Still hungry? Here’s your second pu pu platter of boxing awards on this Christmas Eve.
Today’s categories include serious items, such as Best Performance. Also included are less serious item such as Best Photo Featuring A Heavyweight, Movie Star And Dwarf.
If you’re up for sharing a few categories/awards of your own for 2010 between family time, please do.
Prospect. Two of the guys who might have been in contention — welterweight Mike Jones and junior featherweight Guillermo Rigondeaux — hurt themselves on the same November undercard with lackluster showings. Meanwhile, middleweight David Lemieux could do nothing wrong, steamrolling through respectable opponents Walid Smichet, Elvin Ayala and Hector Camacho, Jr. And that very nearly ain’t a metaphor — he came close to literally steamrolling those dudes. In the “Prospect of the Year” race, different people have different definitions, but I tend to go with the man who proves he’s poised to be a dangerous contender over the green prospect who looks like he might someday prove something. Lemieux will be to avoid the fate of the last three consensus Prospects of the Year — Khan, junior welterweight Victor Ortiz and middleweight Daniel Jacobs — and doesn’t get knocked out in the year after he won the award. Being the Prospect of the Year in boxing has become the equivalent of the Sports Illustrated cover curse.
Best Performance. It’s still hard to believe how easily super middleweight Carl Froch dispensed with Arthur Abraham, the co-favorite in the Super Six tournament prior to its kickoff. Froch’s boxing skills had been questioned before he blanked Abraham, but his shockingly good defense and intelligent punch variety should bury those questions but good. Abraham was at a loss for words afterward: “I’m not sure what happened. Nothing worked today. Everything that I planned to do did not work,” he said. “Nothing worked, he was the better man tonight, and he won.”
Worst Performance. Heavyweight Audley Harrison landed a grand total of one punch in three rounds against David Haye before being knocked out. One punch. A solitary jab. You don’t get a nickname as scathing as “Fraudley” for nothing. Or, should I maybe say, you do. Harrison did virtually nothing against Haye, and that’s the kind of thing someone nicknamed “Fraudley” might do.
Best Photo Featuring A Heavyweight, Movie Star And Dwarf. Wladimir Klitschko, Hayden Panettierre, dwarf. This easily could have been Best Photo Of The Year, too, but then I’d have to look through all the serious, awesome photos of 2010 and I’m too lazy to do that today.
Comeback Fighter. I used to just have one “comeback” category, but I’ve split it in two. Any number of fighters came back strong from rough years in 2009, such as Cotto, light heavyweight Glen Johnson and lightweight champion Juan Manuel Marquez. But nobody shoveled more dirt off his career in 2010 than super middleweight Mikkel Kessler did by reversing his wimpy, confused loss to Andre Ward with a stirring victory over Froch, which Kessler concluded in the 12th with the TQBR Round of the Year. Alas, the comeback might be short-lived: Kessler pulled out of the Super Six tournament citing double vision, so his career is in doubt.
Comeback Within A Fight. Middleweight Roman Karmazin and junior welterweight Ivan Popoca both suffered knockdowns in one round only to come back in the next to stop their respective opponents, Dionisio Miranda and Jesus Soto Karass. The aforementioned Harrison, however, was on the verge of losing for a second time to Michael Sprott before pulling a 12th round knockout out of his ass — which is actually how it went down for Harrison-Sprott I, only in reverse. (Since we already provided a video of Harrison-Sprott II earlier this week, here are some highlights of Karamazin-Miranda.)
Namby Pambiest-Sounding Trend Likely To Spread. Kessler hired a “mental trainer” before his fight with Froch, so badly was his confidence injured. It sounded like some goofy New Age business. After his showing against Froch, I bet somebody else does hires a mental trainer soon, too.
Promoter. No one. Kudos to some of the smaller promoters who helped drive the good trend toward tournaments, but none of them stood out in any other way; they did their best work collectively, and did plenty of goofy stuff before and after. Main Events did well with heavyweight Tomasz Adamek but virtually no one else, although Kathy Duva also gets bonus points for having more balls than most of the male promoters out there. Top Rank and Golden Boy, the two biggest promoters in the sport, had far too much terribleness for one of them to win it.
