Despite criticisms of his promotional style, Bob Arum is still the best in the business, and Top Rank has been named the Bad Left Hook 2011 Promoter of the Year. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Bob Arum may be a lightning rod for criticism, but it still is easily argued that nobody puts on a big event the way the now 80-year-old head of Top Rank does, and thanks to his big fights and a strong stable of fighters, as well as the increasing input of Todd duBoef, Top Rank Inc. is the winner of this year's 2011 Bad Left Hook Promoter of the Year award.
Here's the full breakdown:
|Top Rank Inc||5||5||1||41|
|Golden Boy Promotions||3||1||3||21|
|Frank Warren Promotions||1||0||2||7|
Top Rank pretty widely outpaced Golden Boy Promotions, the other power broker in American boxing, and it's easy to understand why. Of the four truly major pay-per-view events in 2011, three came from Top Rank (Pacquiao vs Marquez and Mosley, Cotto vs Margarito), and the company just had a better year overall than their rivals.
But it will be interesting to see what happens in 2012. Golden Boy is still hurting for marquee stars, but Canelo Alvarez is emerging as a serious draw in both Mexico and the United States, and could be a big-money player for many years to come. Top Rank counters Alvarez with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr, himself already a star, but in the minds of most, doesn't have the long-term boxing future of Alvarez.
Both companies' top stars are aging, as Pacquiao and Cotto are into their 30s and both are looking to strategically cash out of the sport in the coming years. Golden Boy seemed to have another young star on the rise in Amir Khan, but Khan lost to Lamont Peterson in December, and perhaps even worse, he took a big PR hit with what was seen as overstated whining after the fight.
Another area where Top Rank excelled this year was moving their online presence into the last decade, which reportedly was duBoef's doing. Their web site became far better, and their streaming video was dramatically improved. The company consistently showcased their off-TV undercards for free to diehard boxing fans who wanted to see them, which is something everyone should be doing but hardly anyone does.
Top Rank appears to have a firm upper-hand heading into 2012, but the boxing game can change very quickly, so you just never know. Golden Boy definitely needs some young fighters to catch fire, but then so does Top Rank.
Coming in in third place was Eddie Hearn's aggressive Matchroom Boxing division of Matchroom Sport. The small but high-end group got big fights out of Carl Froch, who signed in the middle of his Super Six run this year, and got big chances for the likes of Darren Barker and Paul McCloskey. With domestic stars Gavin Rees and Lee Purdy also under contract, as well as potential world stage prospect Kell Brook (the current true future of the company), Matchroom is sitting pretty heading into 2012, and made some big waves in UK boxing.
Also receiving support were DiBella Entertainment, Frank Warren Promotions, Japan's Teiken, and Main Events.
Voters for the 2011 Bad Left Hook Boxing Awards are Scott Christ, Andrew Fruman, Brickhaus, Matt Miller, James Foley, Sean Mills, Ryan Bivins, Waldo Rastel, Kory Kitchen, Matt Mosley, Oli Goldstein, Nick Foxx, Chris Celletti, Sidney Boquiren, and Corey Erdman.