Boxing's Winners and Losers in 2011
It's been an up-and-down year in the boxing world. We have seen some great fights, but numerous bad and controversial ones as well.
Several fighters have distinguished themselves this year, though many have had a year that they might want to forget.
So, before we kick off 2012, it's time to look back at the some of the winners and losers in 2011.
Losers: Fighters on the Wrong End of Poor Judges' Decisions
This has got to be one of the worst years on record for poor and questionable judges' decisions. There are probably several decisions which you, the reader, must have been scratching your head about.
Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez was a perfect example, with the pound-for-pound fighter receiving a more than generous decision from the judges. It was a fight that many felt Marquez had done more than enough to win.
Another judges' decision that was questionable was the recent Robert Helenius vs. Dereck Chisora. Chisora dominated Helenius, only to come out the loser to in a split decision loss. Trainer Freddy Roach was at ringside covering the fight for ESPN and called the decision one of the worst he had ever seen. Did the hometown advantage really come into play for Helenius?
And speaking of hometown decisions, did Lamont Peterson get lucky with the judges in his win over Amir Khan because he was in Washington D.C.?
Even in fights where the winner was clear, scoring still defied belief. Andre Ward only managed to win his fight against Carl Froch on points by two rounds according to two of the judges. The fight was incredibly one-sided, and even Carl Froch stated the scoring was dubious; he felt he had hardly won a round!
Let's hope there is a better display from the judges next year.
Key word: consistency.
Winner: Roberto Garcia
Roberto Garcia has enjoyed seeing his fighters have a great year and for his efforts, the trainer has recently been named by Ring Magazine as Trainer of the Year for 2011.
Brandon Rios and Nonito Donaire have both risen to the top of the pound-for-pound rankings in their respective divisions. Garcia also trains his younger brother Miguel Angel Garcia, a rising welterweight prospect.
Donaire and Rios are on the verge of career-defining major fights beginning in 2012. Garcia certainly has the edge in the trainer stakes for the first time over his fellow trainer Freddie Roach who has not had the best of luck in the last few months.
Loser: Amir Khan
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It started off well for Amir "King" Khan this year with a win over Paul McCloskey. It got better with a unification triumph over IBF Light Welterweight Champion Zab Judah. It got even better with talk of a super-fight against Floyd Mayweather in 2012 or 2013.
It went bad when Amir Khan underestimated Lamont Petersen in December.
Although the judges' decision may or may not have been dubious from your viewpoint, Khan failed to take Peterson seriously and got his ass kicked. Peterson fought like a man possessed and wanted victory much more than Khan, who had seen Peterson as merely another stepping stone on his path to boxing greatness.
Khan is now back to square one and at the time of writing, has no world titles to use as bargaining chips. Golden Boy Promotions and Team Khan are harassing the WBA and IBF with a passion in order to get the decision overturned and in doing so are ruining their chances of an immediate rematch.
The whole situation now seems like sour grapes. Khan isn't doing himself many favours with his attitude, especially considering Marcos Maidana and Breidis Prescott were never offered rematches.
Khan paid the price for looking too far ahead.
Advice for Khan: Forget the defeat to Peterson and look at re-establishing himself as the No. 1 light welterweight fighter because for all his perceived flaws, Amir Khan is one hell of a talented boxer.
Winner: Andre Ward
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The self-styled "Son of God" has had a fantastic year and is on the way to super-stardom for he is truly blessed.
With a defensive style similar to that of Floyd Mayweather and possessing a powerful punch, Ward completely outboxed Carl Froch to win the Super Six Boxing Classic and confirm his status as the No. 1 super middleweight on the planet.
Ward has marched up to No. 4 in the Ring Magazine's pound-for-pound rankings. If Ward continues as he has done over the last year, then expect him to be breathing down the necks of Pacquiao, Mayweather and Martinez very shortly.
With any luck, Andre Ward will be back early next year against a top-level fighter. Lucien Bute, Bernard Hopkins and Nathan Cleverly have all been linked with the rising star of boxing's elite.
Loser: Manny Pacquiao
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How can Manny Pacquiao be a loser this year, one might say? One name springs to mind.
Juan Manuel Marquez.
Every boxer in history seems to have their bogeyman, and Marquez is one that Pacquiao always has problems with. Pacquiao can never beat Marquez with a clear-cut victory, and in November there was no one-sided shut-out as predicted.
Marquez gave Pacquiao a beating, with the Filipino champion lucky to escape with a dubious majority decision. In the build-up, there were signs that Pacquiao's mind was elsewhere and the ever-increasing circus that follows him did not help him keep his focus for the fight.
