Mayhem? TBE?

Yo! Hisashiburi!
That’s Japanese for “Long time no see”
I’ve decided I’m gonna stop with the videos
Because I realized, I’ve got a face for the radio
I’m back writing and I got a lot to say
So let’s get started. First off: Money May

Wow. I’m cringing as I read that back, but screw it, this is my return after a five month layoff, and in the immortal words of Eric Cartman “Whatevaa, I do what I want!” My recent ventures onto YouTube were okay for me, but to be honest, I prefer writing. And there isn’t a more appropriate topic right now than Floyd Mayweather’s rematch against Marcos Maidana.

I’m not going to go in depth with this one. It was boring and predictable, and the undercard was entirely forgettable. Floyd Mayweather is the consensus number one fighter in the world. Marcos Maidana isn’t close to him in ability or talent- tenacity only goes so far. Still, Marcos got the rematch after a competitive first fight, and he seemed even more pumped this around. This was to no avail though. Floyd Mayweather’s greatest asset in the ring is his ability to adjust and neutralize his opponent. He already went twelve rounds with Maidana, which means that coming into the rematch, the adjustment was already made, and aside from a hard overhand right at the very end of the third round, Floyd wasn’t hit hard and wasn’t really troubled. Of course, “Money May” got the win and made over $30 million dollars. It was routine. It was a glorified sparring session. And at a Pay-Per-View price of $78, it was daylight robbery.

All-Time Greats: Ray Leonard can't hide his excitement when meeting Ali and Robinson. Is Floyd even close to these three?

All-Time Greats: Ray Leonard can’t hide his excitement when meeting Ali and Robinson. Is Floyd even close to these three?

So, the main question here is this: what does this victory do for Floyd Mayweather’s legacy and standing in the sport? The answer is simple. Nothing. This fight was meaningless in the grand scheme of things and it didn’t prove or show anything that we didn’t already know about Mayweather. And yes, maybe some of you will say that he’s 37, and he’s making as much money as possible before he retires, so he shouldn’t have to push himself or put himself in harm’s way because he’s earned the right to choose his opponents and cash out before retirement. I respect that to an extent, but for a man claiming to be TBE (The Best Ever), fighting Marcos Maidana twice and coasting is not going to make you the best fighter of all time. His undefeated record only takes him so far in the rankings of the best fighters of all time. Mayweather avoided many fighters in his career and didn’t face the best competition out there- Carlos Baldomir anyone? Mayweather has made it clear that he fights for money- heck, it’s his middle name- and he’s very good at making money. But money doesn’t equal glory. There aren’t many fighters today who fight purely for glory other than Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins is a multi-millionaire and is guaranteed a spot in the hall of fame, but continues to defy the odds and win fights and championship belts and face the best opponents out there. He’s 49. He does it for something no amount of money can buy. He does it for legacy. Mayweather needs to take a leaf out of Bernard Hopkins’ book. He may learn a thing or two about greatness.

Let me make something clear before people start to call me a Mayweather hater. I am not denying that he is a great fighter. The point I’m making is that he isn’t anywhere near being the best ever. That’s a bold statement. That’s saying he’s greater than Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali. That’s absurd, and if you genuinely believe that, you need a lesson in boxing history. Mayweather at 37 beat Marcos Maidana. Roberto Duran at 37 won the middleweight championship against two-time Tommy Hearns conqueror Iran Barkley. This is the difference between greatness and all-time greatness. End of story.

LIST
In case you’re interested, here is my all-time greatest top 10 (spoiler alert, Floyd’s not on the list), so in no particular order, apart from my top 3:
1. Sugar Ray Robinson
2. Muhammad Ali
3. Henry Armstrong

Then I’d have Willie Pep, Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Archie Moore and Pernell Whitaker.
If any of these names aren’t familiar to you, then maybe you need to educate yourself… I’m sorry if I ranted and/or rambled, but there is a lot to say. Usually I’m much more cohesive, just check my old work. I guess I’ve got some ring rust… And for those part-time boxing “experts” who crawl out of their holes to watch Mayweather twice a year, kindly crawl back in. I’ll see you in May.

Peace
Bilal

My Take: The Moment

My take on the upcoming boxing action on May 3, headlined by Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana. I also let the viewers know how I feel about Floyd Mayweather’s claims to being “TBE” (The Best Ever). Let me know what you think of Floyd Mayweather, and of your predictions this Saturday.

A New Chapter In The Never-Ending Story…

What an important date April 19 was for boxing. History was made. A new contender emerged. An old war horse possibly had his final outing. Oh, and Peter Quillin beat up another second-rate fighter. It was one hell of a night in Washington DC.

 

CHAMPION?

The first fight on this Showtime tripleheader was WBO middleweight champ Peter Quillin’s third title defense against the unknown Lukas Konecny, a blown up light middleweight from the Czech Republic. Quillin aka Kid Chocolate beat Konecny up for twelve rounds, winning with near-shutout scorecards from the three judges. Quillin, often lauded for his power and athleticism, landed 403 punches on Konecny’s head and body without scoring a single knockdown. It sounds like an entertaining beatdown, but it was the opposite. It was very boring, repetitive and monotonous. Although Konecny was well-conditioned and very game, Quillin was doing the same thing from the first to the twelfth round, and even when Konecny was running on reserves in the championship rounds, Kid Chocolate didn’t press for the knockout. In his post-fight interview, after thanking God, and Al Haymon (obviously) he mentioned how he tries to fight hard to inspire children- or something along those lines. Well, Mr. Kid Chocolate, that fight was hardly inspiring. If you want to inspire me, go knock out a top contender. And another piece of advice: stay well away from Gennady Golovkin. Based on that performance against Konecny, Quillin would be knocked out with ease by Golovkin. If Quillin wants the respect he feels he deserves, then he should fight someone with a reputation, not a 35 year old on his last legs.

 

OLD GLADIATOR. NEW BULL.

Relentless: Porter battered Malignaggi with hooks.

Relentless: Porter battered Malignaggi with hooks.

In the next fight on this night of world class boxing, Paulie Malignaggi challenged Shawn Porter for Porter’s IBF welterweight title. Paulie thought his superior boxing skill and his experience would be enough to vanquish the young, strong, hungry champion. Porter, short and stocky, used his power and low centre of gravity to launch his assaults, with leaping jabs and crushing hooks. Built like a freight train, Porter overwhelmed Paulie from the outset, using his explosive speed and superior athleticism to land monstrous punches on “The Magic Man” Malignaggi. It took four rounds for Malignaggi to fall, and when he got up, Porter was all over him like flies on s***. He didn’t give Paulie a moment to compose himself, and before we knew it, Porter’s hooks were slamming into Malignaggi’s head. Down he went. Hard. The ref correctly stopped the fight and we now have a real contender in the welterweight division. Porter must now make a mandatory defense against our very own Kell Brook within the next 90 days. What an amazing fight that will be…

Post-fight, an emotional Paulie Malignaggi explained that this may well be his last ever fight, and that he told Porter after the fight to “Go and be great” because Pauile wants to tell people that he lost to a great fighter. If Porter takes those words seriously, which he should, and use it as extra fuel and motivation, then we might see a new star in boxing. If he’s marketed properly, and continues to win, the sky really is the limit for this man. Similarly, if he loses a close decision to Kell Brook, a rivalry could be born, and with other tough welterweights like Keith Thurman, Amir Khan, and soon Danny Garcia, the Floyd Mayweather sweepstakes could get really interesting. And now imagine there wasn’t a cold war in boxing, we would add Manny Pacquiao, Tim Bradley, Juan Manuel Marquez and Ruslan Provodnikov to that list. One can only dream…

 

HISTORY

Clinical: Hopkins connected with Shumenov's face all night.

