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He Has A Bernie, Now Donaire Wins A WYLIE – For me, there are three possible candidates for Fighter of the Year. Here are my picks in descending order.

3. Robert Guerrero

When mentioned as a possible fighter of the year, many people have knocked Robert Guerrero’s credentials. I’m not one of them. Wins over Selcuck Aydin and Andre Berto may not have been the best of 2012, but the manner in which he got them was mightily impressive. In outpointing unbeaten hard hitting puncher Aydin, Guerrero displayed slick boxing skills early in the fight as well as grit and determination late on. It was an excellent display against a naturally bigger man. During his next outing, Guerrero’s well-rounded skills were on show yet again, this time in dominating Andre Berto at close range in a possible fight of the year candidate. Let me ask –when was the last time a former featherweight beat up a natural welterweight on the inside? Guerrero’s in-fighting ability against Berto really was of the highest order. There’ve been plenty of occasions throughout history when fighters have been successful in moving up in weight. However, do a quick search and you’ll notice that speed and elusiveness were often that fighter’s equalizers. On the other hand, men like Bob Fitzsimmons, Henry Armstrong, Roberto Duran and James Toney, who were able to fight naturally bigger men as if size and weight weren’t an issue, relied more on savvy, timing and superior in-fighting ability to stay in range rather than rely on superior mobility. This year, Robert Guerrero did something similar, although not on the same scale as the others.

2. Juan Manuel Marquez

Simply put, eliminate suspicion from the equation and Juan Manuel Marquez’ stunning knockout win over Manny Pacquiao is one of the best wins in the history of the sport. In recent memory, only Bernard Hopkins’ knockout of Felix Trinidad in 2001 and Roy Jones’ tour-de-force over James Toney in 1994 were possibly more impressive. In terms of the shock factor, it’s right up there with Antonio Tarver’s knockout of Roy Jones in 2004 and Thomas Hearns’ starching of Roberto Duran in 1984. Incidentally, Thomas Hearns was the consensus pick for fighter of the year in 1984 based almost entirely on his KO of Duran, and not wins over Luigi Minchillo and Fred Hutchings. Here’s some food for thought -I consider Roberto Duran to be a far greater fighter than Manny Pacquiao, yet Juan Manuel Marquez’ KO of Pacquiao may have eclipsed Hearns’ of Duran. Unquestionably, both Duran and Pacquiao are all-time greats, but at the time of both men’s knockout losses, I’d argue Duran was further removed from his prime than Pacquiao was from his. In a lot of people’s eyes, Pacquiao hadn’t lost a fight since 2005, when he was out-boxed by Erik Morales. Duran meanwhile, despite going fifteen rounds in a losing effort against Marvin Hagler, had recently quit to Ray Leonard and was thoroughly outpointed by Wilfred Benitez and Kirkland Laing. Duran’s best days were long gone at this stage in his career. Going further, while the chins of Duran and Pacquiao are comparable, the knockout power between Hearns and Marquez is not -at least not before December 8. Marquez’s 2012 decision win over Serhiy Fedchenko and brutal knockout of Manny Pacquiao are easily on par with anything that previous winners have done in recent memory.

1. Nonito Donaire

If I could sum up Nontio Donaire’s 2012 in a single word, it would be exemplary. Not only did he face and defeat four legitimate top ten opponents {Oscar De La Hoya back in 1997 and Roy Jones in 1996—those were the last times a consensus top five pound for pounder did this} but at a time when PEDS are at the forefront of everyone’s mind at the moment, he also agreed to participate in VADA’s 24/7/365 testing. In terms of how he looked in the ring, only Wladimir Klitschko was probably more dominant and that was against far lesser quality opposition. Not only does Donaire (pictured above; photo by Chris Farina-Top Rank) win, but he also looks spectacular in doing so, alternating his look to meet the requirements of the opponent at hand, but always in a positive and eye pleasing way. It’s becoming a regular occurrence in boxing for fighters to come out and look to simply negate what the other is doing. It’s been said here before that Donaire is like a breath of fresh air compared to the likes of Andre Ward and Floyd Mayweather. Where they’ll look to stymie and stifle their opponents, Donaire will look to open up and take them out. Nonito Donaire is a throwback to the likes of Ray Leonard and Salvador Sanchez. Nonito Donaire is my fighter of 2012.


Here are my other awards.

Knockout of the year: Juan Manuel Marquez KO 6 Manny Pacquiao

Round of the year: Round 9 -Orlando Salido versus Juan Manuel Lopez II

Fight of the year: Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez IV

Performance of the year: Austin Trout W12 Miguel Cotto {here is my post fight breakdown of that fight}.

Trainer of the year: Nacho Beristain. He deserves huge credit for Marquez’ slight change in tactics for the fourth fight. Beristain has probably craved a win over Pacquiao and Freddie Roach just as much as Marquez has.

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