Biggest Winners and Losers in Boxing in 2012

Briggs SeekinsFeatured ColumnistDecember 28, 2012

Biggest Winners and Losers in Boxing in 2012

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    The 2012 boxing year came to an unofficial close on Saturday, December 22, when heavyweight contenders Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham battled to a hotly-contested split decision verdict in Adamek's favor. 

    It was the sort of fight guaranteed to have fight fans grumbling in the aftermath, cursing the way poor or corrupt judging is ruining the sweet science. I had Cunningham winning 115-113 myself, as did my buddy and even my wife.

    But it was one of those fights close enough to break either way. And the point that shouldn't be lost here is a significant one: As 2012 was drawing to a close, boxing was back on network television on a weekend afternoon.

    During the last-minute shopping weekend, millions of Americans around the country were ducking into sports bars to grab a quick one and finding our beloved sport once more where it has always belonged: front and center on the small screen.

    Kids around the country easing into their holiday break were flipping through the channels and finding boxing programmed a a live event

    Boxing as a sport has been a big winner in 2012. 

Winner: Robert Guerrero

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    If I had been asked a year ago to draw up a list of underappreciated, underrated boxing stars, Robert Guerrero would have been near the top of it. It's a testament to his skill that I would have included him. But it was still a terrible list to be on.

    Going into 2012, Guerrero had already been a world champion at featherweight and lightweight. Most writers and knowledgeable fans ranked him as among the more talented pound-for-pound fighters in the world.

    But his name rarely came up in a conversations about big potential fights.

    All that has changed during the past 12 months. It is almost as if Guerrero entered 2012 with a New Year's resolution to force his way to the forefront of the boxing scene, because that is exactly what he has done.

    2012  was all about being bold for Robert Guerrero. In July, the former 126-pound champ jumped all the way from 135 to 147 pounds to face Selcuk Aydin for the vacant interim WBC world title. Guerrero showed himself to be a very solid potential welterweight, using superior boxing skills to turn Aydin all night and win an easy decision.

    When interviewed in the ring post-fight, Guerrero called out Floyd Mayweather, noting that by winning the interim title, he was the mandatory No. 1 contender for Mayweather's regular version of the belt. 

    Guerrero made his most serious case for becoming the next Mayweather opponent when he fought Andre Berto on November 24. On that night, he forever silenced any doubt about whether or not he is solid enough physically to compete at 147 pounds.

    Guerrero knocked down Berto in each of the first two rounds and spent the majority of the fight brutalizing Berto at close range, tenderizing his body and closing both of his eyes. It is one of the leading candidates for 2012 Fight of the Year.

Loser: Victor Ortiz

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    Victor Ortiz entered 2012 needing to make up for his embarrassing showing against Floyd Mayweather in September of 2011. He had the perfect opportunity to do so all set up: a June rematch of his 2011 Fight of the Year with Andre Berto. 

    Then, Berto failed a PED test and lost his license temporarily. Still, things seemed like they would work out for Ortiz. The game junior welterweight contender, Josesito Lopez, was named as a replacement, a good opponent for guaranteeing an action-packed fight. 

    And even as that fight still remained to be fought, Ortiz was already being penciled in as the opponent for rising phenom and WBC junior middleweight champion Saul Alvarez on a high-profile Mexican Independence Day broadcast on Showtime. 

    Then, the fight with Lopez actually happened, and everything that had been perfectly set up for Ortiz quickly came apart. 

    Lopez showed up with every intention of winning and took the fight to Ortiz, eventually breaking his jaw and forcing him to quit in his corner after nine. It was a competitive fight and Ortiz still led on the cards, but the momentum was shifting towards Lopez with the championship rounds coming up.

    Ortiz has talent and an exciting style, and at 25, a comeback is still very likely for him. But 2012 is a year that I'm sure he will be glad to put behind him.  

Winner: Nonito Donaire

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    Nonito Donaire closed out December with a three-round KO of future Hall of Famer Jorge Arce. It gave him a 4-0 record for the year with two KOs. All four times out for Donaire came against top-ranked, world-class opponents. 

    He started the year by moving up to 122 pounds in February and capturing the vacant WBO super bantamweight title via split decision over Wilfredo Vazquez, Jr. The judge who scored the fight for Vazquez turned in one of the worst cards of the year. 

    In July, Donaire unified the WBO belt with the IBF by winning a unanimous decision from Jeffrey Mathebula. In October, he became The Ring champ by stopping Japan's Toshiaki Noshioka in six. 

