My Year-end Boxing Awards

07.01.05 - By Izyaslav “Slava” Koza: Accolade- Best Fight of the Year: Miguel Cotto vs. Ricardo Torres - I must be one of only five or six people in the world who thought Miguel Cotto vs. Ricardo Torres was the best fight of 2005. Obviously, Corrales and Castillo is the favorite and I really can’t say anybody is wrong for that choice, but as a complete fight, I thought Cotto vs. Torres was better.

First and foremost, it’s because nobody expected it to be a great fight and that says a lot. Most people, including myself, figured it would an easy knockout for Cotto of a guy with a nice padded record in Torres. Wrong! When something exceeds my expectation, it is only fair to reward it properly in my mind. Nobody knew a damn thing about Torres and now it is clear that he is another potential star in a who’s who of Hollywood 140 pound division.

Second, most people pick Corrales vs. Castillo because it was the most skilled display of good fighting, and I can agree with that. However, Cotto vs. Torres were trying to finish the bout with single punches the whole time and they weren’t just wild haymakers, either. Torres displayed a great ability to counter and draw his opponent in and Cotto proved once again that he has the heart to pull it out if its down to the wire. This fight was, to me, more amazing on average than Corrales-Castillo, even though that fight had the winner for the next category.

Runner Up: Corrales vs. Castillo1

Round of the Year: Corrales vs. Castillo1: round # 10

Well, duh! Again, any time something exceeds our expectations, it undoubtedly deserves more respect. Who would have guessed Corrales would pull out a TKO stoppage after being seriously dropped twice? IN The SAME ROUND! This round should be recorded and shown as a recruitment video for boxing fans the world over.

Runner Up: Fulgencio Zuniga vs. David Alfonso Lopez Round # 12

Knockout of the Year: Brewster KO 1 Golota

Usually the winner of this category is the fight that has a devastating one punch KO, but again, the shock value is the winner over pure gore. Brewster took advantage of Golota’s inability to counter or survive to knock him down three times in front of a completely frozen Polish partisan audience, all in the first minute of the first round. You can’t buy that sort of result, but you can sure as hell sell it.

Runner Up: Allen Green Tko 1 Jaidon Codrington

Upset of the Year: Hatton TKO 11 Tsyzu

Hatton was the unknown with the unknown record of opponents, while Kostya Tsyzu was coming off a huge blowout over Sharmba Mitchell. Tsyzu had started training much earlier for the fight. Hatton looked like he was eating too much. Kostya predicted a knock out; Hatton looked like he wanted to go to sleep during an early interview.

Most everyone picked Tsyzu and eleven rounds later, sat in stunned disbelief as one of the legends of this sport in Tsyzu could not answer the bell for the 12th. The choice is pretty clear because it was a pretty decisive victory because it ended in a TKO and against a legend of the sport, who was a heavy favorite. Taylor vs. Hopkins was a disputed close fight, while Wright vs. Trinidad was a one sided beating but of a guy who was beaten before in one sided fights.

Also, what people should realize is that upset is not a situation, where one guy was completely out of it and did not want to win. Kostya Tsyzu tried every inch of the way, something I really can’t say for either Hopkins or Trinidad. It just shows how much Hatton wanted to win this one and why he deserves to be a winner in another category.

Runner Up: Wright UD Trinidad

Individual Awards

Fighter of the Year: Ricky Hatton

Kind of an easy pick, simply because I think Hatton pulled off the upset of the year and because he was not forced to give a rematch like most new title holders, therefore having a chance to pull out another high profile win against the man known as “Gollum” in Carlos Maussa.

Nobody outside of the elite brains of the boxing critic circuit picked Hatton to win against King Kostya, myself included, and to save my ego a bit of bruising I have to give Hatton his respect. The man said Kostya Tsyzu was a bad inside fighter and he proved it. Plus this was one of the few big fights that ended via TKO which adds to Hatton’s credibility.

To match that, Ricky Hatton then defeated the man, in Maussa, who had beaten highly regarded Vivian Harris, via devastating KO, while nursing two cuts over his face, to capture another title at 140. So there you have it, two relatively high profile fights, two undisputed TKO’s and the man un-affectionately known as Ricky “double chins” Fatton, proves why he is the best single fighter of 05.

Runner Up: Miguel Cotto

P4P King: Floyd Mayweather Jr.

It is a rare case in boxing where a fighter’s skill actually hampers his ability for accomplishment. Well, that and Mayweather’s ego, but lets leave the Mayweather bashing out of this. Just a year earlier, Kostya Tsyzu was praised for the quick work he did in dismantling Sharmba Mitchell, while when Mayweather does it, there is a certain distaste left in many a fan’s mouth. Its not Mayweather’s fault, perhaps that he is so skilled that his victories leave fans thinking less of his opponents and not more of him, but that is the way things have always been for truly skilled fighters.

