1A- Juan Manuel Marquez: After a rather non-descript 12-round decision over Sergiy Fedchenko, he landed the shot heard ’round the world (especially in Mexico) versus Manny Pacquiao, which not only exorcised a lot of past demons and frustrations but launched a million Photoshops on the internet.
3- Leo Santa Cruz: His placement is really about the volume of work he put in. But what a year for “Teremoto.” He went from a young contender to a guy who, by the end of the year, was defending a major world title on CBS. Fought five times in 2012 and was crowd-pleasing in every single one of them.
4- Brian Viloria: Not only did he gain revenge by stopping Omar Nino in nine, he then unified his flyweight title with an exciting and impressive stoppage of Hernan “Tyson” Marquez. And while the “Hawaiian Punch” may not be our “Fighter of the Year,” if you take into account his December 2011 stoppage of Giovani Segura, nobody had a better 11-month stretch in this time.
5- Danny Garcia: Yeah, he captured the WBC junior welterweight title by defeating Erik Morales (then beating him in the rematch in the fall), he gets here largely because of his fourth round halting of the heavily favored Amir Khan. Hey, this kid keeps making his father look prophetic.
6- Sergio Martinez: Not only did he put away the game Matthew Macklin, he then took care of Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in his long-awaited big middleweight championship fight.
Honorable Mention: Orlando Salido, Lucas Matthysse, Adrien Broner, Carl Froch
KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR
1- Juan Manuel Marquez KO6 Manny Pacquiao: Referee Kenny Bayless could’ve counted to a hundred; the “Pac-Man” still would not have been able to continue. There was nothing lucky about that perfect counterpunch.
2- Gary Russell Jr. KO3 Robert Castaneda: How fast was Russell’s right hook? It looked pretty rapid in slow motion. This blistering punch froze Castaneda.
3- Mikkel Kessler KO4 Allan Green: A left hook leaves Green out cold. Referee Ian John-Lewis doesn’t even begin counting.
4- David Lemieux KO1 Alvaro Ganoa: Yeah, Lemieux might be limited but he can still punch.
5- Adonis Stevenson KO1 Jesus Gonzalez: Gonzalez was left twitching on the canvas.
Honorable Mention: Joan Guzman KO8 Jesus Pabon, Terence Crawford KO5 Andre Gorges, Mikael Zewski KO1 Cesar Chavez, Shane Cameron KO4 Monte Barrett, Alfredo Angulo KO1 Raul Casarez, Angelo Santana KO5 Juan Garcia
PROSPECT OF THE YEAR
1- David Price: Yeah, he’s almost 30 years old but he has just 15 bouts under his belt. Besides, heavyweights age differently. But it says here that if there is an heir apparent to the Klitschko Klan, it’s this guy. He’s got the requisite skills to go along with the size needed for the 21st century heavyweight.
2- Jesse Magdaleno: We saw some of his flaws in his last bout versus Jonathan Arrellano but there’s no doubting his natural talent. He’s got heavy and fast hands with a lot of quickness to go with it. He’s 13-0 (9) and just 21 years old.
3- Antonio Orozco: Orozco has a crowd-pleasing style and 2013 is a big year in his development as he should start getting more television exposure.
4- Omar Figueroa: There isn’t much finesse with this hard-charging lightweight, who began 2012 by bludgeoning the undefeated Michael Perez in six rounds. Figueroa, who is just 23 years of age, is with the influential Al Haymon and promoted by Golden Boy.
5- Thomas Oosthuizen: I know, some will consider him a young contender (and I’m not arguing that) but he did make an appearance on “ShoBox” last year where he looked good in outpointing Marcus Johnson. This 24-year-old South African is a tall southpaw who can box and has some sock.
6- Terence Crawford: This Top Rank-promoted lightweight comes from Omaha, Nebraska of all places. Crawford is a guy who can punch with both hands and effectively switch-hits.
