With only a few weeks left, the year 2014 has not been a good year for boxing. Sure there were some formerly dominant boxers dethroned like Nonito Donaire, Yuri Gamboa and Bernard Hopkins. But otherwise, it was a lackluster year with no major confrontations like the years before. But here’s what I have for 2014:
Fighter of the Year
Roman Gonzalez – The Nicaraguan blaster known as “Chocolatito” can also box as he proved against Mexico’s Juan Francisco Estrada, who rules the junior flyweight division. Gonzalez now dominates the flyweight division and won three fights in Japan and one in Mexico, all by knockout. He’s one of the best fighters Pound for Pound that very few people know about. He is as dominating as Ricardo “Finito” Lopez was, and that’s saying a lot.
Runner up – Sergey Kovalev – The Russian bomber was the only fighter to actually defeat Bernard Hopkins. Yes, Hopkins lost other fights but he never felt he lost. Against Kovalev, that didn’t happen. The Russian light heavyweight also defeated two undefeated fighters in 2014. That was pretty good work.
Fight of the Year
Lucas Matthysse and John Molina – Few gave Molina much of a chance against the hard hitting Argentine last April at the StubHub Center, but the Mexican-American slugger exchanged blow for blow with multiple knockdowns on both sides. It was scientific brutality at its best with Matthysse out-lasting Molina to win in the 11th round.
Terance Crawford’s win over Yuri Gamboa was pretty exciting stuff. Once he figured out the slick Cuban fighter’s style it was all over. His tremendous win gave the fight fans notice that there’s a new player in the game and his name is Crawford.
Carl Froch’s pitched battle with rival George Groves last May in London was a gritty display until the eighth round when a right hand ended the fight of their battle. It was a rematch that saw Froch win again but this time it was much more difficult.
Knockout of the Year
Gennady Golovkin knocks out everybody, but back in late July, the Kazakhstani fought former champion Daniel Geale at Madison Square Garden. In one of the most spectacular exchange of blows, Geale landed a right cross and GGG responded almost simultaneously with a left hook for the sizzling knockout.
Round of the Year
Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Mike Alvarado – It was round nine and Marquez had knocked down Alvarado in the previous round. He was looking for the finishing blow when Alvarado caught Mexico’s Marquez flush and down he went. Both fighters fought on even terms from there on and in the end the motto was: “Never underestimate anyone.”
On paper Miguel Cotto’s knockout win over Sergio “Maravilla” Martinez could be seen as the biggest upset. But, considering Martinez’s problems with injuries, it was not as big an upset as it could have been. Still, Cotto dominated and forced Martinez to exchange. The real upset was Cotto stopping Martinez to win the middleweight title.
Best Pure Boxer
All of the Cubans can be put on this list, and a few others like Floyd Mayweather and Ray Beltran can as well. But Guillermo Rigondeax seems to be the sweetest boxer of them all. He does not strike often but strikes quickly and emphatically.
Best Knockout Puncher
Gennady Golovkin has power in both fists and knows how to set up the knockout. Currently “GGG” has an 18-fight knockout string that dates back to 2008. He’s quick, agile and most importantly has a good chin. The one question remaining is the stamina. Golovkin has never passed 10 rounds and that was against former junior middleweight Kassim Ouma who he knocked out in the 10th.
Most exciting fighter
Leo Santa Cruz – This East L.A. native has never been in a boring fight. Never. I’ve watched him since his fourth pro fight and his 50s style of engagement always provides an intense and action-packed fight. You can pick any fight and none lacked action.
Least Exciting Fighter
Erislandy Lara can’t help himself. He’s a safety first fighter who doesn’t understand that it’s not just about winning, but entertaining. He has great tools but I guess he figures if Floyd Mayweather could do it, so can he. But Mayweather beat Oscar De La Hoya to gain an audience. Plus, Mayweather was an American boxer. Lara needs to engage more to gain fans and sell tickets.
Saul Rodriguez the junior lightweight from Riverside gets my vote. He seems to have all of the tools, including a very good trainer in Eduardo Garcia and a very good sparring partner in Mikey Garcia. Rodriguez has speed, agility, a good chin and power in both fists.
Matchmaker of the Year
Alex Camponovo of Thompson Boxing Promotions has the keenest eye of talent and matching. No matchmaker gets it right 100 percent but Camponovo rarely misses in matching opponents. Plus, he discovered Tim Bradley, Josesito Lopez, Mauricio Herrera, Yohnny Perez and Sindy Amador. That’s a pretty good collection.
Promoter of the Year
Tom Loeffler of K-2 Promotions again wins Promoter of the Year. He made Golovkin big enough to fight in Madison Square Garden and when he fought at the StubHub Center he sold it out. They added extra bleachers to accommodate the fans. That’s promoting.