My 2007 Boxing Awards
By Anthony Coleman: With the last major fight of the year in the books it is now appropriate for me to announce my winners for 2007’s awards. With the exception of Fight and Round of the Year, each category was a pain in the ass for me to produce a winner. When I sat down and considered each vote, I double checked myself, and that includes categories that I was absolutely sure about just a week ago. Yet despite the complications here are my official picks and I hope you enjoy.
Article posted on 14.12.2007
Fighter of the Year:
I had five nominees in contention for fighter of the year: Joe Calzaghe, Floyd Mayweather, Juan Manuel Marquez, Miguel Cotto and Kelly Pavlik. Each fighter have a legitimate case for the crown: Mayweather is coming off a dominant win over Hatton this Saturday and his record-grossing showdown win over Oscar De La Hoya. Marquez took the 130 pound title away from Marco Antonio Barrera in March and then went on to dominate Rocky Juarez in November. Miguel Cotto stopped Urkal in March, battered Zab Judah into submission in June, and escaped with a razor-thin points victory over a still very good Shane Mosley. And Joe Calzaghe would stop the ordinary Peter Manfredo Jr. then went on to win a clear points victory over one of the best fighters in the sport Mikkel Kessler and win universal recognition as the Super Middleweight champion of the world.
Yet in the end I picked Kelly Pavlik as my fighter of the year because he fought three times and defeated a top four contender in Edison Miranda and defeated Jermain Taylor for the Middleweight crown in September. The Zertuche win was a showcase fight, but the fact that he was able to KO the champ and a highly rated fighter in his own division ranks highly in my book. Granted, many will disagree with the choice because skill wise the boxers he defeated were adequate at best (indeed even I in my previous articles expressed my less than glowing opinions of both Miranda and Taylor), yet he proved himself in the ring to be the top fighter in the division. Also here is something you might find interesting: among fighters who have won a portion of the middleweight title only two boxers had KO percentages higher than Pavlik: Gerald McClellan and Stanley Ketchel. If you only consider undisputed/ lineal champions then it leaves Ketchel and Pavlik alone. In other words in terms of taking out his opponents Pavlik is up there with the all-time great power punchers. You know what is scarier? If he moves up in weight it may make him a stronger puncher because he wouldn’t be weakened from making weight. The future looks really bright for “The Ghost.”
Fight of the Year:
Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez II.
In a year that produced so many quality fights it is a testament to the greatness of this fight that it will probably be the unanimous vote for FOTY in both online and print publications. Add my name to the camp who believes that this fight is an instant classic. In March Vazquez and Marquez were in the midst of a beautiful match that was halted prematurely due to Vazquez quitting on his stool due to a badly broken nose. Vazquez surrendered his belt and in the eyes of misguided fans, respect for not “going out on his shield.” Yet in August, they would meet again and the drama and action from the first fight carried into their rematch. If it weren’t for the different colored trunks you might have mistaken it as a continuation of their first fight.
Vazquez, who was coming on strong when the fight was stopped in March, carried the momentum as if it were round 8 and cut off the ring and jumped on Marquez and began bettering him to the head and body, and from that moment the confrontation was on. Both men stood their ground and fought with skill and determination for the first three rounds. Then round 3 happened. Vazquez would badly hurt Marquez with a left hook and was going for the KO, yet Marquez proved his heart by fighting back and eventually stunning Vazquez in return and opened up huge cuts over both of Vazquez’s eyes. The fight went on with both men fighting with non-stop action, yet it was Vazquez landing the heavier blows and he would badly hurt Marquez numerous times in the fourth and fifth rounds. Then in round 6, Marquez would get decked to the ground courtesy of a brilliant right uppercut-left hook combination from Israel. Marquez would get up and tried to fight on, but his legs were totally gone and after another Vazquez onslaught of punches the referee mercifully called an end to the contest. Vazquez, with blood pouring from those two vicious cuts, immediately jumped up into the air in celebration of his greatest victory.
