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2nd Annual Big Mac Awards: Rigo, Dibella, Bernstein Rule

Kelsey McCarson

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According to a person with knowledge of the situation, the Big Mac award is fast-becoming the most prestigious and important award in boxing today. In fact, recent data collected by one of the top-notch data collection agencies in America (McCarson Institute of Counting and Such) suggests this modest little end of year boxing award transcends the world of sports in general. A poll of one person (margin for error is plus/minus 99%) indicates everyone on the planet believes the Big Mac award is more prestigious than the Nobel, Peabody and Pulitzer prizes all rolled into one!

With that heavy burden, this egregiously monumental task proceeds. Please note: all votes are final unless there is a re-vote. In that case, those votes are final under same criteria (barring another revote, etc.).

(To help keep costs down this year, award winners are encouraged to print a copy of this article from the Internet, frame it as a keepsake and enjoy a Big Mac from McDonald’s at his/her expense.)

Fighter of the Year – By far, the Fighter of the Year is the most prestigious award given out every year. It’s true for the Big Mac award, and even for Big Mac’s main rival award giver, the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). It’s important to note that every single year a Big Mac award for Fighter of the Year has been awarded, the BWAA has copied the Big Mac award winner as their own. A rate of 100% suggests this simply cannot be coincidence.

Knowing this made the selection of the Big Mac award winner that much more important. After much deliberation, this year’s winner was welterweight Timothy Bradley. Bradley was involved in both a Fight of the Year candidate against Ruslan Provodnikov as well as a sharpshooting competition with future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez, and he came out the better end of both. However, Bradley’s win was immediately revoked once it was brought to light that he still adamantly maintains he defeated Manny Pacquiao back in 2012. He didn’t. He just didn’t.

After more deliberation, the award was then presented to junior welterweight Danny Garcia, who knocked off Lucas Matthysse to become lineal champion of the 140-pound division. Unfortunately, Garcia’s father and trainer, Angel Garcia, has said and done enough dumb things this year to keep Danny Big Mac ineligible for the rest of his life. So while Garcia was the original award winner, he was quickly stripped of it before going to press.

Various other fighters were then considered, such as light heavyweight Adonis Stevenson, middleweight Gennady Golovkin and welterweight Floyd Mayweather until, at least, a verdict was reached unanimously.

The 2013 Big Mac for Fighter of the Year goes to Guillermo Rigondeaux. Rigo didn’t just have to defeat the 2012 award winner Nonito Donaire this year. He also had to overcome a promoter, Bob Arum, and a television partner, HBO, who didn’t quite know what to do with him. So while Rigo technically went 2-0 this year with wins over Donaire and Joseph Agbeko, in reality it took many more fights than that for the Rigolution to continue to be televised.

Rigo is a rare talent. His combination of speed, power and technical ability will not be soon defeated. And as wins pile up, don’t be surprised to see the absurdly talented fighter become quite popular with the bandwagon-boxing crowd, too. Everyone loves a winner, and Rigo is a winner.

Fight of the Year – There were a lot of good fights this year. Tim Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov sure put on a good show in March. And James Kirkland outslugged Glen Tapia in December. But this year’s Big Mac is neither of those battles. Instead, the winner is Omar Figueroa vs. Nohito Arakawa. Why? Because I was finally there in person for a barnburner like that one, and for some reason the media relations folks accidently switched my seat with award-winning writer Bart Barry for the night. So not only was I finally in attendance at something like this, but I was really, really close to the action, too. Seriously, though, it was a great fight. Both men showed great courage and determination. While Figueroa won most of the rounds, the way Arakawa kept coming back with force and ferocity was truly something to behold. There were times when it appeared he just might overcome his more talented adversary. The bout went all 12 rounds, and every single one of them was entertaining. According to CompuBox, Figueroa landed an average of 40 of 79 punches per round, while Arakawa landed 23 of 98. Figueroa’s 450 landed power shots ranks No. 4 all time for all weight classes, and 716 of their combined 760 landed punches were power shots. What a fight!

Event of the Year – This year’s Floyd Mayweather vs. Canelo Alvarez bout was so big that promoters did a 10-city press tour where they gave out laptop bags to all the media in attendance. While I gave the free swag away to a Twitter follower, it also gave me a chance to interview both Mayweather and Canelo for The Boxing Channel. Moreover, the crowd in attendance, including a really, really long line in Houston, showed how big boxing can be under the right circumstances.