Both the Gatti and the Mitchell fight proved why he has the highest skills/accomplishment ratio compared to most other top fighters. Unfortunately in ’05, we saw his skills outshine actual accomplishment, even if he did get a belt here, and win a fight there (in another weight class). Hopefully, the showdown with Zab will show his ability to accomplish great things, yet again.

Runner Up: Antonio Tarver, Winky Wright, Ricky Hatton

Break Out performance: Winky Wright UD Felix Trinidad

Well, since Hatton picked up the upset award, it's only fair to say Winky is finally a household HBO fighter by turning a potential competitive fight into a showcase. This fight is really the reason why he is having an easier time of it then the runner up fighters, who although winning big fights, are still relatively more obscure, or like Mayweather, are HBO names based on previous accomplishments.

Runners Up: Zahir Raheem unanimous decision over Erik Morales, Roman Karmazin UD over Kassim Ouma, Floyd Mayweather TKO 6 Arturo Gatti, Nikolai Valuev MD John Ruiz, Jean Marc Mormeck UD Wayne Braithwaite.

Most significant decision: Duane Ford’s 12th round in fight 1 for Taylor

Again, let's not talk about how bad it was but rather consider the impact of the choice. Most people agree Hopkins won the 12th. Had he been given the 12th, the fight would be a draw and his title reign would continue. There would unlikely be a rematch and Hopkins would probably go on to have a mega-fight for unification.

Runner Up: Don King taking Ruiz and Brewster to defend in Germany but for different reasons.

Comeback of the year: Wladimir Klitschko

Its not that Wladimir Klitschko won, it's that he showed he could comeback from adversity in three categories people thought would be the death of him. First of all, he had the confidence to face the consensus dangerous young prospect puncher named Samuel Peter. After suffering two crushing defeats against Corrie Sanders and Lamon Brewster where his chin/defense/survival skills and Stamina, respectively, were “exposed.” Honestly, most fans thought he would have no chance if:

a. The fight went rounds
b. He would get hit on the chin
c. He would be in trouble or knocked down.

Every single criticism that fans had, save for perhaps his chin, was addressed and answered. Again, look at the facts: Nobody thought before the fight that Klitschko would win a points UD after being knocked down three times, while landing the best single punch of the fight in the last round. It just was not even conceivable and yet it was accomplished.

Furthermore, we have to take into consideration that Klitschko also made significant alterations to his style. Movement, holding, boxing are all a part of his strategy now and re-inventing himself, was a tough decision to make because it probably involved so much work and yet he did it.

Runner Up: Jose Luis Castillo, Oleg Maskaev

Prospect to Watch: Lucian Bute

This is usually a tough category for me to pick because most prospects I see are impressive against no hopers so it is hard to gauge their skill. That or I just don’t see enough of them to judge. This brings us to Lucian Bute. I first read about this guy on our forum and to date after only two years he has completely failed to disappoint.

For one, he has fifteen flawless KO’s in fifteen fights, but the best part is he has knocked out some decent veterans. Kabary Salem had gone the distance with Super Middle champ Calzaghe and had never been knocked out until Bute stopped him. He stopped Donnell Wiggins way before Lacy did, and some of his other opponents like Handy and Thobela had way more experience. Nothing fantastic yetbut remember, this guy only has fifteen fights, has fought pro for two years, and already has some good paper accomplishments. If he keeps doing what he is doing, expect the Super Middleweights to get a lot more exciting in the future.

Runner Up: Yuri Foreman, Allen Green, Sultan Ibragimov

Promoter of the Year: Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions

The real respect is owed to Oscar for putting his fighters into tough fights and giving relative unknowns like Roman Karmazin, and Jermain Taylor chances to shine, even if he does not promote them. There were no bad decisions, no disputed results, just great action both on Boxeo De Oro and on HBO. I enjoyed both Hopkins Taylor fights, and I sure as hell loved Karmazin Ouma, and those was enough to overshadow Barrera Fana as the only dark mark on Oscar’s track record as a promoter.

Although Boxeo de Oro is no more, I expect Oscar’s stable to continue promoting honest, good and hardworking fighters in the future. Just as with his boxing career, I am really impressed with De La Hoya’s promotional skill.

Runner Up: Sauerland events

Trainer of the Year: Freddie Roach

Even though some of Roach’s fighters had bad luck this year, I still think he is the single best trainer in the game today. It's not only an issue of how well his fighters do but rather things he does and says that earn him the respect. Take, for instance, his admission that his fighter Bobby Pacquio lost the fight to Carlos Hernandez. It's not just that I agree with him but rather it’s the no nonsense, no BS, honesty which Roach’s character is known for. Couple that with his work with James Toney and Roman Karmazin, and this guy is a shoe in for this honor.