Manager/Adviser. Al Haymon. No, I’m kidding. But for all his reputation of getting his boxers easy fights on HBO, check out what happened to his stable this year in fights on HBO (and in two cases, Showtime): middleweight Paul Williams lost in a tough match-up against Sergio Martinez; Jacobs lost in a tough match-up to Dmitry Pirog; super middleweight Sakio Bika lost in a tough match-up to Andre Ward; Andre Dirrell won by disqualification in a tough match-up to Abraham; heavyweight Chris Arreola lost in a tough match-up to Adamek; welterweight Floyd Mayweather won in his toughest bout in years against Shane Mosley. Really, only welterweight Andre Berto had an easy ride, and don’t forget that he was supposed to go in with Mosley in January before the earthquake in his home country of Haiti. In every one of those cases, those fights were viewed as dangerous fights by almost everyone. Haymon has a leg up with HBO, don’t get me wrong, but the “Haymon Box Office” stuff is far more mythical than it’s made out to be; his secrecy and refusal to speak to the media no doubt hurts him in that regard. Anyway, the real pick here is Sampson Lewkowicz, who finally got widespread recognition in 2010 thanks to his nurturing of Martinez and prospect Justin Fortuna. Some other Lewkowicz products struggled a bit in 2010, like featherweights Celestino Caballero and Chris John, but there’s no denying that those have been two of the top fighters in recent years. Lewkowicz’ eye for overseas talent finally got its day in the spotlight in 2010, is the difference.
Best Trash Talk. It was a down year for trash talking, but when heavyweight Derek Chisora threatened to give Wladimir Klitschko’s fans “inconsolable grief,” it was so purty it was enough to win the award.
Least Deserving Of Collateral Damage During Trash Talk. Whores really took it on the beak from boxers in 2010. Caballero threatened to slap Lopez “like a whore,” while middleweight Ricardo Mayorga said his opponent Michael Walker looked like one of the “hookers” in Miami. Come on fellas. Treat prostitutes with respect; don’t use their profession as an insult.
Quote. The Quote of the Year has to be Top Rank’s Bob Arum saying that the fans “can go fuck themselves.” I’ll elaborate more on this in the last post of 2010.
Eeriest Near Death Experience. Heavyweight Tomasz Adamek very nearly died in a plane crash in February. Fortunately for him but not the friend piloting the flight who invited him along, Adamek turned down the offer. It got even eerier for Adamek when, two months later, a plane carrying Polish President Lech Kaczynski — a land where Adamek, a Pole, is huge — also crashed, killing 96 people. If I was Adamek, I think I might have developed a fear of flying out of all this.
Dubious Injury. Boxing fans are, as a group, inclined to doubt the excuses of boxers who cite injuries as a reason not to do something. I try to give boxers the benefit of the doubt, but sometimes shit gets fishy. I could have gone with cruiserweight Paul Briggs, who fell like a sack of potatoes when Danny Green grazed him with a jab, prompting allegations that he took a dive, but there’s legitimate reporting out there suggesting that Briggs was not healthy enough to fight and very well could have been responding honestly to the punch. I have to go with Dirrell. He pulled out of the Super Six in October citing a questionable neurological problem when he ran into difficulty agreeing to a bout with Andre Ward, and I was about 50-50 at the time on whether it was legit. He said he would have to be symptom-free for three months before he could fight again, and still said he was having symptoms during a Showtime interview that aired a week later. But then, in early November, he was on Twitter talking about wanting to fight in March, and had pictures of himself training. Suspicious that he acted as though he was getting well less than a month after pulling out, to say the least, especially since the neurological problems had allegedly been around since April.
