With the last major fight card ending with a bang, let’s proceed to the best of the best for the year 2013.
Many of the old school showed the new school that there are still many lessons to learn. We had pound for pound fighters like Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao showing their younger brethren that they still have ammunition remaining.
A few of the younger charges took firm control of their future with big wins and some fell off the wagon.
Fighter of the Year
Floyd “Money” Mayweather. The Las Vegas-based prizefighter established records for money made in gate receipts and for pay-per-views from a single fight. Not only did he clear more than $100 million when all of the calculators quit clicking, but he defeated two very good fighters in Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. He was scheduled to face United Kingdom’s Amir Khan, but that may have been undermined this past weekend when Adrien “Mini-me” Broner was defeated by Argentina’s Marcos Maidana. It makes more sense and would be a lot more interesting to see Maidana than Khan face Mayweather.
Others considered for Fighter of the Year were Carl Froch, Tim Bradley, Danny Garcia, Mikey Garcia, Roman Gonzalez and Guillermo Rigondeaux. Mayweather made more money than any other boxer for one fight and single-handedly destroyed the myth that MMA is more popular than boxing. No MMA fighter has ever come close to making even $20 million let alone $100 million.
Best Fight of 2013
Tim Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov. When the fight was first announced it received ho hum reception from the media and fans alike. However, when WBO welterweight titlist Bradley and Russia’s Provodnikov met in the ring it was like two gladiators slinging chained hammers at each other. Though Bradley couldn’t match Provodnikov’s firepower, the Palm Springs boxer slugged it out anyway and was nearly beheaded by the smiling Russian. Bradley won the fight by razor close decision in a fight with no loser. It was no surprise when the champion revealed that he suffered dizzy spells for more than a month. Fans were awestruck by the blows that echoed in the night at the open air StubHub Center on March 16.
A close second was Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II; and Japan’s Takeshi Miura fighting off Mexico’s Sergio “Yeyo” Thompson in a brutal world title fight in Cancun, Mexico.
Worst Title fight of 2013
Carlos Molina vs. Ishe Smith for the IBF junior middleweight title on Sept. 14 on the under card of Mayweather vs., Alvarez. It was a match made in purgatory as the two counter-punchers rarely punched. Both mostly posed and waited for 12 rounds as fans were jeering and booing. Neither boxer was willing to step forward and make anything happen. In the end, Chicago’s Molina was slightly more active than Smith and was given the title. There ain’t going to be no rematch.
A close second was Austin Trout vs. Erislandy Lara for the interim WBA junior middleweight title. Some pick Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Joseph Agbeko. The Cuban southpaw has great technique but is not great action fighter.
Upset of the Year
Marcos Maidana defeating Adrien Broner on Dec. 14, in San Antonio, Texas. Argentina’s Maidana was a big underdog against Mayweather’s heir apparent WBA welterweight titlist Broner. But Mayweather’s “mini-me” couldn’t cope with the Argentine strongman’s power. Broner was supposed to succeed Mayweather but was shown once again that he could not adapt. In fights with Daniel Ponce De Leon and Paul Malignaggi, many felt Broner lost those fights too. This time, he could not escape with a decision.
A close second was Guillermo Rigondeaux’s toppling of Nonito Donaire on April 13, in New York City. Many felt Donaire was unbeatable until Rigondeaux was able to unveil the blueprint by using his technical proficiency and forcing the “Filipino Flash” to make mistakes. A rematch would be another chess match. Rigondeaux may not be exciting for most fans, but he has an iron will. Donaire can’t be counted out.
Knockout of the Year
Lucas Matthysse sent Mike Dallas Jr. airborne in Las Vegas when they met on January 26. The brutal power came into full display when Matthysse unloaded against the fleet-footed Dallas. The entire arena let out a collective “Oh!” at the same time.
Other contenders: Nonito Donaire fell behind on the score cards against dangerous Vic Darchinyan and pulled the trigger on a bomb of a left hook for another knockout win on Nov. 9, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Mikey Garcia knocked out Roman Martinez with a body shot in round four after being knocked down in the second round to win the WBO junior lightweight title. Jhonny Gonzalez stopped Abner Mares in a big surprise stoppage.
