2012 was a massive year for Sport especially here in the UK. The hosting of the Olympic games turning into a huge success was undoubtedly the highest point, but with the most exciting finish in the history of the Premier League and the return of the Champions League trophy to the country, many would say that is enough to scream and shout about, but no it does not stop there, not with us Brits. With success in some of the Nation’s popular sports such as Tennis, Darts and Cricket, it was boxing who arguably had the biggest success.
A very successful Olympic games for Team GB’s boxers culminating with numerous gold medals, both men’s and women’s and on the professional front, excellent performances both domestically and on the world level by some of the Nation’s biggest and best boxers. 2012 for British boxing will rank up there with one of the most successful years in British Boxing history,but what about on the world stage?
With the emergence of the UFC people have often questioned the state of boxing and it’s direction. For me boxing has never been healthier. The continued success of a variety of promotion companies, the emergence of new promotional companies producing world class talent, the rise to prominence of some very talented performers and record breaking numbers by the men at the top suggests boxing is in a very good position right now. On the Forbes rich list we seen the top two places taken up by two boxers in Manny Pacquiao and the leader Floyd Mayweather, and have witnessed guys like Andre Ward, Adrien Broner, Saul Alvarez, Nonito Donaire and Sergio Martinez raise their stock in the boxing world all of which could stake a claim for the future pound for pound crown. I cannot wait for 2013 and what it has to offer, but for now I have given my verdict on the best and worst of 2012 both domestically and on the world scene.
World – Juan Manuel Marquez knocks out Manny Pacquiao
The great Manny Pacquiao who has shot to stardom over recent years which included two controversial victories over Juan Manuel Marquez following a controversial draw in their first fight. What went down in the fourth and hopefully final bout between the two was as shocking as it was brutal. We had not seen Manny Pacquiao knocked out since 1999, and not beaten at all since 2005 but what we witnessed on December 8 2012 turned the boxing world on it’s head. Pacquiao was dropped with a straight right hand in the third round which stunned the crowd, and despite being knocked down himself, and bloodied around the nose, with 1 second remaining of the 6th round Juan Manuel Marquez knocked Manny Pacquiao out cold. A well calculated punch with saw Marquez side step and land a check right hook on Pacquiao rushing in sent Pacquiao crashing to the canvas face first, out cold. What a knockout, one that will be talked about for years to come.
UK – David Haye vs Dereck Chisora
David Haye coming out of retirement to take on rival Dereck Chisora, which saw a lot of bad blood in the build up which started from a brawl in Munich following Chisora’s points decision defeat to Vitali Klitschko. With the bottles and the tripods left at home this time, the two men squared off at Upton Park, and the event did not disappoint. During the 5th round the fight came alive as Haye sent Chisora to the canvas, and then shown no mercy going in for the kill. Chisora for his bravery tried to stand and trade, but the speed, and accuracy of Haye who landed FIVE devastating punches in succession put Chisora down and out.
Fighter of the Year
World – Nonito Donaire
This was a toss up between Donaire and Danny Garcia. I will give it to Donaire after fighting four times with two impressive knockout victories and two decision victories during the year. Garcia could put up a strong argument considering his defeats over Amir Khan and also twice over Erik Morales who was a shot fighter in my opinion. Donaire is ranked among the pound for pound kings and hopefully we will see him in there with Abner Mares or Rigndeaux very soon.
UK – Carl Froch
I think this is without question. After a defeat at the back end of 2011 against the superb Andre Ward it would have been easy to right Carl Froch off, but the Nottingham hero answered all doubts with a STUNNING performance in his 5th round victory over the undefeated and highly rated Lucian Bute. Bute was linked with a unification fight with Andre Ward, but Froch ended those hopes with a demolition job, winning every round before brutally stopping Bute with a barrage of punches during the 5th. Froch followed that victory up with another home coming against Yusaf Mack, with another blistering performance which saw Froch dominate from start to finish, dropping Mack in the first and taking him out in the third. The door is now open for the Cobra to avenge defeats to Ward and Kessler, and the contracted rematch with Bute who I believe will not want to feel the Cobra’s bite again.