    These were all fights Donaire was expected to win, but that should not make the achievement any less impressive. For taking on and overcoming that level of talent that regularly, Donaire is the obvious choice for 2012 Fighter of the Year.  

Push: Timothy Bradley

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    In June, Timothy Bradley got the kind of big opportunity he had been waiting his entire career for, a shot at Manny Pacquiao at the top of a pay-per-view card. He walked away with a split decision victory and the WBO welterweight title. 

    On paper, it should have made Bradley one of the biggest winners in the sport for 2012. But very few people actually believe Bradley deserved his win, and so, I can't give him more than a push for the year. 

    If anything, receiving the contested split decision against Pacquiao has hurt Bradley more than it has helped him, at least in the short-term. 

    It is ultimately unfair, because all Bradley can accurately be accused of doing is fighting as gamely as he possibly could on two badly-injured legs and making it to the bell so he could be awarded a bum decision.

    Bradley never got a rematch with Pacquiao, who famously opted for a fourth bout with Juan Manuel Marquez instead. Bradley closed out 2012 without a second fight.

    At this point, the best thing Bradley can do for himself is get a good fight with another top-rated welterweight or junior welterweight opponent. Bradley lacks really big knockout power, but he is extremely rugged physically and has a knack for imposing his will in the boxing ring.

    He needs to get back in the ring to remind fans of what he can do.  

Winner: Abner Mares

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    Undefeated WBC junior featherweight champion Abner Mares (25-0, 13 KOs) was one of the true emerging stars of 2012.

    Last December, he beat Joseph Agbeko by unanimous decision, a rematch of Mares' controversial split decision over Agbeko in the finals of the Showtime bantamweight tournament. He then moved up to 122 pounds in April to capture his belt by shutting out the veteran Eric Morel. 

    Mares earned his way onto this list in November when he faced bantamweight champion Anselmo Moreno, a defensive wizard who, like Mares, is ranked at or near the top 10 on many pound-for-pound lists. 

    I had the fight as much closer than the judges did, but I cannot disagree that Mares' relentless, high-volume style allowed him to hustle a clear-cut victory. 

    As soon as the fight was over and before he had left the ring, Mares had already announced to the world in the post-fight interview that he was only really interested in one opponent now: Nonito Donaire.

Loser: Juan Manuel Lopez

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    At the end of 2010, Juan Manuel Lopez was rated among the most exciting young stars in the sport. He had the WBO featherweight belt and a perfect 30-0 record with 28 KOs.

    Then, in April of 2011, Lopez got stopped in eight by hard knock Orlando Salido (39-11-2, 27 KOs).

    Lopez fought a tune-up fight and then signed for a rematch with Salido, once again in Lopez's native Puerto Rico. Once more, the veteran Salido gave Lopez a boxing lesson, this time knocking him out in the 10th.

    After the fight, Lopez made a bad year worse by accusing the referee of stopping the fight prematurely because he had gambling problems. It was an astonishingly inflammatory statement, and the Puerto Rican AC responded by suspending Lopez's license for the rest of the year.  

    In my opinion, the punishment was probably a little over the top. What Lopez said was idiotic, but the guy had just been knocked out cold. Fighters need to be given a little bit of slack for what they say or how they sound post-head trauma and probably don't need to have microphones shoved in their faces in some cases. 

Winner: Austin Trout

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    Austin Trout entered 2012 the undefeated, defending WBA light middleweight world champion. But he was relatively unknown among more casual boxing fans.

    In June, he beat tough contender Delvin Rodriguez by near shutout on a televised Showtime card from the Home Depot Center, in Carson, California. It was another respectable win, but the fight lacked much in the way of sizzle and did little to raise Trout's profile.

    But when superstar Miguel Cotto needed an opponent for a November date at Madison Square Garden in New York City, Trout was ready and waiting with a version of the belt and a more-than-credible resume. 

    Fighting Cotto in the Garden is never going to be an easy night's work for a visiting fighter, but Trout proved himself to be a fully matured, professional boxing champion and successfully imposed his game plan on Cotto for most of the fight.

    Trout kept the action at long-distance range and refused to get trapped on the ropes. He even got the better of the exchanges more often than not when Cotto managed to force his way inside. 

    Knocking off a legend is the type of career milestone that young, up-and-comers dream of. Aside from Juan Manuel Marquez, who was already a Hall of Famer, nobody beat a bigger star in 2012 than Austin Trout.

