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Boxing's Bounceback Performers of 2009

It was a good year for Paulie Malignaggi. (Photo via <a href="" target="new">Facebook</a>)
It was a good year for Paulie Malignaggi. (Photo via Facebook)

There aren't a lot of guys who bounce back in boxing in any given year, but usually there are a few that turn around a career that seemed headed in the opposite direction. Often it's just a blip on the radar, but let's accentuate the positive here and take a look at some of the guys who made good in 2009 after being given at least a standing eight count for their career beforehand.

Paulie Malignaggi

Brooklyn's "Magic Man" had been at or near the top of the 140-pound weight class before. He took an hellacious beating from Miguel Cotto in 2006, which gained him a great deal of respect. He rattled off four wins and took the IBF title, then battled Ricky Hatton in November 2008. Hatton ran him over. Absolutely demolished him.

After parting ways with trainer Buddy McGirt, Malignaggi got his feet wet again with an April win over Christopher Fernandez, and then set up an HBO Boxing After Dark bout with Juan Diaz in Houston. The controversial decision went to Diaz, but Paulie became as hot as he's ever been after his post-fight tirade.

In December, a neutral grounds rematch in Chicago gave Paulie a sweet early Christmas gift. He outboxed and clearly beat Diaz, this time getting the decision and thrusting himself back into the discussion at 140 pounds. About a year ago, it looked like he'd probably never be taken seriously again at that level. Now, he is.

Amirkhanweighin3_medium Amir Khan

September 6, 2008 was not a good day for Amir Khan. Colombian puncher Breidis Prescott starched him in 54 seconds, leaving his career in a shambles. Some of Khan's detractors were thrilled that the very talented but questionably bearded Khan had flamed out.

Or so they thought.

Khan went right back to work, hiring Freddie Roach as his head trainer. After a win in December '08 against Oisin Fagan, he took on a shot, blown-up version of Marco Antonio Barrera at 135 pounds in March. While some in the British press had a field day overdoing Khan's win over Barrera, that win still doesn't sit right with me. Barrera was fighting with a cut that hadn't properly healed yet from January, and it was gashed open badly early in the bout. It should have been stopped then, but amazingly, referee Dave Parris let it go until the fifth round, at which point the fight could be stopped and a technical decision awarded to Khan.

But then he really turned it up. Beating that Barrera meant nothing, but stepping up to 140 pounds and beating the very solid Andriy Kotelnik was impressive. He scored a virtual shutout of Kotelnik in Manchester, winning the WBA title. He defended it against (absurd) mandatory challenger Dmitriy Salita in December, and he did what he should have done and more. Not only did he easily beat Salita, but he crushed him with the first right hand of the fight. Though the official time of the stoppage was 76 seconds, Salita was really finished in about 10.

Spinks-latimore-results-6_medium Cory Spinks

OK, so Cory Spinks is never going to be your favorite fighter. I understand. But after back-to-back losses in 2007 and 2008, Spinks got back in the game this year. His 2007 loss to middleweight champion Jermain Taylor was followed by a "loss" to Verno Phillips in 2008 that not many saw, and has never been properly disputed. Simply put, Spinks won that fight and was robbed, all due respect to Verno.

13 months later, Spinks got a fight on Shobox with Deandre Latimore for the vacant IBF junior middleweight title. The two St. Louis natives met at the Scottrade Center, where apparently, they'd had enough Cory Spinks for a while. His fight with Phillips hadn't drawn well at all. Now, the attendees were cheering for Latimore ... and booing Cory Spinks.

But Spinks came with the action, and provided his second straight entertaining fight (believe it or not). Though he was dropped by Latimore in the first round, Spinks came back strong to outfight his younger counterpart and leave with the IBF title on a deserved decision victory.

(And now he hasn't fought since April, soooo...)

Eddie Chambers

"Fast" Eddie Chambers was just another American heavyweight prospect before his January 2008 loss to Alexander Povetkin, a fight many felt he basically gave away, and one he could or even should have won. Chambers was too small to be a "real" heavyweight these days, but knew that's where the money was.

A few wins over journeymen and pretenders got Chambers back into the groove a bit, and this May he was matched with former titlist Samuel Peter, a big, powerful guy. Chambers beat him by decision, moving on to a road trip in Germany to face 6'7" Alexander Dimitrenko, an unbeaten contender.

Chambers beat him, too, and clearly so. It was the best Chambers had ever looked. There even appeared to be an ab or two on his stomach that night. With the win over Dimitrenko, Chambers set himself up with a shot at Wladimir Klitschko in March 2010.

Michael Katsidis

Katsidis had a tough 2008, losing a war to lightweight champion Joel Casamayor and a lopsided decision to Juan Diaz. But this year, he went 3-0, and got himself back into the mix at 135 pounds.

Katsidis' year began in January with a dominant decision win in the Philippines over Angel Hugo Ramirez. He was then part of Golden Boy's Lightweight Lightning PPV in April, beating the will out of Jesus Chavez and forcing the veteran to quit on his stool.

In September, he was matched with Vicente Escobedo, who was also impressive at Lightweight Lightning. Katsidis won a gritty, hard-fought and clear decision over Escobedo, gaining the interim WBO lightweight title. Ramirez, Chavez and Escobedo may not be the top of the food chain, but Katsidis has now proven that a couple of losses aren't going to be enough to keep him down.

Related: Boxing's Breakthrough Performers of 2009

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