The Most Unforgettable Boxing Images from 2013

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistDecember 27, 2013

The Most Unforgettable Boxing Images from 2013

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    Mayweather easily handled Canelo in boxing's most iconic event of 2013.
    Mayweather easily handled Canelo in boxing's most iconic event of 2013.Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Spor

    They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the sport of boxing, that's definitely true.

    Photos capture singular moments in history. Those images become immortalized and have the power to define not just that moment in time but even an entire era. 

    They have the power to not just remind you of the events but to bring back feelings, thoughts and remembrances of where you were when they happened. Think back to some of boxing's most iconic images...

    Muhammad Ali standing over a downed Sonny Liston. Manny Pacquiao lying unconscious from a Juan Manuel Marquez right hand.

    They capture more than just a moment, and they become part of the collective history of the sport and its fans. These photos do that better than any others from 2013, which was a banner year in the sport of boxing.

    These are boxing's most unforgettable images of 2013.

January: Gennady Golovkin Rearranges Gabe Rosado's Face

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    Rosado is crazy tough for standing up to that assault from Golovkin.
    Rosado is crazy tough for standing up to that assault from Golovkin.Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

    Many questioned Philly tough guy Gabriel Rosado's decision to leave the 154-pound division—where he was the mandatory challenger for one of the alphabet title belts—in search of middleweight glory and a bigger paycheck.

    Even more wondered why he chose to do so by facing undefeated WBO champion Gennady Golovkin, who, even with just one HBO fight under his belt, had begun developing a reputation as a feared puncher.

    The bout took place on Jan. 19 at The Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York City, and almost as soon as it began, it got ugly.

    Rosado was cut over the left eye in the second round, and Golovkin—who was severely ill just two days before the fight—proceeded to go to work. As the fight progressed, a game but clearly outmatched challenger saw his eye suffer increasing damage.

    The blood flow turned Rosado's face into a crimson mask, and the damage finally became too severe for referee Steve Smoger—who is notorious for giving fighters long leashes—to allow the action to continue. He called a halt to the beating at the request of the Rosado corner in the seventh round with the fighter still on his feet and absorbing punishment. 

    Give credit to Rosado: He's one tough dude. Golovkin was unable to put him on the canvas, but he did thoroughly rearrange his facial features. 

February: Ishe Smith Breaks Down After Winning His 1st World Championship

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    Ishe Smith was overcome with emotion after his first world title win.
    Ishe Smith was overcome with emotion after his first world title win.Tom Casino/Showtime

    The image of Ishe "Sugar Shay" Smith crying in the ring after finally capturing his first world championship sums up everything that is right and good with boxing.

    A likable, hardworking contender who spent much of his career toiling in relative obscurity got one last shot at glory and made good on it.

    In a banner year for the sport of boxing, you will find many more significant fights, but none better captured the raw emotion the sport is capable of eliciting from all those who watch and participate.

    Smith captured the IBF Junior Middleweight Championship by majority decision over former champion Cornelius "K9" Bundrage in a fight that—being brutally honest—can only be described as awful.

    The victory came just five years after Smith says he considered committing suicide but stopped himself because he didn't want his kids to grow up without a father.

    With the victory, Smith secured a pair of firsts. He—amazingly, given its rich boxing history—became the first fighter born in Las Vegas and the first fighter—other than Floyd Mayweather—to capture a world title under the Mayweather Promotions banner. After the fight, he was effusive in his praise of Mayweather for continuing to push him and for helping him to secure one last shot at a title.

    Unfortunately for Smith, his reign was short-lived. He dropped the title to Carlos Molina on the Mayweather vs. Canelo undercard in September.

March: Tim Bradley Gets off the Deck to Beat Ruslan Provodnikov

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    Timothy Bradley had a tough night against Ruslan Provodnikov.
    Timothy Bradley had a tough night against Ruslan Provodnikov.Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    Timothy Bradley got so much flak for his victory over Manny Pacquiao that you have to wonder whether it would have been better if he had lost. 

    There's no need to go over that fight again. Enough has been written to last a few lifetimes, and most would agree that the wrong man had his hand raised when it was over.

    Suffice it to say, Bradley was looking for—perhaps needing—a big performance when he stepped into the ring with Ruslan Provodnikov in March to defend his WBO Welterweight Championship. It was his first fight back since the Pacquiao debacle, and he needed to do something spectacular.

