Floyd stands atop the heap, the pound for pound best, Hitman tried to take him down, but fell like the rest.
He was Pretty Boy Floyd, now he wants to be known as Money, After beating Ricky and Oscar, his future looks sunny.
He's Danced with Stars, and he's flirting with MMA, But with 50 mill in pocket, he can afford to leave the fray.
Cotto would like a shot, and long tall Williams would too, But if Money stays on the sidelines, those bouts will fall through.
There are some other stars who wear gloves that approach Floyd's status, F'rinstance, tons of our readers revere Pac Man's apparatus.
The Filipino Flash had a flawless year, beating Solis and Barrera, His fans flood our Comments box, say he's the best of his era.
He starts '08 with a sequel with Marquez, Rafael's older bro, Can Manny get the best of his eight Mexican in a row?
In '07, the sport surged, and a new star came to the fore, Ohio's favorite son Pavlik and Taylor went to war.
They tangled in AC, and in the second Kelly went down, But he left as the champion, with the middleweight crown.
Jermain and KP will meet again, in Vegas this time, They'll scrap at 166, will JT curtail Kelly's climb?
Promoters King and Arum kept hammerin' away, Determined to keep the upstart dealmaker Golden Boy at bay.
And do you suppose DK and Top Rank were feeling chipper, When the tabloids ran stories of Goldie and the Stripper?
Hey, they all made money, and shoved the UFC back, While Dana White dropped F bombs, and plotted his plan of attack.
Some vets, like Barrera, and Morales, walked away, But if I know boxing, we'll see both fight another day.
Klitschko pounded Austin, and hammered poor Brewster, Avenging that '04 loss proved a real morale booster.
Calzaghe took down Fredo, and handled Kessler as well, Will the Prince of Wales next engineer Hopkins' farewell?
More stars were born, like Diaz, first name Juan, Defending against him is like spelling Azerbaijan, He throws punch upon punch, And doesn't give a guy a break, He handled Freitas and Julio D, he's got sizzle with the steak.
Some of my rhymes aren't prime, gimme a break, I'm not Ali, And whaddya want, this website is free!
Thanks from TSS, to our faithful readers who check out the site, Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Before a vocal crowd Antillon (21-0, 15 KOs) showed his pedigree with startling efficiency at Dickerson’s Event Center in Las Cruces, New Mexico on Friday. Two knockdowns eliminated the need for scoring against Valdez (18-6-3, 10 KOs).
From the opening bell Antillon looked the superior fighter and when an opening developed a quick left hook dropped Valdez immediately.
Valdez, a veteran with a win over former world champion Cesar Soto, beat the count and looked fully recovered. He began to fire some punches but realized every time he left an opening Antillon found it.
A missed right hand resulted in Antillon’s counter right landing on the jaw and Valdez went partially down to the last strand where he was hit with another right hand. He slumped to the floor as Antillon began to fire a left hook, but held back when he saw Valdez on the ground. The referee jumped in between unnecessarily and waved the fight over at 1:16 of the first round.
Valdez feigned unconsciousness hoping it would result in a disqualification of Antillon. But he was never hit while on the floor, just on the bottom strand otherwise known as “no man’s land.”
“I was just doing my job and trying to get an opportunity to fight for the championship,” said Antillon.
Antillon, who lives in Maywood, California, a small town seven miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles, is trained by Rudy Hernandez who also trains Jose Armando Santa Cruz. He spars with some of the best fighters in the world including Juan Manuel Marquez.
No doubt about it, Antillon is ready for a title shot.
In a heavyweight bout, Texas heavyweight David Rodriguez (27-0, 25 KOs) seemed to receive a gift decision against slick fighting Marcus McGee (19-15, 9 KOs). At worst the fight should have resulted in a draw.
Poor scoring is a common thing in New Mexico. It reminded me of the fight between Monica Lovato and Mariana Juarez where the winner Lovato should have been the loser. But she’s the hometown girl and unless you knock her out, she’s going to win. In the men’s heavyweight bout Rodriguez was out-boxed the last four rounds.
New Mexico is to the west what Michigan is to the east, full of poor judges.
In a middleweight fight Austin Trout (13-0, 10 KOs) won by unanimous decision over Mexico’s Erik Esquivel (15-6-1, 12 KOs) after six rounds. There were no knockdowns as Trout won every round in boring fashion.
Overall it was another example of poor officiating by the New Mexico judges and referees. In one preliminary fight, a pro debuting fighter from New Mexico was allowed to club the back of his opponent’s head with impunity. The referee meekly let it occur maybe 20 times in the fight that lasted only three rounds.
Before a packed crowd at the Hard Rock Hotel Casino, Clottey (33-2, 19 KOs) bulldozed his way through Alvarez’s flailing punches on Thursday to set up the world title showdown.
It was like watching a howitzer versus a popgun.
After three rounds of feeling Alvarez’s punches on his arms, Clottey realized deadly force was not forthcoming and proceeded to unload power shots with little regard of counters for the rest of the fight.
Alvarez (19-1) is a good boxer, and takes a great shot, but his style is more amateur oriented. It just couldn’t match Clottey’s sonic booms.
