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2013: A Roundup of The Best and Worst

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With the last major fight card ending with a bang, let’s proceed to the best of the best for the year 2013.

Many of the old school showed the new school that there are still many lessons to learn. We had pound for pound fighters like Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins and Manny Pacquiao showing their younger brethren that they still have ammunition remaining.

A few of the younger charges took firm control of their future with big wins and some fell off the wagon.

Fighter of the Year

Floyd “Money” Mayweather. The Las Vegas-based prizefighter established records for money made in gate receipts and for pay-per-views from a single fight. Not only did he clear more than $100 million when all of the calculators quit clicking, but he defeated two very good fighters in Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and Saul “Canelo” Alvarez. He was scheduled to face United Kingdom’s Amir Khan, but that may have been undermined this past weekend when Adrien “Mini-me” Broner was defeated by Argentina’s Marcos Maidana. It makes more sense and would be a lot more interesting to see Maidana than Khan face Mayweather.

Others considered for Fighter of the Year were Carl Froch, Tim Bradley, Danny Garcia, Mikey Garcia, Roman Gonzalez and Guillermo Rigondeaux. Mayweather made more money than any other boxer for one fight and single-handedly destroyed the myth that MMA is more popular than boxing. No MMA fighter has ever come close to making even $20 million let alone $100 million.

Best Fight of 2013

Tim Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov. When the fight was first announced it received ho hum reception from the media and fans alike. However, when WBO welterweight titlist Bradley and Russia’s Provodnikov met in the ring it was like two gladiators slinging chained hammers at each other. Though Bradley couldn’t match Provodnikov’s firepower, the Palm Springs boxer slugged it out anyway and was nearly beheaded by the smiling Russian. Bradley won the fight by razor close decision in a fight with no loser. It was no surprise when the champion revealed that he suffered dizzy spells for more than a month. Fans were awestruck by the blows that echoed in the night at the open air StubHub Center on March 16.

A close second was Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II; and Japan’s Takeshi Miura fighting off Mexico’s Sergio “Yeyo” Thompson in a brutal world title fight in Cancun, Mexico.

Worst Title fight of 2013

Carlos Molina vs. Ishe Smith for the IBF junior middleweight title on Sept. 14 on the under card of Mayweather vs., Alvarez. It was a match made in purgatory as the two counter-punchers rarely punched. Both mostly posed and waited for 12 rounds as fans were jeering and booing. Neither boxer was willing to step forward and make anything happen. In the end, Chicago’s Molina was slightly more active than Smith and was given the title. There ain’t going to be no rematch.

A close second was Austin Trout vs. Erislandy Lara for the interim WBA junior middleweight title. Some pick Guillermo Rigondeaux vs. Joseph Agbeko. The Cuban southpaw has great technique but is not great action fighter.

Upset of the Year

Marcos Maidana defeating Adrien Broner on Dec. 14, in San Antonio, Texas. Argentina’s Maidana was a big underdog against Mayweather’s heir apparent WBA welterweight titlist Broner. But Mayweather’s “mini-me” couldn’t cope with the Argentine strongman’s power. Broner was supposed to succeed Mayweather but was shown once again that he could not adapt. In fights with Daniel Ponce De Leon and Paul Malignaggi, many felt Broner lost those fights too. This time, he could not escape with a decision.

A close second was Guillermo Rigondeaux’s toppling of Nonito Donaire on April 13, in New York City. Many felt Donaire was unbeatable until Rigondeaux was able to unveil the blueprint by using his technical proficiency and forcing the “Filipino Flash” to make mistakes. A rematch would be another chess match. Rigondeaux may not be exciting for most fans, but he has an iron will. Donaire can’t be counted out.

Knockout of the Year

Lucas Matthysse sent Mike Dallas Jr. airborne in Las Vegas when they met on January 26. The brutal power came into full display when Matthysse unloaded against the fleet-footed Dallas. The entire arena let out a collective “Oh!” at the same time.

Other contenders: Nonito Donaire fell behind on the score cards against dangerous Vic Darchinyan and pulled the trigger on a bomb of a left hook for another knockout win on Nov. 9, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Mikey Garcia knocked out Roman Martinez with a body shot in round four after being knocked down in the second round to win the WBO junior lightweight title. Jhonny Gonzalez stopped Abner Mares in a big surprise stoppage.