Upset of the Year – Almost no one predicted the epic beatdown Marcos Maidana gave the previously undefeated Adrien Broner this year. Broner was as arrogant as a man can be on his way to the ring that evening, and as humbled as one could be on his way back, too. Maidana knocked down Broner twice in the bout and outmuscled him for a clear and decisive 12-round win. It was Maidana’s best win ever, and it was almost universally celebrated in the boxing community.

Promoter of the Year – This was a two-horse race between local Houston promotional company Savarese Promotions and San Antonio’s Leija/Battah Promotions. Savarese puts on solid local Houston cards that are consistently some of the best fight nights I attend all year. Meanwhile, Leija/Battah has become a global player by helping bring shows like Alvarez-Trout, Berto-Soto Karass and Broner-Maidana to arguably Texas’ best fight town. But then Lou Dibella released heavyweight Tor Hamer from his contract via Twitter. And, yeah, that pretty much sealed the deal. I’m sure he did other important stuff this year, too. But even if he didn’t, he wins for dropping the hammer on Hamer via social media.

Knockout of the Year – Um…is there any doubt that this one would be Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson? You can visit here and scroll down for some GIFs of it if you don’t know why. Not only did it come out of nowhere, but it secured Stevenson the lineal light heavyweight championship to boot. What a knockout!

Trainer of the Year – I’m not really sure what Andre Ward’s trainer, Virgil Hunter, does for him. Ward is so good at what he does that I’m starting to think a buffoon like me could train him, too. But man, that guy is super-intense. He wins this year’s Big Mac almost exclusively for that reason.

Most Underappreciated – Part of the reason why Rigo was given the Big Mac award is because he’s so underappreciated. Even after he dominated Donaire over 12 rounds, many in the boxing media were not impressed. So this year’s award for most underappreciated goes to Guillermo Rigondeaux, making him a double Big Mac winner.  In fact, Rigo is the one person who doesn’t have to buy his own Big Mac on his own. It’s on me, Rigo. Send me the bill.

Most Overappreciated – Former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson could probably get this award every year. Look, Tyson is an important part of boxing history and was a great champion in his time. But honestly, I’ve never seen anyone more celebrated for things most of society would consider disturbing behavior. Tyson has struggled mightily in his life. To fight the good fight is commendable. But to be revered for failings is another thing all together. The takeaway? Let’s only cheer for Mike when he does things worth cheering for.

Boxing Writer of the Year – Me. Boom! Okay fine. Since I should probably be ineligible from my own award, I’ll give this award to the entire crew at The Sweet Science. From editor Michael Woods, technical expert Lee Wylie, essayist Springs Toledo, etc., etc., etc., TSS has the best boxing writers on the planet. Oh wait…did I just sort of give the award to myself again partially? Total accident.

Hall of Famer of the Year – This year’s award goes to Al Bernstein for being inducted into like eleventy billion HOFs this year. Runner up was Top Rank’s Carl Moretti, mostly because he was inducted in the NJHOF almost immediately after he admitted privately to me that NCAA record holder and current Houston Texans QB Case Keenum was awesome.

Prospect of the Year – If you don’t know who welterweight Alex Saucedo is yet, don’t worry. You will. Saucedo is technically sound and has stupid power in both hands. You can meet him over at The Boxing Channel. He’s a lean, mean fighting machine, and he has the look of a future world champion. Start talking him up to your friends now so you can look really smart a few years from now.

Person of the Year – Rachel Donaire, wife of Nonito Donaire, saved a drowning child this year while she was pregnant. So yeah, next time you’re feeling lazy about taking out the trash or something, think about her saving human life while simultaneously nurturing one inside of her body.

Twitter Follow of the Year – If you don’t follow Showtime’s Stephen Espinoza, you are using Twitter incorrectly. Espinoza will converse with anyone on just about anything, and if you bring nonsense to him, he will slap it down without mercy and humiliate you publically. Don’t believe me? Give it a try. I dare you: @StephenEspinoza.

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Is There a “Peck’s Bad Boy” in Boxing Today?

Ted Sares

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Henry “Hennery” Peck, popularly known as Peck’s Bad Boy, is a fictional character created by George Wilbur Peck (1840–1916). “Peck’s Bad Boy” has been defined as one whose bad behavior is a source of embarrassment or annoyance, but to many it refers to a mischievous prankster. The answer probably is somewhere in the middle with the label referring to anyone whose mischievous or bad behavior leads to annoyance or embarrassment.

