For boxing 2011 was anything but a quiet year. Bernard Hopkins made history becoming the oldest fighter to win a title then he almost became history against Chad Dawson. Victor Ortiz shocked the world when he upset Andre Berto, then the world was shocked when he tried to blow up Floyd Mayweather's face with his head and we all know how that ended. Through it all, boxing fans will remember this year and for more than just another year where Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao didn't fight each other. Without further adieu, here is boxing's greatest hits for the year 2011.First, the top 5 fights of 2011. And in we go!
Honorable mention: Antonio DeMarco TKO 11 over Jorge Linares (October, 15, 2011)
DeMarco (right) will certainly call this a comeback … and then some. DeMarco was trailing on all three scorecards (99-91 and 98-92 twice) of his fight with Linares. Then the 11th round happened. DeMarco applied the pressure on Linares, whose face was a bloody mess, forcing referee Raul Caiz Jr. to stop the fight at 2:32 of the 11th round. Throughout DeMarco's 11th round comeback, DeMarco was landing solid shots, but Linares just proved to be a tad bit stronger. Linares had suffered a bad cut on the bridge of his nose early in the fight and the blood flowed like a river. Linares was able to survive but began to wilt down the stretch.
5. Manny Pacquaio MD12 over Juan Manuel Marquez (November 12, 2011)
They say styles makes fights and Juan Manuel Marquez's styles gives Manny Pacquaio problems and I mean big-time problems. The third installment of their rivalry was a lot like the first: all-out action and of course things ended with a ontroversial ruling. Marquez gave Pacquaio all he could handle and then some. In the end, Pacquaio was awarded a majority decision. Two judges scored the fight for Pacquaio (115-113 and 116-112) and the third, Robert Hoyle scored it a draw (114-114). “This was the second robbery and this one was the worst," Marquez said. "We won with clearer punches."
4. Marcos Maidana MD12 over Erik Morales (April 9, 2011)
Nobody is surprised that Maidana (left) defeated the ageless wonder Morales. What surprised everybody (or maybe it didn't) was the fact that Maidana had some serious trouble with Morales. The fight was just the fourth for Morales following a long lay-off. Maidana dominated the early rounds. Morales' right eye looked ugly and was eventually swollen shut by the end of the second round. However, Morales just wouldn't go away. He showed the same determination that he displayed from his wars with Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquaio, rallying to make the fight interesting on at least one scorecard. Judge Richard Houck scored the fight even (114-114). However, Jerry Roth and Adalaide Byrd both scored the fight for Maidana.
3. Hernan Marquez TKO 11 over Luis Concepcion (April 2, 2011)
This fight wasn't televised in the states, but when it was uploaded to YouTube, the fans were able to witness a slugfest. Do a search and sit back and enjoy. This was a brawl from the start to the end. Marquez (right), who rolls with the nickname “Tyson” went into Panama, Concepcion's hometown and stopped him in the 11th round to win the WBA world flyweight title. Both fighters went down in the first round. Concepcion was down in the third and the 10th. The ref stopped the fight to begin the 11th due to a cut over Concepcion's left eye. The fighters would meet again in October. Marquez didn't need 11 rounds, stopping Concepcion in the first round.
2. Pawel Wolak MD Delvin Rodriguez (July 15, 2011)
All you need to know about this fight is that Wolak fought the second half of the fight nearly blind with an ugly looking hematoma over his right eye. He still went the distance in the 10-round fight. Fittingly, considering the battle both fighters went through, the fight was scored a draw. The fighters met again Dec. 3. Rodriguez won by decision and Wolak would announce his retirement days later.
1. Victor Ortiz UD 12 over Andre Berto (April 17, 2011)
Before Ortiz went wild against Floyd Mayweather, he turned in a heroic effort in April against welterweight champion Andre Berto. In his fight at welterweight, Ortiz silenced his critics with his effort against Berto. Ortiz landed a right hook and uppercut that dropped Berto later in the first round. Berto came back in the second and dropped Ortiz. Then came the sixth round. Berto popped Ortiz with a right. Later, Ortiz unleased a left that sent Berto to the canvas. "That was a hell of a round. I would vote for it as the round of the year," Ortiz said. No kidding. By the time the fighters stopped falling Ortiz was left smiling with a unanimous decision victory. And guess what, the rematch is set for February 2012.
Now on to the "unofficial" but more than merited awards of the year. First up;
Trainer of the year
Usually this award is an automatic for Freddie Roach, but not this year. As Roach went through a disappointing performance by Manny Pacquiao and a loss by Amir Khan, Robert Garcia was cruising along in the corners of Rios and Nonito Donaire, two of the most exciting and talented fighters today, along with his younger brother Mikey Garcia, one of the sport's top undefeated prospects. Robert Garcia, a former champion himself, knows boxing as well as anyone and is a master motivator. He also handles Antonio Margarito. He's the obvious pick for trainer of the year.
Best measure of redemption: Miguel Cotto's dismantling of Antonio Margarito at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 3
Their first fight, in 2008, was the fight before Margarito was discovered to have a plaster-like substance in his handwraps. Many, including Cotto, felt Margarito had used the illegal wraps on him, and beat Cotto's face to a pulp in handing the Puerto Rican his first career loss. This time, it was Margarito whose face was left battered and swollen, which caused the fight to be stopped in the 10th round, much to the delight of the pro-Cotto crowd.
There were many, none bigger than Peterson's upset of Khan. Or maybe Marco Antonio Rubio's shocking TKO of Canadian knockout artist David Lemieux. Or maybe Jorge Arce's upset of Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. Or was it Ortiz's beating of Berto? What about Kirkland's shocker to Ishida? Perhaps Orlando Salido's stunning upset of Juan Manuel Lopez. Quite frankly, this topic is open for debate and best left at your own personal choosing.
Best round: Round 1 of Angulo-Kirkland in early November
Kirkland (30-1, 27 KOs), was coming off a shocking first-round TKO loss to light-hitting Nobuhiro Ishida of Japan in April for the first loss of his career. Early in the first in Mexico, it looked like deja vu all over again. Often fighters use the first round to feel each other out. Not here. Angulo came out swinging wildly from the opening bell (think young Mike Tyson) and caught Kirkland with a hard right hand, putting him on the canvas early. Kirkland, the ex-con Texan, got up, withstood Angulo's vicious nonstop barrage, and by the final minute, had turned it completely around, dropping Angulo in the final seconds. The fight went on like this for five more rounds, though Angulo had punched himself out early, and Kirkland, showing boxing skills heretofore unseen, had himself a sixth-round TKO victory and a comeback for the ages.
The KO of the year award: Nonito Donaire.
Technically, the record book says Donaire defeated Fernando Montiel by TKO, but seriously. In the second round of their February fight, Donaire landed a counter left hook that stretched Montiel on the canvas. He did get up and was allowed to continue (not sure how or why, shame on you Russell Mora). Donaire pounced, landed one punch and then Mora finally stopped the fight.
Fighter of the Year: Andre Ward.
Even if he hadn't broken his left hand a few days before the fight, super middleweight champion Andre Ward would still have taken this award. He culminated his run through Showtime's Super Six World Classic boxing tournament on Dec. 17 with his convincing unanimous decision against tough-as-nails Brit Carl Froch in Atlantic City in the tournament final. Ward (25-0, 13 KOs), who was later discovered to have fought with two broken bones in his hand, punished Froch for most of the fight using his left hooks brilliantly. The pain with every punch had to be excruciating, but 27-year-old Ward never winced. That kind of stuff makes legends. Ward dominated former middleweight champ Arthur Abraham in the tournament semifinals last May in his only other fight this year. Asked about the possibility of winning Fighter of the Year, as voted by the boxing writers, the last U.S. Olympic boxing gold medalist and one of the sport's most humble champions, said:
"If that comes true, that's unbelievable. You don't set out to do that when the year starts. You just put your head down and do the work, and then you look up and hopefully you win an award like that. So if we could just win that award on top of everything else we've won tonight, it would be an unbelievable year."Pure class.
What to expect in 2012
Pacquiao-Mayweather tops everybody's list, but with Mayweather going to jail beginning Jan. 6, it won't happen during the first half of the year for sure. A close second is Andre Ward vs. Lucian Bute, the class (both undefeated) of the 168-pound division. Ward says Bute will have to prove himself first, so it could be unlikely in 2012. If not that, then Froch-Bute. …Peterson-Khan II is must-see boxing, and will likely happen during the next 12 months. Saul "Canelo" Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is the fight every Mexican fan, and most American fans, would love to see. Both are unbeaten. Pacquiao-Marquez IV, especially since many in the media felt Marquez defeated Pacquiao during their fight in November. Marquez might want to have the fight in Mexico to get what he feels would be a fair shake. And finally, Sergio Martinez against anybody decent. Seems like "Maravilla" can't get the best in the sport to fight him. And to his credit, maybe the best don't think they can beat him. Macklin will try on St. Patrick's Day at the Garden. Stay tuned Maniacs, looks like boxing is making a comeback, after all it can only just get better.