Now the Ghanaian gets another title opportunity after losing the first one to former Antonio Margarito last year.
The big question is can Clottey withstand the hard shots Cintron is going to offer? And does Clottey have enough firepower to keep the deadly punching Cintron from lighting him up?
In other fights giant heavyweight Tye Fields (40-1, 36 KOs) walked through Chris Koval (28-4, 18 KOs) with a two-fisted attack including a left to the liver and a follow-through left hook for a knockout 43 seconds into the fight.
Fields is trained by Jesse Reid and that means aggressiveness is preferred. It works.
Glendale’s Vanes Martirosyan (17-0, 12 KOs), formerly trained by Freddie Roach, made his debut with trainer Ronnie Shields and looked sharp in stopping Dan Wallace (9-3) in the first round of their junior middleweight bout. A counter right hand set up the knockout that ended at 1:34 of the first round.
Las Vegas middleweight Donnie “Boy” Orr (11-0, 5 KOs) tried to end his fight in the first round but Oregon’s granite chinned Enrique Gallegos (6-3) laughed at the attempt and gave the former Canadian Olympian all he could handle. Though it didn’t reflect in the scorecards with all three judges giving it to Orr, Gallegos had his moments.
Junior Lightweight showdown
Maywood’s Urbano Antillon (20-0, 13 KOs) is ranked in the top five in the lightweight division and close to a world title shot. He faces Adrian Valdez (18-5-3, 10 KOs) in Las Cruces, New Mexico at the Dickerson’s Events Center. Valdez is a southpaw slugger from Chihuahua, Mexico and has fought some tough opponents such as Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and former world champion Cesar Soto twice.
Montebello, Ca. Fights
Junior middleweight Eric Mitchell (20-4-1, 10 KOs) meets Russia’s Sergey Stepkin (17-2, 9 KOs) at the Quiet Cannon in Montebello on Friday Dec. 28. Mitchell, from Philadelphia, fought and lost a decision to Ricardo Mayorga a few years back at Madison Square Garden. Stepkin’s last fight was a 10-round decision loss to Miguel Espino. The fight card is promoted by All Star Boxing and Manny Cota’s Boxing Promotions. For more information call (323) 816-6200.
Malignaggi Defends IBF title
IBF junior welterweight titleholder Paulie Malignaggi (23-1, 5 KOs) makes his first title defense against Herman Ngoudjo (16-1, 9 KOs) on Jan. 5, 2008 at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Malignaggi defeated South Africa’s Lovemore “Black Panther” N’Dou last June. Ngoudjo is also known as the “Black Panther” but is from Cameroon. Malignaggi will try to tame his second big cat.
Tickets on Sale for Pacquiao-Marquez
On Saturday tickets for the March 15 fight between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez go on sale.
The rematch takes place at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Call (702) 474-4000 for tickets.
Last Week’s Wins in Cancun
WBA junior lightweight titleholder Edwin Valero and WBA featherweight titleholder Jorge Linares both emerged with impressive knockout victories on Saturday. It was business as usual for the pair of Venezuelan knockout artists.
Linares landed one of the most dramatic knockout blows of the year when after missing a left hook, he quickly pivoted to his right and saw his opponent Mexico’s Gamaliel Diaz do the same, then he fired a right cross that connected and sent the Mexican fighter in a heap. The referee began a count and stopped after realizing Diaz was still unconscious.
Later Valero kept his 23-fight knockout streak going with a third round demolition of Mexico’s Zaid Zavaleta. The southpaw puncher’s speed and awkwardness proved overwhelming for Zavaleta who tried to tire out the Venezuelan but was unsuccessful.
Valero wants to fight Philippine super star Manny Pacquiao in a battle of speedy southpaw sluggers.
Japan’s Naoki Matsuda repeated his victory over Rudy Lopez of Cancun when a cut over the Mexican’s left eye forced the ringside doctor to stop the fight in the eighth round for a technical knockout. The Japanese featherweight fighter was behind on points but had his moments and used them wisely. Lopez’s corner tried to convince the referee the cut was caused by a head butt. They failed. Matsuda had knocked out Lopez last March with a perfect left hook.
A couple of sons of former great fighters had bad nights: Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. fought to a draw against Mexico’s Jorge Cardenas and Pipino Cuevas Jr. was stopped in the third round by Antonio Fitch.
Now, another generation of boxing followers can accept the torch of boxing wisdom from his book that details his introduction to the sport and the roster of colorful characters that dwell in the boxing world.
The Philadelphia-born Dundee was originally named Mirena but when his brother Chris Dundee broke into boxing as a manager and changed his name, it made sense for the younger Angelo to follow suit.
During the 1940s, following World War II, boxing was in its heyday and New York was the bull’s eye for professional boxing. The elder Dundee managed several top- flight fighters out of Stillman’s Gym when fighting at Madison Square Garden was the like a modern day Coliseum.
Upon arriving in New York the elder Dundee placed his still naïve younger brother under the charge of one of the best trainers of that time.
“I learned from the best,” said Dundee who worked as a gopher in the beginning. “Chickie Ferrara was my teacher from day one.”
