Top 10 Fights of 2012: The Fights That Brought Boxing Back to Life This Year
The year of 2012 has brought many ups and downs for the sport of boxing. From the lows of the controversial decisions of Abril-Rios and Adamek-Cunningham all the way to the highs of Andre Ward's domination of Chad Dawson and Juan Manuel Marquez getting vindicated against Manny Pacquiao, this has been one of the most dramatic years the sport has seen in well over a decade.
But the fights are what make the sport what it is, and we had some great ones this year.
So let's take a look back at the fights that had us captivated. The fights that made our hearts race. The top 10 fights of 2012 (Well, in this writer's view).
No. 10: Tomasz Adamek vs. Steve Cunningham II—December 22, 2012
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
We start this top 10 with one of the most controversial fights of the year.
This was an anticipated rematch of former Cruiserweight Champions Tomasz Adamek and Steve Cunningham that was going to be the fight to jump start the sport on NBC. What we got is what we came for, a technical yet thrilling brawl that would keep us glued to our seats.
What we got at the end, though, was not expected. By most pundits' accounts, Cunningham boxed a beautiful, technical bout on his way to an easy unanimous decision.
The Pennsylvania judges, however, did not see the same.
In the end, Adamek came away with a split-decision draw that drew ire from the crowd and shock and disbelief from Cunningham, who was at a lost of words during the post-fight press conference.
It's safe to say that we will get a part three of this tremendous series; we just hope that it doesn't come with anymore controversy.
No. 9: Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Caesar Chavez, Jr.— September 15, 2012
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While this fight was a complete, pure dominance by Sergio Martinez and in most years would not even have been sniffed as a Fight of the Year candidate, this fight did give us by all accounts the Round of the Year. In a fight that was a pure whitewash by Martinez, Round 12 delivered the drama that we were all expecting throughout the entire fight.
With an insurmountable lead heading into the final round, all Martinez had to do was continue what he was doing the entire fight. He had nothing to lose, just coast in the final round and victory was his.
The round started off with a brawl between the two, as Martinez wanted to close the show. Then, a left hook from Chavez changed the course of the entire round, as he dropped Martinez for the first time in the fight.
Chavez would then bring on an assault that if you had bet Martinez, would've had you sweating.
Martinez went down again, but referee Tony Weeks called it a slip, though it could've easily been called a knock down. Martinez survived the round and went on to victory, but the final round brought up questions no one thought of in the first 11 rounds.
After the fight, Chavez was found to have been using marijuana, leading to a indefinite suspension from the Nevada State Athletic Commission. It's very conceivable that Chavez could be suspended for a year, but the final round could indeed lead to a very anticipated rematch after his suspension ends.
No. 8: Lucas Matthyssee vs. Ajose Olusegun—September 8, 2012
This was a fight that was originally the co-main event of this Showtime card. Due to an injury suffered by the Welterweight Champion Randall Bailey, it was elevated to main event status, and it did not disappoint.
Matthysse is known by many to be one of the premiere action fighters in the sport.
Two controversial decisions have left blemishes on his record, but that doesn't take away the type of fighter he is. Going up against hard-nosed fighter Ajose Olusegun, Matthysee was clearly the favorite. Ajose came into the fight with nothing to lose, and he showed that he was up to the challenge.
Mattysse threw everything he could against Ajose, but nothing could put him out. He even staggered Matthysse thoughout the bout, as it was an all-out brawl between the two.
Finally it took a devastating right towards the end of the 10th round to dismantle Ajose in an extremely entertaining bout that truly deserves a spot on this list.
No. 7: Victor Ortiz vs. Josesito Lopez—June 23, 2012
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Another setback for Victor Ortiz? Not exactly.
The fight that put Josesito Lopez on the map? Absolutely.
These two warriors slugged it out in what turned a future main event upside down. This was Ortiz's first fight since his defeat against Floyd Mayweather, and he was destined to show that he did not lose a step. What he found out was that his opponent was truly ready to fight and felt under-appreciated, as the prior fight between Ortiz and 154-pound champ Canelo Alvarez had already been made.
