Eve of Christmas Eve, last few days at work for some. I’ve been in holiday mode since 1st December.
So we have come to the end of the Boxing season for 2013 and without question, the most exciting in my memory, 2014 has some big shoes to fill.
I’ve spent some time to say the least deciding on the below, some pick themselves; others needed some thought and serious consideration.
Firstly a special thanks to my unofficial sponsors of the awards Night Nurse and Nurofen.
Let’s get stuck in….
UK Prospect of The Year
Winner: Callum Smith
To put it simply, I think Callum Smith is not only the most talented Smith brother; he is the most exciting British prospect on these shores. He has absolutely everything in his locker. Tall, rangey, good feet, can bang and had scored one of the best domestic KO’s with a sickening body shot against Ruben Acosta in October.
Smith who has sparred with Carl Froch since his amateur days, cites the experience as invaluable.
Massive 2014 beckons for the Liverpudlian Super Middleweight, a fight against James DeGale late 2014 and I would love to see him against George Groves in a few years time.
International Prospect of The Year
Errol Spence Jr
Winner: Errol Spence Jr
Strong argument for Lomachenko, but he has only had 1 professional fight so far. Texan Southpaw Spence, competed at London 2012 at Welterweight, reaching the Quarter Finals. Currently at 9-0 ( 7 KO’s), Spence is seriously slick boxer, patient, picks his punches well. It’s easy to get carried away, but he looks special. Appears to be no ego with this guy either yet, one hopes he stays humble as the victories and women pile up.
Spence Jr became a somewhat overnight sensation for allegedly knocking Adrien Broner down in sparring and giving Floyd Mayweather a black eye whilst training at Mayweather Gym earlier this year. Spence Jr received a black eye himself, in what some described as the toughest sparring Mayweather has had for some years. Mayweather then proceeded to eject Spence Jr immediately from the gym in disgust, for him to only invite him back later that day.
UK Fight of the Year:
Froch v Groves
This was one that picked itself, the best fight I have seen for years. It certainly was one of the most memorable for a number of reasons. Star was born and announced on the World Stage in George Groves. Carl Froch became a villain in one post fight interview. Groves was cheered out of the ring, Froch booed. They had completely switched roles of hero & villain from before the fight. I can smugly sit here and say that I backed Groves, along with a handful of friends. Froch struggles against fighters younger, quicker than him. Ward who took him to school, Dirrell; Froch was very fortunate to beat.
The conclusion and end of the fight still causes outrage to most, myself included. I hope and pray we see this again next year as Groves disposes of him like a used condom in a matter of rounds!
I want to give a special mention to Carl Frampton for his devastating victory over Kiko Martinez in early 2013. Martinez as we now know is IBF Super Bantamweight champion and proves that Frampton deserves to be sat at boxing’s big table. 2014 is a huge year for him.
International Fight of The Year:
Bradley v Provodnikov
This was a complete barnstormer, Bradley had to dig seriously deep against a then unknown fighter in Ruslan Provodnikov. Bradley threw his traditional counter punching style completely out of the window. He proceeded to stand toe to toe and trade, nearly being knocked out in the 1st two rounds where he looked distinctly average.
What impressed me about this fight were Bradley’s survival instincts. The majority of the division at 147lbs would have been knocked out, they certainly wouldn’t have gone the distance with the Russian.
Bradley admitted at the end of the bout to Max Kellerman of HBO that he was concussed in the 2nd round, and doesn’t remember the majority of the fight. This makes the win even more remarkable in my eyes.
UK Trainer of the Year:
Fantastic year for Gallagher’s Gym, despite the stick Scott Quigg has received in some quarters for being “handed” the WBA Super Bantamweight title, as opposed to winning it off a champion. Quigg has fought 3 times in 5 months, to put a forgetful 2012 behind him. With Gallagher in his corner, this has got him to where he is today, on the cusp of some huge unification fights. The stable has had a hugely successful 12 mths. I’m sure I read that they have 11/12 Area/British/European/World Titles between them.
Stable consists of the following fighters Scott Quigg, Anthony Crolla, Liam, Steven, Paul and Callum Smith, Scotty Cardle, Calum Johnson and arguably the boxing hub of the UK.
International Trainer of the Year 2013
Garcia has transformed and orchestrated Marcos Maidana’s world class win over Adrien Broner last weekend to become world champion. Brother Mikey Garcia became WBO Super Featherweight champion, Evgeny Gradovich aka The Mexican Russian won the IBF Featherweight title. He trained Brandon Rios against Manny Pacquiao, Nonito Donaire against Rigondeaux.
Garcia is a student of the game having fought himself and being a former world champion, displays a meticulous boxing brain, preparing his fighters for every eventuality. No stone is left unturned and I expect more to come from the Oxnard, California gym next year.
UK Fighter of The Year
Now this may raise some eyebrows, but I don’t care. For this man to win the IBF Middleweight world title, regardless of losing it this month was a remarkable achievement to say the least.
Darren would be the first to admit that not beyond his wildest dreams he felt he would ever become a world champion in his career, but he did it.
A man who has faced every adversity in and out of the ring, and conquered them, I feel this warrants him being my fighter of the year.
Special mention to George Groves he beat Carl Froch like he was his daddy. Fully deserves to be World Champion and I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever he will be next year. Any fighter at 168 with a belt beware as Groves is coming.
International Fighter of The Year
Adonis is somewhat late bloomer on the world stage, exploded in stunning fashion by flattening Chad Dawson in round 1 this summer to win the WBC Light Heavy title. He proceeded to fight twice more this calendar year, beating Tavoris Cloud convincingly and battering Tony Bellew the end of last month.
I want him against Kovalev, and I want it now!!
Special Achievement Award
Floyd Mayweather Jr
You simply can’t forget Floyd when giving out awards. Two PPV fights this year, “The One” against Canelo becoming the highest grossing fight ever.
The Showtime presentation of the boxing match pulled in nearly $150 million in domestic PPV revenue. The still undefeated Mayweather’s win soundly beats the previous $136 million record set by his match-up against Oscar De La Hoya back on May 24, 2007. The fight had 2.2 million PPV buys.
Taking the financials out of the equation, the sheer nature of Floyd’s victories is more impressive than the money. At 37, Mayweather still displays the same hunger and work ethic of a 19yr old prospect and has somehow defied physics by becoming even quicker. He took Canelo and Robert Guerrero to school in both contests.
For my final section, sponsored by Nurofen Ibrupofen Liquid Capsules “Hit pain, where it hurts”… words are simply not necessary; you can just watch and wince…
British Knockout of the Year:
Steven Smith v Gary Buckland
International Knockout of the Year
Adonis Stevenson v Chad Dawson
So this concludes my awards in what has been a memorable year in not only world boxing, but domestically too. Boxing feels exciting; there is a buzz in the air.
I have friends & work colleagues who I would class as casual fans slowly becoming fully fledged fans. It’s like the resurgence of a cult, minus the mass suicide and pyramid style pay scheme; everyone wants to be part of it.
The more the merrier I say, it can only be good for the sport if more people are watching and taking a serious vested interest in it and going to shows, supporting our fighters, travelling abroad etc.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you for reading my ramblings and opinions over the past few months; constant support from everyone I know personally is greatly appreciated.
Tune in around this time next week for my Forecast of 2014 and fights we MUST have made.
Merry Christmas and come on you Red’s tonight against Chelsea!