Since everyone else has to have their "best of" awards for the year, the contrarian in me decided to come out with boxing's equivalent of the Razzies. Part one of the Bricky Awards is here, and includes categories such as worst robbery, worst scorecard, worst refereeing and foul-fest of the year.
Naseem Hamed Award for Most Absurd Ring Entrance
Winner: Bernard Hopkins doing it his way against Roy Jones Jr. - As a former Philly street thug, it only makes sense that Bernard Hopkins spends his summer months out in the Hamptons, where he met 68-year old businessman Artie Rabin. Rabin's not a singer, but he is a Bernard Hopkins fan. He altered the words to Frank Sinatra's "My Way" to talk about Hopkins' career, with the intent of walking in right next to Hopkins, in his executioner mask, on his way to the ring. And then to sing backup, they got the Sweet Temptations, who were Elvis's original backup singers when he remade "My Way" in 1969. So you end up with a 45-year old fighter, walking in with a 68-year old non-singer singing and three seventy-something backup singers wearing dresses that are way too revealing in the ring. It was just a completely surreal sight. He did bring back out the music for his next ring entrance against Jean Pascal, but the first time, it was just completely out of left field.
Wladimir Klitschko's homage to himself against Samuel Peter - It takes cojones the size of cantaloupes to have producers create an "homage" to Muhammad Ali where you are compared to The Greatest and have your image superimposed with classic footage of prime Ali. But at 6'7", I guess everything of Klitschko's is big.
DeMarcus Corley's Ava Peron impression against Marcos Maidana - Corley's always been a bit of a flamboyant type and likes to mix things up for his ring walks. Against Marcos Maidana, in Argentina, he may have one-upped himself. Corley essentially went for the Ava Peron impression, walking in to the ring to "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" while wearing a Maradona football jersey and trunks that basically looked like a miniskirt. Needless to say, that didn't get the world's best reception from the crowd.
Advantil Khurtsidze's ring entrance against Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam - A lot of fighters like to bring a local flare to their ring walks. Last year's winner of this award, the Mayan Cristobal Cruz, had a ring walk that included acrobats dressed up like jungle cats, a shaman come out to announce him and a midget dressed up in full Mayan garb. This year, the local flavor award goes to native Georgian Khurtsidze, who walked into the ring against Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam flanked by folks in traditional Georgian garb, with dancers preceding him into the ring doing some kind of traditional dance.
Panama Lewis Award for Ugliest In-Ring Incident of the Year
Winner: DQs Treat You Right - This year featured not one but two disqualifications because of a huge knockout punch that was landed...when the other fighter was on the ground. The more significant of the two came in Detroit, where Andre Dirrell had built up a major lead over Arthur Abraham. Abraham had picked things up in the last couple rounds, and his pressure finally was getting to Dirrell. In the 11th, Dirrell slipped, and possibly out of frustration, Abraham unloaded a huge shot that knocked Dirrell out unconscious. As a result, Dirrell has stated that he has permanent brain damage, and his future career is currently in question. A few months later, an even more blatant shot was landed by Sakio Bika. Bika was destroying Jean Paul Mendy in a title eliminator, knocked him down, loaded up, and threw a vicious uppercut that came a good second after Mendy had already touched the canvas. The disqualification was the only right call, but it's a shame it happened that way, as Bika was probably just about to win the fight anyway.