Runner up: Dan Birmingham, Joe Goosen

Best Sportsmanship/Act of the Year: Emanuel Augustus

Emanuel Augustus is the definition of the journeyman fighter. He unquestionably has the talent but fails to use it in part because even when he does, he still gets the short end of the stick. He fights often and on short notice because its what he needs to do so can feed himself and his family.

When he fought Ray Oliveria earlier this year, nobody anticipated how much moral humanistic character this fighter would show in the ring. When Ray Oliviera, obviously hurt from injuries, eerily similar to those suffered by Gerald Mclellan in his fight with Nigel Benn, failed to convince the referee to stop the fight, Augustus did not do the traditional thing and go in for the kill. Obviously, concerned more for the safety of his comrade in arms, then a victory, Augustus instead attacked Oliviera’s body rather then his head where a victory was guaranteed.

Emanuel Augustus is not only a talented, fun, fighter to watch, who will give the fan’s their money’s worth, but he is also a benefit to boxing as a whole.

Runner Up: Glen Johnson, Erik Morales switching stances in the 12th against Pacquio.

Best Referee: Jay Nady

This guy is the truest professional in the game. He always explains things the best before a fight and always keeps a close eye on the action and is loud enough to gain respect where he rarely has to deduct points. Furthermore, he is physically emposing which is always a plus.

Runner up: Tony Weeks

Jeers of 05

Worst fight of the year: Chris Byrd vs. Davaryl Williamson

Is this one even in doubt? This is as best as I can describe it a light sparring session that was televised on TV and involved two guys without headgear. Listen when Marc Ratner threatens to withhold both fighter’s purses if they don’t start fighting, its obvious something is wrong.

Runner up: Judah Spinks 2 (not Judah’s fault, though.)

Worst Decision of the Year: Katsushige Kawashima split decision over Jose Navarro

This happened in January of this year but it could probably be called the worst result of this young century. Navarro completely outboxed, outpunched, outmoved, out witted, and out and out beat the hometown fighter Kawashima. I mean, to the point where a shutout decision for Navarro could have very well been justified. Kawashima looked horrendous suffering about three cuts to his face and a very bruised self opinion following his own performance.

So, can anyone explain why Kawashima won? Yes, he was aggressive but his punches completely missed their mark in most any exchange not even landing partially for volume punchers. When one judge scores it 120-109 for Navarro and the other two give a close decision to Kawashima, and there are few close rounds, there must be something wrong. I don’t agree it was a shut out but I do agree of the three 120-109 for Navarro was as close as it gets. Just disturbs me how bad this was.
Runner up: Bobby Pacquio over Carlos Hernandez,

“Can You say EXPOSED”: Audley Harrison

I have nothing against this guy, but after all his talk, losing a decision to Danny Williams, who the former champ Vitali Klitschko utterly crushed, and who even old Tyson had success against, says a lot. Perhaps, he will comeback but less talk and more work is what this guy needs.

Runner up: Vivian Harris

Runner Up: Norman Stone’s action after the Valuev Ruiz fight

Worst Comeback of the Year: Riddick Bowe

I know that Tyson might have been a prime candidate for this because of his loss to Kevin Mcbride but people forget, he at least came in the fight looking relatively fit. That is, sadly more than we can say for Riddick Bowe. Bowe came in 17 pounds heavier for his second comeback fight against Billy Zumbrun and almost lost a close decision. Couple that with the fact that he was embarrassingly overweight for his first comeback fight against Marcus Rhode and you can see why he isn’t going anywhere, the way I see things.

Bowe looked lethargic and unable to avoid punches coming from a limited fighter, in Zumbrun, who did his best with what he was dealt connecting on Bowe, who could only smile and taunt Zumbrun after getting hit flush. Great chin and a great jab but unless you put in the effort, Riddick, just hang em up.

Runner Up: Mike Tyson, Vitali Klitschko (I guess it was a comeback)

Best waste of Talent: James Toney

What pisses me off is this guy would probably be the best heavyweight around if he really could focus himself completely on his training. That basically says it all.

Runner up: Emanuel Augustus (sadly)

Fun Awards

Best Ring Entrance: Arthur Abraham to the smurf song in the smurf hat vs. Kingsley Ikeke.

Goofiest boxing moment: Hawkins almost losing his trunks in the Peter fight while Peter’s trunks split apart.

Best nickname: Roman “Made in Hell” Karmazin Silliest Nickname: Calvin “The Boxing Banker” Brock

Best fighter to interview after a fight: James Toney

Most Colorful Trainer: Norman Stone

Best Commentator: Roy Jones Jr.

Funniest commentator: Larry Merchant

Best Gimmick: Nicolai Valuev stepping over top rope

Worst physique: James Toney

Best Hair: Don King (now and forever!)

Article posted on 07.01.2006

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