Push: Miguel Cotto

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    Miguel Cotto went 0-2 in 2012, and there are some rumblings on Internet forums that perhaps it is time for him to retire.

    Still, I am calling the year a push for Cotto. His in-ring performances did not damage his career legacy, and probably only hurt his marketability in a marginal way if he still desires another fight. 

    In May, Cotto challenged Floyd Mayweather, forcing the pound-for-pound kingpin to work harder than he has needed to in years. While the fight ultimately wasn't as close as many people were trying to make it out to be, Cotto nevertheless had his moments.

    I think quite a few people viewed his fight with Trout as a stay-busy while he angled to fight a re-match with Mayweather next spring, or else a high-profile showdown with rising Mexican superstar Saul Alvarez. 

    Instead, Cotto got beaten by a bigger, faster, younger opponent. It happens to the best.

    Cotto still has a good chance to get his big payday with Alvarez. He remains the biggest Puerto Rican star in the sport, and Alvarez is one of the top three Mexican stars, so this fight would be a guaranteed cultural event. 

    Outside the ring, Cotto continued to be a winner in 2012, providing important public support for his former Olympic teammate, Orlando Cruz, when the ranked featherweight came out as gay. 

Winner: Andre Ward

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    Andre Ward was a consensus choice for 2011 Fighter of the Year, but he still entered this year without the kind of recognition that would have once been standard for a former Olympic gold medalist and current undefeated super middleweight world champion.

    But in 2012, Ward stepped up to the next level of stardom, shooting to near the top of pound-for-pound rankings when he turned in a dominant, Round 10 TKO against light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson.

    Ward has always been dominant, but never a knockout artist, so the performance against Dawson came as a revelation. Still in his athletic prime, he appears to have added an additional element of power-punching to his tool box.

    His big problem for 2013 will be finding worthy opponents. The second best guy at 168 pounds is Carl Froch, who Ward already beat easily in the finals of the Showtime Super Six tournament.

    A re-match would be modestly compelling. Froch is a smart fighter and would make adjustments from the first fight.

    Ward's former Olympic teammate and friend, Andre Dirrell, who received a brain injury in the Super Six, would have to be viewed as the most intriguing unknown for Ward if he is fully recovered.

    Ward is expected to fight former dominant middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik, a fight that I honestly have to say is exciting mainly to Pavlik loyalists.

    But the options at 168 are limited for Ward, so expect a move to light heavyweight before long. Ward's fight with Dawson this year was contested at 168 pounds. If Dawson returns to form at light heavyweight, interest can be built for a rematch between the two at 175.  

Push: Chad Dawson

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    Chad Dawson took a big gamble in 2012. After he beat Bernard Hopkins by majority decision in April, he used his in-ring, post-fight interview to call out one man: Andre Ward. 

    Dawson's win over Hopkins made him The Ring champion at 175, and Ward stood uncontested as The Ring champ at 168. Dawson was asking for a true champion versus champion showdown. 

    "What other fight makes sense?" Dawson said to me, when I interviewed him about a week before the fight. "I'm old school, so to me, everything above 160 is light heavyweight. That means we're the same weight class and we should fight."

    That old-school attitude raised Dawson's stature with the hardcore fans. He got additional respect for quickly agreeing to drop to 168 to make the fight easier to negotiate, even though it had been six years since he had fought there. 

    In the end, the gambles didn't quite work out for Dawson. Ward thoroughly outclassed him and beat him up badly en route to a Round 10 TKO. 

    In the same interview mentioned above, Dawson told me he did not expect the weight drop to bother him and reported being in the mid 170's with over a week to go before the weigh-ins. He actually spoke about possibly remaining at super middleweight.

    So it is debatable whether or not he was drained against Ward.  But to the eyeball, he didn't look as strong at the weight. A rematch should be waiting at some point down the line, and this time at Dawson's home of 175.

    Provided Dawson can quickly reassert his dominance at light heavyweight, fans will be anxious to see him fight Ward again when Ward moves up. 

Winner: Danny Garcia

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    Danny Garcia emerged in 2012 as one of the sports hottest young stars. In 2012, the undefeated junior welterweight won the WBA, WBC and Ring championship belts. 

    In March, he captured the WBC strap by taking a unanimous decision from future Hall of Famer Erik Morales. It was an impressive performance for a young fighter, one in which he showed better skill and confidence as the fight went along, taking control down the stretch. 

