No matter how you slice it, 2009 was a pretty fantastic year for British boxing. David Haye won a world heavyweight title, Carl Froch defended his super middleweight belt twice, and Amir Khan got his feet firmly in the Freddie Roach pool, going 3-0 and winning a title at 140 pounds.
Froch has won three awards: British Boxing Board of Control Fighter of the Year, BBBofC Fight of the Year (v. Jean Pascal, December 2008) and BBC East Midlands Sports Personality of the Year.
Haye, meanwhile, is up for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, and is disappointed that Froch and Khan are not up for the same award.
"Carl and Amir were probably both unfortunate to miss out on being nominated as they've both also been fantastic this year. I was delighted to be nominated. I can remember Lennox [Lewis] lifting the trophy, and it is an event I've always watched closely.
... "[Froch is] flying the flag for Britain on the world stage and is tackling the best fighters in his division. Carl is a great ambassador for boxing in this country because he always looks to fight the best guys out there.
... "[Khan has] completely changed his career around and has scored three big wins this year, against Marco Antonio Barrera, Andreas Kotelnik and Dmitriy Salita. A little over a year ago, everybody had wrongly written him off."
Though doubts linger on the world stage about all three fighters (many question the chins of Haye and Khan, Haye's guts, Froch's ability, Froch's win over Andre Dirrell, etc.), they have delighted UK fans with pretty spectacular years, and the three are leading the charge for UK boxing after the retirement of Joe Calzaghe and the inevitability of Ricky Hatton joining him soon enough; and even if he doesn't, everyone worldwide is aware that Hatton's best days are now behind him.
Still, not everything is so rosy. Carl Froch had words about Amir Khan in a recent interview with LiveFight.com, and it was a strange read. At times Froch seemed like he wanted to be clear he was misunderstood, but then he'd take cheapshots at Khan to go along with that, so I'm guessing the animosity is a little more real than he might want to let on.
"He's gotten upset because I gave a little feedback on his Prescott defeat and reported that I'd heard that the Kotelinik win was a little dull from reports off my friends who'd paid for the show and were disappointed. He's just a bit young and fragile and probably just needs a hug from the rest of Team Khan or his personal chauffeur or whatever.
... "Khan took [Salita] out with some fast, clean shots. But without wanting to upset King Khan again - who is this Salita fella? I'm not being derogatory but honestly, I've never heard of the bloke. I'd want to see an opponent at least take a shot and throw some back. I suppose it's down to the mandatory situation that he fought Amir. Maybe I don't follow enough boxing, but correct me if wrong, Salita was never regarded as a hot prospect. If he was any good we'd have all heard about him before he'd got to the No. 1 spot wouldn't we?"
While that is just boxing talk with a bit of trash talk thrown in at the end of the first bit, later he takes what appear to be genuine swipes:
"I know it's my boxing that brought me here. The boxing will never be overshadowed by the fame. ... That’s what boxing fans identify with. They know that when I get inside the ring I put it all on the line, testing myself against the very best. I don’t want people remembering me for being rich or running people over in my Lamborghini."
They may be the three leaders of the New Wave of British Boxing (I like to think it's similar to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal), but it doesn't appear they'll all be going out for dinner any time soon.