It was the year Conor McGregor dubbed “the 2020 season”, which began with the former UFC Lightweight and Featherweight champion’s emphatic return to the octagon to record a 40-second TKO victory over Donald ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone.
Plenty of Aussie boxers were active in 2020 despite the COVID-19 restrictions both here and abroad. Here’s a look at the local fighters to keep an eye on in 2021.
Super flyweight Andrew Moloney (21-1) was robbed of a world title belt in Las Vegas in November when it was ruled that an accidental headbutt had caused a cut eye to champion Joshua Franco (17-1-2).
This was despite no video evidence of the butt, and plenty of evidence of 29-year-old Moloney landing punches in the opening two rounds before the bout was stopped.
Franco had beaten Moloney via a contentious split decision five months earlier.
The WBA have mandated an immediate rematch that will take place in 2021 on a date and venue still to be confirmed.
George Kambosos Jr
Lightweight ‘Ferocious’ George Kambosos Jnr (19-0) only had one fight in 2020, but it was a big one. His split decision win over Welshman Lee Selby (28-3) at Wembley in October has set him up for a world title shot in 2021. He’s the mandatory challenger for 23-year-old Teofimo Lopez’s IBF world title belt.
Lopez (16-0) shocked the boxing world in October when he easily outpointed Ukrainian legend Vasyl Lomachenko (14-2) in Las Vegas. The 27-year-old Kambosos has based himself in the US over the past few years and he could be set for a huge payday against Lopez.
Andrew Moloney’s twin brother Jason (21-2) lost his bantamweight world title shot against Japanese dynamo Naoya Inoue (20-0) via a seventh round TKO in Las Vegas in October. He put in a brave effort but the power-punching Inoue was too strong.
Inoue currently has the WBA and IBF world title belts, so Jason Moloney’s best path to a world title might be via the WBC or WBO.
Super welterweight Tim Tszyu (17-0) dominated former WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn (20-3-1) in Townsville in August, with Horn’s corner stopping the fight at the end of the eighth round. He followed that up with a first round KO of New Zealand’s Bowyn Morgan (21-2).
Tszyu will be looking to challenge himself on the world stage in 2021.
At the start of the year, amateur super heavyweight Justis Huni was hoping to win an Olympic gold medal for Australia at the Tokyo Olympics.
With the Olympics being postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19, he set his sights on winning the Australian professional heavyweight championship instead. He did it in his first fight in the paid ranks in October, and defended the title again in early December.
He’s still hoping to win that gold medal for Australia if the postponed Olympics eventually go ahead in 2021.
Other Aussie fighters on the rise
Plenty of promising Aussie boxers kept their unbeaten records in tact in 2020 and will be looking for bigger challenges in 2021, including cruiserweight Jai Opetaia (20-0), super featherweight Liam Wilson (8-0), super middleweight Cesar Mateo Tapia (12-0), featherweight Brock Jarvis (18-0), super lightweight Liam Paro (19-0), lightweight Jacob Ng (14-0) and heavyweight Demsey McKean (18-0).