Lopez had just come off a defeat at the hands of Jessie Vargas on the night that Ortiz was defeated by Mayweather.
The bout started off slow as the two started to feel each other out. The pace picked up in the middle rounds, with Ortiz seemingly hurting Lopez at the end of Round 4. Round 5 saw Lopez getting hit in the back of the head, slowing the pace down.
Then, the final three rounds happened.
Round 7 saw each fighter throwing shots that hurt each other, with Lopez motioning to Ortiz to "bring it on." Round 8 saw some of the same with power shots by each and Lopez throwing hooks to Ortiz that will come in to play later. Round 9 saw Lopez hurting Ortiz at will, enough to have Ortiz throw in the towel at the end of the round due to a broken jaw.
It garnered an Upset of the Year candidate.
No. 6: Peter Quillen vs. Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam—October 20, 2012
Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
This was the fight that was supposed to be the coming out party for "Kid Chocolate". He had a struggle, though, as N'Dam was there to fight. The bout was for the WBO Middleweight title, a title held by N'Dam.
Nonetheless, it was going to be Quillen's night.
N'Dam was dropped a total of six times and went on to lose the fight by unanimous decision. While it was truly Quillen's night, N'Dam had some moments, making the night extremely difficult for Quillen. It was a great action-packed fight that saw some drama.
In the end, it was all Kid Chocolate, all the time.
No. 5: Amir Khan vs. Danny Garcia—July 14, 2012
In a fight that reminded us of "The War", it had it all! Cut on Garcia in the second round followed by Khan going down not once but three times en route to referee Kenny Bayless calling a halt to the bout in the fourth round.
Khan was the aggressor at the start of the bout, opening up a gash over the right eye of Garcia in the second round. Although the cut did not play a role in the fight, nonetheless, it was a significant blow.
The third round, however, was when the fight turned around, as Garcia dropped Khan with a left to the neck of Khan, sending him down hard. Khan got up, but his legs were not good after that.
The fourth began just as the third ended, with Khan in trouble.
While he was getting some great shots in on his own, Garcia was too dominant, landing a clean right, sending Khan back to the ropes and stumbling to the canvas. Khan did survive that, but the complete assault began, as Garcia went for broke and eventually knocked Khan down for the third time, ending the fight, much to Khan's dismay.
In any other year, this would be the fight of the year, but the top four fights on this list were just a tad bit better.
No. 4: Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto—November 24, 2012
This will be a fight that many will talk about for a while. It was Berto's first bout in well over 14 months during which he was serving a suspension prior to his scheduled rematch with Victor Ortiz. Guerrero was in line to possibly face Pound-For-Pound king Floyd Mayweather later on in 2013.
This one had all the makings of being a classic.
Guerrero knocked Berto down in the first two rounds of the bout. However, the first one was called into question with Guerrero's constant hitting and holding. The second was a legit as can be, as a series of combinations put Berto down for the second time.
Berto came on strong in the middle portion of the fight, landing hooks and uppercuts at will, leading to Guerrero's right eye shutting. But it was too much Guerrero as he was the busier fighter all night and it landed him a unanimous decision victory, while it gave Andre Berto more fans than he'd imagine.
The win puts Guerrero in the Mayweather fight discussion, while the loss did not diminish Berto as a fighter. As a matter of fact, it could've propelled it just a tad bit.
No. 3: Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV—December 8, 2012
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It took four meetings and eight grueling years to finally have a definitive outcome. It also took this long to have the best fight and knockout in the series, but it all worked out to perfection.
Juan Manuel Marquez was coming into the fight with vindication on his mind. For eight years, he has had the stigma known as Manny Pacquiao on his legacy, and he needed to prove that once and for all he was the better of the two fighters.
Manny Pacquiao had just lost a controversial split decision to Tim Bradley back in June, and he hadn't looked like the Manny of old for his past few fights. He needed to get back to what he had established for himself for the past few years.