Clinical: Hopkins connected with Shumenov’s face all night.

In the main event, Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins was seeking to make more history. He is already the oldest boxer to win a world title and the oldest boxer to defend a world title, and by challenging for WBA light heavyweight title, he sought to become the oldest boxer to unify world titles. His opponent was Beibut Shumenov, a tough Kazakh with crazy long arms and real punching power. Hopkins, 49, dominated Shumenov, 30, for twelve rounds. The reason Hopkins can still beat young guys up at this age is because he is the greatest fighter ever at controlling the pace of a fight. Shumenov is usually a volume puncher who throws hard to the body and head, but against Hopkins he was a spectator. I don’t remember him throwing a single meaningful combination, and almost everything he did throw was countered by the razor-sharp Hopkins. Hopkins once again exhibited a masterclass of the sweet science. His footwork, timing and defensive prowess had Shumenov baffled, and his straight right connected with Shumenov’s face all night. Hopkins, because of his age, has to be economical with his punch output. He can’t do a Manny Pacquiao and throw seven-punch combinations because missed punches sap a fighter’s energy more than connected punches. In round seven of this fight, Hopkins threw 30 punches. 21 connected. 21! His accuracy is better than ever and poor Shumenov had no answers. In the eleventh round, Hopkins even managed to drop Shumenov with a rocket straight right, but stayed poise and didn’t overextend in search of a knockout. He’s allowed to do that, since he’s 49, unlike Peter Quillin, who is content with beating on a small Czech guy for twelve rounds. After the final bell sounded, Hopkins began to celebrate and when the scorecards were announced, Hopkins was the winner. It wasn’t by the wide margins everyone expected though. Two judges had it 116-111, and one muppet judge had it 114-113 for Shumenov. Hopkins once again rewrote history and taught a young fighter a lesson in the ring. The old warrior now has lineal champ Adonis Stevenson in his crosshairs and, win or lose, he still will be regarded as an all-time great.

 

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

Next week, again on Showtime, we have Keith Thurman taking on Julio Diaz in the main event of a card that includes Lucas Matthysse’s return against John Molina Jr. and Omar Figueroa defending his lightweight strap on the card’s first fight. Then, one week later, is “The Moment”. Floyd Mayweather vs. Marcos Maidana headlines a stacked card that will include Amir Khan vs. Luis Collazo and Adrien Broner vs. Carlos Molina (not THAT Carlos Molina, the other one that Khan beat). It’s been an eventful few weeks in boxing, and with the fights that are coming, the drama is only going to increase.

 

Peace

Bilal

 

 

 

Revenge and Redemption

I know this post is very late, but that’s not my fault. Well, it is. I’ve been watching Impractical Jokers (US version) all week. It’s without a doubt, the funniest thing I’ve ever watched. But, I’m not here to endorse comedy shows, I’m here to talk about the most important boxing fight of the year. Manny Pacquiao vs. Timothy Bradley 2. After Bradley’s “win” in June 2012, the rematch promised a decisive winner. It wasn’t such a great shock. Just like he beat him for real in the first fight, Manny Pacquiao beat Bradley up again in the rematch, once again putting his foot down and showing the world that he’s still around, and that he’s still a player on the biggest stage of them all.

 

UNDERCARD?

As is the case with Top Rank promoted fights, the undercard was incredibly weak. Raymundo Beltran was supposed to fight Rocky Gonzalez, but after Gonzalez got injured he fought late replacement Arash Usmanee from Afghanistan. Beltran won, but I was barely watching. I was playing Plague Inc. In the other undercard fight, long time welterweight contender Jessie Vargas, still only 24, beat Khabib Allakhverdiev in grueling boxing match. The first fight on the undercard was so boring and meaningless that I forgot who fought. I don’t actually remember if there was another fight… Well there we go. Although Top Rank put out good main events, they don’t have many quality fighters, and no up-and-comers the way Golden Boy Promotions does. There is no Omar Figueroa or Leo Santa Cruz in the Top Rank stable. Hey, Bob Arum. Fix up.

 

REVENGE AND REDEMPTION

The main event was the only thing I paid attention to on this night. Pacquiao needed to prove he was still a world class fighter. Bradley needed to prove he was the real deal, and beating the Pacman decisively was the way to do it. Pacquiao, as the challenger, did his ring walk first. He walked out to Thunderstruck by AC/DC, followed by a remix of Encore by Jay Z and Roar by Katy Perry. I know… What happened, Manny? I didn’t enjoy the pop BS that followed Thunderstruck, but the crowd seemed to love it. Tim Bradley followed, and as expected, he was greeted with a chorus of boos. The boos were immediately drowned out by DJ Khaled’s All I Do Is Win- an appropriate song for an undefeated fighter. It was then followed by a song Shazam didn’t recognize- it was a song specially made for Bradley. In the ring, while Michael Buffer was announcing the particulars, Pacquiao looked relaxed as usual. Bradley, however, was moving around and looked on edge. He dragged his emotions into the fight, and they got the best of him.

In the opening round, both fighters didn’t give each other time to settle, and it was Bradley who set pace with his aggression, movement and punch output. The next few rounds were more of the same. Bradley was trying to knock Manny out with hard body-head combinations. His decision to go for the kill meant he got repeatedly tagged with Manny’s razor-sharp punches. Still, after six rounds, although most observers, including myself, had it even, Bradley looked to be gaining momentum. He was making Manny miss a lot of punches and his awkward movements were looking like they may frustrate Manny. Bradley was outhustling and outworking the Filipino star. I thought after the halfway point, Bradley would pull away and begin winning rounds more convincingly. How wrong I was…

Scary: Mamma Pacquiao appears to put a curse on Tim Bradley.

Scary: Mamma Pacquiao appears to put a curse on Tim Bradley.

Between the sixth and seventh round, the cameras were pointed at Manny Pacquiao’s mother, who seemed to be putting a voodoo curse on Bradley. During the seventh round, Bradley began to tire, and began clowning around, trying to lure Manny in so he could land a big counter shot a la Marquez- was this the curse Mamma Pacquiao put on Bradley? Surely that gives Manny an unfair advantage? Manny didn’t respond to Bradley’s antics and instead stayed patient and unloaded fast combinations while evading Bradley’s slowing jabs. The PacMonster beat Bradley up for five rounds (7-11) post-curse. His timing was amazing for a 35 year old fighter supposedly on his way down, and his signature straight left was landing with greater regularity as Bradley began slowing. In the twelfth round, both fighters went for it and, to be fair, Bradley took that round. Fight over. Ding ding. Pacquiao, on my very unofficial scorecard, won it 116-112 (8-4). Two judges had it the same, with the third scoring it a little wide at 118-110 (10-2). Manny Pacquiao was once again a champion.

There were a few things that surprised me in this fight. Firstly, I thought Bradley would narrowly win, not get dominated. Secondly, who would have thought that the super ripped and superbly conditioned Tim Bradley would gas out before the 35 year old, battle worn 63-fight veteran? It was obvious that all of the excessive movement, plus the huge emotional fatigue, plus the fact that he was swinging for the fences with every punch in an attempt to knock Pacquiao’s head off, took a toll on his body. One thing I wasn’t surprised with was the post-fight interview with HBO commentator Max Kellerman. Manny did the typical “Thank God… I listened to my corner… I didn’t get careless… Bradley is a great fighter… etc.” and Bradley did the whole “I lost to a great fighter… Thank the fans… etc.” before announcing to the world “No excuses… But I pulled my calf muscle and that’s why I slowed down”- an announcement that was met with loud booing from the crowd.

