This is the conclusion to my 3 part series on the boxers and boxing figures who have had the most successful, unsuccessful, and mixed results in 2010.
Note that I'm not calling these individuals "losers." Boxers are a hardy and durable bunch - part warrior, part entrepreneur, and certainly among the most courageous athletes the world knows. These men take many risks, and should be commended for their contributions to the sport.
However, there is a distinct pecking order as well, and the names on this list have seen their profile fall during the past 12 months. Their stock has fallen in 2010, be it by some of their own shortcomings, bad luck, or simply a declining profile that they'll have to struggle to pick up.
You can see parts 1 (the winners) and 2 (mixed decisions) to get a sense of what I'm doing with these ratings. Without further ado, my list of the top 12 falling stars in boxing in 2010.
Paul "The Punisher" Williams has long been labeled "The Most Avoided Fighter in Boxing" because many fighters tried to avoid stepping in to the ring with him. His long, awkward frame, constant pressure fighting, and overall combination of speed, power, athleticism and boxing skill made him one of the most feared competitors in the ring. Just five weeks ago, he was ranked number 5 pound for pound fighter in the world by Ring Magazine, and had the chance to move up to number 3 with a win over Sergio "Maravilla" Martinez, a fighter he had beaten via unanimous decision less than a year before.
Then, with one left hook, it all came down. In round 2 of their bout, one of the most anticipated of the year, Martinez struck Williams with a perfectly-placed left hook, ending the match and shocking the boxing world. With that loss, Williams is now in unfamiliar territory. His loss to Martinez (who was ranked number 6 prior to the fight) knocked Williams out of the top 10, and rather than a coronation, Williams now has to figure out how to jump start his career again.
A fight with troubled star Kelly Pavlik could help accomplish that, but a loss would have devastating effects for Williams. His best hope is that, after his loss, more high-level contenders have the confidence to step into the ring with him and he can recharge his career. Nonetheless, he is in a much tougher place now than he was one year ago today.
It's hard to say someone had a bad year in boxing after winning two consecutive unanimous decision victories, including one over grizzled veteran Glen Johnson, but that's sort of the case with Tavoris Cloud. The undefeated American light heavyweight joins Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal as some of the prime young talents in a division that is split between great young talent and cagey old veterans like Johnson, Bernard Hopkins, and Zsolt Erdei.
But wasn't Cloud in a similar position a year ago? Wasn't he primed to take on the world? Promotional considerations have been a nightmare for Cloud, and he simply doesn't seem ready to step up to the next level. A year ago, he was in a position where he was one fight away from true superstardom. That may still be the case, but the options are more limited.
To truly launch himself into the division's top tier, he'll need to beat either Jean Pascal or Bernard Hopkins. Chad Dawson is now somewhat damaged goods and won't regain his status until he beats one of those two. The problem is that Pascal's next two fights seem to be a rematch against Chad Dawson and then a rematch against Bernard Hopkins, so Cloud will be sitting on the sideline while the division's other top tier talent faces each other for at least six months, and maybe over a year, depending on how those matchups shake down.
It's hard to say someone had a really horrible year after making more money in one bout than they did in the rest of their entire career, but Clottey's credibility was immeasurably damaged by his sleep-inducing performance against Manny Pacquiao, and his prospects don't look very good for future bouts.
Just ask Jeff Resto. One of the worst things that can happen to a fighter is being branded a quitter, and though Clottey technically didn't give up in his fight against Pacquiao, by the looks of it, his whole gameplan seemed to be based on giving up any chance of winning.
So where does Clottey go from here? It's tough to say, but the Ghanaian fighter will have to do something exceptional to regain much relevance in the minds of boxing fans. Otherwise, he should invest his money wisely and start planning his retirement.
From the beginning, Allan Green was in a tricky spot. He entered the Super Six tournament and essentially inherited Jermain Taylor's 0-2 record. It was an uphill proposition, but he hasn't done much even with what he has been given. A loss to Andre Ward was expected, but he then dropped a bout to 41-years-young Glen Johnson, who was coming down in weight, and that basically knocked Green out of the tournament.
It's hard to say whether the Super Six helped or hurt Green. On one hand, it gave him a considerable increase in notability, and he is probably more famous now than he was a year or two ago. On the other hand, he has lost to a lot of fighters, and has to deal with the stigma of taking a 2 fight losing streak into his next match.
Fighters like Glen Johnson and Shane Mosley have recovered from a 2-fight losing streak, but guys like Juan Diaz, Roy Jones Jr, and many others have simply not been able to regain their previous confidence and competence.
If he never regains his previous accolades, at least he will always be remembered for his huge knockout of promising upstart Jaidon Codrington.
Wladimir Klitschko, Vitali Klitschko, David Haye, Tomasz Adamek, Alexander Povetkin.
With all that talent, something was bound to happen in the heavyweight division in 2010, right?
Somehow, despite a clear lack of options for everyone in the heavyweight division, all the top fighters seem to keep finding ways to avoid facing each other. Tomasz Adamek vs. an overweight Chris Arreola* was probably the most dramatic and high profile heavyweight bout this year, and that's saying something.
Thank goodness for Kathy Duva, or we would have nothing to watch in the division all year. Let's hope for something better in 2010.
* Note: It seems like that's the only kind of Chris Arreola we will ever see, unless something significant happens.
