Boxing Commentary: The Winners Are… 2007 First Half Superlatives

miguel cotto08.07.07 - By Christopher Roche: Since June 30th marked the halfway point for 2007, I decided to survey a handful of internet boxing writers, regarding the first half superlatives. To get things started I offered five candidates, covering several categories, such as “Fighter of the Year” (First Half). The writers were not beholden to the nominations. They could choose whomever they wanted and write as much or as little for each, but they had to make their picks based on the first half of 2007, January 1-June 30th. Below are the categories, candidates and responses.

Candidates for Fight of the Year (First Half)

Miguel Cotto vs. Zab Judah

Kelly Pavlik vs. Edison Miranda

Darrell Woods vs. Sam Miller

Juan Diaz vs. Acelino Freitas

Floyd Mayweather vs. Oscar De La Hoya

John Martinez of & Rafael Marquez vs. Israel Vazquez, March 3, 2007. Why? Simply because it pitted two hard nosed Latinos willing to give it their all for 7 glorious rounds. Marquez moves up and proves he has the power to deal with the then reigning champ, Vazquez, by making Izzy dizzy with 6 seconds left in opening stanza. Cracks him again 1 min. into the 3rd only to taste the canvass himself courtesy of a strong hybrid left hook-uppercut by Izzy. Iz would walk through a thumb in the eye in round 4 or 5(can't remember) and of course suffer through the lack of breathing beginning in round 2 from a hard right by Marquez but still fights on until the end of the 7th.

Both guys showed moxy, professionalism, high caliber technical skills, and the famous or infamous Mexican Pride!!! They would not give a quarter for 10 bucks. The fight ended just as I am convinced it will begin on August 4 with both men of men duking it out at the bell. Vazquez was coming on and had Marquez hurt, but Rafa refused to lose the round so he stood his ground and traded. My oh My. What a fight.

Pavlik/Miranda was good, but for me, I try to remember that this sport we love is supposed to be about not only heart, but skill. The “sweet science" remember? The idea of hitting without getting hit. Make him miss and make him pay. If I want to see two guys bomb away, I can go to the bars downtown and watch guys throw down over who is better looking. It'll probably resemble two guys with wide stances swinging to the heavens with wide telegraphed hooks. Not taking anything away from Pavlik and Miranda... they showed heart and grit. But did they show maturation as true prizefighters?

Ron Samul, Northeast Boxing News, Mayweather Jr. vs. De La Hoya May 5, 2007. I know this was the big money fight and I can't really stand Mayweather's bravado lately, but I think this fight is the most hyped event we've had and everyone had something to say about the sport building up to the main event. The undercards were strong and the main event went the distance. It was interesting to hear about what it looked like from people in the seats, and those who watched it on television. This wasn't the boxing fans’ fight of the year, but I felt like it brought the sport to the world spotlight. For better or worse it makes for the fight of the year.

I was at the Diaz vs. Freitas bout and while it was a good fight, it was really one sided. Diaz really brought it to Freitas and won. Cotto vs. Judah might be the fight aficionado's fight of the year, but it lacked the bravado that reached everyone.

Christopher Roche: Miguel Cotto vs. Zab Judah, June 9, 2007. Cotto is a consummate warrior, and there was a lot of drama surrounding Judah. Judah delivered a very good performance, and he rocked Cotto early on. I was on the edge of my seat, thinking that Judah would pull off the unthinkable and knock out the mighty Cotto. However, Cotto nailed Judah with two low blows and eventually went on to dominate the fight and punish Judah before knocking him out. Despite the low blows, the fight was a stellar, old school war, and I love that it took place in Madison Square Garden, and this bout set a new attendance record for MSG.

Danny Serratelli: I think the fight of the year for this year has not taken place yet. I hope Jermain Taylor vs. Kelly Pavlik gets into the running, and Arturo Gatti vs. Alfonso Gomez will surely be in the running as well. For now I will go with Kelly Pavlik vs. Edison Miranda. Two guys that can take your head off with one shot and also take chances and try for the knockout every time they enter the ring, that’s my kind of fight.

Candidates for Fighter of the Year (First Half)

Miguel Cotto

Paulie Malignaggi

Kelly Pavlik

Floyd Mayweather, Jr.

Ricky Hatton

Ron Samul: I like Ricky Hatton for fighter of the year because of his style and his power punching. He is precise and smart in the ring. I am a fan of the undefeated fighters because the longer they last the harder they fall. Unlike Matt Godfrey (my prospect of the year), Ricky Hatton has more experience and more adversity to over come to be where he is. See Fight You Most Want to See in the Second Half.