Professional: While Bradley was clowning, Pacquiao was punching.

Professional: While Bradley was clowning, Pacquiao was punching.

Overall, for a fight of such importance between two top fighters, it was a great fight. There was boxing and brawling, plus large doses of pressure and intensity. Bradley fought well, but had the wrong game plan. He’s still an elite fighter- there’s no shame in losing to a great fighter- but Manny showed that even though he’s a shell of his former self, he’s also still an elite fighter. One question lingers though: Is Manny Pacquiao “back”? Or was this victory one last great performance from a legendary fighter? Time will tell.

 

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

This Saturday there is a big Showtime Boxing tripleheader from Washington DC headlined by the legendary Bernard Hopkins, who seeks more history by fighting a unification fight with fellow titlist Beibut Shumenov, with the winner likely to fight for the WBC and lineal championship against Adonis Stevenson, who recently jumped ship from HBO to Showtime. He says it’s for money. I say he’s scared of that monster Sergey Kovalev. The other fights on the card will include middleweight titlist Peter Quillin and a welterweight showdown between IBF titlist Shawn Porter and Paulie Malignaggi. It promises to be a fun night, and maybe even a historic night.

That’s all from me. I’m going back to watch some more Impractical Jokers…

 

Peace

Bilal

 

 

 

 

 

Hometown Glory?

March 15 marked the third consecutive weekend of world class boxing this month. Like March 1, there was action both here in the UK, and across the Atlantic, this time in Puerto Rico. The boxing over here was in Liverpool, and was headlined by local boy Tony Bellew, in his cruiserweight debut. Also on the card was Kell Brook and Kevin Mitchell. All three won their fights, and the victories will open many more doors for the fighters. Then, in Puerto Rico, we had a packed card headlined by Danny Garcia, who was challenged by Mauricio Herrera in his Puerto Rico homecoming. On the undercard, Deontay Wilder, Juanma Lopez and Danny Jacobs featured.

ONE STEP CLOSER

Sharp: Brook lands a solid left uppercut en route to a TKO victory.

Sharp: Brook lands a solid left uppercut en route to a TKO victory.

We start in Liverpool, and to be honest, the only fight with real world level significance was Kell Brook vs. Alvaro Robles. It doesn’t mean I’m ignoring Tony Bellew’s come-from-behind twelfth round KO victory, it’s just that it’s his cruiserweight debut, and there are more difficult fights for him at the weight. Robles is a gatekeeper of sorts, and if Brook got past him, he’d be guaranteed a world title challenge against the winner of the April 19 showdown between Shawn Porter and Paulie Malignaggi. Brook needed to not only win though, he needed to put in a performance that would show his readiness for the world stage. And he did. He gave Robles an emphatic beating that shouldn’t have continued after the seventh round- Robles’ corner threw in the towel in the eighth. Robles was clearly very durable but he never troubled Brook and when he did land his hooks, Brook took them well and returned with his own shots. Brook boxed very well behind his excellent jab- which is a potent weapon- and also landed well with his right cross and his left hook. The only criticism with Brook’s offence is that he doesn’t throw fluid combinations, but that is something that could easily be fixed with practice and good sparring. Brook is now guaranteed a world title challenge on July 19, and he’s anxiously waiting for April 19 to come so he can find out who his opponent will be. Good luck to him.

HOMETOWN GLORY?

Over 4000 miles away, in Puerto Rico, Danny Garcia defended his unified light-welterweight championship. Garcia was born in Philadelphia, but both of his parents were born in Puerto Rico, which meant the fans over there welcomed him as one of their own. On the undercard of Garcia’s homecoming, there were some pretty devastating knockouts. First was Danny Jacobs, who dispatched his overmatched opponent Milton Nunez in one round. His journey back to the world stage has been gaining momentum since his recovery from cancer. He’s almost in a position to challenge for a world title. Up next was a rematch between former champions Juanma Lopez and Daniel Ponce de Leon. In their first fight, Lopez knocked Ponce de Leon out in the opening round. Back then, Lopez was a feared knockout artist. Today, he’s merely a shell of his former self, and his beatings at the hands of Orlando Salido and Mikey Garcia have had a horrible effect on his career. This rematch with Ponce de Leon was make-or-break; a loss would mark the end of Lopez, and a win would give him one more chance at the big time. This fight was also significant because of the legendary Mexcio vs. Puerto Rico rivalry; the fans in Puerto Rico welcomed Lopez back, and he didn’t disappoint them. Unlike the first fight, the rematch ended in two rounds. Lopez was knocked down before coming back and knocking Ponce de Leon down with one his rockets. He then took the Mexican to the ropes where he was landing lefts and rights, before the referee stepped in, calling a halt to the action. It was a premature stoppage, since Ponce de Leon was punching back, but to Lopez it didn’t matter. He was back, and he’s now most likely on his final chance. If he suffers another devastating loss, then he should hang the gloves up.

On the final undercard fight, heavyweight prospect Deontay Wilder, the 2004 Olympic Bronze Medalist, stepped in against Malik Scott with a professional record of 30-0 (30 KO). Scott was Wilder’s toughest test to date, and it was likely that this fight would be a test of Wilder’s mettle. Instead, Wilder finished the fight in round one, with a left hook-right straight combination. Scott was down and couldn’t beat the count. The alarming thing was that, after seeing the replay, Wilder’s right straight didn’t seem to land. His left hook hit Scott on the temple, but Scott only fell when the right “landed”. Immediately the Twitter-verse exploded with claims that Scott took a dive, and that the fight was fixed. I’m still unsure, but that right straight was a phantom punch if I’ve ever seen one… After this victory, and now with a record of 31-0 (31 KO), Wilder is in a position to challenge for the vacant WBC heavyweight title. His opponent will be the winner of the Stiverne-Arreola rematch.

In the main event, Danny Garcia, who faced Mauricio Herrera, was a heavy favourite. The argument wasn’t whether or not Danny would win, but instead how long Herrera would last- the distance, as it turned out. Danny was a heavy favourite since he was coming off of his signature win against Lucas Mathysse, where he proved that he knows how to box and counter, but also how to bang and brawl. However, from the opening round, the tempo belonged to Herrera, which he controlled using his sharp jab. Herrera had trained excellently for this fight, and it was obvious that a big part of his game plan was avoiding the huge left hook Garcia dropped both Khan and Morales with. For the entirety of the fight, Garcia looked frustrated with Herrera’s awkward style and with the fact that he couldn’t get any meaningful punches in. This isn’t to say that Garcia got beaten up; he fought hard and won rounds and stood his ground when Herrera would come on strong.

Robbed: Herrera busted Garcia's face up in his loss by robbery.

Robbed: Herrera busted Garcia’s face up in his loss by robbery.

The point is that Herrera exposed Garcia’s weakness. Danny Garcia can’t handle a slick fighter who sticks to a game plan. He couldn’t handle Amir Khan’s speed and movement, and only landed that monstrous left hook when Khan got reckless and threw a right uppercut from the outside. Herrera prepared well and didn’t waver when Garcia fought back and won rounds. This fight, which was supposed to be a celebration for the Puerto Rican fight fans, instead turned into a worrisome twelve round affair. It definitely didn’t invoke the fond memories of Tito Trinidad knocking out all challengers. After the final bell, all three Showtime announcers had Herrera winning the fight, but when the judge’s scores were announced, we got something different. Surprised, right? Garcia won a majority decision, and the one judge who scored it a draw was the judge from Puerto Rico. The other two judges had the fight 116-112 for Garcia. That means Danny won eight rounds. Eight. Impossible. It is yet another robbery in a sport ravaged by poor judging and hometown decisions. Garcia retained his titles and his unblemished record, and Herrera is just another fighter who was unlucky enough to be robbed of a blatant victory.

