Mayweather tops year-end boxing awards
Mayyweather tops year-end boxing awards
BY MIKE HOUSER
Appeal Sports Writer
Less than one week remains in 2007 – a very good year for boxing fans and one that will be hard to top in 2008. Here are the Nevada Appeal’s year-end awards.
Fighter of the Year: Floyd Mayweather. If there ever was any doubt about who the best boxer in the sport is, “Pretty Boy” Floyd erased it with a victory over Oscar De La Hoya in May and a shattering stoppage of previously unbeaten Ricky Hatton just over two weeks ago.
The 30-year-old Mayweather, 39-0 with 25 knockouts, still has a couple of challenges left at 147 pounds with 6-foot-2 Paul Williams, 33-0 (24), and Miguel Cotto, 31-0 (25), but he has nothing left to prove if he chooses instead to retire unbeaten and go on with his proposed promotional business.
Although it was a somewhat tame affair, the Mayweather-De La Hoya fight broke the pay-per-view bank, with a record 2.4 million buys, outdistancing even Holyfield-Tyson II, which held the previous record with 1.99 million.
Although fairing far less successfully on PPV buys, Mayweather-Hatton was more of a fight fan’s matchup. But the crafty Mayweather shut down the vaunted offense of “Hitman” Hatton before uncorking a check hook that ended the 43-fight winning streak of the Englishman.
Fight of the Year: Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez II. After getting his nose hammered into the shape of a squashed avocado by Marquez in their first exciting meeting in March, the 29-year-old Vazquez came back five months later to repay his gallant opponent.
The third round of the rematch was as fierce as any the year had to offer, but the effort seemed to take more out of Marquez than Vazquez, who actually looked the worse for wear.
Vazquez, bleeding heavily from cuts over both eyes, was relentless, dropping Marquez once before unleashing a fight-ending flurry in the sixth round to take home the super bantamweight championship.
If you splice together the pair’s first fight – a seventh-round stoppage in favor of Marquez – with the second, you’ll have the most explosive 12 rounds of action of the year.
The best news? The pair will meet in the rubber match March 1.
Comeback Fighter of the Year: “Koncrete” Kelvin Davis: On June 25, the 29-year-old Davis lay 25 feet below the Greenhithe Bridge in Auckland, N.Z., with a broken neck and back. On Nov. 17, Davis was chasing unbeaten heavyweight Carl Davis Drumond around a ring in San Jose, Costa Rica.
The 5-foot-7 Davis, 24-7-3 (17), may have lost the fight via 10-round decision, but that he’s even walking – much less fighting – is a victory for Davis.
If there is one downside, it’s that the event went unnoticed by the boxing community. If he wasn’t from Reno and Davis had been an HBO fighter, he would’ve appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated and on “Real Sports,” getting the coverage he deserves.
In addition to the most important thing – his health – there was one positive: A well-known boxing commentator who asked to remain nameless sent the former IBF cruiserweight champion a check to help him get by until he got back on his feet.
And that was a lot sooner than anyone could’ve expected.
Knockout of the Year: Nonito Donaire KO 5 Vic Darchinyan: The 25-year Donaire, known as the “Filipino Flash,” fulfilled all of his seemingly unlimited promise and then some by chilling the unbeaten and brash flyweight champion Darchinyan, of Australia via Armenia, on July 7.
With Darchinyan dismissively stalking like a constipated crab, the fleet Filipino let loose with a lightning left hook that knocked out Darchinyan so thoroughly that he denied ever being hit or hurt as he swam back to consciousness in the postfight interview.
For Donaire, 19-1 (12), it was sweet revenge for his older brother Glenn, whose jaw Darchinyan broke the previous October.
It also was a the kind of breakout performance that should bring the Lord of the Flyweights the kind of attention a fighter with his prodigious talents merits.
YEAR-END AWARD TIME
Fraud-buster award: Ruslan Chagaev: Chagaev, a 6-foot-1, 228-pounder out of Uzbekistan, did every old-school boxing traditionalist a favor by stopping the 46-fight unbeaten streak of the 7-foot, 319-pound Nicolay Valuev.
Nothing against the likable Valuev, but his promoter – the verbose Don King himself – was growing as annoying as a roomful of flies as he cackled on and on about how Valuev – now the former WBA heavyweight beltholder – was about to catch and surpass the hallowed 49-0 record of Rocky Marciano.
Nevermind that the limited Valuev had met no boxers of significant consequence to deserve being mentioned in the same sentence as The Rock.
Now, thanks to Chagaev, 23-0 (17), who beat Valuev via majority decision, we remaining and dwindling old schoolers can rest a bit quieter as his victory at least temporarily managed to mute the high-volume KIng.
Off-color award: Bernard Hopkins: “I will never let a white boy beat me,” Ring magazine light heavyweight champion Hopkins repeated five times after a meeting with super middleweight Joe Calzaghe during the Mayweather-Hatton press conference.
In boxing gyms I’ve heard many black fighters over the years use the term “white boy” – as in, “That’s one tough white boy.” While the term doesn’t offend many, Hopkins – as a promoter – needs to use some common sense by plugging up that sewer hole that he calls his mouth.
If it was Calzaghe who said, “I will never let a black boy beat me,” Jesse Jackson and his ACLU posse would have been on him quicker than Don Imus, and rightfully so.
“Ofay,” “honky,” “cracker,” “white boy” -all of these disparaging remarks are actually quite hard to get upset over hearing and are nowhere as near as offensive as dropping an N-Bomb on somebody.
But don’t kid yourself, there is a double standard out there and racism is ugly no matter what the language is. Maybe Hopkins is calling it a marketing ploy; I call it stupid.
Local Prospect of the Year: Derek Hinkey: The McDermitt super middleweight reeled off four consecutive knockouts during his first year as a professional. Although he has yet to face stiff opposition as a pro, he has already shown he has what it takes to someday become the area’s premier 160-168 pounder.
Jesse Brinkley currently holds that honor, followed by the embattled Joey Gilbert, who is currently on temporary suspension after testing positive for several banned substances, including steroids, following his Sept. 21 knockout of Charles Howe.
The 27-year-old Hinkey has the height (6-foot-1), amateur background, power, hand and foot speed and personality to go a long way in this sport. With another year of experience under his belt, an attractive local fight with Gilbert – whether he’s been active or not – would be feasible.
Factor in the recovering Davis, Brinkley (and Gilbert, if he avoids suspension) and local boxing fans have a good year – and beyond – ahead of them.