Ferrara was just one of a group of trainers who gathered regularly to trade yarns, quips and pass the time. Among the group was Ray Arcel, Charlie Goldman, Freddie Brown and Whitey Bimstein and others who provided a young Dundee with the philosophy of boxing much like Aristotle must have learned philosophy under Plato more than 2,300 years ago.
From these same trainers, who worked with the greats of professional boxing like Willie Pep, Rocky Marciano and Benny Leonard, the young Philadelphia pupil soaked in knowledge that was the material used to guide the careers of Carmen Basilio, Willie Pastrano, Sugar Ramos, Luis Hernandez, Muhammad Ali, and Sugar Ray Leonard.
“When you use the word trainer it’s a word that means you got to be a complete guy to help your fighter not only in the ring, but in a lot of other things as well,” says Dundee. “It’s more than just working the corner or wrapping his hands, you have to be like a mentor for everything.”
Dundee said that whatever it took to make his fighter look good whether it was inside the ring or during an interview with reporters, he was there for his pupils.
“I tell my fighters don’t chew gum during an interview,” said Dundee, adding that he gave this piece of advice to George Foreman. “Another thing I tell my fighters is say ‘hi’ to everybody, it don’t cost nothing to be nice,” he said.
Throughout his career Dundee has earned the respect of fellow trainers, boxers, opposing promoters and the boxing public for being a true ambassador for the sport.
Despite all the accolades you won’t find Dundee tooting his own deeds aloud. But if a boxer wants to learn the trade he’s willing to guide a fighter whether it’s a champion or a four-round beginner.
Don Chargin, the former matchmaker for the Olympic Auditorium and currently serving in that capacity for Golden Boy Promotions, met Dundee more than 40 years ago.
“I first saw him as a cut man for Carmen Basilio,” said Chargin, who also promotes fights in Sacramento. “He is just a great man in the corner. He’s always ahead of the game with his strategy and great at picking out weaknesses of opposing fighters.”
It was normal to see Dundee operate in the corner for 10-rounders, six-rounders and four-rounders all in the same night.
“It didn’t matter to Angelo, he gave them all his best,” Chargin said.
Working against him
Even former opposing corners like Dundee.
“I’ve known him since 1980 when Tommy Hearns fought Ray (Leonard),” said Jackie Kallen, whose life story was made into a motion picture. “My first experience with Angelo Dundee was working against him. He’s so wonderful it was like we were in a big adventure together.”
After meeting during the Leonard-Hearns first clash, Kallen and Dundee became friends to the extent that she introduced her father to the famous trainer.
“They were so much alike they had a lot in common,” said Kallen. “They used to visit each other.”
Despite the loss of her father, Kallen still has ties with Dundee.
“Now I have Angelo working in the corner of Jimmy Lange,” said Kallen who manages Lange a former fighter on the Contender reality television program. “He still gives the best advice.”
During the mega fight between Mayweather and Hatton, there was Dundee walking through the media center in the massive MGM Grand with a smile and handshake to those who recognized him.
Reporter after reporter walked up to him, even those who weren’t in the business during the 1980s or early 1990s, he greeted everyone with a smile and willingness to share a story or two.
Dundee remains one of the few kingmakers, a man who guided a prizefighter such as Muhammad Ali to legendary status and another to superstar ranks in Ray Leonard. But you won’t find a pretentious bone in him.
“I get along with everybody. I’m not mad at nobody,” says Dundee, now living in Florida. “My best advice is do what you love and the rest is easy.”
Writer’s notes: the book is a great read. And for those just getting to know boxing, this is a perfect introduction to the colorful world of prizefighting. Bert Sugar remains one of the best boxing writers today and their combined efforts on the book make it a must-buy. The stories are priceless.
Dave Szady is the CEO of the for-profit organization and the former FBI assistant director for counter-intelligence. That's not a title you can gloss over, and dismiss with a derisive snort, can you? "We're trying to help take the sport mainstream," he says.
So far, the UFC hasn't embraced the WAMMA, or even consented to give 'em a little cheek peck. But don't be so certain that will never come to pass.
Some true heavyweights are involved in this endeavor, some of them names you know (Pat Miletich, Goldberg) and others you don't (attorneys Fred Levin and Michael Lynch). It's not inconceivable that the political pull these guys have could help get MMA get sanctioned in some holdout states.
Here are the first rankings from the sanctioning body, the WORLD ALLIANCE FOR MIXED MARTIAL ARTS, and here is the organization's mission statement.
"WAMMA is dedicated to promoting and serving the sport of Mixed Martial Arts with its monthly independent and objective rankings of fighters, regardless of promotional affiliation."
Heavyweight 1. Fedor Emelianenko; 2. Randy Couture; 3. Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera; 4. Tim Sylvia; 5. Josh Barnett; 6. Gabriel Gonzaga; 7. Andrei Arlovski; 8. Cheick Kongo; 9. (tie) Fabricio Werdum; 9. (tie) Ben Rothwell; 9. (tie) Aleksander Emelianenko. Also receiving votes: Mirko Cro Cop.