Kermit Cintron's Flying Leap - In a relatively ugly and inactive fight that appeared to be controlled by Cintron, the going finally got a bit rougher in round four. With the fighters wrestling, their feet got tangled up and Cintron went flying sideways, through the ropes, to end up on the scorer's table. In almost any jurisdiction outside of California, an end to the fight by reason of accidental foul before the end of the fifth would have resulted in a no decision, but instead the fight went to the cards, only 3 1/2 rounds in, and Cintron came out with the loss. (At about 0:46 of the video)
Carrasco's tag team partner - One of the best closet classics of the year had an unusual interruption in the middle of it. In round six of their fight, Juan Manuel Bonanni had unleashed a combination on Gumersindo Carrasco that badly hurt Carrasco and forced the referee to administer a standing eight count. Per the norm in this chippy fight, Bonanni threw a couple of punches after the referee had already tried to break up the fighters to administer the count. Rather than going to the neutral corner, Bonanni walked back to Carrasco's corner, where a member of Carrasco's team rolled under the ropes, grabbed Bonanni by the ankles and pulled him down. Within seconds, there were about ten others in the ring, with a bit of pushing, shoving and foot stomping going on. The police showed up, the ring cleared out, and the fight went on. (Sequence starts at about 6:20)
Randall Bailey's turnbuckle suplex of Said Ouali - After knocking down Said Ouali twice and being well on his way to winning a title eliminator, Randall Bailey made a huge error in judgment. It is unclear whether he was trying to impose his will, or whether it's just the position the fighters ended up in, but somehow Bailey picked up Ouali over his shoulder. Rather than putting him down against the ropes or on the floor, or even bodyslamming him Miguel Cotto style, he placed Ouali on top of the turnbuckle, which isn't intended to be a resting place for fighters who are out on their feet. Ouali fell out of the ring and, understandably, wasn't able to continue. (Sequence starts at 1:33)
Anthony Peterson's Nutcracker Suite - Occasionally, HBO makes it so clear in which direction they are biased that it's hard to ignore. Before the fight between Peterson and relatively less known prospect Brandon Rios, HBO aired a long puff piece about the tough life of the Peterson brothers, and the commentary team was all over Peterson. But despite whatever pressures he's withstood in his real life, it only took a round and a half for him to succumb to the pressure of Rios's attack. Apparently a student at the Miguel Cotto school of defense, Peterson generally retaliated with low blows whenever he got into trouble. This led to no less than seven low blows, all pretty blatant. Maybe Arthur Abraham should invest in whatever jock strap Rios had, because rather than whining or taking time off, Rios just kept coming forward and throwing punches - and Peterson kept dropping bombs below the belt. Two deductions and numerous warnings later, Peterson was finally disqualified in round seven when he landed yet another shot to the stones.
Carlos Monzon Award for Ugliest Out-of-Ring Incident of the Year
Winner: Edwin Valero - Sometimes, the qualities that make a fighter so fearsome and lauded in the ring can lead to their personal downfalls outside of it. With his wild-eyed, relentless style, Edwin Valero was starting to build up a major fan base, walking through an ever increasing level of competition. We'd heard stories about his demons - the alcohol and drug problems, rumors that he hit his mother and sister, DUI charges in Texas, the crazy Hugo Chavez tattoo - but all of that came to a head early this year. In March, he was arrested for domestic violence when his wife was checked into a hospital with numerous broken bones and a collapsed lung. The charges were dropped (amidst reports that he had also attacked the hospital staff while attending to his wife), and after a few strings were pulled at the presidential level, he was assigned to go to drug and alcohol rehab. After a few more strings were pulled in a political shell game, Valero was given permission to have his rehab take place in Cuba. But he never showed up there, and was reported to be on a drug binge in Venezuela, getting into a DUI accident there. A few days later, Valero turned himself in to police, admitting to killing his wife. The next morning, Valero committed suicide in his jail cell in a story that is just tragic all the way around.
Opening the Floydgates - Boy did Floyd Mayweather Jr. have an awful year. First, he played a major role in letting the entire sport down by multiple times not being able to get a deal done to fight Manny Pacquiao. After building back some good will due to fighting and dominating Shane Mosley, he decided to set up a UStream channel and went on a profane, racist tirade about Pacquiao that managed to make national headlines. Only a few days later, he was accused of breaking into his baby mama's house, threatening her and the kids, hitting her and stealing her cell phone, and is now facing serious charges from the incident. Deciding this wasn't enough, he proceeded to poke a security guard in the face, which has led to more recent charges. And to close out the year, a former associate is now accusing Floyd of trying to run him off the road with his Bentley. I guess any press is good press for some, but Floyd has stayed in the news for ALL the wrong reasons.
