Bleacher Report's Best of Boxing Awards for 2012
Happy New Year fight fans!
2012 is now well into the books, and we have even seen numerous publications declare their big winners for the year in the sport of boxing.
But now it is time to see what the fans, readers, and top writers of the Bleacher Report Boxing Community had to say—and voted on.
The great thing about our awards is that we provide the real fight fans a chance to vote and let their voices be heard, so thank you to all the fans and readers who voted on all of the 14 different categories in the 2012 Boxing Awards.
Also, special thanks to all the top writers and featured columnists who voted and offered their expert analysis and commentary on the 14 categories of winners.
So, enjoy this look back at the 2012 calendar year for the sport of boxing and let's see if you agree with our votes, expert analysis and commentary.
2012 Fight of the Year: Guerrero vs. Berto (57 Percent of Total Votes)
Guerrero vs Berto Highlight Video by MMABoxinFan
The consistent trading from two very good fighters, the adversity Berto had to work through, and the rough-and-tumble game plan Guerrero employed made for a boxing masterpiece.
It is always a great privilege to see two elite fighters square off in an impressive 12 rounds of tactical boxing work. Guerrero had work to do to show he belonged at welterweight, and Berto was trying to make up for lost ground after the loss to Ortiz and the PED results.
Rarely do you get to see such a brilliant inside battle waged within the ring, and it was a bout that helped both guys. Rios-Alvarado and Quillin-N’Dam were contenders, but neither had the elite boxers or the technical variety that this bout boasted.
I had the honor of covering Rios vs. Alvarado, Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV, and of course this year's winner of Fight of the Year, Guerrero vs. Berto, ringside.
Berto was also involved in last year's Fight of the Year with his welterweight title bout against Victor Ortiz, which means we should give Andre props for leaving it all in the ring and making exciting fights despite losing.
Also, if you recall, Ortiz beat Berto and went on to fight the superstar cash cow Floyd Mayweather Jr., so that may be the prerequisite to landing the biggest fight in the sport.
Fight and beat Berto, and you get to fight Mayweather next. Robert's impressive victory just may have landed him that matchup for May.
2012 Fighter of the Year: Nonito Donaire (88 Percent of Total Votes)
Donaire vs Nishioka highlight video by GuerillaCamera
Donaire was incredibly active for an elite championship fighter in 2012. He went 4-0, with all his wins coming in world title fights, and he firmly established himself as the world’s best fighter at 122 pounds.
Donaire’s wins over Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., Jeffrey Mathebula, Toshiaki Nishioka and Jorge Arce were of the highest quality, and his knockouts of Nishioka and Arce were spectacular.
With his commitment to year-round drug testing and in-ring results, Donaire is an easy choice for Fighter of the Year. However, others warranting strong consideration for their excellent 2012 campaigns were Juan Manuel Marquez, Brian Viloria, Carl Froch and Danny Garcia.
The Filipino Flash made this easy. He was busy and successful. Four wins in the calendar year is special. Leo Santa Cruz deserves consideration as well, though.
Nonito Donaire. No question. He deserved to win last year too after knocking out P4P No. 7 Montiel and obliterating 35-0 divisional No. 2 Omar Narvaez, but Ward got the nod.
Donaire is a lock for the award this year – he moved up a weight division to record four dominant wins against quality opposition spanning a range of styles. One of the best recent years of boxing we have witnessed.
There is a compelling argument for putting Donaire in the top two or three pound-for-pound.
2012 KO of the Year: Marquez's Sixth-Round KO of Pacquiao (100 Percent of Total Votes)
Go to 21:00 of my Pacquiao vs. Marquez 4 coverage video to see Direll's thoughts on the KO.
For the first time, we have 100 percent of the voters in agreement. Believe it or not, all voted that Juan Manuel Marquez's sixth-round KO of Pacquiao was indeed the KO of the year.
If you have not seen my Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV fight coverage video yet, then go to the 21:00 mark of the video and see a very excited Andre Dirrell going off on what he just saw take place inside that ring. That pretty much sums up this KO.
The size of the event and devastation of the punch makes this an easy pick.
There was no bigger fight this year, and Marquez ended it in dramatic fashion with one of the most memorable knockouts in boxing history. Like Sergio Martinez’s shot against Paul Williams in 2010, this was the counter right that shook up the boxing world. No other knockout came close.
