Best of boxing in August 2020: Knockout of the Year contenders, successful Fight Camp debut highlight

After struggling to find a way back from the COVID-19 pandemic, boxing finally returned to some sense of normalcy in August. Sure, the fans were still missing from the arenas — and backyards — where fights were held, but there were bouts of consequence and enough action to fill every weekend.

Upsets were scored, as were thrilling knockouts. History was derailed, though not without controversy. And opportunity was seized upon in exciting ways during the final full month of the summer in 2020.

Let’s take a look at some of the biggest moments from what was a solid month of in-ring battles during August.

A pair of KO of the Year contenders

Joe George kicked off August in brutal fashion. While George was struggling with Marcos Escudero in a rematch of their November 2019 fight, which George won by split decision, he erased all doubt in the ninth round with a brutal uppercut. Trailing on two of the three official scorecards by a wide margin, George only needed one shot to render the judges’ opinions meaningless.

Down the home stretch of the month, Alexander Povetkin showcased his own vicious uppercut to score a comeback knockout of Dillian Whyte. After being knocked down twice in the fourth round, Povetkin came out in Round 5 and connected with a perfect left uppercut that left Whyte out before he hit the canvas. The knockout also ended Whyte’s stretch of more than 1,000 days as the WBC’s No. 1 heavyweight contender and breathed new life into the career of 40-year-old Povetkin.

The women show out

Matchroom Boxing’s Fight Camp delivered the goods throughout the month, both in the ring and in overall presentation. One of the early highlights was the Terri Harper vs. Natasha Jonas clash for Harper’s WBC junior lightweight championship. Jonas, a clear underdog entering the ring, fought through blood and an early Harper storm to come back and force what was ultimately ruled a split draw. It was a thrilling fight that demands a rematch to see whether Jonas can deliver twice or if Harper can clarify her status as champion.

As rough and tumble as Harper vs. Jonas was, Katie Taylor and Delfine Persoon stepped things up even more just weeks later at Fight Camp. The bout was a rematch of their 2019 war and didn’t disappoint in any way as Taylor’s boxing skills were forced again to contend with the brutal aggression of Persoon. While Persoon felt she had been robbed of victory in the first meeting, Taylor’s win in the rematch was a bit clearer, even with narrow scorecards once again.

In the most shocking moment of a very strong month for women’s boxing, Cecilia Braekhus’ quest to break Joe Louis’ record for consecutive title defenses came up short as she was upset by Jessica McCaskill. Braekhus suffered the first loss of her career and also lost four welterweight titles. The result wasn’t without controversy, as many felt Braekhus had done enough to keep her championships, but the judges seemed to favor workrate in this one. And now McCaskill could be set up for a rematch with Katie Taylor after Taylor won their 2017 meeting.

A couple of bangers

Fight Camp — and the month as a whole — got going with a card headlined by Ted Cheeseman and Sam Eggington for a secondary IBF championship. While the title may not have been prestigious, both men fought an all heart-and-guts battle over 12 rounds that was as even as they come. Both men took and gave brutal shots and kept an incredible pace from the opening bell to really set the tone for the Fight Camp experience.

No one will ever confuse Joe Smith Jr. for a great technical boxer, but what he lacks in technique, he makes up for in sheer workrate and grit. Smith put that on display in a battle with Eleider Alvarez to crown a contender for the vacant WBO light heavyweight championship. The action stayed fast from the jump, though Smith controlled the action throughout before finally stopping Alvarez with a right hand followed by a jab that sent Alvarez through the ropes.

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