Middleweight 1. Anderson Silva; 2. Paulo Filho; 3. Matt Lindland; 4. Dan Henderson; 5. Robbie Lawler; 6. Rich Franklin; 7. Denis Kang; 8. Yushin Okami; 9. Yoshihiro Akiyama; 10. Nathan Marquardt. Also receiving votes: Frank Trigg, Jason Miller; Martin Kampmann, Kazuo Misaki.
Welterweight 1. Georges St. Pierre; 2. Matt Hughes; 3. Matt Serra; 4. Jon Fitch; 5. Josh Koscheck; 6. Jake Shields; 7. Karo Parisyan; 8. Carlos Condit; 9. Diego Sanchez; 10. Marcus Davis. Also receiving votes: Nick Thompson, Thiago Alves, Akira Kikuchi, Drew Fickett.
Lightweight 1. Gilbert Melendez; 2. Takanori Gomi; 3. Gesias Calvancanti; 4. B.J. Penn; 5. Sean Sherk; 6. Joe Stevenson; 7. Hayato Sakurai; 8. Shinya Aoki; 9. Vitor Ribeiro; 10. Tatsuya Kawajiri. Also receiving votes: Roger Huerta, Kid Yamamoto, Urijah Faber, Kenny Florian, Marcus Aurelio, Koutetsu Boku, Yves Edwards.
Finally, a reason to buy Playboy for the articles, legitimately.
Rendall got time with Teddy Atlas, Kevin Rooney, Don Majeski, Jose Torres, Steve Lott, and several other figures who figured in Tyson's ascent and descent.
The piece features some fierce back and forth trading, between Atlas and Rooney, mainly, and there are some scandalous accusations contained that likely had Playboy's libel lawyer on alert. Or maybe not, since the two men who are hit with the boldest accusation, former trainer Cus D'Amato and former manager Jimmy Jacobs, are long dead.
It is strongly insinuated in the Rendall piece that D'Amato and Jacobs were lovers, and that both died from AIDS. Atlas tells Rendall, in the oral history format that forms the narrative spine of the article, that he believes the circumstances of each man's death are fishy. The narrator Rendall also shares the rumor that D'Amato and Jacobs shared an apartment together before they found spouses.
Who's to say? D'Amato died in 1985, and Jacobs in 1988. His NY Times obit mentions nothing about an affair with D'Amato.
The legend of the complex slugger from Brownsville grows and grows, and will likely never diminish, not as long as there are agendas to attend to, and memories to re-format to fit peoples' personas.
It's a good read. Finally, a reason to buy Playboy for the articles.
“Kelly Pavlik had a great year,” said Cameron Dunkin who manages Pavlik. “No doubt about it.”
Attaining recognition as Fighter of the Year means surpassing thousands of other prizefighters that put on the gloves and risk their lives in hand-to-hand combat. It was a somewhat difficult decision but when all is considered Pavlik deserves the title.
Simply because he was not supposed to win two of three fights but buzzed through a murderer’s row with a single-mindedness and a monster of a right hand.
Now Pavlik reigns supreme as the middleweight champion and the best fighter of 2007.
Last January Pavlik first gave a national audience a display of his frightening power against Mexico’s Jose Luis Zertuche. Though very few knew it, the Mexican slugger was a spoiler who some felt could deal the Ohioan his first defeat. But not that night. A Pavlik assault left Zertuche laying against the ropes knocked out on his feet.
Then came Colombia’s Edison Miranda a scary, cocky middleweight who beat the bejeebers out of WBO middleweight titleholder Arthur Abraham but was tagged with a loss. The odds-makers didn’t think Pavlik could withstand the heavy punches of Miranda.
Pavlik pummeled Miranda and basically made him submit in the ring with punches that seemed to make sonic booms off the Colombian’s head.
When Pavlik finally signed to fight undefeated pound for pound middleweight champion Jermain Taylor, he still wasn’t given full respect. Most of the east coast boxing fraternity tabbed the Arkansas middleweight to win the fight while the west coast, based on their experience watching Pavlik fight in-person, picked the Youngstown bludgeoner to cap the year with his biggest victory.
At first it didn’t look good as Taylor jumped on Pavlik and dropped him with a flurry of punches, but as in his fight against Fulgencio Zuniga a few years earlier, he rose and mounted a counter-attack the resulted in Taylor sinking to the canvas after Pavlik’s relentless assault.
No doubt about it, Pavlik is the Fighter of the Year for 2007.
Others deserve honorable mention including IBF flyweight titleholder Nonito Donaire who was a big underdog against Australia’s undefeated tyrant of the flyweight division Vic Darchinyan last July. The picture of Donaire’s one-punch knockout with a left hook was one of the top knockout blows of the year. He also beat Luis Maldonado and Kevin Hudgins with impressive knockouts but was favored in those two matches.
WBO featherweight titleholder Steve Luevano was told he must travel to England to meet hometown hero Nicky Cook. He willingly accepted and proceeded to dominate with five knockdowns in beating the British fighter and handing him first defeat. Then he returned to the states to face hard-hitting veteran Antonio Davis in Las Vegas. He dominated in that fight too. The featherweight champion rarely gets attention but he had a tremendous year.