Quite simply the most surprising end to a fight in recent boxing history. Marquez literally threw a perfect right hand, and seeing Pacquiao hit the canvas unconscious was as shocking as it was frightening. This result only enhanced the greatness of their all-time great rivalry.
2012 Clinic of the Year: Broner vs. DeMarco (71 Percent of Total Votes)
Broner vs DeMarco post-fight conference by ThaBoxingVoice
Broner systematically dismantled and punished a good fighter in DeMarco for the entire fight. Love him or hate him, he’s the real deal.
This one almost didn’t seem fair. Much has been written about Broner’s potential, but his dismantling of a legitimate champion in DeMarco to claim the WBC lightweight title elevated him into the discussion of boxing’s pound-for-pound top-15 (at least).
Broner displayed frightening variety in dissecting DeMarco, and 2013 should be a massive year for “The Problem.”
Broner is not only "The Problem," he is also "The Truth." He may very well be the next Floyd Mayweather Jr. of the sport of boxing, and if he lets his hands go more, he can win over the masses.
Let's just hope he hires a good publicist for those obnoxious pre- and post-fight interviews.
2012 Comeback of the Year: Daniel Jacobs (50 Percent of Total Votes)
Jacobs battle w/ cancer and return to the ring by Shosports
For Jacobs to come back from a form of cancer that nearly paralyzed him is simply miraculous. Couple this with the fact that Jacobs’ ring return was part of the inaugural card at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center (in Jacobs’ backyard) and it was truly a banner year for the young fighter. Whether he goes on to win a title or not, Jacobs has inspired many and has already won his greatest battle.
Out of the ring for 19 months, Daniel Jacobs battled Osteosarcoma and won. He then stepped into the ring and vanquished two other foes. One of the feel-good stories of the year.
Anyone who KTFO cancer and goes on with their life even stronger than before is a champion, period!
Please watch Jacobs' inspiring video on his battle with cancer and his return to the ring. Definitely an inspiration.
2012 Worst Decision of the Year: Bradley SD over Pacquiao (63 Percent of Total Votes)
Go to 10:10 mark of video to see Max Kellerman speak about this outcome
This wasn’t such a straightforward pick, as 2012 was unfortunately littered with questionable verdicts. That said, the magnitude of Pacquiao-Bradley renders it 2012’s most controversial decision, as practically everyone watching/scoring the fight found it nearly impossible to give Bradley more than four rounds (and that was being generous).
How bad was the verdict? Bradley hasn’t been able to secure a significant fight since this supposed career-defining “win.”
Personally, I did not feel Bradley's win over Pacquiao was the worst of 2012, for there were some major robberies this past year, such as Rios vs. Abril, Cloud vs. Campillo and, most recently, Adamek vs. Cunningham II, which was rather suspect.
I mean, when have we ever seen Michael Buffer read the judges' score cards and then have some random person interrupt him right after already declaring the judges' scores to make the result go from a draw to a victory?
However, Bradley's controversial win over Pacquiao was probably the most viewed and talked about one of 2012 because of the superstar drawing power of Manny and the fact that everyone and their great-grandmother still wanted to see a Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight at that point.
I had the honor of talking with Max Kellerman right after Pacquiao lost to Bradley, and he was kind of enough to provide a very candid interview on his thoughts about this decision. Go to the 10:10 mark of the video to see what Max had to say about Pacquiao losing to Bradley right after the fight.
2012 Trainer of the Year: Rober Garcia (57 Percent of Total Votes)
Go to 5:22 mark of the video for interview with Robert Garcia
Robert Garcia having a slightly deeper stable of fighters (and for longer than Virgil Hunter). Of course, Garcia trains pound-for-pound stalwart Nonito Donaire, but he also works with Brandon Rios, younger brother and top contender Mikey Garcia, Marcos Maidana and Kelly Pavlik, all of whom had commendable years.
Garcia’s fighters had largely the best year of any trainer’s stable. Donaire, Kelly Pavlik, Brandon Rios and his brother Mikey Garcia. This is also a pretty easy choice.
Robert Garcia wins our Best Trainer of the Year award two times in a row, and rightfully so.
Taking a look at his stable of Donaire, Rios and soon-to-be-champion little brother Mikey Garcia, we will most likely end up awarding him Trainer of the Year for the third year in a row in 2013.
