It's Monday. Welcome back for another edition of Observe and Fight, The Boxing Observer's compilation of observations and random thoughts from the week that was in boxing. As we head into 2013, it's time to reflect on the year that was in boxing. Everyone comes up with a year-end awards list, but I thought I would add a little twist to some awards. Without further ado, check out the latest observations from The Boxing Observer, David Kassel.
- Muhammad Ali Award (Fighter of the Year): Juan Manuel Marquez
I have to admit that I struggled with this choice because I am biased towards fighters who stay active. I generally would not consider giving this award to a fighter who only fought twice, but Marquez settled the long-standing rivalry between he and Manny Pacquiao in emphatic fashion. Marquez left absolutely no doubts as to who was the winner and who was the loser in the 4th match-up between the two men. Marquez also cemented his legacy as one of the greatest fighters of this era and one of the greatest fighters in Mexican boxing history. Marquez has aged like a fine wine, getting better and better, and for that, he deserves the Fighter of the Year award.
Runner-up: Nonito Donaire, Robert Guerrero, Danny Garcia, Austin Trout
- Smokey from Friday "You Got Knocked the F*** Out" Award (Knockout of the Year): Marquez KO of Manny Pacquiao
As if there were any other choice. The 6th round knockout of Manny Pacquiao will be remembered forever by fans and will be run on loop over and over for the next 50 years. Easy choice.
Runner-ups: Mikkel Kessler KO of Allan Green, Danny Garcia KO of Amir Khan, Randall Bailey KO of Mike Jones, Carl Froch TKO of Lucian Bute
- Thrilla in Manila Award (Fight of the Year): Marquez over Pacquiao
Before December 8, 2012, there were a few fights deserving of this award, however, after that night, it was a clear choice. The history of the rivalry. The buildup to the fight. One knockdown by each man before the final blow. The aftermath of the outcome. Add these to the fact that most pay-per-views main events never live up to the hype, and Marquez vs. Pacquiao IV was an easy choice for the Fight of the Year.
Runner-ups: Brandon Rios KO of Mike Alvarado, Orlando Salido TKO over Juan Manuel Lopez, Josesito Lopez TKO over Victor Ortiz
- "I Don't Believe What I Just Saw" Award (Upset of the Year): Josesito Lopez over Victor Ortiz
This fight has been somewhat forgotten since Lopez went on to lose to Saul "Canelo" Alvarez in September, but Lopez was supposed to be nothing more than a stepping stone for Victor Ortiz to earn a big payday against Canelo. From the minute the opening bell rang, fight fans saw that Lopez was going to test Ortiz's heart much like Marcos Maidana did. The fight seemed to turn when Ortiz intentionally fouled Lopez with a vicious rabbit punch. Lopez kicked it into another gear after that, eventually forcing Ortiz to quit on his stool due to a severely broken jaw.
Runner-ups: Timothy Bradley over Manny Pacquiao; Carl Froch over Lucian Bute; Sonny Boy Jaro over Pongsaklek Wonjongkam; Daniel Geale over Felix Sturm; Danny Garcia over Amir Khan; Austin Trout over Miguel Cotto; Randall Bailey over Mike Jones; Johnathon Banks over Seth Mitchell; Vyacheslav Senchenko over Ricky Hatton
- Ocean's Eleven Award (Robbery of the Year): Brandon Rios SD over Richard Abril
Not many fans had the opportunity to see this fight because it was a farce of a pay-per-view event, but the result was certainly unforgettable. The unknown Abril completely outclassed the favorite, Rios, for 12 rounds by smothering Rios' offensive attack and not allowing many shots to be landed. Abril boxed beautifully and took away Rios' left hook. This fight was not even close, and I don't know of anybody who scored the fight for Rios. I gave Abril 9 of the 12 rounds in the fight. In the end though, Rios was announced the winner, and Abril's name continues to float around in relative obscurity.
Runner-ups: Timothy Bradley over Manny Pacquiao, Tavoris Cloud over Gabriel Campillo, any boxer screwed over by the judges at the Olympics
- Angelo Dundee Award (Trainer of the Year): Robert Garcia
There was no clear cut choice for trainer of the year in 2012, but Garcia had the very best resume in major fights. His top 3 fighters, Donaire, Rios, and Mikey Garcia, went undefeated and are all either defending a world title, or fighting for a world title in their next fight. Add to it that Garcia added Marcos Maidana to his stable and that leads to success.
