Ain't so bad! - It may not have ended as well as it could have done and in some cases should have done. But 2011 proved a busy calender year for British boxing at both domestic and world level.
Pound for pound we still held our own in world terms and per square inch we're producing quality boxers and performances to challenge and rival the very best in the world, with a good outlook for 2012.
British Boxing Awards for 2011 by www.britishboxers.co.uk
British Boxer of the Year: Ricky BurnsComeback of the year: Brian Rose
Young Boxer of the year: George Groves
British fight of the year: Kevin Mitchell vs John Murray
Round of the year: Round 7, Liam Walsh vs Paul Appleby
Most progress 2011: Lee Selby
Trainer of the year: Tony Borg.
Knockout of the year: Anthony Crolla vs John Watson
Promoter of the year: Frank Warren
Upset of the year: Amir Khan losing to Lamont Peterson
Event of the Year: Who can walk the Walk, Cleverly v Bellew Liverpool show. 15th October
Pick for 2012: Kell Brook
Overseas fighter of the year: Andre Ward
The big world title fight between Brits Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew rocked the boxing pages and the Echo Arena and lived up to all the pre-fight hype. Both produced their best and at the end you couldn't split them, the judges barely did, but Cleverly took a split decision and deserves big credit for getting on the 'Roadshow' and defending his WBO light-heavyweight title in Bellew's home City of Liverpool.
Bellew was terrific that night and pushed the champion all the way, he will comeback stronger for the fight and can challenge for a world title again. Cleverly shown he is a class act and as tough as they come. The Welshman will take some shifting and finishes the year as our only fully crowned world title holder.
With unification fights against world champions Bernard Hopkins WBC, Tavoris Cloud IBF and WBC holder Beibut Shumenov the future looks bright and interesting. The Welshman, will start 2012 with a homecoming title defence on February 25th in Cardiff.
Our other claimant to a world title is Scotland's Ricky Burns, who as the unbeaten WBO Super-featherweight champion moved up to lightweight to outpoint Michael Katsidis in a top class performance, outboxing the uncompromising Australian to lay his hands on the WBO's Interim belt. - The full version is held by Juan Manuel Marquez, but Burns is the champion in waiting if the Mexican legend decides to vacate it anytime soon. Burns will fight again in Glasgow on March 10th.
With three world title fights in 2011 all wins and the move up in weight to take on and beat Katsidis at Wembley, we make Ricky Burns the 'British Boxer of 2011'. - The most likely fight for him next is going to be Kevin Mitchell. - The Londoner missed out on his world title shot, when Manchester's John Murray stepped in to take on Brandon Rios in New York for the WBA world title. Mitchell was denied access to the USA on the grounds he was involved in a pending court case.
Murray went on to push Rios all the way and put on a gallant performance, at times it was too painful to watch as Murray soaked up numerous uppercuts from the tough Rios, who prior to the fight lost his titles on the scales. Murray was the only combatant in the fight who could have walked out of the ring with the belt, but in the end he just fell short. But he shown the world his toughness and stubbornness not to fold and on the back of his war with Mitchell, proved he is a true warrior of British boxing.
Kevin Mitchell had the one fight in 2011, the win against Murray, stopping the unbeaten Mancunian in round 8, in what proved to be the world title eliminator fight, that Murray eventually got on the back of the loss. - Mitchell knows now it is only a matter of time before he gets his shot at a world title in 2012 and in beating Murray in our 'British Fight of the Year' proved his credentials as a top rate boxer, putting the Katsidis loss behind him. - His personal life appears to not have been as it should and that is non of our business, but British boxing hopes that he as put any distractions behind him and his personal problems will not get in the way of him fulfilling his great potential in the future.
Our World heavyweight champion David Haye started the year with the WBA belt but after his one fight in July against Wladimir Klitschko lost it to the Ukrainian undisputed king of the big men on points in Germany. The Hayemaker went onto announce his retirement from the ring, before retracting his plans and putting himself on standby, should one of the Klitschko accept his challenge to them.
Amir Khan agonisingly lost his WBA light-welterweight title to Lamont Peterson in December when he was outpointed in Peterson's home of Washington. Khan was deducted two points during the fight for pushing, which ultimately resulted in the final outcome. Khan his promoters and many fans felt he had done enough to hang onto his title and he will look to bounce back with a rematch against Peterson. The talk of trying to have the result over-turned or cancelled, doesn't sound like a good route to take and wouldn't leave boxing in a good place if it was dragged through a tribunal of some kind. Khan should take it on the chin and move on. The Bolton man is too good to not come back to the top and proved in what was a great fight regardless of the aftermath, that he is a world class talent.