Who could overlook Miguel Cotto’s victories in 2007? His masterful battle against Pomona’s Sugar Shane Mosley last month and his wins over Zab Judah and Oktay Urkal were notable achievements, but he was supposed to win all those fights according to the odds-makers.
“I think you should name both Cotto and Pavlik co-Fighters of the Year,” suggested Top Rank’s Bob Arum, whose company handles both fighters.
Manny Pacquiao had two wins in 2007 but it was difficult to find an expert that felt Mexican fighters Marco Antonio Barrera and Jorge Solis had a chance to beat Pacman. The Filipino fighter rolled with easy victories and has a slightly tougher assignment next March against Juan Manuel Marquez.
Joe Calzaghe of Wales won his two fights convincingly over Denmark’s Mikkel Kessler and America’s Peter Manfredo but he was the favorite. Next year he has a tough test when he matches skills against a fellow pound for pound fighter Bernard Hopkins.
Lightweight champion Juan “Baby Bull” Diaz is another fighter who could easily be mentioned as the Fighter of the Year, but his wins over Julio Diaz and Acelino Freitas were expected. Next year could be even better if he fights Pacquiao or Joel Casamayor.
Floyd Mayweather’s victories over Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton deserve mention, but he was the favorite going into both fights. His knockout of Hatton was a surprise.
Others having a good year were Bernard Hopkins, Ivan Calderon, Paul Williams and Celestino Caballero. But Pavlik’s three wins were the most remarkable and climactic.
“When I first saw this kid I knew he was something special,” said Dunkin. “I thought he was going to be a super star.”
Arum, who has promoted De La Hoya and Mayweather, agrees with Dunkin.
“He has the potential to be as great as Oscar De La Hoya,” said Arum.
Pavlik will not rest in 2008. He meets Taylor in a non-title rematch on Feb. 16, in Las Vegas. The contest will be at the agreed upon 168-pound level.
“A lot of people didn’t believe me about Kelly Pavlik, maybe they’ll start believing now,” said Dunkin.
Fight of the Year: Israel Vazquez vs. Rafael Marquez II
It was difficult picking the Fight of the Year because essentially both Mexico City fighters Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez met in two clashes that were riveting displays of high-caliber but explosive professional boxing.
The first clash took place in Los Angeles in March where Marquez survived a knockdown in the third round and broke something in Vazquez’s nose with a riveting uppercut. Unable to breathe Vazquez called it off in the seventh round to the amazement of many who felt he should continue.
In the rematch Vazquez and Marquez did little probing and both engaged in a firefight even more exciting than the first. It was professional prizefighting at its best and Vazquez emerged with a knockout victory in the sixth round.
“You seldom see a fight as exciting,” said Larry Merchant, HBO’s analyst.
Knockout of the Year
Nonito Donaire’s fifth round knockout of undefeated slugger Vic Darchinyan was startling and emphatic. A single left hook counter by the Filipino fighter dropped the champion to dreamland. When he awoke, he thought the fight was still on not knowing he had been unconscious. July 7, 2007 was a very good day for Donaire who is now considered one of the most dangerous fighters in the world.
Round of the Year
Round four between Miguel Cotto and Sugar Shane Mosley was about as close as it gets to a perfect war. The two welterweights put on a show before a sold out Madison Square Garden and left people gasping a their willingness to exchange with Mosley’s right equal to Cotto’s left.
Contender of the Year
Oxnard’s Victor Ortiz will grab the torch from retired Fernando Vargas and comes with some heavy-duty firepower. He’s expected to win a junior welterweight title in 2008 after demolishing four consecutive opponents with his southpaw power. Ortiz blasted out former world champion Carlos Maussa in one round. It took Ricky Hatton nine rounds to do the same.
Manager of the Year
Cameron Dunkin has to be the Manager of the Year with Kelly Pavlik, Nonito Donaire, Steve Luevano, Victor Ortiz and Zahir Raheem in his stable of boxers. Pavlik, Donaire and Luevano all upset world champions to grab the titles this year.
Mayweather-De La Hoya was actually the most purchased PPV boxing show in history. Well over 2 million households bought the bout, which overtook the previous record of 1.99 million buys for the Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield rematch in 1997.
All in all, HBO PPV, which broadcast both Mayweather bouts, as well as cards featuring Manny Pacquaio and others, generated a record 4.8 million buys and $255 million in revenue for the year.
Fans probably saw the last of Fernando Vargas, Marco Antonio Barrera and Erik Morales, all of whom retired after big losses.
And the great Willie Pep, who many consider the best pure boxer of all time, and Diego Corrales, who was probably the most consistently exciting fighter of this era, both passed away.
In this writer’s opinion, the two most entertaining and exciting bouts of the year both involved Australian fighters. Here is a strictly subjective listing of the year’s milestones:
Fight of the Year: Sakio Bika TKO 8 Jaidon Codrington
Few people thought Bika, a native of Cameroon who lives and fights out of Sydney, Australia, would beat the hard-punching and heavily-touted Codrington.
