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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Comeback of the Year: Freddie Roach
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.