With world title fights galore and with TV picking up the boxing we wanted to see, via SkySports, Channel 5, the new BoxNation Channel and the like, fans were treated to an action packed helping of pugilism throughout. - Terrestrial TV waved goodbye to boxing a while ago, so the news that Channel 5 had thrown it's hat into the ring and were to televise live fights, was a welcome addition. SkySports continue to lead the way in broadcasting the big fights. But new kid on the block BoxNation was just the injection arm chair boxing fans needed this year. The fledgling Channel broadcast some belting fights for free and recently changed over to Pay-Per-View. But for £10 per month for a dedicated boxing feed, with big fights home and abroad lined up, we wish them well in bringing us something different.
The festive month to end the year though was a bad one for Carl Froch who surrendered his WBC Super-middleweight title and in turn the Super Six trophy to Andre Ward n Atlantic City, USA.
Ward proved he is the best super-middleweight in the world with an assured, skillful performance over Froch, outpoint the Englishman in style. Froch could not come to terms with Wards style and his own work and strengths were nullified by Wards cunning and general ring craft. Ward is our 'Overseas boxer of the Year' after his win over Froch and Arthur Abraham in May.
Froch though can come again at world level, at 33 time isn't on his side, but there are a few good years in the old 'Cobra' yet. Mikkel Kessler remains a rematch fight that could be made this year, while there is talk of Froch taking on IBF champion Lucian Bute too. Froch as also shown a desire in the past to contest again on the British circuit after being in the Super-Six for the last two years. Possible fights with the likes of George Groves, James DeGale and possibly Nathan Cleverly, should Froch decide to step upto light-heavyweight, have all been touted, but whatever route he decides to take for his comeback in 2012, it will be a warm welcome back for the man who as frilled us with his granite performances, proving one of the iron men of world boxing.
The British middleweight division as churned out it's fair share of capable protagonists over the years. If we go back to the just the 90's and the fireworks and drama of the Benn, Eubank and Watson era, that still shouts out quality to any fan. Before that we might want to add Alan Minter, Herol Graham, Terry Downes, Randolph Turpin, Tony Sibson, Kevin Finnegan to a compiled list and many more good fighters in between, including and arguably the best of the lot Ted 'Kid' Lewis who boxed from1909 to 1929 and had 300 professional fights against the very best of his era.
In the modern age of Limey Middleweights, this past year we followed, Darren Barker, Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray on their individual quests to fight for world middleweight titles on away ground. - Barker went over to America in October to take on the best of the lot in Sergio Martinez and gave a good account of himself against one of the best pound for pound contenders in world boxing, before succumbing to the skill and power of 'Maravilla' in the 11th round, after testing and pushing the champion all the way in a spirited effort by the Londoner.
Matthew Macklin went as close as anyone in winning a world title when he narrowly lost out on points to Felix Sturm in Germany on June 25. - Macklin fought like a man possessed, as if he didn't want to leave anything to chance. He never gave the champion a minute to breath and was in Sturm's face from the start to finish and was unlucky to not get the verdict. - You would have thought that Sturm had had enough of the British after Macklin's challenge. But no the German opted to take on British and Commonwealth champion Martin Murray in the 13th defence of his WBA middleweight title belt in December. - Murray earned a draw in Germany against their champion, which equals in reality to a win. He was unlucky to not claim the world title that night and is pushing for an immediate rematch with Sturm early in the new year.
Macklin's misfortune in 2011 ended with the good news he will get another world glory shot on March 17th 2012 - St Patrick's night against Sergio Martinez at Madison Square Garden, New York. - It will be a special night for Birmingham's Macklin, who proud of his Irish roots, will be proud to fight his ultimate fight on Paddy's night in front of a big Irish crowd at the Garden, what dreams are made of for 'Mack the Knife' and what a fight that promises to be. - It seems strange that such were the exploits of the countries three best middleweights this year, neither are yet to face each other! I'm sure time will eventually rectify that and Macklin vs Barker vs Murray will eventually happen along the boxing way in another British middleweight shootout to rival their predecessors.