Pulling out isn't the right way to do it - When announced in 2009, Showtime's Super Six super middleweight tournament was lauded as a groundbreaking feat that would help get a lot of the world's top fighters in the division to face each other. In all fairness to Ken Hirshman and the promoters who organized the event, it has led to a few great fights, including two fights of the month this year (Froch-Kessler and Dirrell-Abraham), and has birthed a new star in Andre Ward. But even the best laid plans can get fouled up. At the beginning of the year, Jermain Taylor, the biggest name entering the tournament, pulled out after suffering his second knockout loss in a row, and his future career still remains in question. Allan Green ended up being his replacement after an eliminator with Sakio Bika fell through. Then, after a brutal fight with Carl Froch, early favorite Mikkel Kessler pulled out of the tournament, citing an eye injury. His replacement ended up being 41-year old Glen Johnson, who hadn't fought as low at 168 in nearly a decade. Then, after protracted negotiations with Andre Ward where the parties couldn't agree to a location and just seemed to have no interest in fighting each other, Andre Dirrell pulled out of the tournament, citing the after effects of his illegal knockout blow at the hands of Arthur Abraham. On top of it, there has been some question of impropriety by Andre Ward's team, who was able to get all of his fights at home in a tournament where the home fighter has won every bout not on neutral ground. Props to Carl Froch and Arthur Abraham for sticking with it, despite earning losses, and figuring out ways to stick to their contracts despite some less than ideal conditions.
Nate Campbell Award for Dumbest Strategic Error of the Year
Winner: Elvin Ayala vs. David Lemieux - Elvin Ayala is a fighter who has done pretty well for himself by boxing on the outside and utilizing speed to outland his opponents. He used that strategy to earn a draw (which should have been a win) with Sergio Mora and to last 12 rounds with one of the biggest punchers out there, Arthur Abraham, winning a number of rounds on the cards before getting knocked out late. So he's facing young whippersnapper David Lemieux, who had scored knockouts in 19 of his 20 fights and what does he decide to do? Brawl. Big mistake. Ayala was knocked down three times in the first round and basically got his butt kicked in a fight Lemieux's team intentionally selected to get him experience against a quick boxer who could go rounds.
Joachim Alcine vs. Alfredo Angulo - Another boxer who decided to brawl. Another first round knockout.
Chad Dawson vs. Jean Pascal - Until this year, Dawson had remained undefeated, mostly clearing out the top, older fighters in the division. Despite this, his performances had been somewhat uneven. There were times when he looked great, such as his win over Tomasz Adamek and his second win over Glen Johnson. But there were other fights where he just looked like he couldn't take pressure, covering up whenever his opponent threw and not getting himself into any kind of position to create offense from his defense. Unfortunately, the latter Dawson showed up in his match against Pascal for the vacant Ring championship. For more than half of the fight, he just refused to throw any punches when Pascal was being aggressive. When Dawson finally started to open up, he began to dominate, but it was well too late. The fight was stopped on a cut, and when it went to the cards it was clear that Pascal was the deserving winner.
Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins - Pascal decided he liked Dawson's strategy of not throwing punches so much that he barely threw any his entire fight against 46-year old Bernard Hopkins. This is the same Bernard Hopkins who had completely gassed out for large chunks of five of his previous seven fights. Two early knockdowns usually would lead to some confidence, but instead Pascal looked tentative and unwilling to throw. In each of Hopkins' three most recent losses, he lost the fight because his opponent outworked him, but Pascal's team just didn't seem to notice. As a result, he was very lucky to come away from the fight with a draw.
Joshua Clottey vs. Manny Pacquiao - If you want to win, sometimes it helps to throw punches. Granted, Clottey fought like he pretty much always fought, and Freddie Roach came up with a great game plan to just make him look inadequate. Still, when you crap the bed like that in such a major fight, you can't expect to get a lot of phone calls afterwards. Nobody expected him to win, but fighting the way he did lost him whatever little fanbase he might have had.