I had the honor of talking to Robert Garcia at the Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV fight week.
Go to the 5:22 mark of the video and see what he said about Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV, and his brother Mikey taking on Salido next.
2012 Best Fight Card of the Year: Garcia vs. Morales II at Barclays Center (50 Percent)
Garcia vs Morales II highlights by Jonathan Salcedo
This historic card was an easy choice and should be the start of bringing more championship boxing back to Brooklyn, and New York in general. The card had it all: a great comeback story with Danny Jacobs; a ridiculously exciting slugfest where Peter Quillin out-pointed Hassan N’Dam, scoring six knockdowns along the way; a controversial verdict where Paulie Malignaggi scored a debatable SD over Pablo Cesar Cano; and a massive knockout with Danny Garcia’s near decapitation of Erik Morales. Great, great stuff.
The October 20 fight card at Barclays Center. Danny Garcia vs. Erik Morales headline, but the Quillin vs. d’Dam fight was spectacular. All in all, solid fights up and down.
2012 Prospect of the Year: Keith Thurman (57 Percent of Total Votes)
Thurman post-fight conf. by Koncrete Jungle
They say you can’t teach power. Let’s hope that they can teach Thurman all he needs to turn into the complete package. The man has a tremendous amount of talent.
Keith Thurman fought four times in 2012, and won each of those fights by knockout in the first few rounds.
Most impressive was his one-sided destruction of veteran and former champion Carlos Quintana.
I was ringside for this fight, for it was on the Guerrero vs, Berto undercard, and he had the crowd (which was made up of many Mexican-American fans) excited and on its feet chanting, "USA! USA! USA!"
Thurman is still rather one-dimensional, and there are still a lot of question marks about his overall skills inside the ring. He has yet to go past eight rounds, but he's exciting to watch and his explosive power produces KOs, which the casual fans pay to see.
2012 Best Commentator of the Year: Emanuel Steward and Paul Malignaggi (TIE)
Emanuel Steward Tribute
Emanuel Steward was one of the greatest, most accomplished and legendary trainers of the sport, so that would obviously make him one of the best boxing commentators as well.
Ever since his recent passing, we the fight fans already miss the wisdom and calmness he brought to the HBO boxing commentating team.
Paulie Malinaggi, the Magic Man, is articulate, unbiased and offers clear, concise and logical analysis to every fight he’s worked.
2012 Worst Fight of the Year: Gesta vs. Vazquez (67 Percent of Total Votes)
Blunt, honest thoughts on Gesta vs Vazquez by BoxingBelle
Vazquez is a hard guy to look good against, but this fight was made nearly unwatchable because Gesta had no idea how to press the action.
Simply put, Gesta didn’t show up to fight and thus made Vazquez's constant movement and jabbing even more difficult to watch. And what was the deal with Gesta watching himself on the arena’s big screen while he was supposed to be fighting?
I was ringside for this fight (as it was on the undercard of Pacquiao vs. Marquez IV) and because I was so bored, as was pretty much the entire sold-out crowd at MGM, I began to see what was trending on Twitter.
My TL was pretty much making jokes about how bad this fight was and how Gesta was throwing away his chances of winning. I'm not sure if it was the worst fight I saw in 2012, but it was maybe the worst one I had to sit ringside at.
2012 Promoter of the Year: Lou Dibella (50 Percent of Total Votes)
Lou Dibella interview by Koncrete Jungle
While Arum and De La Hoya arguably had better years, Lou Dibella made more progress this year than anyone else. He broke the lock of Top Rank-Golden Boy PPVs by getting his prized fighter, Sergio Martinez, into a very lucrative PPV with Julio Cesar Chavez. Randall Bailey made a comeback, and several of Dibella’s fighters are primed for big years in 2013.
Dibella shoots from the hip, so to speak. His honesty and passion are commendable, and he was (and has been) integral in securing Sergio Martinez a large payday and massive exposure.
He's also done some important work with GYM, a top Canadian promotional outfit. As Dibella transcends literal borders, promotional giants like Top Rank and Golden Boy, who petulantly refuse to work together, should hang their heads in shame.