Biggest Unsolved Mystery. Briggs would be a candidate, but I’m still confused why no one has found out what happened to the unaccounted-for $500,000 in purse money for a Golden Boy card in New York. It’s no small matter: Some have raised allegations that the money was used to subsidize Golden Boy’s efforts to steal fighters from rival promoters, and if the money merely went to line Golden Boy’s pockets, it’s an awful lot of cash to give themselves considering what some of the fighters on that card were paid.
Best Evidence Karma Exists. Cheatin’ junior middleweight Antonio Margarito got beat all to heck by pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, and Mayweather encountered a year full of legal troubles in the same 2010 where he issued a racist rant against Pacquiao. But the prize goes to big-name Australian middleweight Anthony Mundine, who has made a career of taking on undeserving opponents while talking a big talk about taking on the best opponents. One of those lesser foes, Garth Wood, knocked out Mundine in December. Live by the butter knife, die by the butter knife, I suppose.
Worst Evidence Karma Exists. For his rematch with Ali Funeka, “lightweight” Joan Guzman weighed in at 144 pounds. Funeka showed the heart of a warrior by going through with the bout, with the understanding that he wouldn’t be penalized by the IBF for a loss, and probably in part because he would have lost out on a big paycheck if he hadn’t. Guzman won, obviously able to withstand Funeka’s punches better this time than in the first bout, a draw everyone thought Funeka deserved to win. Guzman had famously failed to make weight against Nate Campbell, then came in overweight once more besides the Funeka incident to close 2010. The only time I want to see Guzman again is if he’s flat on his back knocked out, while Funeka deserves another chance to get back on HBO or in a title fight (although he hurt himself with a failed drug test in 2010).
Worst Reason For A Boxer To Punch Someone. British welterweight Kell Brook wanted to use the ladies’ restroom at a bar, but the bar’s manager wouldn’t let him. So he punched the bar manager. Dude, if you’re so eager to pee sitting down, nobody’s stopping you from using a stall in the men’s room, at least not for very long.
Worst Fight Title. Golden Boy came up with “Who R U Picking” for Mayweather-Shane Mosley. I’m all for promoters trying to connect to a younger generation of fight fan, but I’m not aware of anyone who attended that fight because it was named in the illiterate style of a text message.
Most Convincing Evidence Of Sanctioning Body Terribleness. For Mayweather-Mosley, Mayweather refused to pay a sanctioning fee to the WBA for the honor of fighting for Mosley’s belt. It was one of the few good things he did all year. But Mosley paid up, because he cared about the belt. After Mosley lost, his attorney, Judd Berstein, revealed that the WBA offered Mosley a chance to keep the belt, if only he would have paid a little extra. The uselessness of these sanctioning organizations as a measure of whether a fighter is any good has long been apparent to most everyone. But if you can flat-out BUY a “championship,” win or lose, then I’m not sure why the alphabet belt defenders insist that they have any place in the sport.
Second Most-Desired Fight Between Boxing Brothers. The Klitschko boys refuse to fight, despite being clearly the two best heavyweights. Some want them to square off. But former boxer Travis Simms got into a scuffle with identical twin brother and active boxer Tarvis Simms. As far as fan interest goes, there’s a huge drop off between Klitschko-Klitschko and Simms-Simms.
Repeat Offender. Both junior welterweight Mike Alvarado and junior middleweight James Kirkland have multiple parole violations to their name, several of which came in 2010. It’s a tie!
“Do As I Say, Not As I Do” Award. Trainer and HBO commentator Emmanuel Steward constantly complains about boxers these days being boring and risk-averse, but his protege Wladimir Klitschko is as boring and risk-averse as any boxer in the sport. The award goes instead to ESPN commentator Teddy Atlas, who is constantly (and often correctly) ripping the shady side of the sport. This year, training heavyweight Alexander Povetkin, he engineered a shady-ass “exhibition” that was in every conceivable way a pro fight between Povetkin and Bruce Seldon that had any number of unseemly elements: Seldon probably wouldn’t have been approved for a pro fight by the Pennsylvania commission, the commission wasn’t made aware of the “exhibition,” it’s unclear whether all the best safety precautions were taken, etc.