There was simply no better fighter in the world in 2018 than Ukraine’s Olympic champion Oleksandr Usyk. ‘The Cat’ became the undisputed cruiserweight champion of the world – the first time that’s happened in the four-belt era – by claiming the inaugural World Boxing Super Series by beating Latvia’s Mairis Briedis in Riga and dominating Russia’s Murat Gassiev in Moscow. He then travelled to Manchester, UK to defend his belts against Britain’s Tony Bellew and finished off the year with a spectacular 8th-round KO. “Some years there is an honest debate over who warrants fighter of the year honours … this year was as easy as it gets,” said ESPN in selecting Usyk.
Ukraine’s Vasyl Lomachenko won the honour last year and also had a stellar 2018, going 2-0 while claiming the lightweight world championship and being named ESPN’s runner-up for the 2018 title.