Round of the Year

WBC junior lightweight champion Takeshi Miura was floored by Mexico’s Sergio Thompson and nearly knocked out in the eighth round when they fought on Aug. 17, in Mexico. But the Japanese warrior came roaring back in the same round and nearly knocked out Thompson in almost inhuman conditions at the bull ring in Cancun. Thompson was knocked down in rounds

two and six. But nearly won the fight with a vicious counter right hand against Miura in the tumultuous eight round. The temperature was over 100 degrees and the humidity was unbearable. How these two fighters were able to go the distance was amazing. Miura was taken to the hospital when he nearly collapsed in his dressing room after the fight. But he was quickly stabilized. Round eight was an incredible display of raw courage and tenacity by both fighters.

Most Exciting Fighter

Gennady “GGG” Golovkin keeps bumping off the competition with sterling knockout victories. The middleweight champion knows what his fans like and delivered each and every time. Golovkin’s last knockout victory against New York City’s Curtis Stevens in his home court proved that he’s gathering followers at a quick pace. Those sensational fists are working busily for Golovkin who turns 32 years old in April. The Big Bear Lake fighter from Kazakhstan can’t afford to wait for the long build up. He needs to keep bumping off middleweights in machine gun fashion. Time is running out for GGG. But meanwhile, fans are reaping the rewards as Golovkin gathers victims on his speedway to success.

Least Exciting Fighter

Austin “No Doubt” Trout has proven to be a very likeable boxer and definitely has the skills of an elite prizefighter. But the New Mexican continues to take the “too safe road” and wait and wait and wait for the other guy to make a mistake. Last year his bout with Delvin Rodriguez could have made bird watching a gladiator event in comparison. This year, he and Erislandy Lara sent fans to the concession stands. And this was in Brooklyn where fans are accustomed to stylized boxing. Trout needs to step on the gas quickly or else he’ll definitely be extinct very soon as a television fighter.

Slam Dunk Club

These guys should be grabbing a world title in their next fight or within a year: Antonio Orozco, Omar Figueroa, Vasyl Lomachenko, Randy Caballero and Keith Thurman. It’s just a matter of time before any of these guys become world champions.

Best Young Contenders

Thomas Williams Jr., Andy Ruiz Jr., Sweden’s Erik Skoglund, United Kingdom’s George Groves, United Kingdom’s Callum Smith, Austria’s Marcos Nader, Jermell Charlo, Jermall Charlo, Jessie Vargas, Canada’s Mikael Zewski, Jose Zepeda, Russia’s Anton Novikov, Mexico’s Jose Felix Jr., Gary Russell Jr., Jose Pedraza, Saul Rodriguez, Ronny Rios, Jayson Velez, United Kingdom’s Scott Quigg, Jessie Magdaleno, Felix Verdejo, Mexico’s Carlos Cuadras, Thailand’s Petch Sor Chitpattana, Matt Villanueva, Philippine’s Melvin Gumban, South Africa’s Mzuvukile Magwaca, Nicaragua’s Felix Alvarado, Nicaragua’s Carlos Buitrago, and Japan’s Ryuji Hara.

Trainer of the Year

Joel Diaz gets my vote. Not only did he guide Tim “Desert Storm” Bradley through a brutal war with Ruslan Provodnikov, then, he devised the plan to out-maneuver the great boxing wizard Juan Manuel Marquez. That’s not all, he polished up Omar Figueroa who’s now headed for a world title bid and he also has Julio Diaz, Jessie Magdaleno, Jamie Kavanagh, Diego Magdaleno and Diego De La Hoya on a tear.

Others trainers worth note are Abel Sanchez who has an army of fighters including Gennady Golovkin and heavyweight Mike Perez that are banging on the door of stardom. Angel Garcia trained his son Danny “Swift” Garcia toward stardom and conceived the battle plan to defeat the powerful Lucas Matthysse. Eduardo Garcia is the father of Mikey Garcia who serves as his trainer. He is the real engineer behind his son’s success. Virgil Hunter continues to guide Andre Wards career and improved Alfredo Angulo who nearly had Erislandy Lara beaten until an eye poke.

Promoter of the Year

K-2’s Tom Loeffler managed to do what seemed nearly impossible by bringing attention to middleweight world champion Gennady “GGG” Golovkin. How many former prizefighters from Kazakhstan get the kind of attention Loeffler brought to GGG? It’s what real promoting is all about. He also has Cuba’s Mike Perez poised to make some noise too. Loeffler is my choice for Promoter of the Year.

