Split Decisions: Bernard Hopkins Among 10 Boxers with Mixed Results in 2010
A direct followup to "Boxing's 12 Biggest Winners of 2010: Did Manny Pacquiao Make The Cut?", this is part 2 of my 2010 year-end series, chronicling who helped, hurt and brought in mixed results for their career in 2010.
Note that this is not a "Fighter of the Year" thread, or anything remotely similar.
Fighters on this particular list could have won every match, but ended up losing some credibility, or could have lost all of their matches, but won a significant degree of respect from diehard boxing fans.
The names and people on this list had a year that hasn't moved them up or down the ladder in significant fashion. Many of these fighters had a big loss, coupled with an increase in notability. Others went undefeated, but didn't do much to advance their careers. Others didn't win or lose at all, but simply sat on the sidelines while things happened around them.
Whatever the case, in Split Decisions, I look at the fighters who brought in mixed results for their careers in 2010.
Fellow Featured Columnist Bill Cody ranked Maidana as one of his big winners of 2010, but I'm not sure that assertion can be made.
Maidana certainly maintained his notability this year and had a gritty performance in a big-time fight against Amir Khan, but the end result is a loss for Maidana and an uncertain future for him in the junior welterweight division.
Unlike my esteemed colleague, I think that Maidana's true breakthrough was in 2009, when he won a fifth round knockout victory over Victor Ortiz. That was the win that launched Maidana into the upper echelon of fighters in the vaunted junior welterweight division.
After that win, he was sitting in a tie for third place with talented but shaken Brit Amir Khan, and both were trailing Americans Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander, who face off in January and share claim to the top position in their division.
Though Maidana certainly rode high on the sails of his increased relevance in the sport, he ended the year as the clear fourth choice in boxing's most talented division.
Had he beaten Khan, it would have been almost a coronation. Though he looked very impressive and could have possibly won by a premature stoppage in round 10 of their fight, Maidana ends the year not much better off than he was one year ago today.
Oh, what to make of Bernard Hopkins, the nearly 46-year-old Philadelphian who seems to turn back time more effectively than Cher herself?
This year, Bernard Hopkins won a match with Roy Jones Jr. that earned him bragging rights, if nothing else. He avenged a loss to Jones 17 long years ago.
He then faced off with fast-rising Quebec resident Jean Pascal for a share of the middleweight crown. It was a very close fight, and anyone who tells you otherwise is lying. Hopkins looked very shaky early and I was coming to the conclusion that his age may finally be catching up with him. Hopkins was knocked down in rounds one and three.
Then, suddenly, "The Executioner" became the Hopkins we all know and appreciate, using his skilled technique and experience to fight to a well-deserved draw, despite those two early 10-8 rounds.
The end result was a draw, which tends to leave fans unsatisfied, but I think was a totally reasonable decision.
Hopkins proved that he can still bring it even as he approaches the ripe age of 46, but the clock is obviously ticking, although he is scheduled to face Pascal again after the Canadian squares off against rival Chad Dawson.
Will the next match have much to offer Hopkins, and will he really be able to turn back the clock again? That remains to be seen.
American Andre Berto is another conundrum for boxing fans. He has had an enviable career—still undefeated and apparently more and more dominant with each passing fight.
At the same time, Berto is causing fans immense frustration for his unwillingness to step up to the big time and face truly worthy opponents. It certainly isn't all his fault, and he has fallen victim to some very unfortunate circumstances. He was scheduled for a January showdown with "Sugar" Shane Mosley, which had to be called off due to the deaths of several family members in the Haiti earthquakes last winter.
Mosley signed to face Mayweather, and Berto had to settle for a match with Carlos Quintana, and followed it with a showdown against Freddy Hernandez.
But now, Berto is being mentioned as a potential opponent for Manny Pacquiao, which I think is a bit ridiculous. You can't go from facing glorified club fighter Hernandez to Pacquiao in consecutive fights, but at least it's an indication that Berto may finally be ready to step up to the plate.
