By Martin ‘The Brain’ Potter of the Boxing Clever Podcast – A fighter being knocked unconscious when he was already on the floor (Andre Dirrell). A boxer literally flying out of the ring (Kermit Cintron). Two rounds of heavyweight boxing in which no punches of note were thrown by either man (Haye-Harrison). World heavyweight title shots handed out to “contenders” Harrison, Chisora, Briggs and Peters (again). And old concrete-hands himself coming back from a one-year ban straight into a world title shot against the best fighter on the planet (ok, he had beat up a bum first, unconvincingly, to “earn” that shot….). Boxing in 2010 has been strange.
Aside from all of the above and the fights that didn’t happen, there were some stand out performers in 2010 – both in a good way and a bad way..
Best Fighter: Sergio Martinez. The 35-year-old Argentinean who goes by the nickname of Maravilla has always been a good fighter, but for years he has been a slow burner, bubbling below the surface of boxing’s mainstream. After a disappointing 2009, which saw him “draw” with Kermit Cintron and then lose controversially to Paul Williams, it seemed the light might be about to go out, but this year Martinez finally exploded into the boxing stratosphere.
A dominating win over former undisputed middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik, followed by last months devastating knock out revenge win over Williams (KO of the year?) means that in what should be the twilight of his career, Martinez now finds himself firmly lodged in the upper echelons of the pound-for-pound rankings. A shot at Manny Pacquiao has been mooted for 2011, but should that not come off, Martinez can proudly look back on 2010 as the year that changed his boxing life.
Best Fight: Khan W12 Maidana. There were a few contenders for this, but it was hard to beat this top-drawer 140-pound title bout between skilled speedster Amir Khan and the dynamite fists of Marcos Maidana. For a few years now many fans and pundits, myself included, have been questioning the chin of Khan, although never doubting his overall ability. I didn’t think that team Khan wanted to risk his supposedly china jaw against the hardest puncher in the division but I, and many others, were proved wrong on December 11.
An early knockdown, fouls, a point deduction, blood, sweat, machismo and tears, all topped off by a near stoppage were on display in this compelling war of attrition. Maidana can hold his head up high after such a gutsy performance and as for Khan: so much for the china chin.
Biggest Villain: Floyd Mayweather Jr. A true pantomime baddy (if you are American then think cartoon villain), Mayweather and his clan (Floyd Snr and “jolly” uncle Roger) truly excelled themselves this year in scrapping the barrels of decency. Having done nothing of note inside the ropes ¬– victory over an ageing Shane Mosley aside – Mayweather went on the offensive outside of the ropes. Comments that many would consider highly offensive at best or racist and homophobic at worst ensued as little Floyd vented his spleen against his pound-for-pound rival Manny Pacquiao.
Although ‘Money’ and his pops, Floyd Snr, took every opportunity to unload verbal blows against the Filipino great, when it came to actually fighting him they appeared a lot less willing. Maybe Pacquiao is just too manly for team Mayweather…
Worst Fight: Haye KO3 Harrison. Anyone who has read one of my columns or listened to my show before will know I am a fan of David Haye. However if someone deserves criticism then they are going to get it, whether I like them or not. Dave, I am afraid that this fight, to use an old boxing phrase, stunk the joint out.
No real punches were thrown in the first two rounds (Audley was “zoning in” on Haye’s rhythm, apparently) before the Hayemaker got bored (or felt the itch of his betting slip in his trunks – allegedly) and smashed ‘A-Force’ to the canvas. Audley Harrison claims he should never have been stopped at that point. I claim that Audley Harrison should never have been allowed to fight for a heavyweight title at any point. Alas, we will not be spared the sight of Big Audrey in a boxing ring as he has vowed to continue in his quest for world dominance. Keep living the dream Audley, but spare us boxing fans another nightmare.
Lifetime Achievement: Bernard Hopkins. Although he hasn’t retired, it feels like Hopkins has been fighting for several lifetimes so a ‘lifetime achievement’ accolade seems fitting for the old fella. After a revenge of sorts against fellow old timer Roy jones, Hopkins decided to step back in with the young ‘uns, to show how a real master craftsman goes about his work. The executioner threw his walking stick to the side, spat out the false teeth, popped in the gumshield and proceeded to almost kick Jean Pascal’s behind.
2011 could see Hopkins get a well deserved second crack at Pascal’s belt. The French-Canadian champ will be hoping the only crack Hopkins gets is in his ancient joints.
Conclusion: Looking back, 2010 was not the year for boxing that it could have been. No Mayweather-Pacquiao, no Haye-Klitschko, no Gamboa-Lopez. However there were still some great fights (Khan W12 Maidana, JM Marquez KO9 Katsidis, Lopez TKO8 R Marquez and Kessler W12 Froch), some great performers (Martinez, Pacquiao, Lopez, Ward, Hopkins) and a promise of fantastic fights next year. Well, so long as Audley isn’t zoning in on 2011.
For more opinions from ‘The Brain’ listen to the Boxing Clever podcast, available on iTunes or at www.boxingcleverpodcast.libsyn.com or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org