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Artur Beterbiev: “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need”

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Russian Artur Beterbiev, triple champion of the 175-pound division, is the only current world champion who, thanks to the enormous power he wields in his fists, has won all his fights inside the distance.

Beterbiev has 18 victories by way of chloroform since he debuted as a professional fighter in June 2013 when he anesthetized retired American, Christian Cruz, in the tenth round at the Bell Center in Montreal where Beterbiev currently resides.

Beterbiev, who turned thirty-eight last Saturday, will defend his WBC, IBF, and WBO titles against Brit Anthony “The Beast from the East” Yarde (23-2, 22 KOs) on Saturday, January 28th at the OVO Arena in London.

Beterbiev obtained the WBO belt on June 18th this past year when he defeated American Joe Smith (28-4, 22 KOs) in the second round at Madison Square Garden. This was Smith’s second defense of the belt.

Earlier, in November 2017, Beterbiev won the vacant IBF belt after defeating German Enrico Koelling (28-5, 9 KOs) by knockout in the twelfth round in Fresno, California.

Two years later, Beterbiev seized the WBC belt from Ukrainian Oleksandr Gvozdyk (17-1, 14 KOs) in Philadelphia. Three knockdowns in the tenth round forced referee Gary Rosato to stop the lopsided bout with 11 seconds remaining in the round.  Beterbiev maintains that although his intention is to win each fight, in no way does he want to harm his rival and that his greatest wish is for both of them to leave the ring healthy.

Referring to his upcoming matchup, Beterbiev told BoxingScene that “after the fight, I just hope he (Yarde) is okay.”

He acknowledged that he does not know much about the British boxer, although he has watched several of his fights: “He’s a good fighter, has good experience as a professional and he’s a boxer. He’s dangerous so I have to prepare for this fight like I always do.”

Beterbiev said that his main motivation is to successfully defend the three belts he owns and that is why he will try to be one hundred percent ready and then it will be evident who is the better fighter.

Regarding his knockout streak, Beterbiev emphatically denied that he enjoys knocking out his opponents: “No. There’s no pleasure in it. I just hope everything is OK with them. I just want to do good boxing, not hit people.”

Beterbiev smiles enigmatically and stares at the horizon when they ask him to what he attributes the strength of his fists to. “I know for sure, 1000 percent, that the secret to my power is somewhere in my boxing gym but I don’t know exactly where,” he adds. “I don’t know which exercise or bag gave me this secret. I don’t know where it comes from. I wasn’t always like this either, it has come from working every day. But really my dream is to be a good boxer one day.”

Aside from the upcoming fight with Yarde, Beterbiev acknowledges in each interview that his goal is to be the undisputed champion of the division, which means facing (and defeating) the undefeated Russian Dmitry Bivol (21-0, 11 KOs), who holds the WBA light heavyweight super championship belt.

“I need Bivol,” Beterbiev admits. “I’d prefer to fight Bivol because he has the one thing I need. I hope I fight him in 2023 but the hold-up is not from my side, it’s from their side. In the last three years he always says he will fight me next but in this time we’ve done unification fights against Oleksandr Gvozdyk and Joe Smith. We’ve done that whereas he has just been talking about it.

Beterbiev recalled that he was with Bivol on the Russian national team where they were amateurs. “I knew him then, but he is younger than me. We haven’t talked for 10 years now. He was 75kg back then, too small for me. We were never friends.”

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

 Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A New Foe for Broner and an Intriguing Heavyweight Match-up

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Boxing Odds and Ends: A New Foe for Broner and an Intriguing Heavyweight Match-up

BLK Prime’s inaugural venture went off without a hitch. An announced crowd of 14,630 turned out in Omaha to watch native son Terence Crawford dismantle David Avanesyan. BLK Prime’s second promotion, slated for Feb. 25 at a 5,000-seat venue in Atlanta, has been messy from the get-go. The executives at the fledgling company, based in Hayward, California, are learning to their dismay that the sport of professional boxing is governed by Murphy’s Law: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Adrien Broner’s nickname is “The Problem” (how perfect!) but the problem isn’t him but finding a suitable opponent for the former four-division title holder who purportedly signed a three-fight deal with BLK Prime that will pay him an absurd $10 million. As reported in a story that ran on these pages last week, Broner’s original opponent Ivan Redkach pulled out and was replaced by Hank Lundy. Today (Tuesday, Jan. 24) it was revealed that Lundy was also off the card and would be replaced by Michael Williams Jr.