    In July, Garcia made some of the years biggest waves when he stopped Amir Khan by TKO in four after having dropped him in the third. He closed the year by re-matching with Morales in November, stopping him cold with a sensational left hook in the fourth. 

    Garcia's next fight is already set up for February against Zab Judah. He's only 24, so I can't fault him for collecting big money names like Judah, as long as he takes on a top contender like Lucas Matthysse after that. 

Loser: Amir Khan

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    The thing about boxing is, for every great story like Danny Garcia, there almost always has to be a story like Amir Khan, the guy who gets derailed. 

    Even before Garcia stopped Khan in four last July, the lingering critique on the otherwise supremely talented Khan was already that he had questionable whiskers, a reputation that had plagued him since he was blitzed and stopped inside the first round by the only moderately talented Breidis Prescott in September of 2008, when Khan had been a highly touted, undefeated prospect. 

    Khan is only 26, only has three losses and still has a name, so he will be back fighting at the highest level. He'll probably get a re-match with Garcia sometime in 2013. 

    But it's hard for me not to view him as a high-class fighter with a single tragic flaw that he just can't take a world-class level punch. Even in Khan's exciting war with Marcos Maidana in 2010, I felt like the rugged Argentinian made the fight much closer than he should have been able to, simply by roughing Khan up. 

    In another fight with Garcia, I think he probably wins some rounds and maybe leads on the cards at some point until the patient and calm Garcia finally catches up to him with a couple of big punches. 

    The fight Khan deserves next, in my opinion, is a rematch with Lamont Peterson. Peterson took a controversial split decision from Khan in his hometown of Washington D.C. in December of 2011.  

    Peterson received two questionable points when referee Joseph Cooper penalized Khan was for pushing in Rounds 7 and 12. I still had the Brit winning on my card, as did judge Nelson Vazquez.

    Peterson subsequently tested positive for testosterone pills, but will be cleared for a return to the ring soon. The last Khan-Peterson fight was one of the best of the year, so a rematch would be just the kind of opportunity Khan could benefit from in 2013. 

Winner: Robert Garcia

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    On Wednesday, Ringtv.com announced that Robert Garcia had won their 2012 reader's poll for Trainer of the Year. There could be no other reasonable choice. 

    Garcia has emerged over the past couple of years as the busiest and most successful corner man in the sport, and 2012 was just more of the same. Nobody trains more world-class fighters than Garcia, and nobody's fighters win more often.

    Super bantamweight Nonito Donaire is a consensus choice for Fighter of the Year, having gone 4-0 in 2012. Brandon Rios fought twice, and while he probably didn't deserve his split decision victory over Richard Abril in April, his October Round 7 TKO of fellow unbeaten junior welterweight Mike Alvarado was a Fight of the Year candidate and further established him as one of the sport's major attractions.

    Garcia's younger brother Mikey improved to 30-0 with 26 KOs and is set to meet featherweight champion Orlando Salido at Madison Square Garden in January. Marcos Maidana turned in thrilling stoppages of Angel Martinez and Jesus Soto Karass, and will likely get a shot at some sort of welterweight strap in 2013.

    Garcia even has Kelly Pavlik positioned for one last big payday against Andre Ward.  

Push: Floyd Mayweather

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    Floyd Mayweather spent a good chunk of 2012 behind bars and ended the year conducting a public Twitter feud with his former BFF 50 Cent. On the other hand, he turned in his most exciting performance in years against Miguel Cotto in May, and even recruited tween heartthrob Justin Bieber as part of his crew.

    He entered 2012 as the most recognizable active American boxer and most people's choice for pound-for-pound No. 1 status. He'll enter 2013 in the same position, and for a 35-year-old welterweight, that has to be viewed as a push.

    In the week before the Pacquiao-Marquez fight, Mayweather announced that he planned to fight twice in 2013. My educated guess for the two opponents: Saul Alvarez and Robert Guerrero. 

    Guerrero is the interim WBC welterweight title holder and the mandatory No. 1 for Mayweather's WBC regular world championship. The devoted husband of a cancer survivor, Guerrero would make a compelling figure for the HBO 24/7 show. 

    I would also argue that he is the best welterweight on the planet besides Marquez, Pacquiao and Bradley. As he showed against Andre Berto in November, he is capable of fighting with a grim determination that will push Mayweather and ensure an entertaining, if not highly-competitive fight.

