James Kirkland - Somewhat unpredictable Kirkland walked into Glen Tapia’s backyard and stopped him in six rounds earlier this month. Now James is right on the cusp of a title shot. Trainer Ann Wolfe seems to know how to get the most out of the “Mandingo Warrior.”
The“Tina Turner ‘Simply the Best’ Outstanding Fighter”Award
Floyd Mayweather Jr. - The guy apparently is from another planet where you don’t age normally and you get better as you get older.
Danny Garcia - Tough Philly kid beats everyone put in front of him. At 27-0 (16), beat both Zab Judah and Lucas Matthysse this year and Matthysse was supposed to be too strong for him. Nope! Talked about as a tentative challenge for Mayweather, who he would have trouble with (but who wouldn’t?)
Guillermo Rigondeaux - Call him dull if you will…but who beats him?
Andre Ward - 27-0 (14), good boxer, tough, can punch…other than an arguably cavalier attitude, not a lot of room for criticism.
Timothy Bradley - Can box, good speed but also likes to brawl and bang. Has beaten a lot of good fighters. At some point, this guy should get the recognition an unbeaten champion at 31-0 (12) deserves.
The “Overturned Applecart Upset” Award
Jhonny Gonzalez KO 1 Abner Mares - Veteran Jhonny had eight losses and was looking a little long in the tooth. Landed a game-changer on favoured Mares. Picked up WBC world featherweight title and well-paying rematch.
Marcos Maidana UD 12 Adrien Broner - Tough Argentinean considered too predictable and slow for slick Broner. But Maidana took it to the streets and banged his way to a win, dropping Broner twice, relieving “The Problem” of his WBA welterweight title.
Adonis Stevenson KO 1 Chad Dawson - Experienced Dawson had beaten a lot of good fighters. Stevenson could bang but he had to land just right. And what if Dawson caught him? Well, Stevenson landed early and hard, picking up KO win in one round along with the WBC light heavyweight title. A puncher always has a chance but nobody thought it would end this quick. The result perhaps wasn’t so much an upset but the speed in which it happened certainly makes a convincing argument.
Jesus Soto Karass TKO 12 Andre Berto - Tough gatekeeper Karass was brought to San Antonio in July as a test for favored Berto. Test him he did…stopping him in the last round.
Shawn Porter UD 12 Devon Alexander - Porter has quietly beaten everyone he’s faced. Pacquiao’s former sparring partner showed his skills and guts handling favored Alexander. In a good spot for a nice payday in red-hot welterweight division.
“The Beatles ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ KO” Award
Adonis Stevenson KO 1 Chad Dawson - Everyone knew Stevenson could crack but nobody saw that one coming…and apparently neither did Dawson.
Lucas Matthysse KO 1 Mike Dallas - Argentinean banger upsets prospect Dallas, putting him to sleep with an overhand right.
The “Eric Clapton ‘Wonderful Tonight’ Great Fight” Award
Tim Bradley UD 12 Ruslan Provodnikov - Both waged war in this 12-round battle. Fight fans would love to see a rematch…Bradley, not so much.
James Kirkland TKO 6 Glen Tapia - No world title on the line but a gauge as to who goes north, who stays put or even takes a step south. A motivated Kirkland (probably afraid to face his trainer Ann Wolfe in dressing room if he lost) digs his toes in and unloads all night on his way to a stoppage win over a very courageous Tapia.
The “Eddie Cochran ‘Somethin’ Else’ Pound-for-Pound Fighter” Award
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr. - The best out there today. Everyone else is a distant second.
2. Andre Ward - A good amateur, now a good pro, who has never lost, beating a lot of very good fighters along the way.
3. Guillermo Rigondeaux - An outstanding amateur who fans say is dull as a pro. However, he has an elite skill set that sees him through any style he’s faced so far.
4. Tim Bradley - 31-0 (12) and beating some of the best fighters in the game. Showed nuts and guts against Russian tough guy Ruslan Provodnikov.
5. Danny Garcia – Old-school, undefeated Philly tough guy who is also an underrated boxer. Can bang and has a good chin. WBC/WBA light welterweight champion, who may get shot at Mayweather after moving north seven pounds.
6. Miguel “Mikey” Garcia - A very good fighter who does everything well. Undefeated WBO super featherweight champ at 33-0 (28). Could be a huge star in the game.
The “Casey Kasem/Dick Clark Greatest Hits (to Reputation) in 2013” Award
1. Adrien Broner (vs. Marcos Maidana). Rapper, check. Porn star, check. World champion, oops… Tough guy Maidana was supposed to be easy pickings for boxer Broner but “El Chino” willed his way to a win over the champ, dropped him twice and left with his WBC welterweight title.
2. Lucas Matthysse (vs. Danny Garcia) Lotta chatter about Matthysse taking out Garcia when he caught him but champion Garcia proved his toughness. Not sure if this is a case of Matthysse’s stock shares dropping, Garcia’s rising or both?
3. Abner Mares (KO by 1 Jhonny Gonzalez) Talented Abner Mares was facing a guy who was good but with a lotta miles on him and eight losses. Anyone can get caught and Mares did. We’ll see how rematch plays out?
4. Chad Dawson (KO by 1 Adonis Stevenson) Again, from the “Anyone Can Get Caught” file. And when it’s from a monster puncher like Stevenson, it can be tough to get up from. Tough (and short) night for Dawson.
The “Tom Petty ‘I Won’t Back Down’ Tough Guy Respect” Award
Orlando Salido, Jesus Soto Karass - Tough, old-school gamers. Never in a dull one. Came up the hard way. Here’s hoping 2014 is good to them or they ride off into the sunset to relax and reflect on a great career, they have also earned that right.
The “Green Day ‘King for a Day’ Great Showing in the Ring” Award
Danny Garcia UD 12 Lucas Matthysse - Champ Garcia was respected going in but was thought to be in trouble, once bomber Matthysse caught him. Stood up to the bombs and more. Garcia out-toughed the tough guy.
Floyd Mayweather UD12 Saul Alvarez - “Canelo” could have used a little seasoning. A year later perhaps would have been a better time for him. Floyd certainly has a knack for knowing when to fight guys but “Money” was facing a motivated, bigger, young gun and he made it look like a sparring session.
Tim Bradley UD 12 Ruslan Provodnikov - Great showing by both guys. Ruslan’s stock rose in loss and Bradley showed warrior’s heart and guts. A real good fight!
Marcos Maidana UD 12 Adrien Broner – A nice night for Maidana who was supposed to be “easy work” for Broner. Trainer Robert Gracia employed a brilliantly simple plan of non-stop pressure and taking Broner way out of comfort zone. “El Chino” should be rewarded with a nice follow-up payday against one of the elite guys out there. Could be a career changer for both guys.
I would like to wish all fight fans a safe and joyous holiday season - Health and Happiness in 2014.
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