2012 Boxing Awards: Will the real round of the year please stand up?

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr (left) & Sergio Martinez (right) - Jeff Bottari

Salido-Lopez II, Rios-Alvarado, Chavez Jr-Martinez, and Pacquiao-Marquez IV all garnered "Round of the Year" honors through various boxing publication outlets. But did any actually deserve to win?

2012 Rounds of the Year

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Picking the round of the year can be a very subjective business, even ignoring the obvious and inappropriate bias (how "important" or "popular" a fight is). There's even bias in rating a round by comparing it to the other rounds of the fight. If 11/12 rounds are lousy and 1 happens to be great, people tend to overrate it. But more on that later...

Right now let's just break down the ways great rounds generally go. There are rounds where the 2-way action is nonstop but neither fighter is noticeably hurt. There are rounds where it's shocking that someone recovered from a beating and came back stronger. There are rounds where the momentum swings back and forth. And there are rounds where both fighters are hurt and/or dropped. A combination of those types of rounds with added bonuses like blood and sheer determination (often fighting on when any sane man would quit) is sure to produce a bona fide top round of the year. But when rounds play out very differently, subjectivity is no longer limited to rating which was the best at doing ‘A' but extends to is ‘A' better than ‘B', ‘C', etc. It'd be fine if every fight had the same elements, but the best fight can easily lack elements others have.

Then you get to throw in your appropriate bias to make the job even harder. For instance, I'm not a fan of holding. So while Andre Berto-Robert Guerrero had a round many would place in the top 5, I wouldn't even put it in the top 30. Some people actually prefer skilled technique to brute savagery. Me personally, I go both ways... Ultimately 2 things matter most to me. Firstly, the lulls in action must be minimized. However, I do make exceptions if the intensity of the fireworks is at an unrealistic pace to sustain over 3 full minutes. Secondly, both fighters need to get hurt or dropped. Ironically I find most of the best fights rich in one area and weak in the other.

But fear not, my choice for 2012 ROTY has all the good stuff I look for, and it's obviously included in the video posted at the top of this article. Here's a list of all the fights it has in order:

2012-01-20 Joel Diaz vs Guy Robb - Round 2
2012-01-20 Emiliano Marsili vs Derry Mathews - Round 6
2012-02-11 Fernando Vargas vs Daniel Rosas - Round 5
2012-02-24 Richard Contreras vs Daniel Quevedo - Round 3
2012-03-10 Orlando Salido vs Juan Manuel Lopez II - Round 9
2012-03-30 Roberto Vasquez vs Mario Briones - Round 5
2012-04-14 Mike Alvarado vs Mauricio Herrera - Round 2
2012-05-05 Floyd Mayweather Jr vs Miguel Cotto - Round 8
2012-05-05 Marco Huck vs Ola Afolabi II - Round 12
2012-06-20 Kazuto Ioka vs Akira Yaegashi - Round 12
2012-07-07 Kell Brook vs Carson Jones - Round 10
2012-09-08 Tomasz Adamek vs Travis Walker - Round 2
2012-09-15 Sergio Gabriel Martinez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr - Round 12
2012-10-06 Wilfredo Vazquez Jr vs Jonathan Oquendo - Round 5
2012-10-13 Brandon Rios vs Mike Alvarado - Round 5
2012-10-13 Jose Roman vs Javier Garcia - Round 1
2012-10-20 Jose Castro vs Carlos Acevedo - Round 1
2012-11-03 Jamie Kavanagh vs Ramon Valadez - Round 3
2012-11-17 Brian Viloria vs Hernan Marquez - Round 5
2012-11-17 Roman Gonzalez vs Juan Francisco Estrada - Round 8
2012-12-06 Raymundo Beltran vs Ji-Hoon Kim - Round 1
2012-12-07 Anthony Crolla vs Kieran Farrell - Round 7
2012-12-08 Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez IV - Round 5
2012-12-14 Lee Haskins vs Stephane Jamoye - Round 6

Originally I wanted to go with 12 rounds because it's the length of a world championship fight. But when your nominee list is 45 fights deep, picking and choosing only 12 is truly difficult. Thus I doubled my limit to 24. Nonetheless, I bet I still left out plenty of main stream rounds you expected to see (I'll list them later). But before I touch on what didn't make the top 24, let me show you how I group each of these rounds.