    And he largely did just that.

    Provodnikov attacked Bradley from the outset and could've been credited with a knockdown in the opening round. The second round wasn't much better for "Desert Storm," who was thrashed about the ring and suffered a concussion. 

    But from that point on, he boxed effectively enough to control his foe. He still slugged—which was far outside his normal comfort zone—and gave nearly as good as he got. Things seemed to be going his way heading into the final round, when the unexpected happened. 

    Bradley tasted the canvas for the second time in the fight—this time officially a knockdown—in the closing seconds, but his Russian foe didn't have enough time to capitalize on the advantage.

    When the scorecards were read, Bradley received a well-deserved unanimous-decision victory. It didn't completely erase all lingering doubts, but it went a long way. And it might just be the fight of the year.

April: Rigondeaux Boxes Circles Around Nonito Donaire

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    Rigo absolutely dominated Donaire in a technical boxing clinic.
    Rigo absolutely dominated Donaire in a technical boxing clinic.Al Bello/Getty Images

    If Nonito Donaire never reverts back to the dominant force he was during his 2012 Fighter of the Year campaign, we'll have no further to look for the reason than his April 13 fight against Guillermo Rigondeaux.

    It took place at New York City's famed Radio City Music Hall—the first prizefight at the venue since 2000 and only the second in its 82-year history—and was nothing short of a one-sided boxing clinic. The fact that the scorecards were ridiculously close shouldn't deceive you, given how not close the fight actually was.

    It wasn't just that Rigo beat Donairemany felt he would do exactly thatbut it was about how he beat him. "The Filipino Flash" saw his vaunted offensive attack completely blunted by a foe who was able to move around the ring, box effectively and swallow up his limited punch output with a tight defensive guard.

    It was a brilliant tactical game plan and resulted in a well-deserved victory for the two-time Olympic gold medalist from Cuba. It just didn't win him many fans.

    As for Donaire, he looked downright pedestrian in stopping old foe Vic Darchinyan in early November. His explosive power was still evident, but his confidence seemed to be shot. Maybe that had something to do with the beating he took from Rigondeaux.

May: Ruben Guerrero and Floyd Sr. Hug out Their Differences

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    Not bad for two guys who were gonna fight in a parking lot.
    Not bad for two guys who were gonna fight in a parking lot.Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    The main event of "May Day: Mayweather vs. Guerrero" may have featured their sons, but Floyd Mayweather Sr. and Ruben Guerrero staged something of their own contest in the promotion for the fight.

    The elder Guerrero largely stole the show during the days and weeks before the fight, for among other things, challenging Floyd Sr. to a fight and calling the pound-for-pound king a "woman beater" during an epic press-conference rant during fight week.

    Guerrero stunned the assembled media by zinging both Floyds:

    You like this guy, this woman beater? He must have learned it from his dad. Women beaters, baby. We're going to beat that woman beater. We'll see how he's going to like it. He's going to get it from a real man. Damn women beaters. We're going to beat that woman beater down. I'm serious.

    Floyd Sr. was not on the stage for the rant but shouted out from the audience that he was going to "[expletive] that [expletive] up."

    When he charged the stage, he was intercepted by light heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, who kept the two men apart until security could arrive. 

    So, given all the drama and heated words exchanged between the two fathers before the fight—and the ease with which Floyd Jr. dominated "The Ghost"—it was interesting to see them embrace in the ring after the fight.

June: Adonis Stevenson's Thrill of Victory

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    Stevenson's destruction of Chad Dawson earned him the light heavyweight title.
    Stevenson's destruction of Chad Dawson earned him the light heavyweight title.Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

    Only one word properly describes Adonis Stevenson's celebration after winning the light heavyweight championship in June: euphoric. 

    The now 36-year-old "Superman" entered his fight with reigning 175-pound champion Chad Dawson with a reputation for being a lethal one-punch knockout artist. But his foe didn't seem terribly concerned or even interested. 

    According to Dan Rafael of ESPN.com, Dawson famously remarked before the fight that he considered Stevenson little more than a "tune-up" and that nobody even knew who the challenger was coming into the fight. 