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

Next week there won’t be anything of note, unfortunately, but on March 29, Sergey Kovalev defends his portion of the light heavyweight crown against Cedric Agnew, a fight that will possibly lead to a superfight this autumn against lineal champ Adonis Stevenson. Then, two weeks later, we will have the most significant fight of the year. Manny Pacquiao will fight Timothy Bradley on April 12 in a rematch of their highly controversial first fight, which Bradley “won” by split decision. This is one of the only fights taking place this year where both fighters are elite- say what you want, Marcos Maidana is not an elite level fighter.

The boxing is slowly picking up, and we have many more fights coming in the not too distant future… Stay tuned.

Peace

Bilal

Angulo fails the Cinnamon challenge…

March 8 brought us our first huge boxing event of the year, and the first of many. It was a pay-per-view event from the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, headlined by Saul “Canelo” Alvarez vs. Alfredo “El Perro” Angulo. This was an all-Mexican showdown that promised blood, guts and toe-to-toe action. On the undercard there were three very entertaining fights. We’ll start with those first…

Our opening fight involved another Alvarez- Canelo’s older brother Ricardo. He faced the hard-hitting Sergio Thompson in a ten round affair. Ricardo Alvarez has quite possibly the worst defence I’ve ever seen in a fighter. His defence is more useless than Ricky Hatton’s. The worst thing for Alvarez is that Thompson has crazy heavy hands. Poor Alvarez was beaten to a pulp for ten rounds, with his baby brother Saul watching from his dressing room, and Mamma Alvarez screaming from her ringside seat. Alvarez lost a lopsided unanimous decision and, at 32, his future in the sport is looking rather limited. Our next fight was a brutal battle between former champ Jorge Linares (he’s still only 28!) and Japanese warrior Nihito Arakawa. Arakawa won the hearts of fight fans with his spirited loss against Omar Figueroa in one of the best fights of 2013. Jorge Linares, who has succumbed to pressure fighters in the past, didn’t let Arakawa overcome him. Instead, Linares beat Arakawa up in every single round. His fluid combinations and beautiful punch variety would have knocked out a lesser fighter, but credit to Arakawa, he kept coming and despite losing every round, he still put hands on Linares and busted up his face. Linares is now the mandatory challenger for Omar Figueroa’s WBC belt. That fight will be epic.

SANTA IS COMING TO TOWN

In the co-main event, WBC 122lb titlist Leo Santa Cruz once again fought an all-action fight, this time against Cristian Mijares. Santa Cruz wasn’t fazed by former champ Mijares’ experience or his awkward style, and instead just fought his own fight- lots of pressure, lots of punches- en route to a shutout decision. Santa Cruz really needs to step up in competition, and to his defence, he did call out Carl Frampton in his post-fight interview, after, of course, thanking Al Haymon. The 122lb division is quite deep at the moment, and although none of the fighters in the division will have a real chance against undisputed champ Guillermo Rigondeaux, they can take solace in the fact that the battle for second place is very competitive. Aside from Santa Cruz and Frampton, there is also Kiko Martinez of Spain, and England’s own Scott Quigg (Frampton is Irish). A fight between Frampton and Quigg will come, but only when the stakes are much higher. According to Dan Rafael of ESPN, that fight will be the British version of Barrera-Morales. That’s a big statement, but it’s probably true.

THE CINNAMON CHALLENGE

Easy night: Canelo lands a hard right against a defenceless Angulo.

Easy night: Canelo lands a hard right against a defenceless Angulo.

In the main event, Alfredo Angulo and Canelo Alvarez fought- not for any title, but instead for bragging rights. Canelo is the poster boy of Mexican boxing, and has been carefully guided to where he is now. Angulo is rather different; he did it the hard way and fought much-avoided fighters like James Kirkland and Erislandy Lara. Despite having a few losses, Angulo’s come forward style has won the heart of many boxing fans. The MGM Grand was almost sold out and the Angulo fans let themselves be known by barking and howling in support of “El Perro” or “The Dog”. When the opening bell sounded, Alvarez did something unexpected. He attacked. His advantages in speed and combination punching were evident and he proceeded to give Angulo the worst beating of his career. Angulo was helplessly slow and sluggish and despite trainer Virgil Hunter’s motivational pleas between rounds, he didn’t really get out of the blocks at all. Meanwhile, Alvarez had built a heavy lead and was building in confidence, showcasing feints, increased punch output and variety, his left uppercut-right cross combination is really something. He even lay on the ropes and did some Mayweather-ing, defending with his shoulder and upper body movement. Angulo was utterly outclassed and in the tenth round, after taking one too many left uppercuts, veteran referee Tony Weeks had seen enough, much to the dismay of the crowd; Alvarez fans wanted to see a knockout, and Angulo fans felt their man was finishing strong. To their defence, he wasn’t really hurt by Alvarez and he was beginning to land his hits. Ultimately though, the ref made the right call. Angulo has a big heart but the damage he took was severe. Weeks probably saved Angulo’s career, despite costing him the fight. We don’t want another tragedy similar to that of Magomed Abdulsalamov, who bravely fought a ten round fight, but fell into a coma soon after the final bell. He’s still recovering.

With this victory, Canelo has put himself back near the top of the 154lb division. He is now being called out the super-talented Cuban Erislandy Lara, who recently beat Austin Trout in a much more dominant fashion than did Canelo. I’m unsure about whether or not that fight will be made- a fighter like Lara is high-risk and low-reward. He doesn’t really have a fan base and he is content with winning without gunning for the knockout. He’s a pure boxer, the kind that doesn’t attract the attention of casual fight fans.

THE BEST IS YET COME

Next week, on March 15, once again there will be world class action on both sides of the pond. First, Kell Brook will step in against Alvaro Robles, before Tony Bellew makes his cruiserweight debut against Valery Brudov. I don’t care much for Tony Bellew, or the cruiserweight division for that matter. I care much more about the Brook fight, because this is his first fight with actual significance. If Brook beats Robles, which he should, he will guaranteed a shot at the IBF title, currently held by Shawn Porter. Porter defends his title against Paulie Malignaggi on April 19, on the undercard of Bernard Hopkins’ unification fight against Beibut Shumenov. The winner of Porter-Malignaggi must face Kell Brook, the mandatory challenger, by July 19.

Then, across the Atlantic in Puerto Rico, Danny Garcia will defend his 140lb titles against Mauricio Herrera. This isn’t a fighter Garcia should overlook, but it is highly unlikely that Garcia, who is full of talent and confidence, will be troubled. Garcia, who was born and raised in north Philadelphia (I wish it was west Philadelphia, that way I could say “west Philadelphia, born and raised”). His parents though, are both Puerto Rican. Garcia wants to inherit the Puerto Rican fan base that so crazy about boxing. He wants to be held in the same regard with those fans as Puerto Rico’s many legendary fighters; Miguel Cotto, Felix Trinidad and Wilfred Benitez are a few examples. Danny Garcia plans to have more fights in Puerto Rico, and if he continues winning, he may become their new favourite son.

That’s all this week, but with the busy boxing schedule, unfortunately you’ll be hearing from me again soon.

Peace

Bilal

Almost History…

2014 has had a pretty slow start, but with the action on March 1, the boxing year has officially kicked off. The action started in Glasgow, where local hero Ricky Burns was challenged by the highly skilled American, Terrence Crawford, with his WBO featherweight title on the line. Then, all the way over in San Antonio, Texas, Vasyl Lomachenko fought for a world title in just his second professional fight, before Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. stepped up against Brian Vera in a rematch of their 2013 fight, which Chavez won by way of highway robbery.