John Martinez: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Why? Simply because he was told he'd get the Golden One at 147, but Goldie changed that. Next, he was told he had to wear Reyes gloves after he was told he could wear his own. Spoke with Roger Mayweather to confirm this and he did. He was told he couldn't take any fights before Goldie. How many times has Oscar adhered to these rules when faced as the challenger? Yes Oscar brings the money but shouldn't you want to defeat the best of your opponent and not the watered down version?

Mayweather called his bluff and though it wasn't exciting, it was tense from the standpoint of a highly gifted tactician in both pugilists. It was artful. It was more Magritte than Warhol. It was more Picasso than Doig, Dali, or Pollack. It was great because I think that we should preserve the true essence of the sport rather than have it portray a version of a ToughMan contest or the folks in MMA who attempt to look like world-class boxers in the cage only to show that they have no head movement, no jab, no footwork, timing, strategy, and technique. Mayweather might not be exciting, but you know what? Was Willie Pep (229,11,1, 65 ko's)?

Christopher Roche: The fighter of the year so far is Miguel Cotto. Although I did not pick him to beat Judah, and I am still scraping the egg off of my face, Cotto showed that he is a fierce champion who can not only defeat his opponents, he can severely punish them. The move up in weight has clearly helped Cotto, and his power and pressure are devastating. While I did not think Cotto looked great against Urkal, the Cotto Express is clearly in full swing right now, and I would not want to get in its way.

Danny Serratelli: It is impossible to call the fighter of the year at the mid-way point. It appears Mr. Roche narrowed it down to 5 fighters who all deserve the distinction at this point; however, the smoke will clear after Mayweather fights Hatton, Pavlik fights Jermain Taylor and we see what is next for Cotto and Malignaggi.

It appears the choice may have to end up being the winner of Hatton vs. Mayweather, however if Pavlik beats Jermain Taylor in impressive fashion it can be Pavlik. Miguel Cotto (at 147) and Paulie Malignaggi (with 2 good hands and now a title) have both taken their games up to a new level and have dominated the opposition this year so it will be interesting to see who each of them fights next.

Candidates for Prospect of the Year (First Half)

Andre Berto

Matt Godfrey

James Moore

Anthony Peterson

Lamont Peterson

Ron Samul: Matt "Too Smooth" Godfrey is not only a guy with quick hands but can turn southpaw and make something happen in the ring. He is well spoken and presents a strong boxing package. He remains undefeated and made quick work of Felix Cora Jr. in two rounds. My only concern is that he has yet to face a significant challenge that would test him. He likes to be in the spotlight and his quote of, "I wouldn't want to fight me right now," stands as a quote you have to admire.

Christopher Roche: Andre Berto is my prospect of the year, so far. Berto has speed, skill and awesome power. While he has not faced an opponent that comes close to him yet, I believe Berto has everything he needs to be an exciting champion. Berto comes from a martial arts background, and legend has it he was excused from the USA Olympic Boxing team for being too rough. He subsequently fought for Haiti. I witnessed his knockout power in person, when he overwhelmed Norberto Bravo, back in February. Berto’s power is for real.

Danny Serratelli: Andre Berto is the one to watch in this group. He has all the tools to be a pound for pound type, we just have to wait and see if he has the other intangibles to back up the skills. I guess after wining the title in February, the 24 year-old Chad Dawson no longer qualifies as a “prospect”.

Fight Most Want to See Second Half of 2007

Christopher Roche: Hatton vs. Malignaggi. I am already on the record here. Please check out my interview with Malignaggi from July 5, 2007. Hatton and Malignaggi match up better than Hatton and Mayweather do, and I believe Hatton vs. Malignaggi will be the most entertaining light-welterweight fight that can be made right now.

Ron Samul: I think it's time for Ricky Hatton to take on (retired) Mayweather. Mayweather thinks he can roll over Hatton with an easy win. It shows that Mayweather's retirement is based on making his return a historical turning point in boxing. If he comes for Hatton this early in his so called retirement, then it would be merely a boxing footnote. According to an article on this could happen in the fall. The Hatton camp is ready and Mayweather is already running his mouth over it. Those are good signs, and I can’t wait.

Danny Serratelli: There are a lot of them. I can’t wait to see two that are supposed to be set: Jermain Taylor vs. Kelly Pavlik and Ricky Hatton vs. Floyd Mayweather. I’d like to see Hatton beat Floyd, but if he does not fight Floyd, the fight I’d like to see would be Miguel Cotto against Floyd Mayweather in a small, slow ring.

If you want to participate in this survey, at year-end, please contact me at

Article posted on 09.07.2007

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