    Alvarez would probably be over his head with Mayweather, too, but he is the biggest boxing star in North America and Mayweather-Alvarez on Mexican Independence Day Weekend would rival Mayweather-De La Hoya pay-per-view numbers, adjusting for the economic downturn.

    Fans can still hold out hope for a Floyd Mayweather-Sergio Martinez showdown at 154 in 2013. At this point, it would be the biggest possible fight that could be made in terms of genuine relevance.  

Winner: Nacho Beristain

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    Ignacio Nacho Beristain was inducted into The International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2011. He is one of the most successful trainers in the history of the sport, having handled Hall of Famers like Daniel Zaragoza, Ricardo Lopez and Chiquita Gonzalez, and future inductees such as the Marquez brothers, Juan Manuel and Raul.

    He had another good year in 2012. His talented and aggressive super bantamweight champion, Abner Mares, remained undefeated, fending off a serious challenge from fellow elite talent Anselmo Moreno. 

    But obviously, the highlight of the old Field Marshall's year came on December 8, when Juan Manuel Marquez, Beristain's greatest champion, finally scored the punch they had spent over 40 rounds looking for against their greatest rival, Manny Pacquiao.

    The great public glory goes to the fighter for these type of moments, but anybody who knows boxing knows there is a trainer behind the kind of technical mastery that Juan Manuel Marquez demonstrated in landing that big overhand heard round the world.

    Beristain is one of the great old-school figures in the sport, and it's always nice to see him adding additional trophies to his case. Particularly when they rank as among the biggest of his storied career.  

Loser: Yuri Gamboa

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    Yuri Gamboa versus Brandon Rios was supposed to be one of the most highly-anticipated showdowns of 2012, a matchup of undefeated featherweight and lightweight champions. Instead, Gamboa pulled out at the last minute and the fight never happened. 

    I have always been clear in my own writing that I think it is ridiculous to say Gamboa ducked Rios. He had legitimate reasons to want out of his contract with Top Rank and did what he felt he needed to do from a business standpoint. 

    But I have to question how well the decision has worked out for him. After a 15-month layoff, he returned to action on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard on December 8 against the unheralded Michael Farenas. 

    So once more, he was fighting on a Top Rank card, but this time for a lot less money than he would have got as a main eventer against Rios. Maybe it was worth it to have 50 Cent perform a mini-concert as he walked to the ring.

    He came away with a win, but looked less than spectacular doing it, even getting knocked down. Orlando Salido had to be watching somewhere, texting his manager to try for a rematch. 

Winner: Adrian Broner

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    Going into 2012, the word was already out on Adrien Broner. He was regarded as the most explosive and exciting young puncher in the sport, and a boxing prodigy with the potential to someday rival Floyd Mayweather. 

    There were big expectations about him, which he did nothing but fulfill in 2012.

    Broner started the year by TKOing No. 10 ranked junior lightweight Eloy Perez in February. He failed to make weight for his July fight with Vicente Escobedo, declaring he had outgrown the 130-pound weight class as he tweeted pictures of the junk food he was eating.  

    When Broner stepped up to 135 pounds to face lightweight champion Antonio Demarco in November, it was supposed to finally provide Broner with a long overdue test. Instead, Broner was as dominant as ever, TKOing Demarco in eight. 

    The next scheduled opponent for Adrien Broner will be the once beaten, former 140-pound world champion Galvin Rees in February. Beyond that, he always has a date set for the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in May, opponent TBA. 

    The Ring has already Broner slotted in at No. 6 on their pound-for-pound rankings on the strength of his performance against Demarco. While that seems a bit premature to me, on the other hand, it also seems inevitable. I would make the 23-year-old phenom a favorite against nearly anybody 147 and below.

    When I interviewed Broner by phone last July prior to the Escobedo fight, he boasted that "I make everybody look like nobodies."

    But Broner has backed up his cocky swagger with aplomb so far throughout his career, and I actually think as many fans are entertained by it as turned off. 

    Either way, boxing fans are pretty universal in hoping 2013 turns out to be the year Adrien Broner finally meets up with an opponent who can take him out to the deep waters. Love him or hate him, a boxing fan would have to be flat out blind to deny that Broner looks designed by God to swim with the most lethal of sharks.  