Runner-ups: Virgil Hunter, Mike Stafford, Nacho Beristain
- Corrales vs. Castillo Round 10 Award (Round of the Year): Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (Round 12)
No 3 minutes epitomized why the sport of boxing is so great more than the 12th round between Martinez and Chavez Jr. The fight was boring and lackluster throughout (though the atmosphere stayed at a fever pitch throughout). With Chavez Jr. needing a knockout to win heading into the final round, Martinez could have easily stayed away from his bigger and slower opponent. Instead, Martinez showed why he is a fan-friendly fighter by trying to close the show. It almost cost him in the end when Chavez landed a thundering blow that sent Martinez to the canvas. Martinez was very wobbly and still had more than half of the round to try and survive. Instead of holding Chavez Jr., Martinez continued to trade shots and was out on his feet as the final bell struck. Neither Martinez or Chavez Jr. could close the show on each other, but the two men closed the event and almost blew the roof off of the Thomas and Mack Center in Las Vegas.
Runner-ups: Rios/Alvarado (Round 5); Ray Beltran/Ji-Hoon Kim (Round 1); Orlando Salido/Juan Manuel Lopez (Round 9); Brian Viloria/Hernan Marquez (Round 5)
- The Honey Boo-Boo Award (Breakout Star of the Year): Adrien Broner
Nobody announced his presence onto the national boxing stage more than the Cincinnati, Ohio native in 2012. Some may think he is the next Floyd Mayweather (and they may not be too far off), but Broner will be the first to tell you that he is not the next Floyd Mayweather; he is the first Adrien Broner. While his Twitter following may not be quite as large as Honey Boo Boo, Broner is set for a spectacular 2013 and could join the Top-5 pound-for-pound conversation by year's end. Broner's personality may be even greater than his in-ring skills, and that is saying a lot. Knockout wins over Eloy Perez, Vicente Escebedo, and Antonio Demarco make Broner the 2012 breakout boxing star of the year.
Runner-ups: Austin Trout, Leo Santa Cruz, Bryant Jennings
- Tommy John Award (Comeback Fighter of the Year): Paulie Malignaggi
It's very easy to forget that everyone in the boxing world wrote off the Magic Man after his knockout loss to Amir Khan in 2010, but Malignaggi worked his way back up the ladder by reinvigorating himself as a full-fledged welterweight. In April, Malignaggi went overseas to the Ukraine and showed fans punching power few had ever seen by demolishing champion Vyacheslav Senchenko en route to a 9th round TKO victory. Malignaggi then successfully defended his title in an October slug-fest against Pablo Cesar Cano.
Runner-ups: Robert Guerrero, Carl Froch, Devon Alexander, Arthur Abraham, Daniel Ponce De Leon
- Lebron James I Got Next Award (Prospect of the Year): Keith Thurman
Thurman, under the guidance of trainer Dan Birmingham, is poised to have the biggest performances in 2013 in boxing. Fighting as a welterweight and junior middleweight, Thurman has the opportunity and talent to become the next big star in boxing. He has all the power to be the most dominant boxer in the lower weight classes. Expect Thurman to hold a world title by the end of 2013, and expect him to announce his presence to the world by scoring a Knockout of the Year victory.
Runner-ups: Deontay Wilder, Bryant Jennings, David Price, Tyson Fury, Jesse Magdaleno
- Mario Lemieux Award (Inspirational Story of the Year): Daniel Jacobs
This award can take on many shapes and sizes because comebacks in sports can mean so many different things, but Jacobs' battle back from his deathbed to the squared circle was remarkable. 18 months prior to his return to the ring, Jacobs could not even walk. Now, he is back in the ring and looks like he hasn't missed a step. Regardless of whether or not Jacobs wins a world title is insignificant to boxing fans (but probably not to Jacobs). Jacobs is already a winner in everyone's mind.
Runner-ups: Alfredo Angulo, Robert Guerrero, Orlando Cruz, Paul Williams
- Leon Lett Boner Award (Dumbest Move of the Year): Antonio Tarver testing positive for PED's
Even though Tarver's career was coming to a close, he still had a bright future as a boxing commentator. After Tarver tested positive for performance enhancing drugs following a draw against Lateef Kayode in June, Showtime decided to pull Tarver off the airwaves and he has not been heard from since. In the meantime, Showtime has auditioned several fighters to take Tarver's role, and Paulie Malignaggi seems to be the man who has stepped up to the plate to take the job.
Runner-ups: 50 Cent's entrance into boxing; The Texas State Athletic Commission botching the post-fight drug test for Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. after his win against Marco Antonio Rubio; Chavez Jr. testing positive for marijuana following his fight with Sergio Martinez; judging at the Olympics; Carlos Molina's trainer getting Molina disqualified by jumping into the ring against James Kirkland; Kirkland trying to sue Golden Boy Promotions; Lamont Peterson, Andre Berto, & Erik Morales all testing positive for performance enhancing drugs; Golden Boy and Top Rank blowing a chance at a Mayweather vs. Pacquiao showdown; Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym testing positive for HIV prior to his fight with Guillermo Rigondeaux