In what has been a memorable year for British Boxing with new world champions and blockbuster events.
Let’s look at who & what has stood out for me this calendar year:
UK Fighter of the Year
Yes I can hear the anti-Sky and anti-Matchroom brigade chortling in to their pot noodles watching Boxnation in their parents’ living room – but for me Brook deserves this.
Carl Frampton ran him a very close second but Brook having gone out to California and snatching the IBF title from the claws of Shawn Porter edged it.
Coupled with all the stick and adversity the 28 yr old has had to endure – it made the win even more bittersweet for me.
Runner up: Carl Frampton
The Jackal graduated in 2014 by becoming the IBF Super Bantamweight world champion with a one-sided victory over former foe Kiko Martinez.
Overseas Fighter of the Year
Was Crawford hype or the real deal?
It was a question on everyone’s lips prior to the Ricky Burns fight. The 27 yr old put that to bed in emphatic fashion – dethroning the Scot in his own backyard.
Victories over Yuriorkis Gamboa and Raymund Beltran cemented his status as THE man in the Lightweight division. With his huge frame he can and will move up to Light-Welter becoming a multi-weight world champion.
Runner up: Miguel Cotto
Cotto became the first 4 weight Puerto Rican world champion by beating Sergio Martinez in the summer. The 34 yr old is in the midst of an indian summer in his career since linking up with Freddie Roach in 2013.
UK Fight of The Year
Tommy Coyle v Daniel Brizuela
A fight that saw eight knock-downs in total, each man dropped four times. Coyle appeared beaten in the 6th after a crippling body shot from the Argentinian – but the Hull man displayed some real grit and determination to rise to his feet.
The 25 yr old stopped Brizuela in the 12th with the referee waving off the contest. A real edge of your seat scrap that I could happily watch over and over again.
Runner-up: Tyler Goodjohn v Ricky Boylan
Overseas Fight Of The Year
Terence Crawford v Yuriorkis Gamboa
Crawford’s first title defence in his hometown of Omaha is one that he won’t forget in a hurry for a variety of reasons.
Gamboa started the brighter of the two taking the first four rounds – Crawford then dropped the Cuban in the 5th, 8th and twice in the 9th before it was stopped.
The height difference was telling as Crawford eventually kept the 33 yr old at range but Gamboa never stopped applying the pressure – true to his Cuban heritage.
UK KO of the Year
Carl Froch v George Groves 2
The setting was a post-war record-breaking crowd at the national stadium of 80,000 which I was proudly part of.
A conclusive punch ended a rematch that had captured everyone’s imagination.
As soon as it landed and Groves hit the deck I knew it was over. Brutal, unrelenting and it remains to be seen whether Saint GG will ever be the same.
Runner-up: Tommy Coyle v Michael Katsidis
Veteran Katsidis jumped on Coyle from the outset and was eager to catch an early flight home. Coyle flattened the Aussie in the 2nd with a huge counter-punch that sent him crashing to the ground – like a tree in a forest.
Overseas KO of The Year
Felix Verdejo v Sergio Villaneuva
The 2012 Olympic Bronze medallist nearly decapitated Villaneuva with a right-hook in the 3rd round. It was a sickening shot that immediately halted the contest and further enhanced the Puerto Rican’s growing reputation.
Runner-up: Nicholas Walters v Vic Darchinyan
Jamaican Walter’s was one of the break-out stars of 2014 with impressive stoppages over Nonito Donaire and Vic Darchinyan.
The Darchinyan KO was that rapid it needed to be appreciated on slow motion replay.
UK Trainer of the Year
In another successful year for Gallagher’s Gym in Manchester with all their leading names make significant statements over the past 12mths. Paul Smith Jr took Arthur Abraham to the wire in Germany for the WBO Super-Middleweight title. Callum Smith continued his ascendancy towards a world title with some impressive victories. Scott Quigg remains undefeated as he chases the biggest names in the Super-Bantamweight division. Liam & Stephen Smith continue their paths towards world titles.
Anthony Crolla who last night suffered horrific injuries stopping a burglary in his neighborhood is perhaps Gallagher’s biggest success story of 2014.
Crolla had signed to face Richar Abril in January for the WBA Lightweight prior to his injury and his progression since his defeat to Derry Mathews has been staggering. The fight against John Murray was one of the very best we saw domestically and you hope his title shot will still be present – should he make a full recovery.
Runner up: Shane McGuigan
The 26 yr old steered his 27 yr old charge Carl Frampton to the IBF title this year. Shane is destined for a long and successful career as a trainer. Displaying a modern mindset regarding diet, strength and conditioning – McGuigan has a boxing aptitude that far outweighs his years.
Overseas Trainer of the Year
Roach has prolonged the careers of two future Hall of Fame fighters in Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto over the past 12mths. Pacquiao after he was knocked out cold by Juan Manuel Marquez many expected him to ponder retirement and focus on politics.
The Filipino has reignited the flame with an impressive one-sided victory over Tim Bradley early 2014 which paid homage to that.
Cotto became a four weight world champion and adjusted his style cutting the ring off more & spending less time on the ropes. Those tweaks saw him overpower Martinez in the summer.
Runner up: Abel Sanchez
Sanchez has worked wonders with Gennady Golovkin making him the most avoided man in boxing. The power was always evident with GGG but Sanchez has taught him how to box and his footwork is now one of his greatest assets.
UK Prospect of the Year
Olympic Gold Medallist Joshua’s progression since turning pro late 2013 has been frightening. Fast forward 12 mths and there are already calls for him to be thrown in with the divisions very best. Credit to the team around him, they have a patient plan and refuse to deviate from it. Standing at 10-0: 10 KO’s facing the likes of David Price and Dereck Chisora are real possibilities in 2015.
The question is can they live with his power?
Overseas Prospect of the Year
21 yr old Verdejo is 16-0: 12 KO’s and for me looks unbelievable. With 7 fights in 2014 and 6 KO’s – his team are in a similar position to Joshua’s camp where they are running out of “tests” for him. It is only a matter of before he faces the big boys and I expect a title shot in the second half of 2015.