On the undercard of Burns’ title defense, our very own Olympic hero Anthony Joshua went up against seasoned journeyman Hector Avila, who went nine rounds with Dereck Chisora less than a year ago. The supremely built and ripped Joshua, who I like to refer to as Black Thor, immediately won the full Scottish support by walking out to 500 Miles by The Proclaimers (tune), before gaining further support by knocking Avila out in the opening round. Joshua bossed the round with his jab and even began to work the body, which is quite rare for current heavyweights- just ask Wladimir Klitschko. After shaking Avila up, Joshua knocked him out with a short left hook, and extended his record to 5-0 (5 KO). We will see Joshua in action again very soon, perhaps in April, and hopefully against an opponent who can push him a little bit.

After watching his fellow Brit win by knockout, it was Ricky Burns’ turn. Burns’ title reign should have ended last September after his “draw” against Raymundo Beltran, who battered him, knocked him down and broke his jaw. Still, after getting the gift draw, Burns kept his belt and, credit to him, he decided to take a hard fight against a legit contender in Terrence Crawford. The Nebraskan is very skilled, and has been nurtured and, in some ways, pampered and protected prior to this fight. However, despite lacking the world class experience that Burns possesses in abundance, Crawford looked slick and confident, boxing his way to a wide decision against an unconfident and visibly not passionate Burns. Thankfully, the judges got it right this time, and a jubilant Crawford celebrated with tears and a backflip. It was a good win for Crawford against a true veteran. Unfortunately for Crawford though, the lightweight division is quite weak right now, and the better fighters in the division are with rival promoter Golden Boy. Until this boxing Cold War ends, Crawford will have to settle for a few more bums, but when the fights that we want get made, he’ll have his hands full against badasses like Omar Figueroa, Nihito Arakawa and the highly avoided Miguel Vasquez.

A few thousand miles away, in San Antonio, Vasyl Lomachenko stepped up against seasoned veteran Orlando Salido. Salido, from the opening bell was using his vast experience to rattle and unsettle the newbie, and by the seventh round he had built a healthy lead. His body attack, coupled with his constant low blows had Lomachenko either backing up or holding. Lomachenko, who had never been past four rounds, burst into life in the championship rounds and finished very strong, almost knocking Salido out in the twelfth. Salido won a split decision that he didn’t deserve. It’s not that Lomachenko was the better fighter, although he did show us he has a great chin and balls of steel, it’s that Salido hit the Ukrainian star with at least 20 low blows. He was not warned once. And in the final round, when Salido was gassed out and on shaky legs he held Lomachenko’s arms and wouldn’t let go. He did this at least three times, and on the last one, the ref broke them up. Instead of warning the Mexican for holding, referee Lawrence Cole warned Lomachenko for using his head. It was unbelievable. But it was expected. This was the same incompetent ref who didn’t take any points off Adrien Broner after he cross-faced and held Marcos Maidana for twelve rounds. HBO commentator Jim Lampley described Cole and “useless, blind and incompetent” and questioned why he keeps getting major fights. The answer is simple: Cole’s father is on the boxing commission. I believe any half-decent ref would have taken a couple of points off for the repeated low blows, and would have at least warned Lomachenko for his excessive holding in the first half of the fight. Still, Salido won the fight, and Lomachenko took it like a man. He learned all the professional tricks the hard way and I would fancy him to beat Salido in a rematch at any weight. Despite having a record of 1-1, Vasyl Lomachenko is still one of the best featherweights around.

In the main event, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. stepped in against Brian Vera. Vera, a rugged Texan with a chin like a modern-day Rocky Marciano, lost a decision against Chavez in their first fight. Chavez, on that night, had extreme difficulties with the weight and fought a terrible fight en route to a gift decision. This time, however, Chavez looked very fit and motivated, and he fought like a man possessed. For eleven rounds, he ate everything Vera threw and returned it with interest. Vera’s head spun 180 degrees on more than one occasion from Chavez punches. In the twelfth, Chavez ran. He didn’t mind giving away the round, because it was clear that this time he had legitimately won the fight. We would later find out that Chavez had hurt his hand in the last round and Vera had hurt his hand earlier in the fight. With this win, Julio has regained some of his diminishing fan base, and with a proposed pay-per-view showdown with Gennady Golovkin becoming more likely, the Mexican pothead (he tested positive for marijuana) has a chance to perhaps win all of his fans back, and maybe even win over some critics.

 

THE BEST IS YET TO COME

On March 8, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez returns in a must-win fight against bona fide badass Alfredo Angulo. Then on April 12, Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley will have their long-awaited rematch. This will probably be the first Manny Pacquiao fight in over a decade where the Filipino icon is not the favourite. One week later, Bernard Hopkins will have a chance to create even more history in his unification fight against Beibut Shumenov. Hopkins, 49, claims he wants the knockout, and has promised he’ll press for it. Good luck to the old man. Then, on May 3, Floyd Mayweather will fight Argentine slugger Marcos Maidana. We all thought Amir Khan will get the Mayweather fight. Heck, even Khan thought he would get the Mayweather fight. Instead, Floyd opted to fight Maidana. Although the Argentinian has earned his shot, it is widely accepted that Mayweather would have had a more difficult time dealing with Khan. Mayweather has fought Maidana’s type before, and with his imminent victory, he will not have proved anything. Mayweather needs to challenge himself. Imagine Floyd fighting another elite level operator. Somebody with an iron will like Tim Bradley. Of course we all want to see Floyd vs. Manny, but imagine Mayweather vs. Bradley, or Mayweather vs. Golovkin. If Mayweather wants to be an all-time great fighter, he needs to do something different. And don’t mention age, because Roberto Duran- a true great- beat a prime Iran Barkley for the middleweight title at 37. Mayweather can continue making millions, but beating Maidana will not add to his legacy.

The boxing year is officially on, and I’m going to have a lot more to write about in the next few weeks and months.

 

Peace

Bilal

It’s been a slow year… so far.

2014 has, so far, been one thing: intriguing. This is of course in boxing terms only. I’m not qualified to talk about anything else. In fact, I’m not even qualified to talk about boxing. I’m just some wasteman who chats breeze and hopes people enjoy reading it… Anyways, back to boxing. There haven’t been any major fights so far this year. Anthony Joshua knocked out another overmatched opponent in his fourth professional fight. Mikey Garcia boxed a snoozefest against Juan Carlos Burgos to extend his unbeaten career and defend his portion of the 130lb crown. Lamont Peterson beat a game Dierry Jean in his first defense of his 140lb title (his KO loss to Lucas Matthysse was fought at a 141lb catchweight). These are the fights that I watched in January. I know there was more action, but there was nothing worth staying up for. Oh, I forgot, Gennady Golovkin knocked some poor sucker out in Monaco. The sucker in question is called Osumanu Adama, a game and well-conditioned mechanical engineer from Ghana. See? Nothing worth staying up for.

KHAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE

It’s probably boxing’s worst kept secret- Amir Khan is lined up to be Floyd Mayweather’s next opponent in a bout that will take place on May 3 in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Floyd has decided to exercise expert psychological warfare by insisting that the fans are going to choose his next opponent- he even made an online poll with two choices: Khan or Maidana. This has riled Khan up, who took to social media to express his disgust at the fact that Maidana is even being considered, despite Maidana being a proven welterweight with a string of four consecutive knockout wins. Khan’s last fight was a life and death war with faded former champ Julio Diaz. This media stunt by Mayweather is working, and Khan is getting increasingly unsettled. By fight night, Khan will want to jump into the ring and rip Mayweather’s head off. This is exactly what Mayweather wants. However, I honestly think that Khan belongs to a very small group of fighters that can potentially give Mayweather problems. I think Khan’s speed and footwork, along with that rapier jab can be very effective against Mayweather. Khan will need to fight with his brains more than his balls to avoid walking into Mayweather’s counters all night. He will also need to avoid throwing right uppercuts from the outside- his chin can’t afford to take any more left hooks. My prediction is this: Khan uses his speed, footwork and combinations to trouble Mayweather early. Mayweather will then adjust and win by unanimous decision. Anyone who says Mayweather will win via a one-punch knockout in round one is either a part-time boxing fan or a Mayweather groupie; either way, in the words of the legendary Roger Mayweather, they “don’t know sh*t about boxing”.

A FILIPINO FLAME REIGNITES

On April 12 at the MGM Grand, Manny Pacquiao will return in a highly anticipated rematch with Timothy Bradley. Since his “win” over Pacman in June 2012, Bradley has proven himself as a pound for pound star. I only rank him behind Mayweather and Andre Ward. He ended 2013 with an excellent victory over future Hall-of-Famer Juan Manuel Marquez, and now he’s jumping straight back into the deep end by giving Pacquiao a rematch. This fight, we hope, will be more decisive. I think Pacquiao will win. He will come out strong and motivated, and will fight every minute of every round, as opposed to fighting in spots and “stealing” rounds like he did towards the end of their first encounter. I hope that this fight catapults Manny back to the top of the sport and I hope that he and Mayweather finally get it on in the ring. Better late than never, right?

FINAL WORDS

In just his second professional fight, two-time Olympic champion Vasyl Lomachenko will face seasoned veteran Orlando Salido for Salido’s featherweight title belt. I’ve never heard of a fighter being given a world title shot after only one pro bout. The crazy thing is, he’ll probably go into the fight as a slight favourite. This boy is very very good. Potentially great. His two gold medals were at featherweight and lightweight, which means anyone from 126-135lbs needs to be careful. Lomachenko is coming.

There is more good news… Adrien Broner has exercised his rematch clause and will fight Marcos Maidana again. I’m excited for this rematch because I want to see what Broner will change to beat Maidana- at the moment he’s too hittable to be even considered as a counter-puncher. Broner needs to find out what kind of fighter he is, because copying Floyd Mayweather will only get you so far.

Adonis Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev might just be stepping into the ring at the end of the year. That will be a huge event and it almost certainly will end with a knockout. I can’t wait.

The IBF has ordered a Carl Froch-George Groves rematch after their first bout ended controversially, with Froch winning an unpopular TKO decision. Hopefully these two super-middleweights can come to an agreement and give us a great fight with a decisive finish.

In his comeback fight from his first career loss, Canelo Alvarez will step into the ring with fellow Mexican slugger Alfredo Angulo. Although Angulo is pretty shopworn, he will still come into the fight motivated and I predict this fight will be very fun to watch. Hopefully Canelo will get his chin checked. If he passes, he will grind Angulo down and win by late stoppage.

2014 will have lots of interesting fights and I predict that this year, boxing will be shaken up. Vasyl Lomachenko, Sergey Kovalev, Gennady Golovkin and Ruslan Provodnikov, I predict, will be the shakers this year. These eastern Europeans/central Asians (Golovkin is Kazakh) are going to continue winning. Western fighters need to watch their backs. Winter is coming.

Peace

Bilal

The 2013 Completely Unofficial Boxing Awards…

Well, 2013 has been some year… It has, without a doubt, been the best year of boxing for at least ten years- Al Bernstein says 25. We’ve had some thrilling fights, shocking upsets, masterful performances and of course, a lot of controversy. This is my first “awards ceremony”, where I choose winners from various categories. Here is the list:

  • Fight of the Year
  • Fighter of the Year
  • Round of the Year
  • Knockout of the Year
  • Comeback of the Year
  • Upset of the Year
  • Trainer of the Year
  • Biggest Surprise
  • Most Controversial Fight
  • Biggest “What the hell?” moment
  • One to watch for 2014

Before people start hating on what I have to say, I have to tell you that winners of each category have carefully picked by a panel of experts… I’m joking, I picked them myself. If you don’t like it, I don’t care. I will put an “Honourable Mentions” bit at the end though because there are a lot of tough choices. Moving swiftly on…

Fight of the Year: Timothy Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov

Contact: Bradley and Provodnikov went tit for tat in an amazing fight.

Contact: Bradley and Provodnikov went tit for tat in an amazing fight.

There have been plenty of fights this year with amazing two-way action and lots of high-octane drama. Gun to my head though, I’d have to say the fight of the year for 2013 was Timothy Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov. The man dubbed “The Siberian Rocky” was relatively unheard of before this fight, and when he stepped in with Bradley, an undefeated two-weight champion, we thought Bradley would cruise. Bradley was coming off his undeserved decision over Manny Pacquiao, and was determined to prove himself against Provodnikov.

Both warriors gave as good as they got.

Both warriors gave as good as they got.

Cue 12 rounds of amazing toe-to-toe action, which included Bradley being knocked down, being out on his feet and fighting back off the ropes against the relentless Provodnikov. Bradley was lucky that the ref let it continue after round two. Both trainers admitted after the fight that they had considered throwing in the towel. Bradley admitted his speech was still slurred six weeks after the fight. Bradley ended up winning the fight by a unanimous decision that many fans and observers thought should have gone the other way. Provodnikov himself, however, said that he watched the fight and thought Bradley deserved the razor-thin decision. A true professional.

Bradley vs. Provodnikov: http://www.allthebestfights.com/timothy-bradley-vs-ruslan-provodnikov-full-fight-video-2013/

Runner-up: Rios vs. Alvarado 2

Fight of the Year candidates are usually two guys beating the hell out of each other for twelve rounds. Bradley-Provodnikov was that. So was Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado 2. After the first fight ended with a premature Rios stoppage, these two brawlers met again and continued from where they left off in their last fight. Alvarado boxed more and won a unanimous decision, but this fight was a good old-fashioned tear up from start to finish. The only reason it isn’t the winner is because it wasn’t as dramatic as the Bradley battle. Still, I recommend you watch both fights, because they are both amazingly entertaining.

Fighter of the Year: Timothy Bradley

Tough choice: Bradley deserves to be Fighter of the Year.

Tough choice: Bradley deserves to be Fighter of the Year.

This is a tough one. Do I go with a fighter who has knocked four fighters out in one year, or do I go with a fighter who has proven himself on the elite level? I’m sorry Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev. These two have each knocked out four opponents in 2013, but let’s be honest, they were mid-to-low-level guys. My choice for fighter of the year is Timothy Bradley. Timmy, as I’ve just said two paragraphs ago, was involved in a war. The Provodnikov fight was a gut check, and he passed. He then went on to fight Manny Pacquiao-conqueror, Mexican legend and future hall of famer Juan Manuel Marquez. Bradley, with the help of trainer Joel Diaz and father Tim Bradley Sr. aka Big Ray, who is, by the way, stupidly hench for an older guy, boxed a beautiful fight and earned himself a huge victory. No disrespect to Golovkin, Kovalev or even Floyd Mayweather, but none of these boxers beat someone as skilled or as experienced as Marquez. Bradley’s 2013 has gained him much-deserved respect after his “win” against Manny Pacquiao.

 

Runner-up: Adonis Stevenson

It should be obvious. I’ve been banging on about him all year. He is the “Superman”. The light-heavyweight king. He is Adonis Stevenson… Lots of fans have this guy as the fighter of the year and he deserves it. I think Bradley had the more important fight against Marquez, which is why he topped Adonis. For Stevenson, 2013 was probably the greatest year of his life. He started it out by avenging the only blemish on his record by knocking out Darnell Boone. He then upset the world by knocking out Chad Dawson in round one, winning the light-heavyweight championship in the process. Then he proved he could box as well as punch by beating up Tavoris Cloud for seven rounds before the fight was stopped. Stevenson finished the year by knocking out Tony Bellew in six. Four fights. Four wins. Four knockouts. Stevenson has announced himself as a force to be reckoned with.

Round of the Year: Mickey Bey vs. John Molina Round 10

This one isn’t as well-known, but it was freaking amazing. John Molina was being taken apart by Mickey Bey, one of Floyd Mayweather’s fighters, then, in a sequence worthy of a Rocky movie (not Rocky V, which was utter crap), Molina turned it around and showered Bey with power shots. With around a minute to go, the ref stopped the fight. It was a good stoppage because Bey was out on his feet. What added to the drama was the fact Floyd Mayweather and Leonard Ellerbe (who was wearing a very tacky white suit), along with the rest of The Money Team, were ringside, yelling instructions into the ring. This was the most dramatic final round this year. More so than Provodnikov almost knocking Bradley out in the final round of their war because Molina actually did complete the turnaround, as opposed to Provodnikov, who fell short.

Molina vs. Bey Round 10: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcNJ46sAsPM

Runner-up: Bradley vs. Provodnikov Round 6

It’s my man Timothy Bradley again. This time it’s the sixth round of the twelve round war with Provodnikov. There isn’t much to say about this round except that both guys put it all on the line and beat each other up. It was an amazing round from an amazing fight. Watch it.

Knockout of the Year: Gennady Golovkin KO3 Matthew Macklin

Brutal: Golovkin's left hook KO was furiously thrown.

Brutal: Golovkin’s left hook KO was furiously thrown.

For me, this was an easy choice and don’t worry, it isn’t Bradley, it’s the Kazakh killer Gennady Golovkin. He’s had four knockouts this year which means we’re spoilt for choice. His straight right that knocked Nobuhiro Ishida through the ropes was sensational, but isn’t the one for me. His third round left hook to Matthew Macklin’s liver is my choice for knockout of the year. This is because Matthew Macklin is a strong, durable contender who many thought would test Golovkin. Instead, after two rounds of dominance, Golovkin nailed Macklin with a perfect punch. Macklin screamed in agony as he fell to the canvas and was counted out. Liver punches that knock guys out are quite rare because they have to be perfectly placed. Mikey Garcia did the same thing this year to Rocky Martinez, and Bernard Hopkins did it against Oscar De La Hoya in 2004. Golovkin added Macklin to his growing list of victims and he did it in expert fashion. It was a punch of brutal beauty. It was the sweet science at its violent best.

Here is a highlight reel of Golovkin’s recent knockouts (Macklin included): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgN3LqQvUbQ

Runner-up: Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Adonis Stevenson knocking Chad Dawson out in round one with a left cross that shook up the light-heavyweight division. Stevenson was moving up in weight and Dawson reiterated that this was just a tune-up fight, then BOOOOM, a left connected onto Dawson’s ear and it was goodnight Irene. Dawson beat the count but the referee waved the fight off. Stevenson celebrated like a madman. It was a crazy knockout that nobody expected. Click the link below and see it for yourself.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU5ARBzZgCg

Comeback of the Year: Freddie Roach

Comeback: Roach has returned after a torrid 2012.

Comeback: Roach has returned after a torrid 2012.

My choice for comeback of the year is a strange one. It’s not a fighter, but it’s the Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach. For Roach, 2012 was a year to forget. His number one fighter Manny Pacquiao unfairly lost a decision to Bradley, before being knocked out sensationally by Juan Manuel Marquez. His other high-profile client, Amir Khan, lost a disputed decision to Lamont Peterson at the beginning of the year, then was knocked out by Danny Garcia in July. Big baby Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. was then taken to school by middleweight king Sergio Martinez. Roach suffered five losses, and many began to question his ability as a top trainer. Then in 2013, Roach returned against Timothy Bradley, this time as the trainer of Ruslan Provodnikov, and although the Russian lost, Roach knew he had a good fighter who will have a good year. Roach was also hired by former champion Miguel Cotto and he guided him to a devastating knockout victory over Delvin Rodriguez. Roach’s main man Pacquiao also returned to winning ways with his sublime UD victory over Brandon Rios. Roach then guided Provodnikov to a knockout victory over Mike Alvarado to win Alvarado’s title belt, although he wasn’t in the corner on fight night. Freddie Roach has returned to winning ways and he and his fighters look like they’ll have a very good 2014.

Runner-up: Marcos Maidana

It’s Marcos “El Chino” Maidana. After a systematic beatdown from Devon Alexander in his welterweight debut, Maidana teamed up with trainer Robert Garcia and is well and truly back in the big time. After a KO victory over Jesus Soto Karass in September 2012, Maidana stepped in with Josesito Lopez in June, and dispatched him in six rounds. Then, in the biggest fight of his life, he challenged Adrien “The Douchebag” Broner for his WBA welterweight title. Maidana fought an excellent fight and beat the crap out of Broner en route to a convincing unanimous decision. He is now in a good position to fight and beat any welterweight on Showtime not named Floyd Mayweather. Potential fights with Keith Thurman, Shawn Porter or even Kell Brook can be made. 2014 might just be Maidana’s year.

Upset of the Year: Rigondeaux UD Donaire

In April, the two top super-bantamweights on the planet faced each other. The multi-division world champion and knockout artist Nontio Donaire was in most people’s pound for pound top five. He fought four times in 2012 and won each fight convincingly. He was considered a true elite fighter. His opponent was the expressionless, boring, two-time Olympic gold medalist Guillermo Rigondeaux. Rigo is an expert counterpuncher who takes no risks and is patient to such a level that it’s unbelievably boring. Still, the man has mad boxing skills, and Donaire now knows this more than anyone. Rigo schooled Donaire from round one, and apart from being knocked down in the tenth, he dominated the fight. Most experts thought Donaire would win by early knockout but Rigondeaux almost hypnotically controlled the fight. It was beautiful.

Runner-up: Stevenson KO1 Dawson

Poor Adonis Stevenson. He been the runner-up in three categories now. Of course, his one-punch knockout victory over Chad Dawson was an upset, and the only reason it isn’t the winner is because Rigondeaux’s victory over a prime and confident Donaire was much more of an “I can’t believe a great fighter is getting killed like this” fight than Stevenson catching Dawson cold. Still, that knockout was pretty shocking, and as a result it beats the rest of the upsets this year, including Shawn Porter’s victory over Devon Alexander, Danny Garcia’s excellent victory over Lucas Matthysse, and it just about tops Jhonny Gonzalez’s shocking first round knockout of Abner Mares.

Trainer of the Year: Robert Garcia

This one is easy. Having guided Evgeny Gradovich, Marcos Maidana and Mikey Garcia to world titles, Robert Garcia is once again the trainer of the year. At 38, he is still very young and he has a growing stable and has already had five world champions. The pick of Garcia’s litter is his younger brother Mikey, who won three fights this year against Orlando Salido, Juanma Lopez and Rocky Martinez, winning two world titles in the process. Robert Garcia and his fighters have a bright future.

Runner-up: Angel Garcia

Angel Garcia only trains one fighter. That fighter is his son, the light-welterweight king, Danny Garcia. After his upset knockout victory over Khan in 2012, most observers, including myself, thought Garcia was keeping the seat at the top warm for Lucas Matthysse. After a difficult victory over Zab Judah, Garcia beat the hard-hitting Matthysse with a competitive but clear unianimous decision. It was thanks to father Angel for creating the perfect game plan, which was a blend of boxing and effective aggression. Whenever Danny looked like he was going to fall into Matthysse’s trap of trading toe-to-toe, Angel would scream “focus, Danny, focus” between rounds and from the corner. They had a strategy, and together, they proved all of their doubters wrong.