Best Rising Star
World – Keith Thurman
Wow can this guy punch. Many people will notice flaws in Thurman’s approach but up to now nobody has been able to capitalise on them. He is fastly becoming the man nobody wants to fight
UK – Kal Yafai
The Birmingham man made his professional debut in 2012 and racked up 6 impressive victories, 5 by stoppage. Anybody who has watched Yafai in action would have been very impressed with his slick defence, quick hands and feet, and the ability to attack upstairs and to the body. IN such a short period of time Yafai has shown great variety to his boxing and demonstrated devastating power. Yafai is definitely one to watch and I definitely echo Eddie Hearn’s comments that Kal Yafai will be a world champion, sooner rather than later in my opinion.
Biggest Impact of 2012
World – Adrien Broner
This is a man who moved up in weight to dominate WBC Lightweight Champion Antonio DeMarco and take him out in 5 rounds. Before that Broner had no problem in disposing of Perez and Escobedo in four and five rounds respectively. Outside the ring Broner has become the centre of attention with his showman like personality, putting himself in the lime light, and is tipped by many including my self to go on and be the next pound for pound king. Broner has the world at his feet, and can really go on and dominate the game for years to come.
UK – Tony Bellew
The Bomber has put himself in contention for a world title shot after three impressive wins in 2012. After destroying Danny McIntosh inside 5 rounds, Bellew followed up with a patient display in taking out Edison Miranda in 9, and then over came a horrific cut to dominate Roberto Bolonti in November. The Bomber is edging ever closer to the world title shot he thoroughly deserves, since losing a controversial decision to Nathan Cleverly.
Trainer of the Year
World – Angel Garcia
Like him or hate him, you have to admire the job he has done with his son. Yes he is outspoken and often crosses the line, but he has three big wins to his name, and has emerged from the boxing wilderness into a house hold name, as the trainer of the unified Light Welterweight champion.
UK – Rob McCracken
The mastermind behind the successful Team GB at the London Olympics and the brains behind the brilliant tactical approach that saw Carl Froch dominate Lucian Bute, and destroy Yusaf Mack. One of, if not the greatest British trainer of all time, and deserves all the recognition he gets.
Fight of the year
World – Juan Manuel Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao
I know this fight only lasted 6 rounds but it had everything, blood, sweat and tears, and a bit of controversy. Both men came to fight, and both hit the canvas in a fight that had tension, history, controversy and revenge, with the stunning knockout concluding all that went before it.
UK – Anthony Crolla vs Derry Matthews
What a fight with Crolla being the favourite but Matthews emerging victorious. Another fight where both men came to fight and gave it everything they had. A deserved winner, although Gavin Rees vs Derry Matthews wasn’t far behind.
Comeback of the year
World – Robert Guerrero
What a comeback for the Ghost, who has certainly ghosted his way in to contention for the most prestigious fight in boxing today against Floyd Mayweather. If reports are to be believed it is a done deal for May 4, and after impressive victories over Aydin and Berto Guerrero has justified his shot. Coming from 134 to 147 is a big ask, something Pacquiao and now Marquez done successfully previously, but Guerrero done it after a fifteen month lay off. All I can say is fair play to the lad.
UK – Ricky Hatton
OK, I know what you are all thinking, the result of the fight is what matter. The fact Ricky Hatton returned after so long out, and after all the problems he had is a credit to what kind of man he is, and he deserves enormous praise even if the result was not one he had hoped or anticipated. Ricky Hatton is a true legend of the sport and deserves the utmost respect from everybody in the sport.
Upset of the year
World – Timothy Bradley vs Manny Pacquiao
OK lets face it, Pacquiao won the fight, but lost the decision and the word upset is probably relating to people’s feelings rather than the actual fight. On paper though Timothy Bradley has a victory over Manny Pacquiao and was a big upset which has evidently not benefitted Bradley as he has not defended his title since.
UK – Danny Garcia vs Amir Khan
Some of you may not have been surprised by this, but considering the circumstances, with Garcia stepping in as a replacement for Lamont Peterson it is definitely an upset. Garcia was off the back of a win against the legendary but shot Erik Morales to capture his first world title, and was seen as a dangerous opponent but was really given little chance by the vast majority of the boxing world. A devastating left hand changed the course of the fight as Khan seemed to be landing at will, and Garcia never looked back, with a brutal performance to close the show in the 4th round.