The real post with the top 20 fights of 2008 -- in my silly opinion, naturally -- will be coming along within the next couple of days. First, though, I wanted to list some notable bouts that didn't make the cut.
Jose Reyes v. Ivan Valle (03/28, Kissimmee, FL): Reyes-Valle is four rounds (well, three and 24 seconds) with six knockdowns and a knockout finish. It has been called a Fight of the Year candidate by some. I don't think it really reaches that level. The boxing is horrible, there's constant clinching, and really the only action comes from the knockdowns, and half of them are brush shots. It's really quite a lousy fight, especially on repeat viewings. I surely don't expect everyone to agree with this, but the fight did very little for me. Both would go on to lose on September 5 on totally different cards, Reyes to Antonio DeMarco and Valley to Rolando Reyes.
Oscar de la Hoya v. Manny Pacquiao (12/06, Las Vegas, NV): Last year, big fights between Oscar and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., and Floyd and Ricky Hatton both made the list, with Oscar-Floyd at No. 20 and Floyd-Ricky in the top ten. I would probably remove Oscar-Floyd if I could revise myself, but I stand by that as a genuine event that captured mainstream attention like few fights have in God knows how long. If you think Oscar-Manny compared, just look at the buys. Oscar-Manny did about half the number that Oscar did with Floyd. As for Mayweather-Hatton, I stick by that because it's a huge, memorable fight with an insane atmosphere and a great finish. Oscar-Manny was the farce some predicted it to be, except totally flipped on its side with Manny beating the living crap out of de la Hoya until the "Golden Boy" quit. It wasn't a great fight, or a good fight. It was a spectacle, but not one quite huge enough to get past its flaws as a competitive mismatch. All respect to Manny Pacquiao, our Fighter of the Year, but this fight ain't on the list, nor was it even close.
Andrew Golota v. Mike Mollo (01/19, New York, NY): Some have called this the best heavyweight fight of the year, and it was fairly entertaining. Still, it was slow, sloppy, and just doesn't compare with the other best fights of the year. It was what it was, a decent heavyweight fight in an age where that's not saying much.
Ruslan Provodnikov v. Brian Gordon (05/16, Las Vegas, NV): One of the year's more memorable fights for me, partially because it came in May, which was a slow month for good fighs, and because these two both came out guns blazing on the Byrd-George undercard on ESPN. Provodnikov is a known prospect, now 10-0 and reminding some of Kostya Tszyu, which might just be appearance-based. Gordon fought again in November, losing a split decision to Jose Reynoso in California, despite knocking Reynoso down in the first round. Gordon is now 4-2, and the Iraq veteran probably isn't on his way to superstardom, to be honest. Both fought their guts out in this one, though, and while it doesn't make the list, I wanted to mention it one more time.
Chad Dawson v. Glen Johnson (04/12, Tampa, FL): While hype around Dawson is at an all-time high thanks to Pretty Boy Floyd Money calling him the pound-for-pound best in the sport, some seem to forget that Bad Chad had his share of trouble with Johnson in April. Though Dawson dissected Antonio Tarver in October, did anyone really have Tarver ranked over Johnson in 2008? Johnson's better than Tarver, which is why Chad had an easier time with Tarver. Dawson-Johnson II won't happen for a number of reasons, and while I mean no disrespect to Chad, I think one of them is that they don't want to risk his big future prospects on a fight a guy Johnson's age who still has Johnson's skills and toughness. I scored it a draw; a lot of people had it for Johnson, who pressed the fight and hit Chad with some hard blows, wobbling him on a couple occasions.
Joshua Clottey v. Zab Judah (08/02, Las Vegas, NV): Entertaining for the nine rounds it lasted before going to the cards on a cut near Judah's eye, after Zab got the "how many fingers?" question wrong, but not top 20 material. It could have had the potential to be so had it gone all 12, as the recipe for real drama was there, at least if Zab ever fought with urgency anymore or believed he could be behind on scorecards. Judah complained after the fight that the cut was caused by a headbutt, which it wasn't, another in a long line of Judah excuses. As usual, he started fast and faded. Same old story, same old song and dance.
Alfredo Angulo v. Richar Gutierrez (05/17, Primm, NV): Exciting, action-packed fight where Gutierrez didn't back down from Angulo and got his clock cleaned for said stance. Fun fight, but not top 20 material.
Shane Mosley v. Ricardo Mayorga (09/27, Carson, CA): It wound up a lot more competitive than anyone expected, with Mosley again looking old fighting at 154 pounds, instead of the spry, top-shelf guy he's been at welter the last couple fights down there. When Shane threw, he dominated Mayorga. Mayorga won rounds that Mosley gave away, as Sugar Shane often looked bewildered and without any sort of gameplan. The finishing KO with one second left in the fight was awesome, but it's no surprise that Shane split with father/trainer Jack Mosley after this one. He didn't look great at all. Mayorga's a guy Shane should dominate, and he didn't. Some folks dug this fight, but for me it was just frustrating to watch.
Steven Luevano v. Mario Santiago (06/28, Las Vegas, NV): This was a fight I liked on paper that lived up to its hidden promise. Both guys fought hard all 12 rounds, and it was the Fight of the NIght on the Pacquiao-Diaz card. This was the last fight cut while compiling. I'd love to see a rematch of this draw, but it doesn't appear likely.
There are plenty more fights from 2008 that were very good, some of which would make a lot of lists similar to the one I put together. These were the snubbed bouts I did consider to some degree (well, not Oscar-Manny) that wound up being cut at the end, and there were more, but I didn't want to go on and on.