By Adam Norman: Twitter @SkySportsNorm. Last Updated: 26/07/13 4:34pm
It has a been a hugely entertaining first half of the boxing year and as we head into the summer recess it is time to reflect on the achievements of our domestic fighters.
Nottingham's finest sits atop the domestic pound-for-pound list for a good reason, he is the best we have. And the Cobra proved his worth with a brilliant performance against old rival Mikkel Kessler in front of 18,000 fans at the O2 Arena in London. Froch was at his best as he put rounds in the bank working behind a fierce jab in a more technical display than their first encounter that saw the pair trade from the outset. Carl dropped some of his heaviest bombs on the Dane, who was not to be outdone and he had his moments again to rock the Brit in the 10th round. However, Froch finished strongly and was close to stopping Kessler at the final bell. It was the performance of the year so far.
Crolla v Mathews
Neither Anthony Crolla nor Derry Mathews are known to take a step backwards and it came as no surprise when their battle for the vacant Commonwealth lightweight title turned into a barnburner. Mathews, fighting in his home town, came out strongly and dominated the early rounds behind a stiff jab. He had won their first fight 12 months before but this time Crolla came back strongly and, after taking Derry's best shot in the ninth round, took the last three to earn a share of the spoils. A trilogy fight would be highly anticipated.
Mathews v Coyle
Who other than 'Dirty Derry' to feature twice in this list. But on this occasion Mathews was below par as young upstart Coyle out-witted and out-fought the Scouser as he carried out new trainer Jamie Moore's gameplan to the letter. Tommy appeared to be on the way to a thrilling victory as he pressured Mathews with hurtful right hands preventing Derry from getting his shots off. But Derry has seen it all before and was able to stun the Hull crowd with an instinctive left hook that floored his opponent and left him unable to continue. It was a sensational turnaround and proved once again was a dangerous opponent he is.
McDonnell v Ceja
One of the Britain's unsung warriors, Jamie McDonnell finally gained some domestic and international recognition by becoming the the UK's fourth current world champion. Promoter Dennis Hobson broke the bank to put the fight on at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium but the move paid off as McDonnell claimed the vacant IBF bantamweight title. The British, Commonwealth and European champion maintained a terrific workrate, overcoming some difficult spells against the hard-hitting Mexican to win on all three judges scorecards. Few would begrudge the likeable 27-year-old's achievement.
Burns v Gonzalez
Ricky Burns had been out of the ring for nine months when he made the third defence of his WBO lightweight title against Jose Gonzalez in Glasgow. Making his debut for new backers Matchroom, Burns was eager to impress in front of a patriotic crowd but the Puerto Rican had not read the script and set about working over the popular Scot. Trying to counter Gonzalez's long reach, Burns looked clumsy and ring-rusty as the visitor won round after round as he forced Burns to defend on the ropes. But after taking all his best shots, Ricky turned the tables and waged war in the seventh round, leaving his opponent dispirited. The eighth saw Burns assert himself again and when the broken Gonzalez refused to answer the bell for the ninth, citing a hand injury, the Burns comeback was complete.
Thompson v Price
Popular Liverpudlian David Price had demolished the domestic heavyweight scene with a series of devastating performances that had fans and pundits daring to dream of world title glory. American Tony Thompson was brought over to the UK as the sacrifical lamb as Price sought to establish his international credentials, and was a big longshot to cause an upset. But that's exactly what he did, catching Price behind the ear to send the Olympic bronze medallist over like a big oak tree. The result silenced the sold-out Echo Arena, and it was deja vu three months later when Thompson repeated the feat to leave Price's ambitions in tatters.
Eddie Hearn has gathered a wealth of talent under his Matchroom banner but no-one has impressed more than Smith, the youngest of four boxing brothers. The other three have all held titles of some description but it is no secret that 'Mundo' could be the best of the lot. A tall, rangy super-middleweight, Smith notched two wins on points at the end of 2012 but has revealed tremendous power and accuracy by stopping four opponents inside three minutes since the turn of the year. Appearing on both Froch shows, the big stage is clearly home-from-home for the 23-year-old who under the tutelage of Joe Gallagher could be fighting for the English title before too long.
The 'Special One' from Sheffield was destined to be a world champion by now, but fate has intervened on more than one occasion. Three times his fight with IBF welterweight champion Devon Alexander was called off, twice due to foot injuries to Brook either side of a bicep injury to the American. Thus, a fight that many people felt was Brook's for the taking appears to have fallen by the wayside, although there was light at the end of the tunnel when he returned in July to beat Carson Jones more emphatically than he did 12 months earlier.
Singleton v Woodhouse
Dave Coldwell has been putting on some great 'small hall' shows this year but the one at Bowler's in March ended on a sour note when ex-footballer Curtis Woodhouse was on the wrong end of a 'stinker' in his first English title defence. Singleton came into the bout with a 13-0 record but few could have given the Lancastrian the benefit of any doubt, coming off worst on numerous occasions with Woodhouse's heavy hands leaving his face a mess. However, two judges gave it to Singleton leaving Curtis pondering retirement. Singleton will make a belated first defence in September while Woodhouse has impressed since dropping down a division.