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And to 2012 a Good Night

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What a year. 2012 was as tumultuous a year for boxing as ever there has been. Positive drug tests and the result of the new wave of drug testing created by Floyd Mayweather Jr. nearly three years ago were at the top of a list of hot button issues this year. And a new question regarding the place strength-and-conditioning coaches was asked when Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach declared before Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Manny Pacquiao IV in November that if you got rid of strength-and-conditioning coaches, you’d get rid of boxing’s drug problem.
 
The subjective and shadowy world of judging fights came to its brightest light in recent memory when WBO welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley was awarded a close decision over Manny Pacquiao in June. As was the case with PEDs and better testing, when there was any cause for question surrounding a Pacquiao opponent, be it the scorecards or the strength coach, suddenly it mattered to the powers that be.

In the cases of both boxing’s bad judging problem and its inadequate testing protocols, hey, whatever it takes. This sport is tough enough as it is without seeing guys no one bases whole shows on (like Steve Cunningham or Gabriel Campillo) continued to get screwed by judging when things go against them. But those guys are grist for the mill as far as some people are concerned.
 
So if it takes the establishment getting in an uproar over an issue and following through whenever a star gets the road warrior treatment, so be it. If this sparks someone out there to become the “Get tough on judging” person and he goes on to expose just why time and again fans and writers see one thing and three judges (sometimes with a history of this affliction) see something else entirely, so be it. Then maybe Cunningham and Campillo can take solace when a Pacquiao gets robbed and there is an uproar that lasts longer than a night or a week. It will be worth it. Anything less than continual action toward positive change is a waste of energy.
 
Complaining that everyone only cares when it’s Pacquiao is a waste of energy.
 
Pound-for-pound lists are a waste of energy.
 
Fake ratings boards that think, “If we fix the ratings and go back to one champ per division, we’ll solve the sport’s ills” are a waste of energy.
 
This sport has had as many ups as downs in 2012.
 
In January, Joel Diaz Jr. of Boxing 360 made his TV debut against Guy Robb and opened the year with both a victory and a “Fight of the Year” candidate.
 
Junior welterweight Danny Garcia and his father/trainer Angel Garcia took center stage, stopping both Amir Khan and Erik Morales while keeping it incredibly real. He may be a Puerto Rican from Philly fighting in Brooklyn but Garcia at the Barclay’s Center for years to come sounds like a winner. The consistency and action style will hopefully develop a fan base for the affable and classy young fighter.
 
Bantamweight Leo Santa Cruz emerged from the prospect ranks to become a titleholder, fighting five times in one year and helping Golden Boy Promotions bring boxing back to CBS for the first time since 1997.
 
Adrien “The Problem” Broner went from a perceived Floyd Mayweather clone to a full-fledged personality of his own, complete with controversy, crazy tweets and electrifying performances. Every fight fan who has to listen to UFC Water Cooler Guy ask, “When Pacquiao/Mayweather retires, who does boxing have? See? You guys don’t have stars like the UFC,” without an answer can now interrupt the inane line of thinking with “Adrien Broner. He’s going to be a problem for both everyone he faces and the UFC for about the next 10 years at least.”
 
Scott Quigg went from “I think he can” prospect last year to a super bantamweight beltholder with three satisfying performances this year. His impressive win over Rendall Munroe in November sets up a dangerous match-up with Carl Frampton next year. It’s going to be a classic - unlike my Andre Berto prediction from last year, http://www.doghouseboxing.com/Gabriel/Montoya010112.htm. Quigg is a memorable name for all the right reasons this year.
 
Two aging fighters’ dreams were realized this year. Sergio Martinez finally got Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. into the ring and for 11 master class rounds, ceremoniously beat his impetuous ass. Then in the 12th, all hell broke loose and Martinez got to show what a true champion is made of. Right now, the world is the 37-year-old’s oyster.
 
With Pacquiao and Mayweather ducking and dodging the super-fight to end them all, at age 39, Juan Manuel Marquez brought up the rear like the slow and steady tortoise chasing two prize hares. After three tries and two booming right hands, Marquez finally caught up to one of them. Years of toiling in the shadows of not only Chavez, Marquez and Marco Antonio Barrera but his scorecard conqueror, Pacquiao, it must feel good to be named Juan Manuel Marquez right now. Sweet vindication and the “Punch of the Year.”
 
It will be interesting to see if we get Mayweather-Marquez II in place of Mayweather-Saul Alvarez.
 
Two men returned to this sport and brought hope, light and laughter with them - and some fun ring action. Thought by some industry insiders to be lost forever to visa issues, Alfredo Angulo returned to the U.S., free to pursue his dreams of raising his daughter in America and fighting for a title. He may one day do that as he has now fought twice (both wins) under his new trainer, Virgil Hunter.
 
The other man is middleweight contender Danny Jacobs. After returning from his loss to Dmitry Pirog last year, Jacobs learned he had cancer and set off on a yearlong journey that saw him face paralysis and death. Through all this, “The Golden Child” returned to the sport looking to enter the title hunt.
It’s truly a testament to the power of the mind that Jacobs was able to steel his will and come back from a near-tragedy like this. It’s what boxing is all about.
 
Nonito Donaire showed what being a champ in and out of the ring is about. He took boxing’s most explosive subject, PED testing, and turned it into a personal statement of cleanliness when he joined the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association’s 365/24/7 testing program. Since July, Donaire had undergone random testing at any time, day or night, and will continue to do so for the duration of his career. He took what Mayweather did a step further. That’s what champions do; they see the bar and they exceed it. Here’s hoping there are more true champions out there.
 
Fights like Brian Viloria vs. Hernan Marquez and Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado humbled us all with their violent gifts this October. For this writer, that’s the whole point. Two evenly matched young men, suitably prepared and willing to do what it takes to win. That’s the sport at its most pure. That’s when it is easiest to forget all the other things in this sport.
 
Commissions who are either inept or willfully ignorant. Promoters who pay lip service but offer no reformative action. Judges who continue to not only get it wrong but get away with it. Networks that keep showing this circus as long as we keep watching it.
 
Rios-Alvarado was like the “Fantasy Island” of fights, a respite from the ills of this corrupt business. There were no suspicions coming in, no shadowy figures in the corner. Just two guys who knew what the crowd wanted and who were definitely going to give it up. It was as honest an effort by both men as I have ever seen.
 
Watching that, one can’t help but feel obligated to both of them that the system surrounding them, protecting them, is as effective and safe as it can be.
 
Goodbye, 2012, a year that showed boxing what it is: weak.
 
Hello, 2013. Hopefully, it’s a year when we begin to positively address all that has come to light.
You can email Gabriel at maxgmontoya@gmail.com, follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gabriel_montoya and catch him every Monday on “The Next Round” with Steve Kim. You can also tune in to hear him and co-host David Duenez live on the BlogTalk radio show Leave-It-In-The-Ring.com, Thursdays at 5-8 p.m., PST.
 
Please visit our Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.


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