Prior to being lopped off the card, it was reported that Hank Lundy had been suspended by the California Athletic Commission for failing to honor his contract to fight up-and-comer Ernesto Mercado (8-0, 8 KOs) on Feb. 4. The match was to be an 8-rounder in Ontario, California. According to prominent boxing writer Jake Donovan, Lundy provided paperwork to the California commission showing that he was unable to keep his commitment because of a cut he suffered in sparring.

Some state athletic commissions automatically honor a suspension handed down in another jurisdiction. Other commissions evaluate each situation on a case-by-case basis. It’s a fair guess that had Lundy kept quiet about the (alleged) injury, the Georgia commission would have allowed the Broner-Lundy match to go forward. Regardless, he’s out and, barring more upheaval, Broner (pictured) will be touching gloves with Michael Williams Jr.

The son of an Army veteran who serves as his chief trainer, Williams Jr, 23, was born in Fort Riley, Kansas, and grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina, home to Fort Bragg. As a pro, he’s 20-1 with 13 KOs but those 20 wins came against a motley bunch of opponents and he failed miserably on the one occasion that he stepped up in class. On Dec. 11, 2021, he was stopped in four rounds by fellow unbeaten John Bauza on a Top Rank card at Madison Square Garden. Williams suffered five knockdowns before the match was halted. “He’s got a lot to work on. There are some glaring issues here,” said ringside TV commentator Andre Ward.

Although the Fayetteville area has long had a reputation as pugilistic feed lot (a place where boxers go to fatten up their records), the feeling is that Williams may have been awed by his surroundings that night in the Big Apple, hence his poor showing. During the early portion of his career, he was co-trained by Roy Jones Jr who reportedly hooked up with the young junior welterweight after witnessing him bully a bunch of ex-cons while sparring at a gym in New Orleans.

Does he have the tools to make things interesting against Adrien Broner? Likely not, but Broner tends to fight down to his level of competition, so it wouldn’t surprise us if Williams wins a few rounds.

Heavyweights at the Crossroads

SHOWTIME drops anchor in San Antonio on Feb. 11 with a card headlined by a match between Rey Vargas and O’Shaquie Foster. They will compete for the WBC 130-pound world title vacated by Shakur Stevenson.

Truth be told, this isn’t a contest that gets our juices flowing. The undefeated Vargas, who has won world titles at 122 and 127, is a solid technician but doesn’t fight with pizzazz. He hasn’t won a fight inside the distance since 2016. Foster is on a nice roll – he’s won nine straight, advancing his record to 19-2 — but likewise lacks charisma.

The pay-per-view opener, however, seized our interest. It’s that very rare contest between two rising heavyweights at the same juncture of their respective careers. On paper there’s little to choose between Viktor Faust (11-0, 7 KOs) and Lenier Pero (8-0, 5 KOs). Both are the same age (30), are roughly the same size (in the six-foot-five and 240-pound range) and were outstanding amateurs.

Faust

Viktor Faust, aka Viktor Vykhryst, is from the Ukraine. In 2017, he won the European amateur title, defeating future Olympian Frazer Clarke in the finals. He turned pro in 2020, spurning an opportunity to represent Ukraine in the Tokyo Olympics.

Faust, says prospect watcher Matt Andrzejewski, is extremely fluid for his size and his hand speed is well above average. He also has one-punch knockout power as he demonstrated in his third pro fight when he starched the Spaniard, Gabriel Enguema. However, his most recent fight on U.S. soil, a match in Hollywood, Florida, against Iago kiladze, left many questions unanswered.

This was a wild and wooly affair that ended in the second minute of the second round. Kiladze was down three times and Faust twice during the tumult. Because Kiladze was on the small size for a heavyweight, one was left wondering whether Faust could have weathered the storm if he were matched against a bigger man.

Since that scuffle, Faust has added two more wins to his ledger, comfortable 8-round decisions over 40-something gatekeepers Kevin Johnson and Franklin Lawrence.

Pero

Lenier Pero, a Cuban defector, was never an Olympian, but had a more extensive amateur career. He was 9-3 in the semi-pro World Series of Boxing but what really stands out is that he was 5-1 against countryman Frank Sanchez who has made great headway as a pro since leaving Cuba in 2017 and is currently ranked #3 by the WBC and #2 by the WBO.

