Boxing had a pretty good start to the new year. There weren't any absolute barnburners in January, nor were there any megafights after the cancellation of Berto-Mosley, but there were lots of good, solid bouts, and there weren't really any fights that were complete duds. Let's hope the promoters can keep up this streak of good matchmaking through the rest of the year. Here are the candidates, in chronological order:
Roman Karmazin KO10 Dionisio Miranda - In a matchup between an older boxer and a fresher, younger puncher, Roman Karmazin was able to come roaring back from a fight where it seemed almost certain that he would get knocked out. While Karmazin managed to outbox Miranda most of the fight, there were several rounds where Miranda badly hurt Karmazin, and Karmazin probably would have been long knocked out had Miranda been a smarter finisher. In the 9th round, the tide seemed to really turn in Miranda's direction, with Miranda knocking down Karmazin and Karmazin barely surviving the round. However, in the 10th, Karmazin came back with a surprise knockdown, which he was able to follow up on for the knockout.
Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym MD12 Satoshi Hosono - In the first title fight of the new year, Kratingdaenggym and Satoshi Hosono didn't lay off of each other on the inside for a full twelve rounds, with most of the rounds being close and hotly contested.
Vanes Martirosyan UD10 Kassim Ouma - For the first time since fighting Jermain Taylor, we saw glimpses of the old Kassim Ouma that was a two-time titlist at 154 pounds. He kept on a lot of pressure and a high workrate, which was able to keep the hard-punching Martirosyan at bay for much of the fight. Martirosyan came back with his own big moments, and when there were exchanges, Vanes was able to get the better of many of them. Although the Armenian-born former U.S. Olympian was lucky to come out with a win, he was able to show that he can at least compete with good boxers.
Carlos Tamara TKO12 Brian Viloria - This one was a battle of wills. Early in the fight, the two were pressed up against each other, banging away with power shots. After Viloria hurt Tamara, he kept further away and Viloria dominated him from the outside, nearly making Tamara quit. However, as the fight wore on, Viloria wore himself out more and more until he had very little left in the tank in the 11th and 12th. With Tamara likely down on the cards, Tamara was able to chase Viloria down, who was still throwing instead of holding despite being exhausted, and with Viloria unable to even hold his hands up, Tamara pounced on him, forcing the ref to stop the fight. If you're interested in checking this one out, it appears that the full fight is up on Youtube, round by round.
Jesse Brinkley UD Curtis Stevens - Former "chinchecker" Stevens predicted he would knock out Brinkley within two rounds, and he did his best to do so, hurting Brinkley early and keeping the pressure on the first two rounds. However, Brinkley proved to just be the much smarter boxer, and was able to keep the pressure on the pressure fighter, neutralizing him for most of the fight. By the end of the fight, Stevens had taken quite a beating and Brinkley had scored a minor upset to move near the top of the IBF's rankings.
Beibut Shumenov SD12 Gabriel Campillo - This battle helped prove the standing of both of its combatants, and resulted in a lot of entertaining back and forth action. Shumenov was the more raw but also the more aggressive fighter, coming forward for most of the fight and putting his full body behind almost every punch he threw. Campillo did a lot of countering and combos, but he too wasn't afraid to move forward, and there were a number of times where the two were really mixing it up. In the end, Shumenov won a decision in a fight where pretty much everyone scored it for Campillo by several rounds. The decision was pretty rotten, but the fight leading up to it was still very entertaining.
Others for consideration: Carlos Tamara TKO12 Brian Viloria, Pawel Wolak UD8 Ishmail Arvin, Yuriorkis Gamboa TKO2 Rogers Mtagwa, Rob Norton D12 David Dolan, Erislandy Lara TKO10 Grady Brewer, Ina Menzer TKO6 Ramona Kuehne