Earlier in the year, Pacquiao gave Shane Mosley a one-sided beatdown, though it did not add to his already great reputation.
The problem appears to be that Pacquiao is fighting as frequently as Floyd Mayweather. With the exception of Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao is also fighting faded opposition long past their primes.
There are few marquee fights out there for Pacquiao. Floyd Mayweather is about to spend some time in jail, so the potential super-fight is still a year off. A rematch with a highly-motivated Marquez could derail the fight if Pacquiao were to lose.
Pacquiao is a great fighter, but he needs to find major challenges in 2012 on a frequent basis in order to avoid the possibility of fading away at the end of his impressive career.
Loser: Floyd Mayweather
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It has not been the best of years for Floyd Mayweather, and 2012 isn't going to start well for him either.
After being convicted of battery, Mayweather will spend at least 60 days in county jail. With the MGM Grand booked for the 5th of May, this will not provide him with enough time to train properly for a major opponent. At this point, the Manny Pacquiao fight seems dead for the earlier part of the year, if it was ever likely to go ahead in the first place.
Like his fellow top pound-for-pound fighter Pacquiao, Mayweather's time in the ring has been controversial this year. Was his knockout of Victor Ortiz a sucker punch knockout or perfectly legal?
Whatever the result, Mayweather was barely in the ring for more than 12 minutes, which is nowhere near long enough to prove that he is still at the top of his game. If he does not fight more than once a year against a major opponent, will the crowds begin to forget "Money?"
Winner: The Lower Weight Divisions from Lightweight to Middleweight
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As well as the top pound-for-pound fighters Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao and Sergio Martinez, the middle-lower weight divisions are stacked with talent. And the influx of talent does not seem to be slowing down.
Lamont Peterson, Brandon Rios, Saul Alvarez, Marcos Maidana, Ricky Burns and Antonio DeMarco have all distinguished themselves this year, to name but a few of the truly fine fighters mixing in the divisions. It certainly won't be long before the likes of Nonito Donaire, and possibly Adrien Broner, move up in weight to take on the very best boxers in the world.
With fighters like Timothy Bradley, Devon Alexander, Amir Khan and Eric Moralez also in the mix, next year should see the prospect of many high quality matchups.
Loser: Heavyweight Boxing
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It has been another poor year for the blue-ribbon division of the sport.
The Klitschko brothers have continued their dominance and now hold all of the major titles in the division. This is a fine achievement, but they will probably admit that the competition available at the moment is less than average.
The biggest disappointment of the year was the fight between Wladmir Klitschko and WBA Heavyweight Champion David Haye. Although Haye was the underdog, hopes were high that the contest would be of a quality not seen since the middle of the last decade.
Instead, we were treated to Haye making no effort to engage Wladimir, with the British fighter complaining at every opportunity. In the end, Haye was defeated and embarassed himself further by complaining about a broken toe.
Vitali Klitschko fought an incredibly brave former cruiserweight in the form of Tomasz Adamek in September, but the outcome was never in doubt.
Alexander Povetkin seems to be a reasonable fighter, claiming the paper WBA Heavyweight Crown against journeyman Ruslan Chagaev in August. Until he fights the Klitshcko brothers, the Russian will find himself fighting second-tier opposition. Povetkin has agreed to fight experienced WBO Cruiserweight World Champion Marco Huck in 2012. Hopefully this will provide him with a decent challenge.
One bright light in the heavyweight darkness from 2011 was Seth Mitchell. The American has kept busy during the year with his win over Timur Ibragimov being the highlight. A fighter that keeps himself in excellent shape has much to look forward to next year.
Loser: Ridiculous Politics Still Damaging Boxing
It's also been another year where boxing politics are continuing to damage the sport.
Point in question is the long running dispute in setting up the super-fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. In March the issue of drug testing was the main reason for the fight not occurring. Now it seems that infighting between promoters is causing delays. Bob Arum of Top Rank, Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions are calling each other out for the delays.
Until all the parties involved can be sensible and achieve a reasonable compromise then the fight will never happen.
Floyd Mayweather being jailed has not helped...
The major boxing organisations also continue to be a law unto themselves, usually for the worse. As of this date, the WBA has 13 Interim Champions in 17 weight divisions. The WBA also has 9 super champions. To the WBA - who are your recognised individual champions?
The other organisations tend to be just as bad with the WBC introducing Diamond Belts, Silver Belts and Medals. If you believe it cannot possibly get worse, odds are it will in 2012.
One division, One Champion? Far too much to hope for.