Even though Bika, who is nicknamed “The Scorpion,” had gone 12 rounds with Joe Calzaghe in a 2006 title fight, no one even expected him to make it anywhere near the finals of “The Contender” television series.
But the 28-year-old Bika utilized his unpredictable style to completely befuddle and out-slug the 23-year-old Codrington, who fights out of New York.
The entire fight looked like the finale of a “Rocky” movie. Even though Bika was steadily imposing his will on Codrington, the eventual loser had enough of his own moments to always keep things interesting.
The normally unimpressionable Sugar Ray Leonard, who is the host of “The Contender,” couldn’t contain his excitement.
“So much heart, so much determination, so much resiliency,” he said. “I was truly amazed by the resilience and the recuperative powers of Jaidon and Sakio. [They are] real fighters, real warriors, real contenders.”
Bika took home $750,000 and raised his record to 25-3-2 (15 KOs), while Codrington slipped to 18-2 (14 KOs).
Runner-Up Michael Katsidis W 12 Czar Amonsot
The 27-year-old Katsidis is being called the “new Arturo Gatti” after he overcame the obstacles of a bloody left eye that was a completely swollen shut, three deep cuts around his left eyelid, and another deep gash underneath his right eye to out-brawl the very tough Amonsot as the lead-in to the snoozer between Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright.
Katsidis, 23-0 (20 KOs), of Queensland, Australia, earned the interim WBO lightweight crown, and is now being talked about as an opponent for Juan or David Diaz, both of whom hold titles.
Amonsot, 18-3-1 (10 KOs), of the Philippines, is still a viable contender who has nothing to be ashamed of.
Fighter of the Year: Joe Calzaghe
The 35-year-old Welshman, 43-0 (32 KOS), just gets better the more he defends his super middleweight titles. Not only did he make the 21st successful defense of the crown(s) he has held for over 10 years, he did so by beating the previously undefeated Mikkel Kessler, now 39-1 (29 KOs), before more than 50,000 fans in Calzaghe’s home country of Wales.
The fight made clear just how special Calzaghe is as a boxer. As offensively oriented as he is, he is also a thinking man’s fighter of the highest order.
But his demeanor in the build-up of the fight also showed that he is a complete gentleman outside of it.
Runner-Up: Juan Diaz
The lifelong resident of Houston, Texas, 33-0 (17 KOs), first won the WBO and WBA lightweight titles by stopping the tough Acelino Freitas after eight rounds in April. For an encore, he defended those crowns and added the IBF title to his collection by stopping Julio Diaz in nine rounds in October.
Since winning his first world titles, Diaz, like Calzaghe, continues to get better. Prior to these sensational knockout victories, he was considered a distance fighter. But his non-stop attack and newfound power has transformed him into an all-action fighter who is tailor made for television.
As if that wasn’t enough, Diaz was taking a full complement of pre-law college classes throughout the year.
Knockout of the Year: Kelly Pavlik TKO 7 Jermain Taylor
Pavlik between an overnight sensation with his savage, come-from-behind seventh round stoppage of the defending middleweight champion.
What made the fight so exciting was the fact that Pavlik, now 32-0 (29 KOs), was knocked down and nearly out in the second round. He got up from the vicious knockdown and was out-slugging Taylor by the end of the round.
He then turned the tables on Pavlik completely by winning the next round handily. This bout even had people with only a nominal interest in boxing talking for days.
Runner-Up: Juan Diaz TKO 8 Acelino Freitas
Although Diaz has always been aggressive, the aggression he displayed against the hard-punching Brazilian was incredible. Diaz took Freitas out of his game shortly after the first bell, and never turned down the heat.
If one were to just see his stoppage of Freitas, they’d swear he’s been scoring highlight reel type knockouts for his entire career.
Upset of the Year: Nonito Donaire TKO 5 Vic Darchinyan
The only thing bigger than the diminutive former IBF flyweight champion Darchinyan’s mouth is his heavyweight punch, so most people expected him to easily dispatch Donaire.
Darchinyan had already beaten Donaire’s brother, so knocking off another family member seemed to be a mere formality. Donaire, however, wouldn’t hear of it, and he savagely won Darchinyan’s title with a momentous left hook that knocked down and discombobulated the Aussie so completely, he initially told the Showtime announcers that he had not suffered a knockdown at all.
The 25-year-old Donaire has since raised his record to 19-1 (12 KOs).
Runner-Up: Alfonso Gomez TKO 7 Arturo Gatti
Although Gomez, the affable favorite on season one of “The Contender,” was supposed to be a walk-through for the seemingly indomitable Gatti, he refused to follow the script and scored a bloody victory over Gatti.
The victory raised Gomez’s profile immeasurably, as well as his record to 18-3-2 (8 KOs). Whatever happens to him in the future, he will forever be known as the guy who sent the immensely popular Gatti into permanent retirement.
Prospect of the Year: Eileen Olszewski
Known as “The Hawaiian Mongoose” in deference to her childhood roots, Olszewski, a former dancer for the New York Knicks, had been fighting professionally for just one year when she traveled to Italy to take on local hero Stefania Bianchini for the WBC female flyweight title.