Biggest Surprise: David Price

Here, a surprise isn’t necessarily an upset. For example, I was surprised that Bernard Hopkins fought twice in 2013 and beat two young(er) challengers in Tavoris Cloud and Karo Murat. I was surprised that Amir Khan went life and death with the faded Julio Diaz. The biggest surprise for me was David Price running out of gas after two rounds in his rematch against Tony Thompson, and then hanging on only to be knocked out in round five. I discussed this in a previous post, but I have to say it again. A professional athlete running out of energy after two rounds is unforgivable, and David Price only has himself to blame. This was also a surprise because Price was touted as a potential post-Klitschko heavyweight star. Not anymore.

Runner-up: Adrien Broner

Don’t worry, it isn’t Stevenson. It’s Adrien “The Douchebag” Broner and his out-of-ring antics. In 2012, HBO brought Broner along and showed his fights and although his Mayweather imitation and general douchebagery were pretty evident, I ignored it because he was fighting and winning. Then in 2013, he took his level of obnoxiousness to the next level. He posted a video of himself on the toilet. Then, in the build-up to his fight with Malignaggi, he got a mutual female friend of theirs involved and then came the final nail in the coffin that cemented Broner’s position as boxing’s biggest s**thead. He released a sex tape. I have never felt actual hatred for a fighter, but with Broner it’s different. He hasn’t actually proved anything and walks around with a sense of entitlement because he is, for some reason, compared with Floyd Mayweather. Most people who hate Mayweather at least respect him, if not as a man, then surely as a fighter. Broner, on the other hand, is hated for being a p***k outside the ring, and isn’t respected, by me at least, inside the ring. His beating at the hands of Marcos Maidana was so fun to watch. I’m still smiling… Whatever antics Broner pulls in 2014, I can promise I won’t be surprised. He can’t go any lower, can he?

Most controversial fight: Froch TKO Groves

Controversy: The ref stopped the fight too early.

Controversy: The ref stopped the fight too early.

Carl Froch’s TKO victory over George Groves caused an uproar in the boxing world. Groves was convincingly beating Froch up until, after a Froch rally in round nine, the referee stepped in and stopped the fight. Froch had the audacity to later claim that Groves could have suffered brain damage if the fight continued, but at the time of the stoppage, Groves was against the ropes and was punching back. If a fighter is punching and is still able to defend himself, the referee has no business stopping the fight. It was a terrible decision and it was a tarnished victory for Carl Froch, who now refuses to give Groves a rematch, claiming that he already beat him once, and so there’s no point for a rematch. That’s a load of crap. Froch knows Groves can hit him and hurt him and he doesn’t want any part of the Londoner. Groves has issued a “rematch or retire” statement, but Froch just doesn’t want it.

Runner-up: Ray Beltran

Ray Beltran beat Ricky Burns up in Burns’ back yard in Glasgow and looked like he was going home with Burns’ lightweight title. After twelve bruising rounds for the Scot, Beltran was sure of his victory. Sky Sports commentator Jim Watt was sure of a Beltran victory. The partisan Scottish crowd seemed sure of a Beltran victory. Then came the decision. Draw. It was a clear robbery worthy of Duane Ford and CJ Ross. Even Burns’ own supporters booed the decision because it was ludicrous. Burns himself knew he lost and it was embarrassing to watch him justify the decision. It was shameful.

Biggest “What the Hell?” moment: Woman Beater

There were many “What the hell?” moments in 2013. For this category, I’m going to ignore controversial and shocking, because they have been covered already. I will also ignore the despicable, such as the Freddie Roach/Alex Ariza incident. The number one moment then, comes courtesy of Ruben Guerrero, father and trainer of Robert Guerrero. In a press conference before their fight with Mayweather, Ruben got up and began screaming at Mayweather, calling him a “woman beater”. It was so funny to watch because nobody was sure how to react. It was television gold.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0E6TmsmuNBQ

Runner-up: Lou DiBella

On the undercard of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios fight, heavyweights Tor Hamer and Andy Ruiz fought. After four rounds, Hamer quit. He wasn’t beaten up or even damaged, he had just had enough. Basically, he doesn’t have any heart, and this was blatant because it was the second time he had quit in as many fights. This isn’t the moment I’m referring to though. I’m talking about what his promoter Lou DiBella did after the fight. Understandably, Tor Hamer was fired, but the manner in which DiBella did it was unique and hilarious. DiBella tweeted “Tor, you are released”. Hamer was fired via Twitter. Ouch.

One to watch for 2014: Vasyl Lomachenko

Heir to the throne: Lomachenko could be great.

Heir to the throne: Lomachenko could be great.

Vasyl Lomachenko has two Olympic gold medals in two weight classes: featherweight and lightweight. He now campaigns as a professional at featherweight. He has one professional fight which he won by knockout. His next fight will be a world title challenge. That’s right. His second professional fight will be against WBO featherweight champion Orlando Salido, a 70-fight veteran, who, at 33, isn’t an old man. The crazy thing is, Lomachenko will probably win the fight. He’s that good. Keep an eye on this guy because he could be beating Nonito Donaire by the end of this year. His talent is special. Compared with all the fighters emerging from eastern Europe- Provodnikov, Golovkin, Kovalev and Gradovich- Lomachenko is proabably the most talented and has the most potential. I can’t wait to see this man’s future in boxing. He could go all the way.

Runner-up: Kell Brook

Brook isn’t exactly an up-and-coming fighter, but after his world title fight with Devon Alexander being called off after both fighters were injured, Brook had to settle with fights against Carson Jones and Vyacheslav Senchenko. He won both by knockout, and now he seems fit, healthy and hungry for a world title challenge in 2014. Jones is only a couple of fights away from hitting the big time. If he can dethrone Shawn Porter, and possibly beat another welterweight, like Maidana or Keith Thurman, then Brook will be in line for big paydays against the more lucrative fighters in the sport. If Brook looks really good in 2014 then who knows, perhaps Floyd Mayweather could come knocking, since he has four fights left on his Showtime contract with hardly anyone left to fight, barring a long-anticipated meeting with Pacquiao. I get a lot of stick for backing Brook, but I’m a firm believer in his talent as a world class fighter.

Honourable mentions:

Floyd Mayweather- at 36, he hasn’t lost a step. I can’t see him losing in 2014.

Bernard Hopkins- 48 years old, still beating up young guys. A fight with Shumenov in 2014 will give Hopkins the chance to unify belts at light-heavyweight.

Manny Pacquiao- he looked sensational against Brandon Rios. If he has a rematch with Bradley and wins, then he’s definitely “back”.

Andre Ward- Returned after a 14 month layoff and expertly dispatched Edwin Rodriguez. Is there anybody left for Ward at 168lbs?

Roy Jones Jr. – He actually has relevant input as a commentator. I also love the fact that he didn’t bother neatening his beard for the huge Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios event in Macau.

Paulie Malignaggi- he is easily the best young commentator in boxing. He knows the sport well, has experience and is very eloquent.

Mauro Ranallo- I love how he shouts “Mamma Mia” after a dramatic knockout.

Gennady Golovkin and Sergey Kovalev- these two animals each won all of their four fights in 2013 by knockout.

2013 has been a truly memorable year for boxing fans. It had a bit of everything and we can only hope that 2014 is as entertaining for us… See you in January.

Peace

Bilal