5 British Fighters Whose Stock Has Risen so Far in 2015

Rob Lancaster@RobLancs79Featured ColumnistAugust 10, 2015

5 British Fighters Whose Stock Has Risen so Far in 2015

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    With the British boxing scene taking a bit of a summer break, we thought it was the right time to take a step back and reflect on what has happened so far in 2015.

    We've picked out five fighters who have seen their reputations enhanced by performances this year.

    They are not all world champions, but the quintet each deserve to be praised for what they have achieved in the first seven months.

    Before we get down to the list, a mention for a few boxers who didn't quite make the final cut.

Honourable Mentions

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    Luke Campbell and Anthony Joshua have both come through their biggest tests in the paid ranks so far, beating Tommy Coyle and Kevin Johnson, respectively.

    However, lightweight Campbell and heavyweight Joshua were always expected to be victorious. Tougher challenges still lie ahead for both men.

    Scott Quigg gave a demonstration of his finishing abilities with a second-round stoppage of Kiko Martinez, in the process retaining his WBA super bantamweight title.

    Terry Flanagan claimed the WBO lightweight belt in July, though his victory over Jose Zepeda came after his opponent had suffered a shoulder injury in the early stages.

    There are others who have done well so far this year—Rocky Fielding, Brian Rose and Callum Smith, for instance—but they didn't quite get into the top five.

Nick Blackwell

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    Nick Blackwell won the British middleweight title at the third attempt when he sensationally stopped John Ryder at the O2 Arena in London in May.

    The Trowbridge, Wiltshire, fighter was behind on the scorecards when he turned the bout around against Ryder, stopping his opponent in the seventh round.

    It completed an unusual path to the top of the domestic scene for Blackwell, who successfully defended the title against Damon Jones in July.

    While others pick their way carefully through the rankings, the 24-year-old has never shirked a challenge.

    He took on Martin Murray for the British and Commonwealth belts in just his ninth pro fight, while he also failed to win the Lonsdale belt when he went up against Billy Joe Saunders.

    However, Blackwell (18-3-1, 8 KOs) is now finally the champion.

    His aggressive intent and willingness to get involved in a scrap makes him great to watch.

Anthony Crolla

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    It is hard not to feel a little sympathy for Anthony Crolla after he missed out on becoming a world champion.

    The Manchester fighter—making his return to action after suffering serious injuries trying to prevent a burglary—put in an outstanding performance against WBA lightweight champion Darleys Perez.

    Million Dollar lived up to his nickname as he proved he belonged at the highest level.

    However, the judges' scorecards saw Perez hold onto his title by way of a majority draw. One official scored the bout 116-111 in favour of the Colombian, who had been deducted three points for low blows.

    Despite the disappointment of the result, Crolla said afterwards, per James Robson of the Manchester Evening News: "I thought I definitely did enough, but I’m not going to sit around crying."

    His classy response in the immediate aftermath helped grow Crolla's reputation following a gritty display over the 12 rounds.

    He will get another crack at Perez after the WBA ordered an immediate rematch, per Sky Sports.

James DeGale

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    James DeGale created a piece of boxing history when he became the first Olympic gold-medal winner for Great Britain to go on and win a world title as a professional.

    Chunky achieved the feat by out-pointing Andre Dirrell to claim the vacant IBF super middleweight belt that had previously been held by Carl Froch.

    The Hammersmith fighter dropped the teak-tough Dirrell to the canvas twice in the second round, though he was unable to find a way to win inside the distance.

    However, DeGale showed in the fight at the Agganis Arena in Boston that he has the heart to go with his obvious talent.

    His success pushes him up to the top table in the division, while it will only help his cause for big fights that he achieved his dream of becoming a world champion on American television.

Jamie McDonnell

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    Jamie McDonnell put an end to Tomoki Kameda's unbeaten professional record with a points win over the Japanese boxer in Texas.

    Judges gave the Englishman (26-2-1, 12 KOs) the bout by a 114-113 score on all three cards at the State Farm Arena, meaning he retained his WBA world bantamweight title.

    What was most impressive about McDonnell's performance in the United States was that he had to pick himself up off the canvas to keep hold of his belt.

    Kameda knocked the champion down with a right hand in the third round of an absorbing contest.

    Considering McDonnell's dedication and desire to win, it may be surprising to know that he's not a big fan of boxing. He told Gareth A. Davies of the Telegraph: "I don’t follow it, I don’t watch it. I’m not really into it. I’m just good at what I do and it pays. That’s why I stick at it."

    Per Boxing News, he is set to go up against Kameda in a rematch in September, with the pair again facing each other in Texas.

Lee Selby

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    Dubbed the Welsh Mayweather by promoter Eddie Hearn, Lee Selby already had a glowing reputation.

    However, the way the boy from Barry, Wales, took Evgeny Gradovich apart to become the new IBF featherweight champion only enhanced his standing.

    The 28-year-old systematically destroyed the California-based Russian, who suffered a nasty cut above his right eye after a clash of heads in the seventh round.

    The fight was stopped in the next due to the damage suffered by Gradovich, with the doctor declaring the champion could not carry on.

    All three judges declared Selby the winner, improving his record to 21-1 (8 KOs) in the process.

    Now, one of the brightest stars in British boxing is looking to go global.

    Selby has signed a deal with promoter Al Haymon. He said of the move, per BBC Sport: "I think I've cracked the British scene and now I'm world champion I'd like to showcase my talents across the world."

    Can you think of a boxer who should have made the list? Argue your case via the comments section.