    Well, it took Dawson less than 80 seconds to meet, greet and get knocked out by that unknown foe in Montreal. A massive left cross in the center of the ring felled the champion and nearly sent him out of the arena sans his head.

    Stevenson's spectacular one-punch knockout is possibly the knockout of the year, and his "child on Christmas morning after opening the one gift he wanted more than any other" look is definitely one of the enduring images of this year at the fights.

July: Andre Berto Goes Down

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    Soto Karass may have ended Andre Berto's chance to become a contender again in the sport.
    Soto Karass may have ended Andre Berto's chance to become a contender again in the sport.Darren Abate, AP

    Let's hit the rewind button.

    It's 2011, and Andre Berto is walking to the ring to make his sixth defense of the WBC Welterweight Championship against Victor Ortiz.

    At that point, Berto was considered one of the fastest rising stars in all of boxing. He was undefeated, had had a world title for nearly three years and had a superb combination of speed and power. 

    And then, it all fell apart.

    Including the Ortiz fight—which was a spectacular back-and-forth contest—Berto has now lost three of his last four contests, and most recently he was beaten up and stopped by Jesus Soto Karass. 

    In the fight, Berto showed a tremendous amount of heart.

    He opened well, but Soto Karass took his bigger punches without any visible signs of difficulty. As the fight wore on, the former welterweight champion struggled with his opponent's power and reportedly suffered injuries to both arms.

    But even after being thrashed and with both arms hurt, Berto scored a dramatic knockdown in the 11th round that had the potential to swing the fight in his favor. But it wasn't to be. 

    Soto Karass opened the final frame with a short left hook that collapsed his foe to the mat. Berto beat the count, but he was clearly on shot legs, and the referee stopped the contest.

    Given all the injuries and setbacks, it's reasonable to question whether the knockout loss means we've seen the last of a once-promising fighter.

August: Abner Mares Gets Blasted

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    Abner Mares was shocked by Jhonny Gonzalez with a first-round knockout.
    Abner Mares was shocked by Jhonny Gonzalez with a first-round knockout.Harry How/Getty Images

    Quickraise your hands if you picked Jhonny Gonzalez to beat Abner Mares. 

    Now put them down because odds are that you're lying.

    Virtually nobody picked Gonzalez—a former featherweight champion who seemed a bit long in the tooth—to upset his younger foe, and of those who were willing to give him a puncher's chance, none saw this coming.

    A flush Gonzalez left hook landed right on the button in the final minute of the first round and dropped Mares to the mat. That, while surprising, wasn't a complete shock, given Gonzalez's well-documented punching power.

    Mares rose before the count of 10 and needed to survive for less than a minute to make it back to his corner. He seemed to have his legs back under him when Gonzalez, once again, went on the attack.

    The challenger uncorked a vicious eight-punch combination, culminating in a massive left hook that once again sent Mares to the mat. This time, he was substantially more hurt, and referee Jack Reiss called a halt to the contest.

    It was a stunning upset, and Gonzalez deserves a ton of credit for doing something that almost nobody believed he was still capable of achieving. 

    Mares also deserves praise for taking his loss like a man. He offered no excuses, didn't complain about the stoppage and gave his foe all the credit.

    The two will meet in a rematch on Feb. 15, 2014.

September: Floyd Mayweather Proves He's "The One"

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    Floyd dominated Canelo to prove that he was "The One."
    Floyd dominated Canelo to prove that he was "The One."Al Bello/Getty Images

    Sitting in press row for "The One: Mayweather vs. Canelo," you would have thought the world just ended when Jimmy Lennon Jr. read the words "majority decision." 

    To everyone with two working eyes, whether watching in the MGM Grand Garden Arena or on TV at home, it seemed clear that Floyd Mayweather had done enough to win every round of his fight with Saul "Canelo" Alvarez.

    Even the pro-Canelo crowd inside the MGM was stunned by the ludicrously close scorecards that didn't come close to reflecting the action inside the ring.

    Mayweather was brilliant once again on that night, and he seemed to have no trouble in picking apart a much younger and bigger foe. For all the hype surrounding the fight, it was a one-sided masterpiece from a fighter who is running out of things to prove and foes to prove them against.