In only her fifth pro fight, Olszewski, now 4-0-1 (0 KOs), left Italy with a draw, but is now slated to take on Manami Arima, 9-3, for the WIBA Women’s Boxing Association light flyweight title in Japan in early 2008.
Hopefully this decision won’t be left up to the judges. One television commentator said Olszewski “glides around the ring like Willie Pep.” You can’t get much more of a compliment than that.
Runner-Up: James Moore
The undefeated, 29-year-old junior middleweight, 14-0 (10 KOs), is the former captain of the Irish national amateur team. He is one of several popular Irishman now fighting in the United States. A master boxer with a tremendous body attack, his crowd pleasing style has made him a fan favorite in his adopted hometown of New York. Expect him to become a formidable ring presence in 2008.
Malignaggi, the 27-year-old Brooklynite who gained the WBC 140 pound belt when he took a UD12 from Lovemore N’dou on June 16 in Connecticut, will defend his strap against a 28-year-old, Cameroon-born Canadian resident, Ngoudjo.
The Canuck has only compiled 17 bouts since turning pro in 2003, but there’s no danger that we have a sanctioning body abomination in the making. The fighter, who sports a 16-1 mark (9 KOs) has acquitted himself capably in losing a controversial decision to Jose Luis Castillo in January, and taking a SD12 from Randall Bailey in June. Bailey, now 33, had won seven in a row coming in to the fight with Ngoudjo, while Castillo was 8-1, with the loss to Diego Corrales, in his last nine when he and Herman traded leather.
That said, it is clear that mouthy Malignaggi (23-1, just 5 KOs) will come to Atlantic City with a clear edge in technical chops, and in trash-talking capability.
Malignaggi’s promoter Lou Dibella, and Team Ngoudjo (promoter Yvon Michel, trainer Howard Grant) chuckled regularly throughout a Tuesday conference call to hype the first biggie of the 2008 fight calendar.
This coming year could be the breakout year for Malignaggi. He could easily find himself in a sold–out Madison Square Garden, in a room split 50-50 between a roaring crew from Bensonhurst and thereabouts, and an equal number of crazed Hatton-ites, if he gets past Ngoudjo.
Paulie was prime Paulie, mouthwise, as he tortured Ngoudjo for making it personal in his opening statement for the press.
“Herman came out with tough words, but he’s not fighting a shot fighter, he’s fighting the best junior welterweight in the world. He’s fighting the best fighter he ever fought in his life, the best he’ll ever step in with.”
“I’m gonna use your head like a pinball,” he promised Ngoudjo.
“I’m gonna see if you can take it,” Ngoudjo answered.
“I’m in it, don’t worry about that,” the New Yorker spat back. “I’m going to talk to you as I kick your (butt). Round four, five, six, as you’re frustrated, as I’m beating the (slop) out of you, remember this conversation.
Ngoudjo gamely tried to match mouth’s with Paulie, to no avail. He kept repeating his promise, “I’m gonna kick your ass,” and Malignaggi asked him if he’d brought any other material with him. He had. He went for a little jail-house smack talk, saying he’d make Malignaggi his girlfriend, then upped the ante to wife.
Malignaggi said that he’d been keeping it respectful during interviews in the last month or so, but now it was personal.
“I come motivated, but he added fuel to the fire,” he said.
Also adding fuel is the perception, on Malignaggi and Dibella’s part, that HBO didn’t do the right thing, and hop aboard the New Yorker’s first title defense. He’d been on the net when he fought Edner Cherry, and N’dou, so it came as a definite surprise that Dibella and Kery Davis and company didn’t continue that relationship. Dibella and Malignaggi both made sure to toss kind words to Showtime boss Ken Hershman for stepping up to the plate. Not sure how Hatton/Malignaggi couldn’t be on HBO, but leverage is always handy to have, so Dibella is making the most of it.
Both fighters said training through the holidays won’t be tough on them, that they’ll keep their eyes on the prize, and not reach for extra helpings of figgy pudding at suppertime.
Malignaggi referred to Ngoudjo as a “stupid ba^*ard” at one point, and said that he worked with “sparring partners better than you.”
“I’m the best you’ve ever fought,” Paulie said. Ngoudo stated that Roy Jones was the best, period, and Malignaggi dismissed that comeback, rightly stating that Ngoudjo had never been in the ring with RJJ.
Neither man has one, or even two punch KO power, so this fight figures to be a workout for the punch-counters.
“I know I hit harder than people think I do, and during the fight you can’t call timeout, and tell press row, ‘This guy hits harder than I thought he would,’’’ Paulie said.
Fighters, all the time, state that they are looking only at the task at hand, and not peeking around the corner, at what could come next. Paulie said the same thing Tuesday, and insisted he’s not dreaming of marring the Hatton Wonderland again, and filling up MSG to face Hatton. I admit I am focusing on that potential matchup.
No offense to Ngoudjo, of course, but Malignaggi/Hatton would be a pleasing build-up, high volume in both trash talk and trading.
While De La Hoya, Cotto and Mosley have always been willing to fight the best available challengers, the same cannot be said for many other champions and contenders.
