BoxingFancast’s End Of Year Awards 2011 (Part 2)
On the world stage there have been as many brilliant bouts as there have been farcical endings to marquee fights in 2011. That said, there remained some impressive performances and individuals that deserve commendation in part two of our year end awards;
International Fighter of the Year
When the Showtime’s ‘Super Six’ tournament was announced in July 2009 Andre Ward was fortunate to be named amongst its participants. Thirty months and five undefeated fights later Ward sits king of the division. Wins over Mikkel Kessler, Allan Green, Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch have placed the Californian in contention for recognition as the pound for pound best. A 2012 showdown with Lucian Bute- the only other man to challenge Ward’s super middleweight supremacy could be monumental, however, getting two men notorious for only fighting at home in the same ring could cause problems.
An honourable mention must be given also to Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins, fast approaching his 47th birthday, was consummate in taking Jean Pascal’s light heavyweight title when the pair met in the Spring. The man from Philadelphia claims he can fight until he turns 50. On this evidence, I wouldn’t put it past him.
International Fight of the Year
Amir Khan’s thriller with Lamont Peterson at the start of December could have been a contender for this crown, but for my money it was Manny Pacquiao’s highly contentious win over Juan Manuel Marquez that takes this particular award.
Mexican Marquez put in an exemplary counter punching performance, and with the exception of the very first round and a couple of sessions down the stretch appeared to comprehensively outwit the eight-weight world champion, only to be denied on the scorecards. The battle, as had been with their two previous meetings, was fascinating and despite the acrimony surrounding the result, a fourth showing would appear the most likely outcome, particularly with Floyd Mayweather Jr serving a prison term in the New Year.
Disappointment of the Year
As with the domestic category, the world boxing stage has seen a number of frustrating and saddening moments in the last 12 months. From Floyd Mayweather’s truncated and controversial win over Victor Ortiz to Bernard Hopkins’ defeat to Chad Dawson that was later overturned.
Amir Khan will believe that he was on the end of the worst judging performance of 2011, but, to my mind, that title goes to either Manny Pacquio’s win over Juan Manuel Marquez, or, Matthew Macklin’s defeat to Felix Sturm in June.
To show just how much Sturm has struggled in 2011, the Macklin debacle was followed up by a generous draw, again at home, this time against undefeated Martin Murray. This was despite the St Helens fighter starting very slowly, almost giving away three of the first four rounds.
Young International Fighter of the Year
Saul Alvarez‘s meteoric rise continued apace in 2011 as he comfortably held onto his WBC light middleweight title with four routine defences. Bearing in mind the Mexican has now fought 40 times as a pro before the age of 22 there will be questions about his longevity in years to come. Nevertheless with a number of big name fighters looking to be on their way out over the next couple of years, Alvarez is certainly the man for present and future.
BoxingFancast’s End of Year Awards 2011 (Part 1)
Despite seeing a high number of British fighters struggling on the world stage, 2011 has provided so much exciting action and palpable drama to keep fight fans happy. To mark the end of 2011 it is time to hand out some prizes;
Domestic Fighter of the Year
He’s not had enough plaudits since becoming a world champion 18 months ago, but it has been a significant year for Ricky Burns in 2011. Since defeating Sergio Martinez in September 2010, Ricky had hardly been tested as he made three comfortable defences of his WBO super-featherweight crown.
Then, with making the 130 pound limit becoming an increasing problem, Burns stepped up to lightweight and a November showdown with dangerous Australian Michael Katsidis. If there were those believing Burns’ victory over Martinez was a flash in a pan, he proved them badly wrong in taking a super fit Katsidis into the trenches before grinding him into the earth.
Domestic Fight of the Year
A number of contenders for this one. Kevin Mitchell’s night of redemption against John Murray in July was explosive, George Groves’ tactical masterclass against James DeGale was enthralling, but for sheer blood, guts, skill and brutal intensity, Nathan Cleverly’s WBO light heavyweight defence against Tony Bellew had it all.
Bellew put everything on the line, and despite seeming to be ahead on many cards down the stretch, the Liverpudlian fell just short as Cleverly displayed his champion’s heart and defended his title for the second time. The respect shown between the pair in the immediate aftermath was a pleasant change after so much animosity between domestic combatants this year.
Disappointment(s) of the Year
Sadly, there are a lot of contenders for this award. For one reason or another David Haye, Amir Khan, Carl Froch, Paul Smith, Dereck Chisora, Nicky Cook and James DeGale have all experienced major defeats in fights that will shape their long term prospects and legacy.
For some, DeGale, Chisora and Khan in particular, their defeats may actually benefit their careers in the long-term, however for fighters such as Haye, Cook and Smith there is to be a long road to follow if any are to redeem their reputations.
For the lay boxing fan, David Haye’s points defeat to Wladimir Klitschko, was a major low point, and the protracted set up to the fight and subsequent excuses from Haye at the conclusion have made the two weight world champion something of a tarnished figure. His mooted shot at brother Vitali in the summer will be a final chance to set the record straight on what has still been an outstanding career.
Young Fighter of the Year
Another section with a fair few contenders. George Groves won the Boxing Writer’s gong in this category, however that was almost exclusively on the back of his contentious, narrow victory over James DeGale in May. That he followed that landmark win with an impressive stoppage over Paul Smith is to be applauded, however this award goes to a fighter who has remained very busy throughout 2011.
Five fights in less than 12 months has moved Tyson Fury from interesting sideshow to notable contender in 2011. Whilst there are many that still doubt the strength of his chin and his dedication to physical conditioning (July’s British title win over Dereck Chisora was like watching two fat men wrestle for a bag of chips on Brighton Pier on a Saturday night) he is really beginning to pull in quite a following.
Channel 5 have been keen to bring the 6″8 Fury to terrestrial screens- showing three of his five wins in 2011. A potential world title shot in 2012 cannot be overlooked, although a more realistic target may be a European title belt before a tilt at the biggest prize in boxing in 2013.
Look out tomorrow for part two of 2011′s gongs. Including appearances from Andre Ward, Manny Pacquiao and Joe Cooper.
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