Brian Magee challenged unbeaten IBF Super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute in March, but after a game effort came unstuck in round ten, when the Canadian of Romanian birth came on strong to overcome the challenge of the Belfast man. Magee ended the year though on a high by going over to San Jose, Costa Rica to win the interim WBA World super middleweight title, by outpointing Jaime Barboza.
Heavyweight prospect and current British and Commonwealth champion Tyson Fury proved his potential, his grit, determination and heart during the year, but also shown that he as a long way to go and a few more tricks to learn before he steps up to the next level. - It was no mean feat though defeating Dereck Chisora to win the Lonsdale belt in July and Fury continues to show his willingness to learn by fighting regularly. - But in his last fight the wheels of the Fury caravan nearly came off in November, when the Manchester man was dropped on the seat of his Hugh pants by Canadian champion Neven Pajkic. - Fury as a tendency to show his vulnerabilities in a fight and is accused of neglecting defence at times in order to land his own big shots. - He admits to still being a work in progress and 2011, should answer more questions about him. - One other British heavyweight who might have a say in Fury's plans is Liverpool's David Price, the former Olympian, who is making his own way in the big ranks. - The Liverpudlian takes on John McDermott on January 21st in the new year in a British title eliminator match up. - If Price comes through that test, he will not only be pushing for a Northwest heavyweight derby fight with Fury, he would have earned it and be entitled to his shot at Fury's domestic crown.
The aforementioned Dereck Chisora had a bit of an up and down set of circumstances during 2011. Unbeaten going into the year, he suffered his first loss to Fury and then in December after getting a surprise shot at Robert Helenius' European title in Finland on December 3rd. - 'Del Boy' lost the fight on points. - But it was putting it mildly, shocking! scoring in Helsinki and 'Del' was given no favours. In the eyes of most he clearly should have come away with Helenius' belt that night. - But after that defeat came some good news for Chisora, when he was confirmed as the next challenger for Vitali Klitschko's WBA heavyweight title, which will take place in Germany on February 18th.
Ricky Hatton the former two weight world champion and one of the best British boxers of the modern era, if not the most supported, finally decided to bring the official curtain down on his career when in July he announced his retirement from boxing. After the years of thrills the 'Hitman' brought to British boxing over the years, he can ride of into the sunset, knowing his place in the history books of the best, he is way up the list and his ring exploits will never be forgotten. Hatton though as kept his gloved hand in the game and not only runs a very successful boxing promotional company but as just acquired his trainers licence and intends to find and train a champion to follow in his footsteps. We wish him all the best in his new career.
Sheffield veteran Ryan Rhodes at 34 years of age, tried to defy father time in his 16th year as a professional and in his second world title chance, coming 14 years after his first one against Otis Grant in December 1997. When he took on Matthew Hatton conqueror Alvarez in the Mexicans home coming first defence fight in Guadalajara, Jalisco in June. - Rhodes put in a brave hard shift, but the young Mexican superstar of boxing was just too fresh, too heavy handed and just too good for the former 'Spice Boy' of boxing and he was stopped in the 12th and last round of the fight. - Rhodes as since returned with a win and will look to contest the domestic titles in 2012. The Peter Pan of British boxing still looks and fights as good as ever and they're no telling how long he can go on for. A third world title shot looks a long way off, but he waited 14 years for his second one, so you never know?
With world title fights a plenty for our boxers in 2011, lets not forget the emerging talent on the domestic scene and the fighters who are simmering at the top of their game, while they wait their opportunities in 2012.
Barry's Lee Selby sprung from nowhere to knockout British featherweight champion Stephen Smith in a shocker at Liverpool's Olympia on September 17th. - Selby claimed the Lonsdale belt and Smith's Commonwealth strap, with a sickening KO of the home favourite in round eight to cast himself in the British spotlight. - But the year high wasn't over and in December Selby had to make a quick first defence against former champion, Greenock's John Simpson. - Selby proved he was no flash in the pan and that his win over Smith was no fluke. He became the first man ever to stop Simpson, when a crunching body shot felled the Scot in round 5. - Selby as improved no end and looks a totally different boxer to the one who lost his 5th professional fight over four rounds to Samir Mouneimne in 2009.
Kell Brook, proved what we have known for a while in 2011 that he has the talent to make a name for himself in world boxing. Unbeaten former British champion Brook is now on the verge of a world-title shot, and will surely find himself competing in the mix in 2012. In June he beat Lovemore N'dou. He then went onto demolish former world title challenger Rafal Jackiewicz in round six, for the WBA Inter-Continental welterweight title. The Sheffield stylist, unbeaten in 26 fights, rounded off a positive 2011 with a punch perfect performance, finished off by a 5th round TKO win in America against Luis Galarza showing the wider boxing audience what 'Special K' is all about.