In boxing, no one seemed to better epitomize the expression than Muhammad Ali. When Howard Cosell asked Ali why he was being truculent during an interview. Ali fired back, “I don’t know what truculent means, but if it’s good, I’m that.”

It was high camp and anyone who took Ali or his perceived arrogance seriously missed the tongue-in-cheek quality of what was going on. To this writer, he was 98 percent mischievous and maybe 2 percent annoying.

“…“Floyd Patterson was dull, quiet, and sad … and Sonny Liston was twice as bad… The fight game was dying… promoters were crying…” — Cassius Clay

I said I was ‘The Greatest,’ I never said I was the smartest! — Muhammad Ali

Ricardo Mayorga

Later, an especially nasty Nicaraguan provocateur came along by the name of Ricardo “The Matador” Mayorga, but the nastiness was more pre-fight hype than anything else and after his fights, he could be seen hugging his opponents. Often he was seen smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer before leaving the ring and that in itself was pretty unique. He soon established an infamous reputation and used this to sell tickets. Mayorga won world titles at welterweight and junior middleweight, playing the villain to Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas, and Miguel Cotto, among others.

Despite being savaged by Trinidad, Ricardo showed that he was not lacking in heart. Against De La Hoya, he said, “I hate bitches and I’m going to make you my little bitch…” He was again savaged.

He caused a stir when he slapped Shane Mosley’s girlfriend on the butt at a press conference, triggering turmoil. In the fight, Mosley avenged her butt by sending The Matador to Bullfighter Heaven with a beautiful left hook launched after a slight head fake to the right.

He told Cory Spinks, “I want to sew a pair of nuts on you so you can stand and fight in front of me next time like a man.”

As writer Jimmy Tobin put it: “Sure, he [Mayorga] was upset at the Spinks decision, but Mayorga understood public expectations of him and had to push the envelope to ensure expectations were met. However enraged he might appear, the vitriol felt fabricated, rehearsed, a gimmick. That gimmick would soon be all Mayorga had left.”

And that really says it all about the Matador. Manufactured and well-timed outrage and faux insults. No serious fan ever really bought into it. Mischievous? Hype? Absolutely.

Mayorga was good at running his mouth but he was no Peck’s Bad Boy.

Today we wish him well as he struggles with substance abuse issues.

Tyson Fury

“I haven’t seen a fighter with that much charisma since Muhammad Ali”– Bob Arum

There is at least two Tyson Furys. The first one possessed a classic Irish wit and was rarely lost for words, constantly seeking attention including impromptu singing. However, keen observers sensed he was putting everybody on half the time, and it was all a joke with him.

Heavyweight boxing hadn’t had this type in a long time—not since Ali. Heck, the Gypsy King was a showman. Many thought his temperament might be a big problem and that he should be more self-deprecating, but he couldn’t care less what others thought about him. All the rhetoric and loud mouthing was likely a load of blarney and he knew it better than anyone. While he surely could have taken himself more seriously and embraced humility, that simply wasn’t what the early Fury was all about.

Fury was more like a Peck’s Bad Boy than anyone since Ali. But much of what he said along the way was embarrassing and vicious. He denounced homosexuals and Jews, among others. This was hardly viewed as amusing, but perhaps it was a byproduct of fighting a number of different demons including severe weight gain, substance abuse, and mental health issues.

After reaching the heights, he stumbled badly off the stage. However, he made a remarkable comeback and this time around he was clean and sober and showed a great desire to help his fellow man.

“I said some things which may have hurt some people, which as a Christian man is not something I would ever want to do,” Fury said in a May 2016 interview for the BBC. “Though it is not an excuse, sometimes the heightened media scrutiny has caused me to act out in public and then my words can get taken out of context. I mean no harm or disrespect to anyone and I know more is expected of me as an ambassador of British boxing and I promise in future to hold myself up to the highest possible standard.”

The 6’9” giant is currently an ambassador for the Frank Bruno Foundation, a mental health charity.

Interestingly, the title to Fury’s autobiography is “Behind the Mask and that suggests that the current Fury is the real Fury.

He has been called the UK’s answer to Ricardo Mayorga. Maybe in terms of early nastiness, but the current Tyson Fury (Batman suit and all) is more Ali than Mayorga.

Adrien Broner

“I came into town, and I got his belt and his girl.” – Adrien Broner referring to Paulie Malignaggi

A few might argue that Adrien Broner is the quintessential Peck’s Bad Boy, but frankly, “The Problem” has never really appeared amusing or mischievous. Yes, he has some substance in the ring, but Broner has in large part been seen as a hyped gimmick projecting ignorance, a man that can’t back up his foul mouth. He has now become a curiosity as fans speculate as to who will finally knock him out and shut him up.

Aside from a stupid hair combing routine before his fights, nothing Adrien does seems to conjure up even a shred of amusement. Au contraire, his boorish antics outside the ring, such as throwing cash down a toilet and performing a sexual act with a sweaty dancer at a strip club, not to mention his frequent brushes with the law and court appearances, suggest the possibility of a self-destructive bent

The “Problem” will not be solved; it’s a story that likely will not have a happy ending.

Today

Fury fits the bill but he has become more temperate and balanced. Still, he remains a promotor’s dream. Enjoy him while you can.

Can you think of any others in today’s scene? Yesterday’s?

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Boxing Odds and Ends: The Debacle in Atlanta, Fedosov’s Big Upset and More

Arne K. Lang

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Last night’s “Triller” pay-per-view from Atlanta provided a wealth of material for Sunday Morning Quarterbacks. Overshadowing the actual fights was the performance, as it were, of Oscar De La Hoya.

De La Hoya joined the telecast for the 6-round bout between 39-fight veteran Steve Cunningham and boxing novice Frank Mir. Oscar was conspicuously sloshed; he was a train wreck.

Some thought that Oscar’s screeching was hilarious, the highlight of the show. Others found it hard to watch. “I don’t find humor in a man battling substance abuse,” said a person in response to the snarky comments appearing on the message board of a rival web site.

De La Hoya, 48, reiterated that he will return to the ring in July. He has targeted the date of July 3. Oscar was just a boy when he first stepped into the ring. He had more than 200 amateur fights before turning pro. Boxers that take too many punches, say the experts, are prone to developing conditions beyond what are apparent to the naked eye. A common symptom is poor choices.

—-

Also catching flack for his commentary was boxing sportscaster Ray Flores. His transgression was trying too hard to be cool. Flores, 34, was at Wembley Stadium in London in 2017, moderating the final leg of the pre-fight promotional tour for the Mayweather-McGregor megafight. He called that experience his personal Super Bowl. One wonders where he will rate last night’s sideshow in Atlanta?

Lance Pugmire, who left the LA Times to join the impressive team of writers at The Athletic, was measured in his criticism, faulting the telecast for “scattered commentary and forced swearing.” Pugmire was being diplomatic. He wasn’t about to come down hard on Triller as his friend and colleague Mike Coppinger was part of the broadcasting crew.

The only legitimate fight on the card (no disrespect to the combatants in the two early prelims) matched former WBA/IBF 140-pound world champion Regis Prograis against Ivan Redkach. From Los Angeles by way of the Ukraine, Redkach, who brought a 23-5-1 record, wasn’t expected to win but he was expected to at least make it interesting, as had been the case in his most recent bout, a 12-rounder with Danny Garcia.

Prograis was dominant from the start. The bout ended in the sixth frame after Redkach absorbed a sweeping right hook to the body and fell to the canvas clutching his groin. After initially starting his count, the referee gave Redkach, who was writhing in pain, or an imitation thereof, the benefit of the doubt and allowed him five minutes to recover. A doctor was called into the ring to examine him, he decided that Redkach was unfit to continue, and the boxer was removed the ring on a stretcher. There has been no update on his condition.

The replays showed that the punch was legal, clearly landing above the beltline. Moreover, it did not appear that the blow arrived with any significant force. Redkach was lambasted on social media on the grounds that he was faking it, thereby robbing the victorious Prograis of adding another KO to his record. There have been cries for the Georgia Commission to withhold Redkach’s purse.

We have seen boxers greatly distressed after taking a punch in the solar plexus region that did not appear to be a particularly hard punch. Micky Ward’s “electrocution” of Alfonso Sanchez comes quickly to mind. So, perhaps we should give Redkach the benefit of the doubt. However, this reporter couldn’t help but laugh when a blogger explained away the mysterious happenstance by writing that during the heat of battle, the unfortunate Redkach caught a hernia.

There was a huge upset on the Andrade-Williams card in Florida when Azerbaijan heavyweight Mahammadrasul Majidov was stopped in the opening round by Andrey Fedosov.

Majidov had only three pro fights under his belt, but he won all three inside the distance against opponents with winning records and before turning pro he had a long and productive amateur career highlighted by a win over Anthony Joshua.

The contest wasn’t quite a minute old when Fedosov nailed Majidov with a hard combination that put him on the deck. Majidov landed awkwardly and twisted or broke his right ankle. He beat the count, but was reduced to a one-legged fighter and when Fedorov put him down again, the ref moved in and stopped it.

It was all over in 84 seconds, but this was no fluke knockout. It’s uncertain whether Majidov could have survived if he hadn’t injured his ankle. Fedosov, a 35-year-old Russian, has an excellent record, now 32-3 (26), but had become the forgotten man in the heavyweight division after sitting out all of 2019 and 2020.

There have been a lot of upsets lately and there were two more on Saturday. Light-hitting James Martin (7-2, 0 KOs), saddled 18-year-old phenom Vito Mielnicki Jr with his first pro loss, winning a well-deserved majority decision in an 8-round junior middleweight contest underneath Harrison-Perrella in LA. Mielnicki entered the bout with an 8-0 record.

On the Matchroom show in Florida, in another 8-rounder, lightweight Jorge Castaneda scored an upset over former U.S. amateur standout Otha Jones III, winning a majority decision. Castaneda brought a 13-1 record, but all of his previous fights save for one  trip to Mexico were held in his hometown of  Laredo, Texas.

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Harrison and Perrella Fight to a Draw in LA: Prograis TD6 Redkach in Atlanta

Arne K. Lang

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On a day replete with upsets, Florida southpaw Bryant Perrella almost pulled off another, but at the end had to settle for a draw with former WBC 154-pound title holder Tony Harrison. The match was the headline attraction of a PBC show at the Shrine Auditorium and Expo Center in Los Angeles.

Perrella (17-3-1) was moving up from welterweight and making his first start for new trainer Roy Jones Jr.  Harrison (28-3-1), a third-generation boxer from Detroit, was making his first start since the death of his father/trainer Ali Salaam at age 59. Both boxers were coming off a loss. The first man to defeat Jermell Charlo, Harrison lost the rematch. In Perrella’s last fight, he was stopped with one second to go in the 10th and final round by Abel Ramos in a fight that he was winning.

Harrison fought a measured fight, but fought without a sense of urgency. Perrella fought mostly off his back foot, but was somewhat busier. The scores were 117-111 Perrella, 116-112 Harrison, and `114-114.

Other Bouts

In a cruiserweight fight that was competitive only on paper, previously undefeated Deon Nicholson had no answer for Efetobar Apochi who blew him away in a fight that was over at the 1:12 mark of round three. Nicholson was down in the waning moments of the second round and knocked down again in the third before the referee rescued him from further punishment.

The 33-year-old Apochi, who captained the Nigerian National Boxing Team before moving to Houston where is trained by Ronnie Shields, improved to 11-0 with his 11th knockout. Nicholson, from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, came in undefeated with`13 knockouts in 14 opportunities, nine coming in the opening round. but his record was fashioned against very soft opposition. The victory boosts Apochi into a match with Arsen Goulamarian who holds a version of the WBA cruiserweight title.

Omar Juarez, a 21-year-old super bantamweight from Brownsville, Texas, improved to 11-0 (5) with a 10-round unanimous decision over Elias Damian Araujo (21-3), a 33-year-old Argentine now residing in Fresno. The scores were 98-92 and 99-91 twice.

In an upset, Philadelphia’s James Martin scored a majority decision over Vito “White Magic” Mielnicki Jr in an 8-round super welterweight contest. The scores were 79-73, 77-75, and 76-76.

Martin, who improved to 7-2, is the son of former light heavyweight contender Jerry Martin. It was the first pro loss for hot prospect Mielnicki, age 18, who entered the contest with an 8-0 record.

Atlanta

In the first noteworthy boxing match ever staged at Atlanta’s NFL Stadium, former WBA/WBC 140-pound champion Regis “Rougarou” Prograis (26-1, 22 KOs) was awarded a technical decision over Ivan Redkach (25-6-1) who collapsed in the sixth round complaining of a low blow and was carted from the ring on a stretcher. Replays showed that it was clearly a legal punch. The fight went to the scorecards and Prograis won comfortably: 59-54 and 60-54 twice.

The bizarre ending was somehow fitting as the entire event was bizarre, not merely the fights but the camera work and the commentary. The word sophomoric comes to mind. For the record, in the main go Jake Paul stopped Ben Askren in the opening round.

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