We started this feature just last month, and now we're done with month two of 2009. Time for a new poll. Every month, 3-to-5 of the best fights will be chosen as featured candidates. You can write in whatever fight you want, though.
Last month, the Margarito-Mosley stunner (53%) took the honors thanks to its memorability despite being a one-sided whooping. I voted for Berto-Collazo, which came in a strong second (43%).
This is a formality, obviously, but fair's fair.
Antonio Demarco v. Almazbek Raiymkulov, February 7
The main event of this card was supposed to be the one with the fireworks, but instead of much in the way of a competitive or even compelling fight, we just watched Vic Darchinyan starch Jorge Arce for 11 rounds before Arce's corner wisely put a stop to it. But the card was no disappointment, really. First of all, many of us expected Darchinyan to outclass Arce, but the bigger reason was because of the exciting, back-and-forth featured undercard bout between Antonio Demarco and Almazbek "Kid Diamond" Raiymkulov. Two judges had Demarco up 88-83 and the third had it for Diamond 86-85 at the time of Diamond's medical retirement from the fight after the ninth round due to a broken nose. It was a good, hard-hitting matchup that stole the show from the main event. [Full Coverage of this Event]
Nate Campbell v. Ali Funeka, February 14
Few cards have been as snake-bitten as this one was. Originally meant to be main evented by Alfredo Angulo v. Ricardo Mayorga, Mayorga pulled out on short notice. Angulo's replacement opponent then pulled out, and they had to find yet another on four days' notice. Bumped to the main event was this 135-pound title fight between Campbell and South Africa's Funeka. And then Campbell failed to make weight. To save the show, Campbell-Funeka went on anyway, with only Funeka able to win the titles with a victory. To make matters even worse, the featured undercard bout between Sergio Martinez and Kermit Cintron was refereed badly and judged even worse. Nothing went right for this joint King/Shaw/DiBella card in Sunrise, Florida.
Nate, who was at a big height disadvantage against the towering, lanky Funeka, put the South African challenger on the mat twice but exhausted himself in the process. He wound up doing just enough to win a grueling affair, winning a majority decision (115-111, 114-112, 113-113). Bad Left Hook scored it 115-111 (seven rounds to five with two knockdowns) for Campbell, who is on his way to the 140-pound divison. In more ways than one, Campbell and Funeka saved the show for everyone involved. [Full Coverage of this Event]
Chris John v. Rocky Juarez, February 28
Not much in terms of aesthetic appeal was expected in a fight between the tactical and skilled John and the trigger-deficient Juarez, but the two fighters gave it all they had in Juarez's hometown and surprised us all with a great fight. John was extremely busy and quite accurate, and Juarez, though outboxed, put in arguably his best performance ever. The high drama came in the final couple of rounds, when a seemingly well-behind Juarez rallied to stagger John and send the world's top featherweight reeling around the ring. With an electric crowd on its feet, John did well just to survive the assault. Bad Left Hook scored it 115-113 for John, but all three judges had a 114-114 draw. [Full Coverage of this Event]
Juan Manuel Marquez v. Juan Diaz, February 28
And then came the main event. Marquez-Diaz promised fireworks, but then so did Diaz-Katsidis, which disappointed horribly last September. This one did not, and it's time to start counting Marquez as not just one of the sport's best and most highly-skilled fighters, but now, in his mid-30s, as one of its most reliable action stars, too. He's been in three straight great fights (Pacquiao, Casamayor and now Diaz), had a classic in 2007 with Marco Antonio Barrera, and even fights like his wins over Juarez and Jimrex Jaca have been entertaining. He's become a much more active fighter as he ages. Diaz, ten years Marquez's junior, pressed the lightweight champion very hard in the earlygoing, but succumbed to Marquez's superiority by the eighth round, when the tide had clearly shifted to the champ. In the ninth, with a bad cut near Diaz's left eye, Marquez finished Diaz off with a perfect assault. It is already on the short list for 2009 Fight of the Year.
Instructions: Take a deep breath. Let the high of Marquez-Diaz escape your senses momentarily. Think of the other fights. They were good, yes? Now snap back to reality and vote for Marquez-Diaz. It's the only choice.