Jamie McDonnell cleaned up all the domestic titles in 2011, when he added Stuart Hall's British crown to his European and Commonwealth belts in September, impressively outpointing his nearest British rival over the championship distance. McDonnell preceded the Hall win by defending his European belt against Stephane Jamoye via a points win. After that he layed claim to the Commonwealth strap when he again took a points verdict over Nick Otieno. - The Yorkshireman will hope a world title chance can come his way this year, it would be the only other belt needed for the perfect quartet.
Gary Buckland proved his Prizefighter first round KO win over British champion Gary Sykes was no one off victory, when in a rematch with Sykes in September he won the belt outpointing the Yorkshireman in a thriller. Sykes as alot of talent and can get back onto the title ladder next year. Buckland moves on and bigger fights await the quiet man of British boxing.
Colin Lynes defied father time to put on what was probably his most accomplished display of boxing to win the British welterweight title outpointing champion Lee Purdy in November.
Chris Edwards in Decemberwon his Lonsdale belt for keeps by beating old foe Shinny Bayaar again in defence of his British flyweight title. It was another tough battle against Bayaar, who had beaten Chris on points in 2009. - But it was sweet revenge for Chris this time and he outworked his opponent to win on points. - The Stoke champion reclaimed the Lonsdale belt against Liverpool's Paul Edwards in June via a SD points win. Chris Edwards is often over looked, but again proved himself this year as one of the most consistent and best performers in the Flyweight division.
Liam Walsh the Commonwealth super-feather champion defended his belt twice this year and each fight was a cracker. In March he halted the challenge of Manchester's Jon Kayes with a 10th round stoppage and then in September defeated Scotland's Paul Appleby in what was a strong contender for fight of the year. The Cromer champion tasted the canvas in that fight in round 7, which was a great round of boxing at the York Hall and wins our round of the year. But Walsh dug deep and came through eventually forcing Appleby to retire after round 10. Appleby with just 12 pro fights to date is learning his trade before our eyes and will improve. It will be interesting and up and down journey by the looks of it and a rematch against Appleby in 2012 couldn't be ruled out.
Lee Haskins continues to rule the British super flyweights and cemented his superiority over the chasing pack by entering The Prizefighter tournament in October and adding the Trophy to his British and Commonwealth titles. Prior to that in July the Bristol man went over to Marrakech in Morocco to face Frenchman Mohamed Bouleghcha for his WBA Inter-Continental bantamweight title, proving he could move up at some point in the future if the big fights don't come off at super-fly. Unbeaten now for four years, since pulling out of his fight with Ian Nappa in 2007 after injuring his arm in round 7. Haskins may slip under the radar sometimes, but British boxing should take more note of 'The Playboys' skills and potential and if 2012 doesn't see him fight for more major honours and a defining fight, something isn't right!
Danny McIntosh started 2011 in great style by going over to France in January to win the European light-heavyweight title by knocking out Thierry Karl in the 11th round. Unfortunately he lost the belt to German Eduard Gutknecht in Germany when he was stopped in round 8. McIntosh is now being lined up to challenge British champion Tony Bellew in the new year.
Billy Joe Saunders continues to impress and so far hasn't put a foot wrong. He had 5 fights in 2011, winning the Southern Area middleweight title against Gary Boulden in November, before rounding off the year with a 1st round KO of Tommy Tolan. The former Olympian now as 12 fights behind him as a pro and will look to move into the British picture this year.
Former world amateur champion Frankie Gavin had won the WBO Inter-Continental welterweight title in May by outpointing Young Mutley. In his first defence of the belt he took on Yorkshires Curtis Woodhouse, but struggled to a split decision win against the former professional footballer. It as since come to light that Gavin as had personal problems that have understandably taken his mind off his boxing career. This was evident when he left trainer Anthony Farnell and his Manchester home to train in London with Jimmy and Mark Tibbs. But it was his decision to pull out of his fight with Frank Haroche Horta in October at the last minute, that finally proved Gavin was not focused on boxing. We believe since then Birmingham's 'Funtime Franky' is in a better place and ready to resurrect his highly promising career in 2012.