Push: Saul Alvarez

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    All things considered, Saul Alvarez had as good of a year as possible in 2012. On May 5, he looked terrific on the Cotto-Mayweather undercard, recording a one-sided unanimous decision victory over future Hall of Famer Shane Mosely, even after suffering an accidental cut early in the fight. 

    But Mosley was 40, so there is a limit to how much credit Canelo is going to get for that performance. He drubbed Mosley more thoroughly than either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao, but that was probably the result of Mosley fighting more aggressively against him, willing to take risks against a 22-year-old like Alvarez that he was unwilling to dare against the likes of Manny and Floyd. 

    Alvarez next set up a fight with the highly-regarded Paul Williams. This would have been one of the most anticipated matchups of the fall, but Williams was tragically paralyzed from the waist down in a motorcycle crash shortly after signing for the fight.

    James Kirkland was briefly floated as a possibility, but in July, former welterweight world champion and Floyd Mayweather opponent Victor Ortiz was named as Alvarez's September 15 tango partner. But Ortiz promptly went out and got his jaw busted by Josesito Lopez.

    Lopez's TKO victory over Ortiz had been his first fight at welterweight, so that really didn't make him the ideal candidate to fight Alvarez at 154. Still, that's ultimately what ended up happening, and Alvarez did what was expected of him, TKOing the smaller fighter in five after viciously pounding his body.

    Alvarez will leave 2012 for all purposes as strong as he entered it. In experience, he leaves stronger. But if Alvarez ends up becoming the boxing legend that so many hope he will become, we won't look back on 2012 as one of his great years.

    Still, he sat down at the table in 2012 with a great big stack of chips in front of him. Even though he didn't end up getting all the cards he wanted dealt to him, the chips are still all there, stacked in front of him as we head to 2013. That's a push year.  

Loser: Manny Pacquiao

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    The last thing I want to do is join forces with the legions of rabid, irrational Pacquiao haters who have been gleefully pig piling him since he was KOd by Juan Manuel Marquez on December 8. Pacquiao has hands down been one of the world's biggest winners over the past quarter century. 

    He has put together a Hall of Fame boxing career, and in the process, become one of the most beloved and popular people on the planet. He already serves in the Congress in his native Philippines. 

    Pacquiao entered 2012 still regarded as one of the two top pound-for-pound fighters in the world. He ends the year on a two-fight losing streak, having most recently fallen victim to not just the KO of the year, but the KO of the young century and what will become one of the most iconic KOs in the history of the sport. 

    Up until Marquez caught up to Pacquiao in the literal last second of Round 6, Pacman had looked better than he had in years. He was about to go up four rounds to two on all three cards, with the fight half over. 

    Pacquiao fighting like he did against Marquez on December 8 still beats most other welterweights in the world. There could be more big moments in the ring ahead for the Filipino legend if he wants to pursue them.

    But when you are an elite prize fighter and the takeaway image for the year for the entire sport is you lying face down, unconscious, that has to be regarded as a losing year. 

Winner: Juan Manuel Marquez

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    At 39, Juan Manuel Marquez is the elder statesman among the sport's true elite, that handful of fighters who are universally regarded by fans and writers as the top five or six pound-for-pound boxers in the world.

    On December 8, he lived up to his stature, putting an exclamation point on the year in boxing, delivering the most exciting moment of 2012 and one of the sport's most exciting moments of all time when he caught longtime rival Manny Pacquiao coming forward with a perfectly-timed overhand right.

    He would have been a highlight reel, one-punch knockout under any circumstances. Given the historical circumstances surrounding it, it has to be regarded as among the top one-punch knockouts in the history of the sport.

    Marquez entered 2012 fresh off a majority decision loss to Pacquiao in their third fight. Marquez believed that he had been robbed and spent 2012 making sure every writer and fan on the planet was aware of his opinion on the matter.

    Quite a few agreed with him.

    Entering their fourth fight on December 8, the official record stood at 2-0-1 for Pacquiao. Sure, a lot of writers agreed with Marquez that in at least two cases, the judges had gotten it wrong.

    But the record still said what it said, and Marquez came into the fourth fight desperate to right the perceived wrong.

    Pacquiao, on the other hand, showed up hungry to shut Marquez up, to prove once and for all that he really was the better man.

    What ended up happening was historical brilliance, another back-and-forth war between two of this generation's greatest, with a shocking and thrilling ending. 

    It is possible that will be the last time we will see the great Mexican champion in the ring. If so, he will have gone out at the highest point he possibly could have reached, and as boxing's single biggest winner in 2012.