Snapshot: 2007 The Year in Boxing

By Phil Santos, Fistic fans had a hell of a good year in 2007. World Champions like JermainTaylor, Vic Darchinyan and Jean Marc Mormeck were overwhelmed and knocked out en route to losing their titles. There were multiple bouts worthy of mention for fight of the year, Vazquez vs. Marquez I & II, Diaz vs. Freitas, Pavlik vs. Taylor, Mosley vs. Cotto, just to name a few. We saw the emergence of new champions, as well as potential stars of the sport, like Nonito Donaire, Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams and David Haye. Future Hall of Famers Manny Pacquiao, Joe Calzaghe, Bernard Hopkins and Floyd Mayweather Jr. continued their winning ways and further cemented their place amongst the greatest of all time..

Now as boxing fans turn their attention to a new year of fights to come we’ll attempt to sum up the Best of the Sweet Science in 2007.

Fighter of the Year:
Kelly Pavlik

The Youngstown, Ohio tough man proved his contender status was no fluke by battering, the heavy handed, Edison Miranda. Leading up to the Miranda fight Pavlik was considered a live underdog, who was expected to test but eventually be worn down by the tough Colombian. His impressive win over Miranda led to a showdown with undefeated Middleweight Champion Jermain Taylor. Unlike his fight with Miranda, Pavlik was thought to be a serious threat to Taylor. Taylor threw everything at Pavlik early landing “The Ghost” on the canvas in round 2. Pavlik beat the count, survived the round, and proceeded to take Taylor apart with the result being a 7th round knockout and a new Middleweight Champion of the world. By disposing of a top contender and the World Champion both by TKO Kelly Pavlik has the credentials and deserves to be the 2007 Fighter of the Year.

Worth a mention:
Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Cotto defeated Zab Judah and Shane Mosley
Mayweather Jr. vanquished Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton

Fight of the Year:
Raphael Marquez vs. Israel Vazquez II

2007 has been a year loaded with great fights but the one that stands out to me is Marquez vs. Vazquez II. In a division (122 lb Limit) that doesn’t necessarily get the attention that the Welter and Middleweights do Marquez and Vazquez stand head and shoulders over their competition and are both recognized as top pound for pound fighters. We were lucky to witness them square off twice in 07, with both fights ending with a Championship belt changing hands and a TKO. While the first fight had fireworks and a stoppage the second one stands out because Vazquez was able to finish the job in the ring, as opposed to the first fight, which lasted one round longer but had to be stopped due to Vazquez suffering a broken nose and his inability to breath. In the rematch Marquez and Vazquez exchanged violently swelling and opening a cut over the right eye of Marquez and leaving Vazquez with cuts over both eyes. They continued to swap leather, two powerfully precise punchers, until Vazquez landed a telling left hook that hurt Marquez and sent him to the mat. Marquez made it to his feet but Vazquez, smelled blood, and fired off a flurry that caused the fight to be stopped after 6 awesome, brutal rounds. A rubber match has been speculated for February and just the thought has boxing fans drooling.

Worth a mention:
Kelly Pavlik vs. Jermain Taylor

Kelly Pavlik defeated Jermain Taylor to become Middleweight Champion. A great match-up in which both men hit the canvas had all the toe-to-toe action and hard hitting exchanges that any fan could hope for. Pavlik was stunned and dropped in the 2nd round and found himself doing all in his power just to survive. He battled back and scored a TKO in the 7th in an all action slugfest.

Knockout of the Year:
Nonito Donaire vs. Vic Darchinyan

In a fight that nobody expected Darchinyan to lose Nonito Donaire devastated the champ with a one punch, left hook, knockout that Vic never saw coming. Darchinyan crumpled to the canvas, and though he tried to beat the count, he was so shaken that he nearly projected himself through the ropes in attempting to get to his feet. The brutal knockout of Darchinyan, a knockout artist himself, has put Donaire on the map and has made him a feared fighter at 112 lbs.

Worth a mention:
Darnell Wilson vs. Emmanuel Nwodo & Kermit Cintron vs. Walter Matthysse

Darnell Wilson absolutely hammered Emmanuel Nwodo folding him up like a lawn chair in a knockout that was so vicious it bordered on scary.

Kermit Cintron blasted Walter Matthysse, who was out on his feet, with a devastating combo that left Matthysse lying motionless.

Upset of the Year:
Ivan Calderon vs. Hugo Cazares

The light hitting, slick boxing Ivan Calderon entered the fight as an undefeated underdog. Hugo Cazares was the bigger, stronger defending champ who was supposed to cut down Calderon and expose him as nothing more than a carefully matched paper champion. Calderon had found his stride as Minimum Weight boss by out boxing his limited competition and most thought the move to 108 lbs coupled with his lack of punching power (only 6 KO in 30 pro fights) would spell disaster. Calderon proved them all wrong by boxing beautifully, aside from getting caught and dropped in the 8th, and decisively beat the Jr. Flyweight champ by Split Decision scores of 111-116, 115-112 (2), to take the title.

Worth a mention:
Jose Santa Cruz vs. Joel Casamayor

I had to include this travesty of a decision where Santa Cruz was completely robbed of the Lightweight Championship he so deservingly won in the ring. A Split Decision was awarded to Casamayor (114-113 (2), 113-114) who was knocked down in the 1st and did nothing more than back peddle and fail to land anything effective. The WBC has thankfully ordered a rematch and if it goes anything like the first fight Santa Cruz should be wearing the Championship strap he rightfully earned back in November.

Prospect of the Year:
Andre Berto

Berto scored wins over Martinus Clay, Cosme Rivera and David Estrada in 2007. The fast rising prospect improved his perfect record to 20-0 (17) and his victories over Rivera and Estrada were his toughest tests to date. The learning process is different for every fighter and often times the true test is how they bounce back from a loss of handle adversity within a fight. Berto has not tasted the bitterness of defeat but he did suffer his first knockdown as a pro in his fight with Rivera. He was caught off balance and never appeared in danger, probably more surprised than actually hurt. He quickly bounced back winning an easy decision then destroyed the rugged David Estrada by TKO in 11 in his very next fight to claim the NABF Welterweight title. Berto came into the Estrada fight feeling he still had much to prove and showed he’d been working hard in preparation by looking sharper than ever against his toughest opponent.

Worth a mention:
James Kirkland

Kirkland continued his assent through the ranks of the Jr. Middleweight division by winning all four of his fights in 07’, with three coming by way of knockout. He ran his record to 21-0 (18) by disposing of Billy Lyell, Ossie Duran, Mohammad Said and Allen Conyers. He continues to steadily step up in competition and appears ready for a big 2008.

Article posted on 12.12.2007

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