As I put the finishing touches on my annual Boxing Awards for 2011, most categories present ample candidates and interesting choices. However, Fighter of the Year is not one of them. For that matter, Trainer of the Year is an equally difficult pick.
Juan Manuel Marquez is on my list but Manny Pacquiao is not. So is Heman Marquez. Floyd Mayweather Jr. didn’t do enough and Sergio Martinez did not look all that good in his last outing. Yuriorkis Gamboa, Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, Austin Trout, and the active Lucian Bute come to mind, and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (6-0 in 2011 and 83-3-1 overall) must be given serious consideration. Abner Mares’ low blow fest with Joseph Agbeko in their first fight takes him out of the running, but Nonito Donaire remains a distinct possibility. Brandon "Bam Bam" Rios for his work against Acosta and Antillion warrants mention as does James Kirkland for his 5-1 mark in 2011.
Jorge Arce and Jhonny Gonzalez continue to streak and while they don’t get the publicity of others, they deserve the same attention. Jhonny is 4-0 in 2011 and 51-7 overall. Arce is 59-6-2 and has won three tough fights in 2011 including the dramatic 12th round stoppage of undefeated Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. in May for the WBO super bantamweight title. A case can be made for either one.
In 2011 so far, Carl Froch (28-1) beat Glen Johnson and Andre Ward (24-0) beat Arthur Abraham. Now they meet on Saturday with the Junior Middleweight Super Six title at stake. Depending on the nature of that fight, the winner seems the likeliest candidate for Fighter of the Year though I am also leaning toward Donaire and Wonjongkam
So, who is the standout boxer of 2011? Who do you think deserves the award?