The fight started off with each fighter looking to land that significant shot to each other. That didn't come until the third round, when a Marquez right overhand shocked Pacquiao and sent him down for the first time in the series and sent the crowd into an uproar.
No one expected Pacquaio to go down, as it was the first time he felt the canvas since being knocked down by Nedal Hussein way back in October 2000. Then things started to pick up.
Pacquiao started to find his grove in the fourth and fifth rounds, including a straight left that rocked Marquez enough for his gloves to hit the canvas and be ruled a knock down. Pacquaio would dominate the rest of the fifth and most of the sixth until the right overhand heard around the world landed flush on the chin of Pacquaio. It sent him face first onto the mat and he was out cold, giving Juan Manuel Marquez the vindication he needed.
The knockout shocked the world, causing many more to question whether Pacquaio should continue with his career.
The fight had a major impact for the rest of the sport. It moved Marquez up the Pound-For-Pound list in the world, while it not only dropped Pacquiao, but all but killed any hopes of a Mayweather fight.
There are talks of a fifth fight between the two, and if so, it would be a treat for all fans alike.
No. 2: Mike Alvarado vs. Brandon Rios—October 13, 2012
Harry How/Getty Images
Can we say Gatti-Ward, the next generation? This was the fight that most pundits were predicting as Fight of the Year when the fight was made, and it did not disappoint.
Both fighters came in with a mission in mind.
For Rios, it was to prove that he was this generation's blood-and-guts warrior and that the fight back in April against Richard Abril was just an off night. Alvarado, in the mean time, was looking to become that household name that many were expecting him to be at this point of his career.
Both were coming in undefeated, and were looking to take that next step at Junior Lightweight.
The fight began just as we thought it would be, a war. Alvarado was the busier of the two throughout the first two rounds, making it difficult for Rios to find his rhythm. Rios would start to get a feel of the fight, and by time the fourth round ended, the fight was about even.
Alvarado then began to increase his work load, staggering Rios with a right that could have ended it then. Rios, however, weathered the storm and began to land some huge shots toward the end of the round.
The sixth and seventh rounds saw the same toe-to-toe, wall-to-wall action as the fifth did that was just unheard of. Finally, in the seventh, Rios unleashed a devastating right hook that sent Alvarado into the ropes. After a few unanswered shots, referee Pat Russell jumped in and stopped the war.
There's talk of a rematch happening this March, and if that does happen, we can expect the same type of war that the first one delivered.
And just to think, many people had this as the Fight of the Year. I had it at number two, so number one has to be special, right?
No. 1: Marcos Maidana vs. Jesus Soto Karass—September 15, 2012
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This fight was special, and it was even more special seeing it live and in person. This was the best fight on the best card of the year, and it just happened to be a fight that wasn't even the co-main event.
Marcos Maidana and Jesus Soto Karass fought an absolute war on the biggest holiday in the sport.
With the eyes of the sport and the world watching them, they put on a show that was indicative of what these two warriors are. While it was Maidana controlling the bout, it was Soto Karass' undeniable heart that made the fight what it was.
It may not have been Corrales-Castillo I or Hagler-Hearns, but it was still an awesome display of heart and skill.
Maidana came in with the intent on boxing, using his jab more than what he is used to under the guidance of new trainer Robert Garcia. But when Soto Karass was continuing the pressure in the early rounds, that went out the door.
The brawl really kicked off in the fourth, when both were penalized one point by Kenny Bayless for hitting on the break. Maidana started to tire by the fifth and that's when Soto Karass started to come alive.
He outlanded Maidana on punch stats, 37-17, and was in control of the fight. That's when Maidana landed a perfect left with 15 seconds left in Round 7 to send Soto Karass down. He would get up, only to be beaten and pummeled in the early stages of the eighth, prompting Bayless to call a halt to the bout.
There is no denying the heart of these two. We hope to see this bout once again.
If not, it was one of the true great bouts of the past five years and no doubt in this writer's mind, the fight of the year.