Consistent 2-way action: Diaz-Robb 2, Contreras-Quevedo 3, Salido-Lopez II 9, Vasquez-Briones 5, Alvarado-Herrera 2, Mayweather-Cotto 8, Huck-Afolabi II 12, Ioka-Yaegashi 12, Rios-Alvarado 5, Roman-Garcia 1, Castro-Acevedo 1, Viloria-Marquez 5, Gonzalez-Estrada 8, Beltran-Kim 1, Crolla-Farrell 7, Haskins-Jamoye 6

Shocking/Impressive turnarounds: Diaz-Robb 2, Marsili-Mathews 6, Vargas-Rosas 5, Brook-Jones 10, Martinez-Chavez 12, Vazquez Jr-Oquendo 5, Castro-Acevedo 1, Kavanagh-Valadez 3, Viloria-Marquez 5, Beltran-Kim 1, Haskins-Jamoye 6

One fighter down: Diaz-Robb 2, Marsili-Mathews 6, Martinez-Chavez 12, Roman-Garcia 1, Viloria-Marquez 5, Pacquiao-Marquez 5, Haskins-Jamoye 6

Both fighters down: Vargas-Rosas 5, Adamek-Walker 2, Castro-Acevedo 1, Beltran-Kim 1

Both fighters visibly hurt: Marsili-Mathews 6, Vargas-Rosas 5, Adamek-Walker 2, Vazquez Jr-Oquendo 5, Castro-Acevedo 1, Kavanagh-Valadez 3, Viloria-Marquez 5, Beltran-Kim 1, Haskins-Jamoye 6

Most skilled: Mayweather-Cotto 8, Gonzalez-Estrada 8, Pacquiao-Marquez 5

Most savage: Contreras-Quevedo 3, Salido-Lopez II 9, Vasquez-Briones 5, Alvarado-Herrera 2, Huck-Afolabi II 12, Ioka-Yaegashi 12, Brook-Jones 10, Rios-Alvarado 5, Kavanagh-Valadez 3, Viloria-Marquez 5, Crolla-Farrell 7, Haskins-Jamoye 6

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It should be noted that I mapped out the above categories after I had already chosen my favorite round. I have a very mathematical mind and I tend to map things out almost formulaically when I try to explain them but my opinions all begin with gut feelings. And my initial gut feelings told me the following popular choices were not the ROTY:

Orlando Salido vs Juan Manuel Lopez II - Round 9

Of the 4 most popular picks I've seen for ROTY, this was my favorite. But it still fell short. For as awesome and relentless as the action was, nobody was even staggered much less dropped. It goes without saying that the beating JuanMa absorbed clearly took a lot out of him, evident by the next round, but rounds are judged independent of each other. Independently this round compared to the likes of Contreras-Quevedo 3, Vasquez-Briones 5, Alvarado-Herrera 2, Rios-Alvarado 5, and Crolla-Farrell 7.

Brandon Rios vs Mike Alvarado - Round 5

Rios-Alvarado 5 was another popular choice. But because Brandon Rios is not human, he basically just laughed Alvarado's bombs off. The brutal beating Alvarado gave Rios in round 5 may have actually weakened Alvarado the most.

Sergio Gabriel Martinez vs Julio Cesar Chavez Jr - Round 12

If the end of the first paragraph of this piece grabbed you, you were waiting for me to discuss this fight. Basically Sergio Martinez had taken Julio Cesar Chavez Jr to school for 11 rounds (10 if you're kind) before briefly unraveling in the 12th. Through 11 rounds this was one of the worst fights of the year. Chavez was TERRIBLE. And quite frankly just to see him win a round much less knock Martinez down was going to shock anyone. Fans and writers alike overreacted. They did not judge the 12th independently of the other rounds, but their line of thinking is nothing new.

The late, great Emanuel Steward often discussed "comparison rounds" during his tenure as an HBO commentator. Basically he described them as rounds that judges award to 1 fighter simply because he/she did significantly better than in other rounds. Steward was commenting on scoring, but apparently the philosophy applies with all types of round judging. There was nothing exhilarating about the first 75 seconds of the 12th round and Chavez's rally-knockdown-rally was effectively over with 30 seconds left on the clock. Martinez's offense was nothing more than what he had been doing all night, which was just enough to keep people awake while Chavez plodded forward and blocked shots with his face.

