ProBox TV's round of the year for 2023

What was the best round in boxing this year?

The drama of a round can often sum up what makes us a fan of the sport, as three minutes can either feel like a summer breeze or an eternity.

These are the rounds that we found to be the most exciting in 2023.

1. O’Shaquie Foster vs. Eduardo ‘Rocky’ Hernandez – Round 11

O’Shaquie Foster is one of the most underrated fighters in the sport and his win over ‘Rocky’ Hernandez proves that. After defeating Rey Vargas, Foster would go on the road to Hernandez’s home country of Mexico to face the challenger at home. 

Foster would have to fight in a small ring that favored Hernandez. The scores after the fact didn’t seem to reflect the fight that took place. Yet Foster was undeterred. 

The 11th round set the stage for the most dramatic three minutes in boxing all year… The 12th. 

Foster, who was down on the judges’ scorecards, was scolded and told to be more aggressive by his coach, Bobby Benton. The result in the 11th was that Foster caught Hernandez with a shot that rocked him. Eager to look for a stoppage, Foster pushed forward. His aggression, though, saw him get rocked by a shot from Hernandez that wobbled him. 

Within 20 seconds of each other, both fighters were rocked. The outcome was unclear, and despite a major production blunder from DAZN’s telecast (awful broadcast audio quality), the moment was high drama. 

Foster came back to nearly win, only to get hurt and have to overcome more adversity. It was the type of resilience that makes us all fight fans. 

2. David Stevens vs. Sean Hemphill – Round 8 

The first ShoBox card of 2023 was a classic. Two regional undefeated super middleweights did battle as David Stevens fought Sean Hemphill in the main event. 

Hemphill appeared to be outboxing Stevens, who was having trouble getting going. That was until Stevens’s will led to a big combination of punches that floored Hemphill.

Only 27 seconds remained. Hemphill got up, but with less than 10 seconds left could Stevens finish the fight? An overhand right followed by a left hook forced referee Shawn Clark to step in. 

The time of the stoppage was 2–58 of the eighth and final round. 

3. Terence Crawford vs. Errol Spence – Round 2

Crawford landed a huge jab in round two that sent Spence to the canvas. 

After that, it was a one-sided beatdown that only Crawford’s team could have imagined. It was the punch heard from around the world. 

The tension and excitement of this fight hit its peak when Spence hit the canvas. No matter what anyone said beforehand, Crawford backed up his words and became arguably the best fighter of the modern era. After the second round, nothing was competitive. Crawford was too skillful. 

It was a gradual beatdown, set in motion by that second round shot. The impressive nature of this can’t be understated as it was thought to be the modern Marvin Hagler versus Thomas Hearns. Instead, it was the modern remix of Floyd Mayweather versus Arturo Gatti.

4. Rafael Espinoza vs. Robeisy Ramírez – Round 6

This fight was supposed to be a showcase of WBO featherweight world champion Robeisy Ramírez facing an unassuming opponent, leading to a unification fight or a bout with Naoya Inoue. 

Wrong. Espinoza, a featherweight who stands over 6ft, gave Ramirez issues. He could box, he could bang and he could throw an awful lot of punches. Ramirez won a lot of the early rounds, but was dropped at the end of the fifth round by Ramirez. 

The fight, which went head-to-head with the Devin Haney versus Regis Prograis pay-per-view, saw the sixth round sum up the fight. With most thinking the contest would swing in Ramirez’s favor, Espinoza pushed the pace again. Ramirez was looking for big punches, and Espinoza was punching with him. 

Espinoza seemed to drop Ramirez, but it was ruled a slip. It was everything you want from boxing. A fighter challenging for a world title getting dropped, coming off the canvas, and fighting back with all of their might. 

Espinoza went on to win the fight, and round six was a pivotal part of that win.

5. Emanuel Navarrete vs. Robson Conceicao - Round 11

Navarrete, a three-division world champion coming off a massive win over Oscar Valdez, found himself in tough against 2016 Olympic gold medalist Conceicao. The fight went as follows; Conciecao won a few rounds and then got hurt, and Navarrete staged a huge comeback. The first knockdown came in the fourth round, and another came in the seventh. 

The most telling, though, came in the 11th round. Conceicao was hurt badly and barely able to make it to his corner. Most thought the fight was over. Yet Conceicao, on unsteady legs, boxed well to fend off Navarrete. 

This brilliant effort led to a majority draw, and one of the best performances, so far, of Conceicao’s career.

6. Christian Mbilli vs. Carlos Gongora – Round 8

Christian Mbilli has accolades but has flown largely under the radar. The 2016 Olympian, trained by Marc Ramsey is one of the best super middleweights. Yet, his fights, mainly ESPN+ telecasts in Canada – on Thursday nights – have kept him as a hidden gem.

Mbilli defeated Carlos Gongora this year. Gongora is best known for stopping Ali Akhmedov. The bout was fairly dominant in Mbilli’s favor until he got caught with a big shot in round eight early in the session. Gongora has a sneaky bit of craft to certain shots, especially uppercuts, and one piercing blow rocked Mbilli to the ropes. 

The drama was high and tension filled the room. A local favorite who has been slowly developed from a prospect to a contender was in trouble but Mbilli is a crafty and credible fighter who knew how to ride out such a moment. Yet, the fight created some questions about what will happen next for Mbilli when he faces a world-class fighter. Was this just a stern test or a foreshadowing of what is to come? 

7. Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia – Round 2

All of the trash talk in the build-up, Gervonta Davis versus Ryan Garcia was a match-up that pitted two popular, undefeated, young fighters against each other. Most thought Davis would win as Garcia was largely unproven at the world-class level. Yet, when Davis dropped Garcia in the second round, at least one person in every household seemed to jump out of their seat. It was a moment.  

8. Dominic Valle vs. Carlos Rosario – Round 6

Yes, Dominic Valle dominated the fight. The end result was a technical knockout win for Valle. The excitement stems from Valle getting a buzzer-beater stoppage. Valle stopped Rosario at 2:59 of the sixth and final round on ProBox TV; a feat rarely seen. A stoppage in the final second of the final round. 

9. Cody Crowley vs. Abel Ramos – Round 5 

It is a shame we didn’t see Cody Crowley more in 2023. He is a great pressure fighter, and an even better interview. Crowley and Abel Ramos, the uncle of Jesus Ramos Jr., exchanged punches in tight quarters all night. Round five seemed to sum up the contest perfectly. It was grueling, hard-fought, and enjoyable for a fan to see as these welterweights went at it.

10. Leigh Wood vs Josh Warrington - Round 7

Leigh Wood, the WBA featherweight world champion was losing every round. Then in typical Wood fashion, he caught Warrington with a huge shot that changed the course of the fight. Wood is making a habit out of giving thrilling finishes to the fans

Honorable Mention: Kim Clavel vs. Jessica Nery Plata – Round 4

An obscure women’s light flyweight unification bout for the WBA and WBC world titles saw a fun fight. Nery Plata was able to outbox Clavel in the end to win the fight. Yet, in round four, the groundwork was laid as she stood and traded with the undefeated Clavel, who was looking to come forward with pressure. It was a fight that should’ve gotten more attention. Maybe over time it will.