I think a match with someone like Miguel Cotto or Joshua Clottey would be more appropriate for the very talented Berto. It remains to be seen is whether he is interested in that, or whether he just wants to pad his record with more meaningless wins before he takes on a huge name like Pacquiao or Mayweather.
Rafael Marquez is one of those fighters who never seems to win quite enough fights to move up into the "feared" category, but he steadily compiles a series of well-fought battles that give us no choice but to respect him as one of the finest ring technicians of our time.
Marquez has been a part of two Fight of the Year winners against Israel Vazquez, and they faced off again earlier this year. The fourth bout in the famous rivalry did little to quench our thirsts for pure action fights like the first three. Vazquez looked defeated, like an aging fighter, and Marquez won it before they had even fought six rounds.
Rafael Marquez then followed it up with a well-fought loss to Juan Manuel Lopez in another fight of the year candidate. It's hard to say what the career of Rafael Marquez holds after this.
He has been in a lot of wars, and I think he is a clear choice for the boxing hall of fame. But, he still isn't the high-profile fighter that his brother is. We're left to speculate on what he still has left in the tank after taking all that damage.
It will be interesting to see what happens with him in 2011.
One year ago today, Natascha Ragosina was sitting atop the women's boxing universe. She had just won a heavyweight title by beating Pamela London—a Guyana resident who outweighed her by 65 pounds but was simply outclassed by the talented Ragosina.
Ragosina's combination of size, speed, power and all-around boxing skill had landed her the top spot on my list of the most marketable women's boxing champions.
Since then, Ragosina hasn't stepped into the ring once, and doesn't seem to have any plans to do so in the near future. While she hasn't lost her undefeated record, Ragosina is now 34, and it's unclear whether she has been contemplating retirement or not.
What is clear is that she is still among the most dominant women's boxing stars on the planet, and didn't lose much credibility in what was a largely inactive year for women's boxing. Cecilia Braekhus and Yesica Bopp are among the only true newsmakers in the sport over the past 12 months.
A return by Ragosina would be much welcomed, but it's unclear as to whether this will happen anytime soon.
Margarito just suffered the biggest beatdown of his career, so why isn't he on my list of boxing's biggest losers in 2010?
Well, for one, he just had the biggest payday of his career, earning enough money for several families to retire on, and he has also regained some of his credibility at a time when he desperately needed it. It is unclear whether Margarito will be returning to the ring in the near future, but even as a staunch Margarito detractor, I have to admit that Margarito's performance against Pacquiao was courageous, if nothing else.
The fight probably should have been stopped rounds earlier by Robert Garcia, but Margarito stuck in there and didn't stop trying.
Considering where Margarito stood a year ago after the hand wraps controversy, it's hard to imagine his career getting any worse than it was, and indeed, if anything, Margarito's career and credibility has picked up considerably since his appearance against Pacquiao.
For that reason, despite garnering a big loss in his only true challenge in 2010, Antonio Margarito brought in a mixed result, and his career could live to see a few more major bouts.
I am a supporter of Miguel Cotto because I think he is a very talented, credible fighter and an admirable boxer from a long line of impressive Puerto Rican fighters.
I was tempted to put Cotto on my list of boxing's winners in 2010, since he followed up a devastating loss to Manny Pacquiao with an exciting TKO victory over Yuri Foreman in a major event at Yankee Stadium this past June.
The 29-year-old (now 30) Cotto showed that he still has plenty of boxing talent and can prepare a fight plan with the best of them.
On the other hand, it was Cotto's only fight in 2010, and it wasn't the kind of huge statement that would propel him into major discussions against top-level fighters.
Part of this is Cotto's doing: He decided that rather than face some smaller fighters, he would hold out for a big-name fight, not a match against someone like Vanes Martirosyan or another up-and-coming middleweight.
