easier – for a fight to be considered great rather than just a singular round.

Momentum shifts, both fighters giving their all, drama, it’s always special to see it play out over one round, and there were a few thrilling stazas this year.

This award is named after Irish-American Micky Ward, who was involved in his fair share of Round of the Year contenders, none more so that ‘The Round of the Century’ – Round 9 of his epic first clash with Arturo Gatti in 2002.

And the nominees are…

Luke Keeler v Tom Doran – Round 1
The Prizefighter semi-final opponents rematched in Liverpool in April. Dublin’s Keeler was looking for revenge following his injury-affected loss and would floor Doran heavily in the opener. Keeler would pour in looking for the stoppage against an out-on-his-feet Welshman, before Doran managed to summon a sensational shot that put Keeler down in one of the most amazing first rounds of recent memory

Jamie Conlan v Anthony Nelson – Round 5
One round stood out in this year’s BBBoC Fight of the Year – and none of the four knockdowns even featured. Round five of the Commonwealth title fight saw Conlan go on the offensive and pin the South Shields fighter to the ropes. The Belfast super flyweight seemed to have Nelson out on his feet, only for the reigning champion to make a strong fightback. The round would mark a swing in momentum back in favour of Nelson, only for Conlan to score the fight-ending bodyshot in the eighth.

Carl Frampton v Leo Santa Cruz – Round 12
The final round of the WBA featherweight title clash was a microcosm of the Fight of the Year contender itself. An all-action affair (we paid tribute to it here) that saw Frampton go head-to-head with the champion and get the better of the proceedings, showing both his grit and skill. The Jackal was forced back from a big Santa Cruz shot but fought back well and, after a brief clinch, went toe-to-toe in a frantic final ten seconds.

Phil Sutcliffe Jr v Chris Jenkins – Round 1
Crumlin’s Phil Sutcliffe Jr was given his big chance in Belfast in November when he was put in with Prizefighter winner and two-time British title challenger Chris Jenkins. The Dubliner tore into the Welshman from the opening bell and had Jenkins down inside the first 30 seconds. Sutcliffe pushed for the stoppage, but was met head-on by the spirited Jenkins who would hurt him with some huge bodyshots.

Paddy Gallagher v Tamuka Mucha – Round 9
Paddy Gallagher made a strong start to his British welterweight title eliminator with Tamuka Mucha in London in November. However, the Zimbabwean adjusted well and started to control the middle rounds – but this all went out the window in the ninth stanza. The penultimate round saw both go toe-to-toe for the duration of the three minutes, trading constant shots as they lay forehead-to-forehead. Both tired, they managed to keep pumping the arms in what was the best round of an exciting fight.

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Joe O'Neill

Reporting on Irish boxing the past five years. Work has appeared on irish-boxing.com, Boxing News, the42.ie, and local and national media. Provide live ringside updates, occasional interviews, and special features on the future of Irish boxing. email: joneill6@tcd.ie