Honorable Mention: Evgeny Gradovich, Gilberto Ramirez Sanchez, Jerwin Ancajas, Bryant Jennings, Deontay Wilder, Chris Eubank Jr., Andy Ruiz Jr., Joel Diaz, Keith Thurman
UPSET OF THE YEAR
1- Mario Rodriguez KO7 Nkosinathi Joyi: Joyi was considered among the world’s best at 105 pounds and he was a heavy favorite against Rodriguez, who had a mark of 14-6-4 coming into their match-up. But on this summer night in Mexico, the IBF champion suddenly fell apart in the seventh and was halted.
2- Danny Garcia TKO4 Amir Khan: Garcia proved that anyone who can punch has a shot versus Khan’s shaky whiskers.
3- Gamaliel Diaz UD12 Takahiro Ao: Diaz, a tough career journeyman, goes to Japan and simply outfights the respected champion, who held the WBC super featherweight title coming in.
4- Denis Grachev TKO8 Ismayl Sillakh: Sillakh was a highly regarded prospect coming into this fight. He left as a fighter with huge question marks.
THE AL HAYMON AWARD (for Manager of the Year)
1- Cameron Dunkin and Frank Espinoza (tie): (and yes, I realize that Haymon could win this award every year with his influence and hold on the power brokers in the sport, so that’s why I named the award after him) Dunkin and Espinoza are two of the last traditional managers around in the sport and both have solid stables of boxers. Both have world champions (such as Donaire and Abner Mares) and are consistently signing young amateur talent.
Dunkin was able to find a way to get Donaire out their four times this past year and took a gamble in matching Brandon Rios with Mike Alvarado. Espinoza got Daniel Ponce de Leon back to a world title and moved Mares adroitly, rolling the dice on the fight with Anselmo Moreno.
THE DEJA VU AWARD (for “Not again!”)
Ray Beltran losing a tough 10-rounder to Luis Ramos. Once again, the hard-luck Beltran (who eventually turned things around in ’12) comes up on the short end of the stick against an undefeated Golden Boy prospect on “ShoBox.” Previously, Beltran had fallen short against Sharif Bogere.
GROUNDHOG DAY AWARD (for repeated story)
Once again, we still had reports of supposed talks between the camps of Pacquiao and Mayweather last year. Folks, get over it; it’s not happening. But as long as there are page views and hits to be had, I guess these stories will continue to resurface.
CAVITY CREEPS AWARD (for most bizarre, late pullout)
Just an hour or so before his fight in January versus Tony Harrison, Cleven Ishe’s jaw swells up in his dressing quarters because of an abscess tooth. The California commission had no choice but to postpone this bout.
THE CONCORDIA AWARD (for treading water)
Vanes Martirosyan: For the most part, his career had stalled and when he finally faced Erislandy Lara in a WBC eliminator, a clash of heads stopped the fight in the ninth round. The fight was eventually ruled a technical draw, meaning they might have to do this fight all over again.
THE CINDY BRADY AWARD (for freezing on camera)
Chuck Giampa had a rough start commentating on Showtime. His words, “Oh, sh*t” pretty much summed up his debut.
THE OSI UMENYIORA-LESEAN MCCOY AWARD (for Twitter feud)
1- Ishe Smith-Omar Henry
2- Paulie Malignaggi-Robert Guerrero
(Predictably, neither of these fights came off in real life)
THE RIDDICK BOWE-ANDREW GOLOTA AWARD (for ugliest ringside scene)
After Johnriel Casimero stopped Luis Lazarte in the 10th, a riotous scene broke out in Argentina, where the Filipino’s camp was harassed from all over. Poor Sean Gibbons of Team Casimero nearly got killed. Eventually, they would need police protection from the angry mob.
THE TURF WAR AWARD
The Bloods and the Crips never fought this hard for territory.
THE DICKIE COLE AWARD (for Texas being Texas)
1- OK, did Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. ever take a drug test in this state in 2012?
2- The Tavoris Cloud-Gabriel Campillo decision: Most observers had Campillo clearly outboxing Cloud.
THE U-TURN AWARD (for turning around and coming back)
Top Rank, along with officials in El Paso, Texas, fought long and hard to make sure that the fight between Chavez Jr. and Andy Lee stayed at the Sun Bowl despite the questionable edicts of some politicians. Eventually a deal was stuck (which included a ban on alcohol sales) and the fight went off without any incident.