So at the end of the year, Cotto definitely didn't have a horrible 2010, but I'm sure he and his camp are hoping for bigger fish to fry in 2011.
Ivan Calderon has long been one of boxing's great anomalies—a supremely talented, undefeated fighter who dominated his division for years, but simply couldn't garner much celebrity because of the lack of worthwhile, big-name opposition in his lower weight classes.
He finally found that marquee matchup this past August against, young Mexican up-and-coming flyweight, Giovani Segura. It was unquestionably a fight of the year candidate, and the first of a series of excellent bouts in the later part of this year.
The only problem for Calderon: He was on the receiving end of Segura's dominant skill set. The 34-0 Calderon experienced his first career defeat, and immediately after the matchup, people were wondering whether the 35-year-old Calderon will fight again.
It's a question that remains unresolved, but there's no question that it was the biggest bout of Calderon's career. He nonetheless gained a lot of recognition, despite the loss.
Lucian Bute is arguably the one person on this list who deserves to be on the list of boxing's biggest winners in 2010. He had two dominant performances (albeit against journeymen) and drew large attendance at the gates and major paydays.
In late 2009, he took down Librado Andrade in dominant fashion, avenging a very questionable earlier decision in what many believed should have been a 12th-round stoppage. He followed that up with knockout victories over Edison Miranda and Jesse Brinkley.
He is the reigning king of boxing in the city of Montreal, which is becoming one of the world's greatest boxing Meccas.
The problem for Bute? He has been only able to fight against journeyman opposition, and unless he has a big showdown against Jean Pascal, it is unlikely he'll have a major-level opponent for another year, at least.
Why? Well, the primary opposition seems to have other major plans. Which brings me to the next inclusion on my list...
The Showtime Super Six Tournament
Showtime's Super Six Tournament was a bold, daring experiment and was widely welcomed by boxing fans when it was first launched in October 2009. It re-energized the flagging super middleweight division, and brought suspense and excitement to boxing fans in a time where we were all preoccupied with the non-occurrence of a Pacquiao-Mayweather mega-fight.
The tournament has also helped clarify some things in the division—Andre Ward is a supreme talent. Arthur Abraham has major flaws. Carl Froch is a definite contender and worthy titleholder, and Glen Johnson, two weeks shy of his 42nd birthday, is still a legitimate fighter even in smaller weight classes.
However, it wasn't a huge surprise when some of the fights in the tournament began to run into some turmoil. It's hard enough booking a match between two fighters, let alone coordinating a series of 12 bouts between six big personalities, some of whom may have nothing to gain by remaining in the tournament.
It was no shocker when Jermain Taylor withdrew after his second loss. Then Mikkel Kessler, after a rejuvenating win against Froch, had to withdraw with an eye injury. Andre Dirrell, after an impressive but star-crossed performance in a disqualification win over Abraham, then had to withdraw from his match with Andre Ward, citing neurological problems (which very well could be the cause), but amid much speculation that he was ducking Ward.
Allan Green and Glen Johnson stepped in, and Johnson's win added much-needed clarity to the picture. Now it seems to be moving toward its conclusion, with semifinal matchups of Froch-Johnson and Ward-Abraham. The big question now, though, is if Ward ends up winning, will he have that big showdown with Lucian Bute?
Since then, Showtime has decided to scale down its bantamweight tournament to just four contestants, which seems far more manageable.
Those are ten boxing figures who had mixed results in 2010. It remains to be seen what will happen to those fighters.
Tomorrow, I will be concluding this three-part series with a look at the names and faces in boxing that had a rough year in 2010. (Update: Part 3 posted here)
Until then, take a look back at the first article, and let me know your thoughts in the comments section.
For more news and updates on men's and women's boxing, join Bleacher Report's boxing community by clicking "Boxing" at the top left of this article. As a Bleacher Report member, you can also become a fan of this author and any of the other Bleacher Report contributors, and receive a weekly email with hand-picked articles from Bleacher Report's professional editors.