Picking The Fighter/Fight Of The Year - It's Gonna Be Tough This Year!

israel vazquez02.10.07 - by James Slater: With less than three months of this year to go, many boxing writers (myself included) are no doubt thinking already who will likely be given the award for fighter and fight of the year. This year such decisions will be extremely tough though. For although we've had more than our share of postponed fights in '07 - five no less, in September alone - overall the year has been a very good one for boxing already. We've had some brutal wars - Katsidis-Earl, Diaz-Freitas, Pavlik-Miranda, Cotto-Judah and most recently, Pavlik-Taylor.

We've had a genuine super-fight in Mayweather-De La Hoya. And we've had some great, classic boxing exhibitions, such as Williams-Margarito and Forrest-Baldomir.

Throw in the stunning KO's we've seen, like Cintron-Matthysse, Hatton-Castillo and Donaire-Darchinyan, and it's clear to see boxing fans have had their share of drama over this year's first nine months. And we've still got the likes of Pacquiao-Barrera, Cotto-Mosley, Calzaghe-Kessler and Mayweather-Hatton to look forward to.

Yes, I think it can be correctly written that 2007 has been one of recent boxing history's finest years. So who is the frontrunner for fighter of the year so far, and what bout is the current favourite to pick up the fight of the year award?

To answer the former, the name of Kelly Pavlik is an easy and obvious choice. His great win over the feared Edison Miranda and his even greater win over middleweight king Jermain "He Finally Showed Some Intentions" Taylor make him a no-brainer as a candidate for fighter of the year. He may have one particularly close rival though. Ricky Hatton - IF Hatton can cause the upset and defeat Mayweather in December - would be favoured to grab the award. That aside, I think "The Ghost" has pretty much got the award in the bag. For even if Marco Antonio Barrera shocks us all and gets revenge over Manny Pacquaio this Saturday, that accomplishment, as great as it would be, would probably only garner him the comeback of the year award - because let's not forget, Barrera was beaten by Juan Manuel Marquez earlier this year. As for "Pac-Man" himself, his year, by his standards anyway, has been somewhat quiet - with just two fights to his name.

Shane Mosley, if he can become the first to defeat Miguel Cotto will be an ideal choice for the year's runner-up. As will Floyd Mayweather if he convincingly beats Hatton. "Pretty Boy's" year, with his win over "The Golden Boy," will have been a very good one indeed if he is able to cap it off with a KO win over "The Hitman." In reality, however, Kelly Pavlik looks to be almost unbeatable right now as '007's fighter of the year. Which, due to the number of talented fighters that have had good months this year, goes to show what a huge impact Ohio's finest has made these last few months.

What about fight of the year though?

We've been treated to some great, great fights already. And, potentially at least, there are more on the way. So far, however, the following bouts are the most serious considerations for the year's absolute best.

Michael Katsidis and Graham Earl really gave us a war back in February. Both men were hurt, sent reeling on more than one occasion and threw punches with reckless abandon. A classic slugfest was witnessed and one that has to be given major consideration as fight of the year. The aforementioned Kelly Pavlik thrilled us all twice this year. Before becoming middleweight champ, Kelly fought an absolute barn-burner with fellow puncher, Edison "Pantera" Miranda in May. Both men took some hurt in a mesmerising battle, before Pavlik's superior strength and game-plan got Miranda out of there. Zab Judah's game effort against Miguel Cotto back in June came in an epic and memorable fight. Both men had their moments in a terrific duel, before Cotto got the job done in the eleventh. Mexican warriors Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera thrilled us yet again with great fights. Both men lost, Barrera to Juan Manuel Marquez and Morales - in a desperately close affair - to David Diaz, but both these fights helped make the year something special. Also, in another fight involving Mexicans, Israel Vazquez beat Rafael Marquez in a brutal rematch back in August.

And then of course, we had last Saturday's instant middleweight classic between Pavlik and Jermain Taylor. Another seesaw battle that has fight of the year written all over it. Once again, I repeat, it's going to be one tough call picking just one fight of the year when the time comes.

Some people would have us believe boxing is a sport that is on its way out. Thankfully and more than a touch gleefully, we can point to the very special fights and fighters we have had the privilege of watching this year. And we still have more good stuff on the way!

2007: one of the best years in professional boxing in quite some time. I think you'll all agree.

Article posted on 02.10.2007

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