In the later rounds of their fight, Kessler and Froch were brawling, with both men consistently getting into exchanges where defense took a back seat to offense. (Photo by John Gichigi/Getty Images)
January: Carlos Tamara TKO12 Brian Viloria (25%)
February: Antonio Escalante UD10 Mickey Roman (48%)
March: Andre Dirrell DQ10 Arthur Abraham (48%)
Last month, I mentioned that we were a third of the way into the year and we had no truly top notch high-profile fights. All of that changed this month - not only did we have several fight of the year candidates, but there were probably a baker's dozen of fights that could go on the poll, including everything from a match between two big name titlists, to a three round bout between a faded journeyman and a crude club fighter with the biggest shot of his career.
Sergio Martinez UD12 Kelly Pavlik - In a great tactical fight, Martinez was able to wrest away the middleweight championship from Kelly Pavlik. In the early rounds, Martinez circled around the outside, popping off combinations and shots at points where he would get a little closer. In the middle rounds, Pavlik seemed to figure out Martinez, connecting on him with regularity and even knocking him down solidly in the 8th round. From there, something clicked with Martinez. He opened up a huge cut on Pavlik and peppered him with shots for the final few rounds to earn a well deserved unanimous decision.
Rendall Munroe TKO9 Victor Terrazas - If you charted the boxing binman's performance in this one against his Mexican opponent, it would probably look like two diagonal lines heading in opposite directions. Munroe started slow but got better with every round, while Terrazas started fast and got worse with every round. Early on, Terrazas outquicked, outworked and outboxed Munroe to build up a large early lead. The tide started to turn in the fifth, when Munroe started to find the body, and from then on, it was incessant pressure until he pinned an exhausted Terrazas against the ropes, knocking him out with body shots.
Martin Concepcion PTS10 Kevin Hammond - This is one of two undercard fights in the poll this month that has little chance of winning because viewers didn't get to see the full fight, but the parts that people did get to see were great. In the first round, Hammond knocked down Concepcion and had him badly hurt. Concepcion was able to get his legs back under him and outbox Hammond for most of the rounds, which had lots of back and forth action but Concepcion clearly got the better of. In the 10th, Hammond tried for the knockout and had Concepcion badly hurt once again, but Martin was able to hold on for the victory.
Mikkel Kessler UD12 Carl Froch - This bout was one long crescendo. The fight started off fairly technical, with both men boxing from the outside and neither fighter clearly getting the better of the exchanges. As the fight moved forward, both men got more aggressive. Each fighter appeared to be hurt more than once at some point in the fight, and there wasn't a round of the fight that was incredibly easy to score. Finally, in the 11th and 12th stanzas, the two went to all out war, exchanging in the middle of the ring, both guys really trying to take the last rounds of what they knew was a close fight.
Tomasz Adamek UD12 Cristobal Arreola- While this fight wasn't particularly close, it had suspense all the way until the end. Adamek made it clear that he was there to outbox Arreola, and he used super quickness and skill to keep Arreola from closing in on him too frequently. However, when Arreola did land, he landed significantly harder punches, and several of his shots appeared to throw Adamek off balance. Thus, even though Adamek was in control until the end, the specter that Arreola might land the big one kept the audience on the edge of their seats. The fight also featured the best post-fight interviews in a decade.
Don George UD10 Osumanu Adama - Here's the other one people didn't get to see all of, due to technical difficulties experienced from a thunderstorm. When the fight was airing, viewers got to see two tough guys, both fighting their hearts out, both with looping punches and little regard for defense. By the end of the fight, both boxers were exhausted and beat up, and George came out with a decision that appeared to be a bit wider than deserved. While he came out with the loss, Adama looked like he might be the one to watch out for if he can improve his technique and stamina.
- Sergio Mora TKO7 Calvin Green (Green tried his best, but the Latin Snake bit him in the end)
- David Haye TKO9 John Ruiz (One-sided beatdown, but Ruiz was courageous)
- Darren Barker UD12 Affif Belghecham (Affif applied constant pressure and Barker tired out near the end)
- Leonilo Miranda TKO6 Andre Wilson (Back and forth battle turned into a brawl, and then Miranda's power was too much)
- Celestino Cabalero UD12 Daud Yordan (Master display by Caballero, though Yordan never gave up and landed hard counters through the end)
- Evander Holyfield TKO8 Franz Botha (a much better argument for a seniors tour than Jones-Hopkins II)
- Vincent Arroyo KO8 Jeremy Bryan (Bryan dominated by outboxing Arroyo all fight, but Arroyo went for broke and got the KO in the last round)
- Glen Tapia UD4 James Winchester (Cards were wide, but two guys with real animosity trying to hurt the other one for four rounds)
- Jorge Arce KO7 Cecilio Santos (Santos made it into a fight for a while before the much bigger Arce pulled away)
- Alfredo Angulo KO11 Joel Julio (Julio boxed the best of his career and won a number of rounds, but Angulo's incessant stalking eventually led to a kill)
- Nick Okoth UD3 Darren Corbett (One guy with no energy against another with no skill, both throwing lots of punches and trying their absolute hardest, resulting in a huge upset)