Denton Vassell successfully defended his Commonwealth welterweight title twice this year and remains unbeaten in 19 professional fights. Vassell is now ready to step up this year and pit his wits against the best welterweights around him. A fight with rejuvenated Colin Lynes is mooted for the British title. That fight will be a good yard stick as to how good Denton is and how far he could go.
Prizefighter is always welcome viewing and continues to be a great addition to our yearly fight calender. Ive heard people mention it could get boring if they do too many. But any boxing that is on is welcome and they always seem to throw up surprises and bring fighters to the fore and into fans psych. Long may it continue.
Spencer Fearon continues to tell us that 'HardKnocks is for life and his promotional outfit is the future of British boxing. Spencer's high energy and love of boxing will see that HardKnocks continues to grow in the new year and that can only be good news for the game.
Main Event Boxing Show hosted by Barkery Jammeh and professional boxing coach Bobby Rimmer is as Steve Lillis put it recently, the 'Punk Rock' of boxing shows. Since its inception two years ago, Barks and Bobby have taken the show from the radio and onto the TV, with the backing of Premier Sports on Sky Channel 433. - Barks and Bobby have studio guests and phone guests from British boxing and from around the world. - It is always a weekly treat to see the broad Mancunian pair having it out and getting down to the issues not always touched on by others. There are no airs and graces about Barks and Bobby and that's how we like it, lets hope it stays that way. Keep up the great work, Goodluck for 2012 lads.
The Worldwide Weekly Boxing Prediction League which is run by Andrew Millwall on Facebook. As managed to bring together boxers, boxing figures and fans from all over the world, into one place to pit there boxing prediction wits against each other, over the weekly fight fixtures. Andrew prides the league on being friendly and welcoming and accepts new members to have a go and compete with many professional boxers on a weekly basis. The concept as gone from strength to strength and is a great addition to a fight fans diary.
Jane Couch former fighter now roving boxing interviewer, Jane gets in places and gaps that only she could or would be cock sure enough to do so. What Jane offers us is a raw insight behind the scenes, at not only the big shows and events, but from the weigh ins to the dressing rooms at the countries small hall shows. No one is safe from a good Lancashire grilling from the 'Fleetwood Assasin' although her language gets the better of her at times, her heart is in the right place and always fun to catch up with. - Keep up the great work Jane, we ****ing salute you!
iFilm London have continued to get in about around and under the noses of everybody who counted on the British boxing scene in 2011, finishing off a successful year, by flying out to America in December to follow Carl Froch and Kell Brook. - Kugan Cassius and James Helder have polished their idea and have evolved the concept into a regular feature in the British boxing fans weekly news round up. Going from strength to strength!
Big thanks and special mention from us goes out to Terry Dooley and Al Stevenson for their support and shared journey's to a number of fights this year. Also big thankyou to Andy Gray at www.boxingportraits.com for his great photographs and friendship.
We would also like to thank all our readers and web watchers and friends in the sport for your continued support and we will do our very best in 2012 to bring you the British Boxing going ons, as close to the action and boxers as we can without getting a nose bleed!
This year boxing mourned for it's kin who had passed over to the boxing ring in the sky and it was a year we lost some of the best!
The start of 2011 was mourned by the boxing fraternity when Gary Mason the former British heavyweight champion sadly died in a cycling accident on his way to work in January. He was only 48 - Gary had 38 professional bouts between 1984 to 1994, losing only one. - That defeat came in his most famous fight, when he took on an up-and-coming Lennox Lewis in a defence of his British title and challenge for Lewis' European belt at Wembley Arena in 1991. - Gary will be remembered as a good heavyweight in a time of great heavyweights and it is widely considered if the big man was around today, he would have been more successful. Boxing and the world will miss Gary Mason and his infectious smile.
Sir Henry Cooper The British heavyweight boxing legend in May died at the age of 76 at his son's house in Oxted, Surrey. The former British, Commonwealth and European champion had 55 professional fights and is revered for his 1963 knockdown of Muhammad Ali - then Cassius Clay. London born Henry who won the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award twice and was knighted in 2000. Alongside Frank Bruno, Tommy Farr and Lennox Lewis, Cooper is considered one of the great British heavyweights.
Joe Frazier Smokin’ Joe Frazier passed away in November. The 1964 Olympic gold medallist was best known for his victory over Muhammad Ali in their epic 1971 bout. Frazier will always be remembered as one of the best heavyweights of all time.
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