    For so many of "Money's" detractors, Canelo embodied the possibility of someone finally silencing the pound-for-pound king and hanging that elusive first loss on his record. But not only was that not to be, it may just have been Mayweather's finest moment.

    But he says that's not for him to decide.

    "That's for everybody else to rank because every time I go out there and say I'm gonna do something I do it. I don't think that's bragging. I think it's the truth," Mayweather told Bleacher Report.

    "I fought 45 times and I won 45 times. Anything can happen in the sport of boxing. I can't rank myself. I'll let you guys do that when my career is over."

    And that's coming up sooner than you think. Better tune in while you can. 

October: Ruslan Provodnikov Makes Mike Alvarado Quit at Home

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    Mike Alvarado just couldn't hang with Ruslan Provodnikov.
    Mike Alvarado just couldn't hang with Ruslan Provodnikov.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    It's not easy to make a boxer quit on a fight, and it must be even harder to make him do it in front of his hometown fans. But that's exactly what Ruslan Provodnikov did to Mike Alvarado in Denver this October.

    Alvarado, who had captured a junior welterweight title by avenging a defeat to Brandon Rios earlier in the year, had long desired to host an event in his native Colorado. It was the first major prizefight in the Denver area since 2000, and it quickly turned into a nightmare for the defending champion.

    Provodnikov was like the energizer bunny, and he just kept coming. It didn't matter how many punches he had to swallow in order to land his own. He placed a tremendous amount of physical and mental pressure on his foe.

    Alvarado went down twice in a decisive eighth round and was badly battered in the ninth and 10th. Referee Tony Weeks was concerned by the punishment the champion was taking and checked on him in the corner before the 11th round.

    He says he asked Alvarado two or three times in the corner whether he wanted to continue and each time he said no.

November: Manny Pacquiao Returns

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    Nearly a year removed from a devastating knockout, Manny Pacquiao proved he's still as tough as they come.
    Nearly a year removed from a devastating knockout, Manny Pacquiao proved he's still as tough as they come.Nicky Loh/Getty Images

    The last time we saw Manny Pacquiao in the ring during 2012, he was unconscious on the mat after swallowing a missile right hand from longtime rival Juan Manuel Marquez. There were legitimate doubts about whether he would return at all, and if he did, whether he would be anything close to the fighter who once took the boxing world by storm.

    This year will end much better for Pac-Man—at least when it comes to his in-ring exploits—and he's positioned himself for meaningful and lucrative fights next year. 

    His victory over Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios in Macau late in November showed that he can still be a major player in the sport. His speed and aggression were still there, even as his once vaunted power seems to have been diminished in recent years. He wasn't reluctant to let his hands go and leave himself open to return fire.

    In the immediate aftermath of his dominant win, the Floyd Mayweather rumor mill once again began churning in earnest. But, until something drastic changes, that fight remains mythical. 

    It's far more likely that we'll see Pacquiao rematch Timothy Bradley in April of next year. "Desert Storm" holds a highly dubious victory over the Filipino icon and is coming off an impressive victory over Juan Manuel Marquez.

    Both guys need the fight, and the timing is perfect.

December: Adrien Broner Has a Problem

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    The agony of defeat?
    The agony of defeat?Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Whether you love him or hate him, you have to respect Floyd Mayweather. Is he brash? Does he rub some people the wrong way? Absolutely, but thus far he's backed up every single thing he's said. At 45-0 with multiple world titles across multiple divisions and universal recognition as the sport's best fighter, he has earned the right to brag a bit.

    Now consider his protege, Adrien Broner.

    "The Problem" out of Cincinnati fashioned himself the next Mayweather and told it to anyone who was willing to listen. Unlike his mentor though, Broner has yet to understand that there exists a subtle line between someone you love to hate and someone you just hate. 

    Mayweather, for all his brashness before his fights, is always respectful once they're over. He understands better than anyone how to market himself, but once that's done with, he respects the game and his opponent.

    Broner did himself no favors with his antics before, during and after his defeat at the hands of Marcos Maidana earlier in the month. He trash-talked, acted like a fool while getting battered in the ring and then ran out with his tail between his legs when the scorecards were announced. 

    It was an epic failure for Broner in every way possible, and he's going to have to do some serious growing up—matched with a corresponding real commitment to the sport—if he ever plans on coming close to the lofty hype he helped develop around himself.