Round of the Year
WBC junior lightweight champion Takeshi Miura was floored by Mexico’s Sergio Thompson and nearly knocked out in the eighth round when they fought on Aug. 17, in Mexico. But the Japanese warrior came roaring back in the same round and nearly knocked out Thompson in almost inhuman conditions at the bull ring in Cancun. Thompson was knocked down in rounds
two and six. But nearly won the fight with a vicious counter right hand against Miura in the tumultuous eight round. The temperature was over 100 degrees and the humidity was unbearable. How these two fighters were able to go the distance was amazing. Miura was taken to the hospital when he nearly collapsed in his dressing room after the fight. But he was quickly stabilized. Round eight was an incredible display of raw courage and tenacity by both fighters.
Most Exciting Fighter
Gennady “GGG” Golovkin keeps bumping off the competition with sterling knockout victories. The middleweight champion knows what his fans like and delivered each and every time. Golovkin’s last knockout victory against New York City’s Curtis Stevens in his home court proved that he’s gathering followers at a quick pace. Those sensational fists are working busily for Golovkin who turns 32 years old in April. The Big Bear Lake fighter from Kazakhstan can’t afford to wait for the long build up. He needs to keep bumping off middleweights in machine gun fashion. Time is running out for GGG. But meanwhile, fans are reaping the rewards as Golovkin gathers victims on his speedway to success.
Least Exciting Fighter
Austin “No Doubt” Trout has proven to be a very likeable boxer and definitely has the skills of an elite prizefighter. But the New Mexican continues to take the “too safe road” and wait and wait and wait for the other guy to make a mistake. Last year his bout with Delvin Rodriguez could have made bird watching a gladiator event in comparison. This year, he and Erislandy Lara sent fans to the concession stands. And this was in Brooklyn where fans are accustomed to stylized boxing. Trout needs to step on the gas quickly or else he’ll definitely be extinct very soon as a television fighter.
Slam Dunk Club
These guys should be grabbing a world title in their next fight or within a year: Antonio Orozco, Omar Figueroa, Vasyl Lomachenko, Randy Caballero and Keith Thurman. It’s just a matter of time before any of these guys become world champions.
Best Young Contenders
Thomas Williams Jr., Andy Ruiz Jr., Sweden’s Erik Skoglund, United Kingdom’s George Groves, United Kingdom’s Callum Smith, Austria’s Marcos Nader, Jermell Charlo, Jermall Charlo, Jessie Vargas, Canada’s Mikael Zewski, Jose Zepeda, Russia’s Anton Novikov, Mexico’s Jose Felix Jr., Gary Russell Jr., Jose Pedraza, Saul Rodriguez, Ronny Rios, Jayson Velez, United Kingdom’s Scott Quigg, Jessie Magdaleno, Felix Verdejo, Mexico’s Carlos Cuadras, Thailand’s Petch Sor Chitpattana, Matt Villanueva, Philippine’s Melvin Gumban, South Africa’s Mzuvukile Magwaca, Nicaragua’s Felix Alvarado, Nicaragua’s Carlos Buitrago, and Japan’s Ryuji Hara.
Trainer of the Year
Joel Diaz gets my vote. Not only did he guide Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley through a brutal war with Ruslan Provodnikov, then, he devised the plan to out-maneuver the great boxing wizard Juan Manuel Marquez. That’s not all, he polished up Omar Figueroa who’s now headed for a world title bid and he also has Julio Diaz, Jessie Magdaleno, Jamie Kavanagh, Diego Magdaleno and Diego De La Hoya on a tear.
Others trainers worth note are Abel Sanchez who has an army of fighters including Gennady Golovkin and heavyweight Mike Perez that are banging on the door of stardom. Angel Garcia trained his son Danny “Swift” Garcia toward stardom and conceived the battle plan to defeat the powerful Lucas Matthysse. Eduardo Garcia is the father of Mikey Garcia who serves as his trainer. He is the real engineer behind his son’s success. Virgil Hunter continues to guide Andre Wards career and improved Alfredo Angulo who nearly had Erislandy Lara beaten until an eye poke.
Promoter of the Year
K-2’s Tom Loeffler managed to do what seemed nearly impossible by bringing attention to middleweight world champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. How many former prizefighters from Kazakhstan get the kind of attention Loeffler brought to GGG? It’s what real promoting is all about. He also has Cuba’s Mike Perez poised to make some noise too. Loeffler is my choice for Promoter of the Year.