Boxing in 2011: De La Hoya shocks the world
By Kevin Iole
Boxing had another year more notable for what didn’t occur than what did. The bout that fans have been clamoring to see for at least three years, a welterweight showdown between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, the two best fighters in the world, never materialized.
Both of boxing’s brightest stars did compete in 2011 and their work was big news.
So was a stunning admission from one of the sport’s greatest icons, as well as the death of some notable boxers. Here are the top five boxing stories of 2011, as chosen by Yahoo! Sports:
A quarter century ago, the odds were great that Bernard Hopkins might not even be alive at 46, let alone setting boxing records. He was in a Pennsylvania prison on a strong arm robbery conviction and was clearly rolling down the wrong path. But Hopkins turned his life around to become one of boxing’s greatest champions, defending the middleweight title successfully 20 times. He set a record on May 21 in Montreal when, at 46, he defeated Jean Pascal for the WBC light heavyweight title to become the oldest man ever to win a world championship.
Boxing lost one of its greats when Joe Frazier died on Nov. 7
In early November, the news broke that the legendary heavyweight champion Smokin’ Joe Frazier was fighting liver cancer. Only a few days later, on Nov. 7, the sad news broke that Frazier had died. He was a 1964 Olympic gold medalist best known for his victory over Muhammad Ali in their epic 1971 bout of unbeaten heavyweight champions. Among the other boxing notables who died in 2011 were Genaro Hernandez, Sir Henry Cooper, Billy Costello, Butch Lewis and Scott LeDoux.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has long been one of the sport’s elite fighters, but his greatest talent may be to get people talking about him. He did that again on Sept. 17, when after taking a head butt from Victor Ortiz in their welterweight title fight, Mayweather clocked Ortiz with a 1-2 just as the bout resumed, while the referee looked away. Many, including HBO commentator Larry Merchant, called it a cheap shot. Mayweather, though, said it was a part of the business and celebrated the win.
It shouldn’t have been a surprise that Manny Pacquiao had a hard time with Juan Manuel Marquez in their welterweight title fight on Nov. 12. They’d fought two extremely close bouts before. But since that second bout, Pacquiao had improved dramatically and had become, in the estimation of many, the top fighter in the world. He was not, however, able to conclusively beat Marquez, winning a hotly disputed majority decision. Many fans in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas that night agreed that Marquez won and began showering the ring with trash and shouting obscenities. Pacquiao, though, insisted he’d clearly won.
While Hopkins was becoming the oldest champion in boxing history, his partner at Golden Boy Promotions and one-time in-ring rival Oscar De La Hoya entered a rehabilitation center for drug and alcohol abuse. He spoke openly of his drug and alcohol abuse, admitted he harbored thoughts of suicide, and said he had been unfaithful to his wife, Latin pop singer Millie Corretjer. It was a stunning admission for a guy who had a squeaky clean image and was the face of boxing.
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