This was one of the best fights of the past two decades and nobody can tell me differently.
Round of the Year:
Round 3 of Vazquez-Marquez II.
If you read the FOTY entry you know why this is the clear winner for round of the year.
Rookie of the Year:
This award may be confusing to some, but here is the definition to be considered the “Rookie of the Year.” You must go from prospect-contender level fighter to world champion in a single year. The nominees are-Jorge Linares, Christian Mijares, Nonito Donaire, Chad Dawson, David Haye, Paul Williams and Kelly Pavlik. In the end I picked Pavlik because he fought so many times and he was my “Fighter of the Year.” However, with that being said I don’t necessarily think that he is the man with the best upside (and that is saying a lot because I think that Pavlik has tremendous upside).
Of all the fighters I mentioned I think that Jorge Linares has the best chance to reach all-time greatness. I’ve heard about how talented he was from a lot of boxing writers, but when I saw him take apart Oscar Larios back in the summer I realized why he is so highly regarded. This kid has amazing technique, and he at this young age already knows how to dissect his opponents. This kid is going to be a pound-for-pounder, just watch him.
Trainer of the Year:
Loew’s top stud; Kelly Pavlik, had a breakout year and it is only natural that I give him the Trainer of the Year award. He showed his value in the break before round 3 of Pavlik’s championship win over Jermain Taylor. Taylor had dropped Pavlik in the previous round and was still unsteady going back to the corner. Yet Loew asked him if he wanted to continue and calmed him down and Pavlik was able to take control of the fight until finally KOing Taylor in the seventh. He has done such a great job with training and developing him (specifically with his right cross technique), that I have no problem giving him credit for Pavlik’s success.
Knockout of the Year:
There has been a lot of tremendous KOs this year. Kermit Cintron blasting out Walter Matthysee in two rounds was jaw-dropping. Darnell Wilson’s frightening left hook finish over Emmanuel Nwodo was noteworthy. Ditto for David Haye’s seventh round stoppage over Jean-Marc Mormeck. Kelly Pavlik freezing Zerthuche in mid air with his right hand was shocking and Arthur Abraham’s left hook he used to take out Khroren Gevor was highly reminiscent of Donald Curry’s “perfect punch” left hook over Milton McCroy. Yet my pick for KO of the year was Nonito Donaire’s 5th round KO over Vic Darchiyan.
Donaire’s counter-hook he landed over Darchiniyan was as perfect a punch you’ll ever see. It landed flush with full impact on his face and when Vic got up he had no chance whatsoever of recovering and stumbled into the ropes as his corner jumped in to halt the fight. Also add points for it being a one-punch KO as well. All of the other KOs I mentioned were of the accumulative variety, while this was a true lights-out KO. It was over at that moment and that is why it is my KO of the year.
The John Ruiz award for “Worst Fight of the Year”: Jermain Taylor-Cory Spinks.
Those are just a few adjectives to describe Jermain Taylor’s title defense over Cory Spinks. It was painful to watch and it featured Spinks doing his usual crappy performance while Taylor took absolutely no chances whatsoever and pissed Emmanuel Steward off so much that he almost went hoarse trying to motivate him to even do simple tasks like cutting off the ring or simply throwing more punches over a guy who couldn’t hurt a four year. By the end of the match most of the crowd was booing the hell out of this shit fight and I couldn’t agree more with their reaction. It was truly an awful night for boxing.
Saddest story of the Year: The death of Diego Corrales.
Two years to the day after being involved in perhaps the greatest fight in the history of the sport, Diego Corrales would die in a motorcycle accident, thus ending the life of one the most courageous men to ever step foot into a boxing ring. The circumstances of his death have provided more questions than answers. Because he was three times over the legal alcohol limit when he drove off on his motorcycle many wondered if he was intentionally trying to get drunk so he could intentionally have an accident and thus commit suicide. Whether or not it was an unfortunate accident or Corrales was trying to end his life, it shouldn’t change the fact that he was as dedicated to his sport as anybody who has ever lived. Don’t ever forget him.