2012 Round of the Year: Chavez vs. Martinez Round 12 (75 Percent of Total Votes)
Round 12 of Chavez vs Martinez by MrCarnes15
In an arena of disheartened Mexican fans who had seen their fighter undergo a boxing clinic for 11 rounds, the last 90 seconds of the fight provided high drama in Las Vegas. The No. 3 pound-for-pound fighter was scrapping for his life and trying to prevent Chavez's family history from repeating itself.
I always find it difficult and maddening to remember which rounds stood out in a given year, but the last stanza of Martinez-Chavez immediately came to mind. Martinez, of course, had dominated the fight for 11 rounds, so the last frame saved what had been an utterly one-sided fight.
Chavez dropping Martinez so early in Round 12 made for high drama, and Martinez incredibly stood his ground and rallied after falling to the canvas for a second time. Instead of holding, Martinez traded with Chavez, backing him up after Chavez appeared poised to score a stoppage.
Also, one can’t help but notice the parallels between what Chavez nearly did and what his father did in the final round of his fight against Meldrick Taylor. To put it simply: three minutes of boxing has apparently justified Martinez-Chavez II.
Personally, I may have to give the Round of the Year to Round 5 of Rios vs. Alvarado. Lopez vs. Salido II definitely had some rounds that could have taken the prize as well, but since the voters declared it the 12th round of Martinez vs. Chavez, that is also good with me.
I was at the Thomas and Mack Center that night, and I have the Tecate beer stains on my shirt to prove it, as the passionate fans started making it rain Tecate beer all over those below them as Martinez got knocked down, got up and struggled to regain his composure to win the fight.
2012 Upset of the Year: Lopez RTD over Ortiz (43 Percent of Total Votes)
Lopez upsets Ortiz video by Shosports
Fights like Lopez vs. Ortiz remind you that anything can happen in boxing, and that if you don't want to get screwed then don't leave it in the hands of the judges.
Lopez was a big underdog and a last-minute replacement for Andre Berto to fight Ortiz, who needed to stay busy and look good for his next big fight against Canelo.
Canelo vs. Ortiz was already being hyped as the big super-fight to see over the Mexican holiday weekend, rivaling the Martinez vs. Chavez fight going on the same night.
The only problem was that Lopez broke Victor's jaw and won the fight in a big upset that skyrocketed his career and landed him the fight with Canelo instead.
Ortiz losing to Lopez also made many fight fans begin spread rumors about the notorious "Canelo Curse."
Basically, according to this so-called "Canelo Curse," any opponent who is already slated to fight Canelo next ends up in tragedy. The Lopez upset-win over Ortiz seems to back up these fight fans' conspiracy theory.
It was good to see an underdog like Josesito Lopez get his chance to shine in the spotlight and make some money, but he is truly a 140-pound fighter and had no business fighting Canelo, at 154 pounds, after the Ortiz fight.
Hopefully Lopez can get bigger payday fights at 140 pounds in 2013.
Looking to 2013
Salido vs Garcia video by ChrisRobinson
In 2013, we already have some pretty incredible fights to look forward to.
January 19 is the Garcia vs. Salido fight, which may already be the leading Fight of the Year candidate for 2013. Both Salido and Garcia are the real deal and their contrasting fight styles may produce one memorable title bout.
Matthysse vs. Dallas is the following Saurday. Lucas is a powerhouse, with a 85.71 percent KO rate. Should he win against Dallas (which he should), I would like to see him avenge his controversial losses to Judah and Alexander in 2013.
Judah vs. Garcia is on February 9, and the bad blood and style matchup for this fight will also be sure to give the fans an exciting matchup.
Of course, the biggest cash cow superstar of the sport, Floyd Mayweather, is rumored to be returning to the ring for the big Cinco De Mayo weekend, and his opponent seems like it may be Robert Guerrero.
2013 already looks like it will be another great year of boxing, so the fans should have a lot to look forward to.
I want to thank all of the fight fans, the readers and the writers for voting and contributing to the 2012 Bleacher Report Best of Boxing Awards.
I hope you enjoyed it, and if you disagree with any of the winners that's fine; just let your voice be heard next year when we vote again. If you are up to it, climb the ranks here at the Bleacher Report Boxing Community and maybe you too can add your own expert commentary and analysis to next year's awards.
Cheers to 2013 fight fans!
King J is the B/R Boxing Community Leader and Featured Columnist.
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