Manny Pacquiao vs Juan Manuel Marquez IV - Round 5

Of the 4 most popular ROTY choices, I found this the most delusional. And if this is your choice, I'm sorry. I mean no offense. It's just...bad...in my opinion. In any event, Pacquiao knocked Marquez down and more or less dominated the round. Marquez got a couple good shots in, but no game changers or momentum shifters. The action overall was far from riveting prior to the knockdown ~67 seconds in. Afterward the action was no better than any other fight previously listed. Honestly if you take this exact round and put it on ESPN Friday Night Fights between 2 guys that have never fought before, no one nominates it. But due to the popularity of Pacquiao and Marquez and the historical significance of their rivalry, this became a great round. That kind of a bias has no business in rating a round. (Again, this is all just my opinion. Call whatever you want ROTY. I'm mostly just here to provide insight on rounds you may not have watched at all. Watch them then come up with your own opinion.)

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Other ROTY Nominees

2012-02-18 Chris Arreola vs Eric Molina - Round 1
2012-02-24 Omar Sheika vs Anthony Ferrante - Round 9
2012-02-25 Alexander Povetkin MD12 Marco Huck - Round 12
2012-03-17 Giacobbe Fragomeni vs Silvio Branco I - Any round from 4-7
2012-04-13 Michael Katsidis vs Albert Mensah - Round 7
2012-05-18 Umberto Savigne vs Richard Hall - Round 3
2012-05-24 Vladine Biosse vs Joe Spina - Round 4
2012-07-14 Amir Khan vs Danny Garcia - Round 4
2012-07-25 Pieter Cronje vs Oscar Siale - Round 7
2012-07-27 Henry Lundy vs Raymundo Beltran - Round 3
2012-08-18 Craig Callaghan vs Joel Octigan - Round 1
2012-09-14 Naim Nelson vs Victor Vasquez - Round 10
2012-09-15 Marcos Rene Maidana vs Jesus Soto Karass - Round 4
2012-09-15 Roman Martinez vs Miguel Beltran Jr - Round 4
2012-09-15 Yoan Pablo Hernandez vs Troy Ross - Round 3
2012-10-06 Yoshihiro Kamegai vs Jorge Silva - Round 10
2012-10-12 Adonis Stevenson vs Don George - Round 5
2012-11-03 Rodrigo Guerrero vs Sebastien Gauthier - Round 4
2012-11-09 Sofiane Takoucht vs Davide Dieli - Round 6 or 8
2012-11-17 Drian Francisco vs Javier Gallo - Round 5
2012-11-24 Robert Guerrero vs Andre Berto - Round 7
2012-12-01 Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz vs Ariel Humberto Alassia - Round 7

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But enough about what isn't the round of the year. If you looked at my categorical breakdown you'd likely guess I'm going to choose one of the following: Castro-Acevedo 1, Viloria-Marquez 5, Beltran-Kim 1, or Haskins-Jamoye 6. Honestly Castro-Acevedo and Beltran-Kim weren't even on my radar. And while I was tempted to pick Haskins-Jamoye, ultimately I went with a somewhat popular choice: Viloria-Marquez.

Brian Viloria vs Hernan Marquez - Round 5

Coincidentally I've previously done a fight night recap of this bout so I won't bother repeating myself too much. Neither my love for the flyweight division nor my interest in the historical implications of this fight (detailed in my recap) lead me to choose this fight. Well, at the very least not consciously. And that brings me to my next point: subconsciously people must agree with me.

Think about it. Why else would this get fight of the year nominations? The undercard produced 2 better fights (Gonzalez-Estrada and Francisco-Gallo)! Viloria dominated Marquez before and after the 5th round. Those portions of the fight are more deserving of beatdown/schooling of the year. Q.E.D., Viloria-Marquez is a FOTY candidate merely off the strength of the 5th round. It was just that damn good. Just between the moments of Marquez hurting Viloria and Viloria reciprocating, little "Tyson" threw well over 100 punches. That happened in about a minute. One. Minute. And after Viloria put Marquez down there was still a minute to go in the round. You'd figure Marquez was spent and would just try to survive, right? Nope. He waged war until the very end. This was a great round, and my pick for ROTY. What was yours?

As always, I'm most interested in discovering rounds I haven't mentioned. Who knows, maybe you saw something great that I didn't watch. Also, I lose a lot of sleep doing these sorts of things and can easily make oversights. Feel free to let me know.

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Ryan Bivins is a staff writer for BadLeftHook. You can contact him on twitter (@sweetboxing) or through email (rgbivins@gmail.com).

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