2009 Boxing Fighter Of The Year Nominees

Welcome to your Queensberry Rules annual year-end awards, continuing throughout the week. Here’s how we do it around these parts:

The major categories are Round of the Year, Knockout of the Year, Fight of the Year and Fighter of the Year. The final day is a pu-pu platter of awards ranging from Trainer of the Year to more frivolous topics like, say, Worst Haircut of the Year.

On the first day of each category, I give five finalists, with video and/or relevant info. You tell me if my finalists and honorable mentions are lacking, and give your vote on who you think should win. Maybe you sway me to adjust the list, and maybe you sway me on the eventual winner. On the second day after a category is introduced, I give that winner and explain why. (There are no major fights left in 2009, but we reserve the right to change our category winners if something crazy happens.)

So, today: Fighter of the Year candidates now, plus Fight of the Year candidates earlier. Tomorrow: Fight of the Year winner, plus Fighter of the Year winner.

Look, the choice here is very obvious. So feel free to vote for second place if you’d rather. Your five finalists, in alphabetical order by lat name:



Timothy Bradley

Wins: Kendall Holt (unanimous decision, 12 rounds, April); Lamont Peterson (UD12, December)… No contest against Nate Campbell (August) that Bradley was widely thought to be winning before it was stopped at the end of the 3rd round… Holt and Campbell were both Ring magazine top-10 junior welterweights, and Campbell was in The Queensberry Rules’ top-20 pound-for-pound at the time of the Bradley fight… Himself ascended to The Queensberry Rules top-20 pound-for-pound… Grew every time out, showing uncommon improvement by the Peterson bout, a win over one of the best undefeated American prospects… Cemented himself as the unquestionable #1 man in one of the deepest divisions in boxing with his 2009, and established himself as a member of the potential next generation of American superstars.


Vitali Klitschko

Wins: Juan Carlos Gomez (technical knockout, 9th round, March); Chris Arreola (retired, 10th round, September); Kevin Johnson (UD12, December)… In a year where several early prospective Fighter of the Year candidates only had one noteworthy win, like Shane Mosley, Klitschko was the only one to beat three top-10 Ring-ranked opponents… Dominated all three with ease, arguably never losing a single round… Generated big crowds in three different countries: Germany, the United States and Switzerland; Klitschko-Arreola was one of the higher-rated boxing events on HBO in 2009… Cracked The Queensberry Rules pound-for-pound top-20… Brother Wladimir is the division’s lineal champion, but Vitali made it hard to argue his sibling was the best heavyweight.


Manny Pacquiao

Wins: Ricky Hatton (knockout, 2nd round, May); Miguel Cotto (technical knockout, 12th round, November)… Set two records for most belts in a division, garnering his seventh major belt in seven divisions, and, more importantly, his fourth lineal championship in four divisions… Only boxer to defeat two top-10 pound-for-pound boxers in the year… Won The Queensberry Rules award for Knockout of the Year with his demolition of Hatton, and was the only person to get nominated for Round of the Year, Knockout of the Year, Fight of the Year and Fighter of the Year… Took firm control of the pound-for-pound #1 spot in boxing, with all but a handful of holdouts proclaiming him the best boxer in the world… Scored the biggest domestic pay-per-view buys of the year in his defeat of Cotto… Received wide consideration for not just Fighter of the Year, but made a convincing argument for Sports Illustrated’s Athlete of the Year… If you were wanting to point to one person who, above all others, contributed to boxing’s continuing revival, he’s the person you’d pick.

Andre Ward

Wins: Henry Buchanan (UD12, February); Edison Miranda (UD12, May); Shelby Pudwill (TKO3, September); Mikkel Kessler (technical decision, 11 rounds, November)… Announced his arrival with a dominant win over fringe contender Miranda… Shouted his arrival from a mountaintop by thoroughly outclassing the #1 super middleweight, Mikkel Kessler, who also was a top-20 pound-for-pound fighter in The Queensberry Rules’ book… Easily beat steady trial horse Buchanan and stayed busy by beating no-hoper Pudwill… Twice, drew massive crowds in his native Oakland, making him one of the better hometown draws in the United States… Finally lived up as a pro to the Olympic gold medal hype, and, like Bradley, has to be considered a member of the potential next-generation American superstar class after a stellar 2009.


Paul Wililiams

Wins: Winky Wright (UD12, April); Sergio Martinez (majority decision, 12 rounds, December)… Scored two wins at middleweight that couldn’t have been any more different from one another… Against Wright, a top-10 pound-for-pound boxer prior to his long layoff, won nearly every round with no difficulty whatsoever — and nobody had ever beaten Wright in anything other than a close, competitive fight… Against Martinez, who was arguably the best junior welterweight in the world, he had a far tougher time, coming out ahead in a fight either man could have won and that ended up being a Fight of the Year finalist at The Queensberry Rules, with the 1st round an honorable mention for Round of the Year… Climbed into the top 5 of The Queensberry Rules’ pound-for-pound listings… Took a spot on the same potential next-generation American superstar list as Bradley and Ward.


Your honorable mentions, in no particular order:

Chad Dawson (wins: Glen Johnson, Antonio Tarver)

Yonnhy Perez (wins: Joseph Agbeko, Silence Mabuza)

Jean Pascal (wins: Adrian Diaconu [twice], Silvio Branco, Pablo Daniel Zamora Nievas)

Carl Froch (wins: Jermain Taylor, Andre Dirrell)

Arthur Abraham (wins: Jermain Taylor, Lajuan Simon, Mahir Oral)

Lucian Bute (wins: Librado Andrade, Fulgencio Zuniga)

Amir Khan (wins: Andreas Kotelnik, Dmitriy Salita, Marco Antonio Barrera)

(Photos from above taken from Ring magazine’s website)

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.