Biggest Boxing Upsets of 2021

Published 12/28/2021, 12:00 PM EST
Boxing – WBA, IBF & WBO Heavyweight Titles – Anthony Joshua v Oleksandr Usyk – Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Britain – September 25, 2021 Anthony Joshua in action against Oleksandr Usyk Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge


The sport of boxing saw some of its biggest underdogs shake the scale and topple everyone on their way in 2021. While most of the world didn’t give them a chance, these underdogs punched above their weight and forced everyone to eat their words. That said, it has also paved the way for an intriguing 2022, which can host several fan-favorite matchups into fruition.

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In a year full of massive upsets, boxing apparently bloomed to its finest form. While it has also complicated a few scenarios, seeing the underdogs beat the favorites was also inspiring to an extent. Amid so many fights this year, here’s a look at the best five boxing upsets of the calendar.

Anthony Joshua vs Oleksandr Usyk- Boxing at its best

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The unified heavyweight title clash was sheerly different from what people had pictured it to be. Former undisputed cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk shocked the world by poleaxing Anthony Joshua for all 12-rounds and snatching the WBA, WBO, IBF, heavyweight belts in Joshua’s hometown London.

Relying on AJ’s size advantage and KO-power, it didn’t seem Usyk will crack him. Besides, Usyk is still new in the division and didn’t seem to have enough prowess to dominate ‘AJ’. Usyk put his brilliant fight IQ on the display. He also used his southpaw stance and moved brilliantly all over the ring.

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The Ukrainian legend hit shots from every angle and didn’t suffer the same from the other side. Joshua wasted too much time deciding the game plan and was gassed out by the end. Usyk charged at his opponent with full force in the final round and almost stopped him. But the clock seemed to go off before five seconds and Usyk was awarded the win via decision.

Teofimo Lopez vs George Kambosos Jr.–Who would have thought?

After months of drama and turmoil, Lopez finally put his unified 135 lbs at stake against George Kambosos Jr. under the Matchroom banner. While Top Rak and Triller tried to put it on, Eddie Hearn found his way. But it didn’t work very well for ‘Take Over’ Lopez, who lost the belts via decision to his Australian opposition.

Both the undefeated fighters came with aggression and outworked each other on certain occasions. But Kambosos Jr. appeared to plant the big shots and left Teofimo Lopez with a bloody face. ‘Take Over’ denied being battered and tried to move himself. But Kambosos Jr. offered his best and didn’t let Lopez take charge.

Following the full-length contest, Kambosos Jr. earned the win on the scorecard in New York. However, Lopez denied accepting the result and seemed vexed. Whatever it may be, seeing Lopez contract a defeat was clearly upsetting for many boxing fans.

Mikey Garcia vs Sandor Martin: Boxing world was in a shock

Top-tier welterweight star Mikey Garcia looked extremely weak on his latest outing against Sandor Martin. While Garcia was leaping towards another world title shot, this loss put him put out of the tide. Mikey Garcia returned to action after more than a year in October 2021 and faced Martin in Fresno, USA. It was expected to be a matchup going in his favor.

But Sandor Martin showcased his skills and jabbed Garcia from the very beginning. Those jabs earned him the ticket to planting big shots. Mikey Garcia also offered some heat. But couldn’t match up with Martin’s prowess. Garcia was clearly not in his prime version and he learned it the hardest way possible.

Following 12-rounds of action, Sandor Martin claimed the win via majority decision. The Spaniard is currently on a  10-fight win streak and a win over Garcia verifies him to be ready for the best challenges out there. Meanwhile, Mikey Garcia has lost two fights in two years and shall look to rebound soon.

Mauricio Lara vs Josh Warrington–What a fight!

Former featherweight champion Josh Warrington lost his undefeated record in February when he fought Mauricio Lara at the Wembley Arena in the UK. Lara stopped Warrington in the 9 round via technical TKO and it was hard to see Warrington lose for several people. Following an unbeaten run of 30 fights, the loss came at the most unexpected time.

Warrington accepted it and demanded an immediate rematch. He even received it, and re-matched Lara in September. However, couldn’t get his desired outcome. The full-length fight was declared a draw, and it has been two fights since Warrington has won.

He was disappointed with the outcome and expressed his frustration in the post-fight interviews. Well, 2022 can bring something lucrative for him and a trilogy clash with Mauricio Lara is also legitimate at this point.

Kid Galahad vs Kiko Martinez

Prior to the featherweight title fight, champion Galahad unveiled his loud mouth brutally to Martinez. He claimed to beat the underdog, who was already down with 10 losses on his professional record. However, boxing is way bigger than the numbers and Kiko Martinez showed it in style. 35-year-old Martinez snatched the IBF featherweight title from Gallahad by stopping him in the sixth round.

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Martinez was confident about his shots and seemed to lack energy. While Martinez could sense it down, he used his brilliant jabs and power shots.

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Halfway down the cash, the Spaniard was already gaining momentum, and he put it all to use by landing TKO in his favor.

Amid all these stellar upsets, fans could see some quality boxing scrap that they can cherish for the upcoming years.

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Raj Sarkar

3041 articles

A senior boxing writer at EssentiallySports, Raj Sarkar is a mass media graduate who is currently pursuing his master’s degree in broadcast journalism. In addition to his current role, he has worked with the MMA team at EssentiallySports and has interviewed prominent fighters such as Ritu Phogat and 'The Red King' Rory MacDonald. Combining his bachelor's degree with his adoration for combat sports, he has earned a combined 3000 plus bylines over the last two years.

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