The fact that there were so many good fights this year had more to do with the imminent threat posed by ultimate fighting and mixed martial arts than anything else. Promoters, as well as fighters, realize that if they don’t start presenting good product fans now have somewhere else to turn.
The bad news is that just about all the top-shelf bouts are on pay-per-view. HBO has gotten in the habit of building fighters like Cotto, Taylor or Pavlik on their network, just so they can turn them into pay-per-view commodities.
Many fans, me included, complain about this practice and vow to not support it by refusing to purchase questionable matchups. In the end, my lack of willpower usually comes forth and I end up ordering at the last minute.
While I assure you I won’t be purchasing Jones-Trinidad, I have assembled a list of important fights that, if all was fair, should be made in 2008.
Wladimir Klitschko-Sultan Ibragimov: Although I am not totally sold on the fact that the 6’6” Klitschko, 49-3 (44 KOs), is the savior of the heavyweight division, he is the IBF champion and seems genuinely interested in unifying the titles.
What will likely prevent that from happening is that in order to do so he would have to give at least partial future options to Don King, who represents WBC interim champion Samuel Peter.
Chances are that King also owns a piece of WBA titlist Ruslan Chagaev because Chagaev defeated the 7’0 Russian giant Nikolai Valuev for the crown. Valuev had a promotional agreement with King.
Klitschko has stated that he will not do business with King, so if he beats WBO champion Ibragimov, 22-0-1 (17 KOs), in February at Madison Square Garden, it will at least prove to the public that he is trying to do the right thing.
Anything that can help the moribund heavyweight division is good. What makes the fight somewhat interesting is that although Klitschko has huge physical advantages over the much shorter and lighter Ibragimov, he doesn’t have the greatest chin and has already proven himself to be susceptible to speedy southpaws.
It wasn’t that long ago that lefty South African Corrie Sanders rocked Klitschko’s world by shockingly stopping him in the second round.
Joe Calzaghe-Kelly Pavlik: If Pavlik, the universally regarded middleweight champion with a 32-0 (29 KOs) record, gets past Jermain Taylor in their February rematch, a fight with Calzaghe, 44-0 (32 KOs), who owns multiple super middleweight crowns, would be a wonderful encore.
Although Calzaghe is a non-stop punching machine, he is also one of the best pure boxers in the game. Pavlik, on the other hand, is a bone-crunching bomber who can change the course of a fight at any time.
The long and lean Pavlik will only get bigger and stronger, so the time should be right for him to go after boxing’s longest reigning champion.
Kelly Pavlik-John Duddy: This would probably be the bloodiest television event of the year. If Pavlik chooses to continue fighting at middleweight, a fight against the popular Irishman would be a natural.
As pleasant and unassuming as both fighters are outside of the ring, they are offensive animals inside of it. Heads would be snapping, blood would be splashing, and neither fighter would take a backwards step.
Duddy’s cut man, the 6’8”, 280 pound “Big” George Mitchell, says that a Pavlik-Duddy fight would be no less exciting than Marvin Hagler-Thomas Hearns. There’s a good chance that, for as long as it lasted, it might even be more exciting.
Juan Diaz-David Diaz: On paper this fight is not particularly titillating, but it would be significant for a number of reasons. The only fighter preventing Juan, who is nicknamed “The Baby Bull,” from holding all of the major lightweight titles is David, 33-1-1 (17 KOs), who holds the WBC crown.
The other obstacle is Don King, with whom Juan is currently embroiled in promotional entanglements.
If Juan wins, he would not only be a unified champion, he would remind us of many of the reasons why we like boxing and boxers in the first place. The Baby Bull is not only a pre-law college student with a 33-0 (17 KOs) record, he has evolved into one of the most thrilling television fighters in the game.
Although previously known as a distance fighter, he stopped two hard-to-stop champions, Acelino Freitas and Julio Diaz, in tremendous fashion in 2007.
David, who is coming off a victory over Erik Morales, is also good for the game. As gentlemanly as both fighters are, they are also iron-willed Mexican-American warriors who know how to please the crowd.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Paul Williams: No one really believes that the 5’8” Mayweather, 39-0 (25 KOs) is really going to retire, do they? If he chooses not to, which I assure you will be the case, a fight against 6’1” undefeated southpaw power-puncher Paul “The Punisher” Williams, 33-0 (24 KOs) would be akin to the first epic encounter between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns in the early eighties.
Could Mayweather, who would be cast as the modern day Leonard, utilize his superior ring generalship to edge out or even stop the steely-eyed, offensive-minded Williams?
To his credit, Mayweather seems to take all of his opponents seriously. It would interesting to see how he handles a taller, equally confident onrushing foe with a ramrod jab and power to spare.
Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto: Until Cotto 31-0 (25 KOs), beat Shane Mosley in his most recent outing, he was considered by many to be a one dimensional brawler. Against Sugar Shane, he changed up his style a few times to show that he’s a thinking man’s brawler.
An argument could be made that Cotto would be tailor made for Mayweather. A lot of people, especially the thousands upon thousands of maniacal Cotto fans who would show up for the fight, regardless of where it was held, would disagree with that assessment.
There’s only one way to find out the truth. Let’s get it on.