THE RYAN BRAUN AWARD
Like the 2011 National League MVP, Ryan Braun, Lamont Peterson tested positive for synthetic testosterone prior to his rematch with Amir Khan.
THE DADDY DEAREST AWARD
No one was going to dare stop the fight between Karim Mayfield and Raymond Serrano as long as Serrano’s father was in the corner. Despite the strong objections of others in the corner, Serrano was trotted out there after being hurt badly in this fight. He was eventually knocked out in the fifth frame.
THE BAY OF PIGS AWARD (for standoff)
Neither Top Rank or Golden Boy was giving up the coveted September 15th pay-per-view date in Las Vegas. Yeah, this “Cold War” is only escalating between the two promotional super-powers.
THE NEW JETS AWARD (for most hyped team that disappointed)
The 2012 U.S. OIympic boxing squad went to London with high hopes. They came back with no medals. Nada, zip, zero. It’s this country’s worst performance in the Summer Games. Where have you gone Howard Davis?!
THE DAVID VS. GOLIATH AWARD
Josesito Lopez is as game and tough as they come but he would’ve needed much more than a slingshot to defeat the much bigger Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
THE ENRON AWARD (for questionable accounting)
It’s hard to call anything a sell-out (as Golden Boy did for its September 15th card) when sites on the internet had seats for sale all over the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
THE RICHARD STEELE AWARD (for most controversial stoppage)
Once again, referee Ian John-Lewis confounds boxing fans in the U.K. with his decision to pull the plug on Enzo Maccarinelli’s fight against Ovill McKenzie.
THE BRIAN BARBOSA AWARD (for getting a 20-count)
Like “The Bull” long ago against Antwun Echols, Steve Herelius was knocked clear out of the ring by Dmytro Kucher and given a 20-count (by rule). But he was unable to get back in the ring in time and was counted out.
THE CURSE OF THE BILLY GOAT AWARD
Advice for any potential opponents for “Canelo”: Don’t you dare let this guy sit ringside at your fights. Don’t believe me? Ask Victor Ortiz and Miguel Cotto.
THE ADRIAN PETERSON AWARD (for best comeback)
1- Danny Jacobs: Yeah, other guys overcame injuries; this guy had to beat cancer to get back into the ring.
2- Robert Guerrero: From a lost 2011 (where a shoulder injury hampered him), he got into the mix of bigger fights by defeating Selcuk Aydin and Andre Berto.
3- Alfredo Angulo: Many thought he would be deported back permanently to Mexico and never heard from again. Instead, he fought for his freedom and notched two wins late in 2012.
THE MORRADE HAKKAR AWARD (for worst boxer on a premium cable outlet)
Orlando Lora and Sal Sanchez Jr. somehow made the air on HBO and Showtime in 2012. Just let that sink in for a moment. Meanwhile, fights like Viloria vs. Marquez are bypassed by the networks.
THE LION IN WINTER AWARD
There used to be a time when Don King was the most powerful and influential promoter in the world. Now, he does just a few shows a year and fighters under contract with DKP have their careers stalled for years at a time.
THE MCRIB AWARD (for coming back)
Shane Mosley had sworn that if he didn’t perform well against Alvarez he would retire. Well, he’s already back in the gym training and could get a crack at WBA welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi next spring.
Glen Johnson had retired after his loss over the summer to Andrzej Fonfara. A few months later, he was taking a payday versus George Groves in England.
They aren’t the first and they won’t be the last.
THE RETURN TO SENDER AWARD
Yuriokis Gamboa had an interesting 2012. Not only did he cut out on a fight with Brandon Rios, he then had 50 Cent and Floyd Mayweather put up a significant amount of money to buy his freedom from Top Rank. So as he finally returned to the ring on December 8th, whose show did he fight on? That’s right, Top Rank.
THE NO-DOZE AWARD (for most sleep-inducing fight)
1- Austin Trout UD12 Delvin Rodriguez
2- Devon Alexander UD12 Randall Bailey
3- Miguel Vazquez UD12 Mercito Gesta
The old-timers would say about these fights, “Let ‘em in for free. Charge ‘em to leave.”