Most Disappointing Fight of the Year: Mayweather-De La Hoya.
With a record Pay-Per-View buy rate and with insane media coverage, a lot was hanging on this fight to create new fans (though the idea that this fight was going to save the sport was absurd). Yet instead of a good fight the crowd was treated to an average one. Not a bad nor a great fight, just average. There was some moment of intrigue but in the end there were just as many lulls in action and posturing instead of punching. While it most certainly didn’t hurt the image of the sport, it also didn’t show how great and dramatic boxing is at its best. Mayweather-De La Hoya could have been so much more. You know what is even sadder? None of the truly quality fights of this year couldn’t get any attention from the mainstream media unless something heinous like a riot broke out.
“The Evander Holyfield award” for Boxer that should retire:
You know it is bad that the person winning the award is named after the fighter himseld. That is how long boxing fans have been telling Evander to retire. I can’t tell a person to do with their lives. If Evander wants to fight it is his choice and God Bless him. But it is over. He’ll never win the Heavyweight title again, not even in this pedestrian version of the division. He is no longer relevant. Hell, I’ll go one step futher: he is not even a gate-keeper. Evander is now nothing more than an attraction, a traveling show. He is Boxing’s version of Branson, Missouri. Plus we are sick and tired of telling him year in and year out to retire. It is getting as tedious as it is sad. Evander was one of the greatest fighters in the history of this sport, but those days are long gone. We can see it, and hopefully Evander does too.
Most Avoided fighter of the Year:
Let’s see, since dominating Tomasz Ademak in February for the WBC Light Heavyweight Crown, he had two title defenses against less than stellar competition and was robbed out of a potential barnburner when Adrian Diaconu injured himself before their showdown. Add to the fact that both Antonio “Milkdud” Tarver and Bernard Hopkins don’t want anything to do with him and you have a fighter who is on the outside looking in. Which isn’t surprising because he has a style that gives people fits:
-He’s very intelligent
-Has good technique
-He has punching power
-He’s very athletic (good footwork and fast hands)
-And he’s a southpaw with a damn good jab.
He has all the physical tools in the world, which means that if he doesn’t put on amazing performances or if Showtime or HBO don’t feel fit to make him into a big star then he has the dubious chance of joining Mark Johnson and Mike McCallum on the list of great fighters who were denied their rightfully chance for a mega-fight.
“Stock Market Plunge Award” for the fighter who has lost the most credibility:
It has been a terrible year for “Bad Intentions.” First he would put on an embarrassing performance against Cory Spinks. Then in the post fight interview he would further sink his reputation by saying that he would “fight the best fighter for the most money.” Add into the fact that boxing fans were starting to realize that his boxing skills and IQ were as limited as the animation seen in the old school Hanna-Barberra cartoons of the 70s and you’ll see why so many were down on him. On September 29, things really fell apart for Taylor when he was brutally KO’d by Pavlik in 7 rounds. With the defeat he not only lost his title, but a lot of the credibility he built by “defeating” tough competition. However, he gained my respect by showing his heart in the Pavlik fight; however, he is in some deep trouble. He’s almost 30 and his technique is still awful. If he gets blown out by Pavlik in their rematch (and I’m thinking that he will be) then his career is pretty much over. Maybe Taylor will pull a rabbit out of the hat, but he better because he clearly is skating on the Mark Breland ice of disappointment.
BTW-Tarver was a very close runner-up for the “Stock Market Plunge Award.” Tell a friend.
Well there you have my awards for 2007. It was a hell of a year and based on the fights that has already been signed, 2008 looks like it will be something special too. Unlike years past, we have so much to be proud of this year and hopefully we can carry this momentum for the foreseeable future.
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