Although the amateur careers of Faust and Pero overlapped, their paths never crossed. However, Faust did fight Lenier’s younger brother Dainier Pero who is currently 2-0 as a pro and may actually be a better prospect than his sibling. Faust and Dainier Pero met in 2018 at a tournament in the Ukraine and the Cuban won a close decision.

Perhaps that’s an omen. Regardless, Lenier Pero looks like the right side in what has the earmarks of an entertaining shootout.

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David Benavidez and Caleb Plant Both Want ‘Canelo’ Álvarez

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American Fighter David Benavidez has been in constant pursuit of an opportunity to face Canelo Álvarez and, until now, it has been an unrealizable dream. For his compatriot Caleb Plant, his match up with Canelo in 2021 resulted in a resounding loss.

For several years, Benavidez has been trying to cross gloves with Mexican star Saúl “Canelo” Álvarez (58-2-2, 39 KOs), who has avoided facing him despite receiving countless criticisms from boxing fans.

Undefeated in the ranks, everything indicates that today Benavidez (26-0, 23 KOs) is closer than ever to finally matching up against Canelo, the current holder of the four most prestigious super middleweight titles in boxing: WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO.

Previously, by order of the WBC, Benavidez faced Canadian David Lemieux (43-5, 36 KOs), to whom he applied chloroform in the third round in Glendale, Arizona, where the winner conquered the Interim title of that sanctioning body.

After the victory, the WBC declared that Benavidez had the obligation to collide with Caleb Plant (22-1, 13 KOs), who was ranked the number one contender by both the WBA and the WBO and third by the IBF.

According to Mauricio Sulaimán, president of the WBC, the winner between Benavidez and Plant becomes the mandatory challenger for Canelo in a battle for that organization’s belt.

However, the future seems quite complicated for the winner between Benavidez and Plant, since Canelo is currently in negotiations with British southpaw John Ryder (32-5, 18 KOs) to fight in May and, subsequently, in September, to carry out the rematch against Russian Dmitry Bivol (20-0, 11 KOs), who defeated him unanimously on May 7 of last year at the T-Mobile Arena where the European retained the WBA light heavyweight belt.

Benavidez has been outspoken about Canelo’s refusal to face him: He (Canelo) knows I’m the biggest threat at 168.” Benavidez stressed the fact that Canelo avoids him because he knows that if he accepts the fight, the same thing will happen to him as against Dmitry Bivol, an adversary who is also larger and equally as strong as the Mexican redhead.

Despite the efforts and multiple statements by Benavidez (also by José Benavidez Sr, his father and trainer), Canelo has always chosen other adversaries with the excuse that Benavidez has not fought any elite rivals that would make him worthy of the opportunity.

CALEB PLANT WANTS REVENGE AGAINST CANELO

“That wasn’t my best camp going into that fight,” said Plant about last year’s battle with Canelo, “but, regardless, that’s not the reason I lost. I lost because I got caught with a great shot and I got stopped.” Plant was clear about wanting to meet Canelo in the ring again. “I want a rematch with Canelo. If I have to pick up every last top super middleweight in the division to get to that, that’s what I’m going to do.”

Canelo’s victory against Plant at the T-Mobile Arena in November 2021 made him the first boxer from Latin America with the four most important titles, in any weight category. But six months later, in May of last year, Álvarez suffered the second setback of his career, losing unanimously to Bivol who retained his WBA “super” title belt at 175 pounds.

Four years ago, on January 13, 2019, Plant won the IBF belt, unanimously defeating Venezuelan José Uzcátegui (32-5, 27 KOs) at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles. Uzcátegui went to the canvas in both the second and fourth rounds. Plant lost the IBF title in the unification match against Canelo, a title that Plant had defended three times prior.

Mauricio Sulaimán confirmed to several media outlets that the winner of the upcoming battle between Benavidez and Plant will be the mandatory challenger for Canelo’s WBC super-middleweight title. Per ESPN’s Mike Coppinger, Benavidez vs Plant will take place on March 25th at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Article submitted by Jorge Juan Alvarez in Spanish.

 Please note any adjustments made were for clarification purposes and any errors in translation were unintentional.

To comment on this story in the fight Forum CLICK HERE

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