One of boxing's perennial good guys did not have a good year in 2010, but in the two days since I started writing this article, it seems like his year has gotten a lot better just in time for Christmas, now that he is almost a sure bet to be facing Manny Pacquiao in May.
Prior to that, what did 2010 hold for Mosley? A near-shutout loss to Floyd Mayweather, Jr, save for an impressive right against Floyd in the second round. He followed that up with a fairly dominant-looking performance against Sergio Mora that ended in an unfathomable draw.
All this knocked Mosley from number 3 to number 5 to entirely out of the Ring Magazine pound for pound ratings.
So all in all, it was not a good year for Mosley, but because of the ridiculous state of boxing, Bob Arum decided that Mosley would be the best opponent for Pacquiao in his next bout. Arum now has an uphill climb trying to sell this ill-advised fight to the boxing public. Oh well, at least it helps Mosley save up a good nest egg for his retirement.
It's all relative, but this year hasn't been kind to Mayweather or his reputation.
The first thing to happen was the loss of credibility that he seems to be picking up each day that a Pacquiao showdown doesn't happen.
Mayweather unquestionably looked dominant as expected against "Sugar" Shane Mosley, but the results against that fighter weren't enough to quench the thirsts of boxing fans frustrated by inactivity among the sport's "other" top fighter.
Then came the domestic assault allegations that put Mayweather at risk of a lengthy prison sentence. Luckily, it all ended up working out OK for Mayweather, and he is more or less a free man.
Still, 2010 hasn't been kind to Mayweather, and it seems like that trend won't change until he starts booking more quality fights against challenging opposition. That said, Mayweather turns 34 in February and we have to wonder how much longer he can expect his physical dominance of the sport to last.
A year ago today, Hatton was a semi-retired fighter who had just lost by a brutal knockout to boxing's new king, Manny Pacquiao. Hatton was rumored for a few comeback fights, including an interesting-sounding showdown with Oscar De La Hoya.
Then, this past summer, news reports began to surface discussing Hatton's problems with cocaine, and pictures showed up of him looking a few stones heavier than during his fighting days.
He had to then open up to the press about his cocaine habit, and how it had been hurting his family, and he has since disappeared from the public eye. Hopefully for "The Hitman," things are sorting themselves out in his personal life, but it seems like his days as a fighter are over.
"Bad" Chad Dawson was (and I think still is) one of the most dangerous boxers that many casual fight fans haven't heard of. He entered 2010 as an undefeated champion ranked # 1 by Ring Magazine in the light heavyweight division, and the big question was how he could start to bring more attention to his to his rapidly-rising portfolio of fights.
He was coming off four straight wins against legendary boxers - two each against Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver - as well as a recent victory over hardy Pole Tomasz Adamek. He was finally going to face one of the division's "young guns" in Jean Pascal, and entered the match as a 2-1 favorite over the Haitian-turned-French Canadian ring technician.
But in what many viewed as a disappointing fight, Dawson seemed tentative and never really got going, and was trailing on all three scorecards but seemingly picking up momentum when a questionably accidental headbutt opened up a cut, leading to an 11th round stoppage and scorecard division. Pascal won the fight, became Ring Magazine's champion, and Dawson, who already had trouble courting followers, just saw his path become a lot more difficult.
The good news for Dawson is that it seems that a rematch with Pascal is next on his agenda. Now that Pascal is the reigning king, Dawson has a big chance to regain his dominance in the division. If not, the Texas-based family man may never regain what he once had as a boxer.
Awkward, tough, strong, and violent - and with a name to match - Vic Darchinyan is one of the most feared boxers in the lighter weight divisions.
He was quickly rising up the pound for pound rankings before being upset by Nonito Donaire in 2007, and though he hadn't regained the profile he once had, he was still a very intimidating boxer who took on, and usually baffled, quality opposition in every fight.
Although not necessarily a favorite, "The Raging Bull" entered Showtime's Bantamweight tournament as the one sporting the most name recognition. He was the elder statesman, a 34-year-old cagey veteran facing off with three younger, quality opponents: Joseph Agbeko, Abner Mares and Yohnny Perez. A win in this tournament would have helped Darchinyan cement his legacy as one of the finest fighters of our generation.
However, it was not to be. Darchinyan looked dangerous, but was on the receiving end of a tough split decision that went toward Mares in the first round of the tournament. Now out of the tournament, it seems Darchinyan has three options: A faceoff against Perez in a sort of "consolation" match, a long-awaited rematch with Donaire, or a well-timed retirement for the Armenian-Australian tactician, who turns 35 on January 7th.
There are recent whisperings that David Haye might actually be serious about facing off with Wladimir Klitschko, now that he has offered the Ukrainian star a 50-50 split in what could be the biggest heavyweight fight in years.
But until that bout is signed and official, we're left with what David Haye really accomplished in boxing in 2010, which is not much.
When 2010 began, there were so many options for him on the table - a speculated bout with one of the Klitschkos, a potential matchup with Tomasz Adamek, Chris Arreola, Eddie Chambers, or Alexander Povetkin, or dozens of other options.
What did we get from Haye this year? A 9-round clinic against a game but worn-out John Ruiz, and the worst fight of the year - a 3 round joke against Audley "The One Hit Wonder" Harrison.
Haye still has a chance to become the savior for the heavyweight division that we have thought he could be for several years now. Let's hope he takes that angle in 2011 instead of repeating one of the most disappointing years from anyone that he did in 2010.
Review the whole list: