Our own Ted Sares offers up his choices for some boxing awards after a great year for the sweet science. We'll have more awards-type stuff in the coming weeks, including Scott's picks for many of these same categories.
* * * * * * * *
An easy choice this year. After retiring Oscar De La Hoya late in 2008, he rendered unconscious Ricky Hatton in two and then stopped Miguel Cotto after he finally chased him down in the 12th round. Manny is THE event fighter in boxing going into 2010.
Runner-up: Chad Dawson for his dominating win over Antonio Tarver and his redemptive UD over Glen Johnson. "Bad Chad" may lack charisma but he does not lack skills.
Others: Hozumi Hasegawa, Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym, and Vitali Klitschko.
2. Fight of the Year: Bernard Dunne vs. Ricardo "Maestrito" Cordoba.
Dunne was dropped and hurt badly twice in the fifth round while his Panamanian opponent was decked in the third and then three times more in the eleventh round after which the fight was finally stopped in front of a roaring crowd in Dublin.
Runner-up: Ricardo "Mochuelo" Torres vs. Raul Pinzon
Decked in the first, fourth and seventh rounds, Torres was well behind going into the 10th and last round. Needing a stoppage, the Colombian bomber (are there any other kind) did a gut check and floored a gassed Pinzon three times in an amazing final round, The end came at 2 minutes and nine-seconds into the final stanza of this Barranquilla Barnburner.
Paul Williams vs. Sergio Martinez; a great bout fought at an uncommonly high skill level.
Paul Samuels vs. Cello Renda in a Brit dust up that featured a crunching double knockdown and brutal back and forth until Samuels stopped Renda in the fourth round of a true closet classic.
Round of the Year: Round twelve, Rogers Mtagwa vs. Juan Manuel Lopez
"Juanma" was almost taken out by "The Tiger" from Philadelphia by way of Tanzania, but fought back to survive the grueling round and win the fight with his title on the line. "The Tiger" is the kind of guy that can make this list in different categories every year
4) Breakthrough Fighter of the Year: Yonnhy Perez
At 20-0, he first stopped Silence Mabuza in South Africa in the 12th round to win the IBF bantamweight title eliminator. Then, in a great fight which featured incredible punch volume, he beat Joseph "King Kong" Agbeko to win the title. Though born in Colombia, he has done all of his work in the U.S and mostly in California. This stylist will be tough to dethrone.
Andre Ward was impressive in his four 2009 wins culminating in his beat down of Mikkel Kessler.
Jean Pascal had 4 wins over tough opposition and, like Ward, is now a force to be reckoned with.
5) Upset of the year: Juan Carlos Salgado over Jorge Linares
Undefeated WBA super featherweight champion Linares is dropped twice in the first round by unknown Salgado and loses his title in Tokyo in a shocker.
Runner-up: Danny Green over Roy Jones Jr.
I distinctly remember where I was when Buster Douglas beat Mike Tyson, but I doubt I will for this one. Still, it was shocking to see Jones dispatched in one round and I will not soon forget it.
Yuri Foreman's surprisingly punishing win over an ill-prepared Daniel Santos to win the WBA 154-pound belt. Even with a solid lead, the aspiring Rabbi refused to fight defensively. Instead, he dropped Santos in the last round to punctuate his great win.
South African fighter Simphiwe Nongqayi upset Mexican boxing superstar Jorge "Travieso" Arce convincingly in Cancun, Mexico on September 16 to win the IBF World junior bantamweight title.
6) KO of the Year: Pacquiao over Ricky Hatton in round two
It was decisive, scary and chilling. It was the kind that should make the victim think about other career options,
Runner-up: Arthur Abraham's last second concussive waxing of Jermain Taylor sealed the deal and left observers worrying about Taylor's future well being.
Honorable mention: Seconds after ESPN announcer Teddy Atlas said "watch out for the right coming down the pike," Randall Bailey delivered on cue in a one-punch icing of Francisco "El Gato" Figueroa on April 4 that affirmed his nickname of "The Knock-Out King." Meanwhile, "El Gato" was sent to feline dreamland.
7) Most Exciting Fighter of the Year: Manny Pacquiao
Who else? With his speed, in-and-out whirlwind style, and malefic punches coming from every angle, he brings electricity into the ring every time he fights.
8) Comeback Fighter of the Year: Sugar Shane Mosley
After so-so performances against Miguel Cotto in 2007 and Ricardo Mayorga in 2008, Sugar Shane was seen as aging and was not expected to do much against the then imposing (but soon to be disgraced) Antonio Margarito who had demolished the same Cotto. Instead, he fought an almost perfect fight destroying the "Tijuana Tornado" in brutal fashion over 9 furious rounds. SSM is back and good to go.
9) Worse Decision of the Year: Ali Funeka vs. Joan Guzman
American judge Joe Pasquale had it right at 116-112. The two Canadian judges had it wrong at 114-114 for a majority draw. All one had to do was to look at Guzman's face at the end of the fight to know how awful this decision was.
10) Trainer of the Year: Freddie Roach
He trains Manny Pacquiao. Enough said. But for some icing on the cake, he also has done a great job with Amir Khan
11) Ugliest Boxing Moment of the Year
Heavyweight Joey Abell's after-the-bell KO over fellow-Minnesota resident Raphael "The Silencer" Butler (35-8) in the first round on December 4 resulted in Butler being silenced with what looked to be a sucker punch. As Butler lay unconscious, his corner man ran into the ring after Abell upon which Abell's corner joined the fray. What ensued was a mini-riot and a no-contest. As an aside, Abell (25-4). though born in and based out of Minnesota, has a 9-1 record at the legendary Blue Horizon in Philadelphia. As well, he has figured in a number of fights with strange and/or exciting endings.