The 2011 K9 Awards: Part One
By Steve Kim, MaxBoxing (Dec 26, 2011) Doghouse Boxing
Another year has come and gone in the world of boxing and it's time to look back at the best, worst and most sublime that have taken place in this business. As usual, a lot took place in -and out of- the ring. Like I've said before, there's nothing quite like this sport. I'm glad I got a press row seat to the circus...
1- Andre Ward: What was a long journey in the “Super Six” finally came to an end as Ward conclusively outpointed Carl Froch to capture Showtime's super middleweight tourney, establishing himself as the best 168-pounder on the planet. He's not particularly exciting but he is incredibly effective.
2- Brian Viloria: Some believed that there was no more juice with “The Hawaiian Punch” but this past year saw him capture his third major world title as he outpointed Julio Cesar Miranda. He then blasted out Giovani Segura with an exhibition of power punching and boxing. But can Viloria hold onto this title for longer than he has in the past?
3- Lamont Peterson: He and Barry Hunter rolled the dice by eschewing an opportunity to face Amir Khan last year in the UK by then taking Victor Cayo for pennies on the dollar in an IBF eliminator. He stopped Cayo late and then upset the applecart by defeating Khan in a spirited tussled late in the year.
4- Hernan Marquez: “Tyson” went three-for-three but it will be his bookend victories over Luis Concepcion in which he will be remembered. Their first encounter (where Marquez stopped the Panamanian in 11 heats) is one of the great slugfests of recent ilk. In the rematch, Concepcion didn't get out of the first.
5- Brandon Rios: “Bam Bam” had a breakout year by winning the WBA lightweight title in thrilling fashion against Miguel Acosta and then hammering Urbano Antillon in a short but exciting affair. He finished off 2011 by banging out John Murray while weight drained. Rios has set the stage to becoming one of the marquee fighters in boxing.
1- James Kirkland-Alfredo Angulo, round one: The round begins with Kirkland having flashbacks of his KO loss in April to Nobu Ishida and it looked like he would get blown out by “Perro.” Perhaps the desperation of the moment carried him as he weathered the early storm of Angulo, who seemed to exert an inordinate amount of energy in what was a failed attempt at a quick finish. Eventually, Angulo was drilled to the floor late. A whole fight’s worth of action was waged in these three minutes.
2- Akira Yaegashi-Pornsawan Porpramook, round nine: I'll just put it like this; remember the ninth stanza of the first encounter between Arturo Gatti and Micky Ward? This was a lot like it.
3- Victor Ortiz-Andre Berto, round six: After early success, Ortiz was knocked down by Berto early in this stanza. Would he fold his tent the way he did versus Marcos Maidana? No. Instead, he scored his own knockdown of Berto and permanently changed the tide of the fight in his direction. Emanuel Steward's reaction to Berto getting sent to the canvas: “OH, MY GAAAWWD!”
4- Marquez-Concepcion I, round three: Let's be clear; any of the first three frames of this fight could've been up for consideration here. The first round saw them both hit the deck (setting the tone for this battle). The third saw Concepcion get floored, then gamely fight his way back against Marquez and hurt him.
5- Delvin Rodriguez-Pawel Wolak, round 10: A perfect way to end what was a pitched battle on ESPN2’s “Friday Night Fights.” The fight finished as it began with both men letting it fly.
6- Makoto Fuchigami-Koji Sato, round eight: Simply put, this was a bar fight between two guys who may have lacked technique but certainly not courage. This is the type of action you see in really bad boxing movies. Japanese middleweights have a way of putting on good scraps despite their limited tools.
7- Rios-Acosta, round nine: After controlling the early action, Acosta now has to stave off Rios, who has built momentum. As he's on the ropes, Acosta faces Rios’ heavy hands but still throws his own leather as the crowd at the Palms comes to its feet. It would be Acosta's last stand.
8 - Liam Walsh-Paul Appleby, round 10: First, Walsh gets stunned and then turns the tables later in the inning and sets up a dramatic TKO.
9- Orlando Salido-Juan Manuel Lopez, round six: “JuanMa” is sent crashing to the canvas the previous round but he does his best to hold off the hard-charging Salido in the following round. Great back-and-forth action, Salido looks like a man on a mission while Lopez was a man desperately trying to hold on to his title in front of his Puerto Rican partisans.
10- Luis Franco-Leonilo Miranda, round five: Hard-hitting Mexican southpaw keeps banging away on the skilled Cuban with a two-fisted body attack as Franco fires back his own volley of shots. The competitive nature of this round mirrored this fight, which was ten-round split verdict for Franco.
CAM NEWTON AWARD (for “Prospect of the Year”)
1- Gary Russell Jr: We've seen that he has all the physical tools but does this quicksilver southpaw have the intangibles for greatness? That's what we hope to find out in 2012 for the best natural talent out of D.C. since Hall-of-Famer Mark “Too-Sharp” Johnson.
2- Kell Brook: “Special K” is right on the brink of making his mark at the world-class welterweight level.
3- Leo Santa Cruz: This young bantamweight is a workhorse and a crowd-pleasing grinder. Just kept getting better each subsequent fight this past year.
4- Diego Magdaleno: Yeah, I know some will consider him a young contender. Regardless, this southpaw has made major strides in the last year or so. He seems poised for a title shot in the upcoming year and with the dearth of blue-chippers right now at 130, it's not out of the question that Magdaleno picks up a belt.
5- Tomoki Kameda: Now 22-0 with 14 stoppages as a 122-pounder, he's the next Kameda that will make waves in Japan.
6- Thomas Dulorme: Is this rawboned, hard-hitting welterweight the next great fighter from the island of Puerto Rico? He certainly looks the part.
7- Javier Fortuna: This featherweight from the Dominican Republic brings an exciting and flashy style, recently stepping up and defeating Miguel Roman.
8- Mikael Zewski: Lots of tools here and he could be the next great gate attraction in the Quebec region. Zewski has a lot of speed and is beginning to refine his professional style. Was kept active recently and that will continue going into the New Year.
9- Antonio Orozco: Now based in San Diego, Orozco, like Rios and Ortiz before him, hails from Garden City, Kansas. He has a fan-friendly style and really works the body well on the inside for a young fighter. Now 12-0 (with eight stoppages), Orozco’s competition will be stepped up in 2012.
10- Michael Perez: This fledgling lightweight scored four KOs in his four outings the past year. He looks like a fighter who will be involved in some fun fights down the line. “The Artist” faces Omar Figueroa on the January 6th edition of “ShoBox” in a match-up of two undefeated lightweights.
HONORABLE MENTION: Randy Caballero, Dannie Williams, Luis Ramos, Demetrius Andrade, Sadam Ali, Darley Perez, Yaundale Evans, Jayson Velez, Pierre Cote
THE CHAPPIE BLACKBURN AWARD (for “Trainer of the Year”)
Tie: Ann Wolfe/Virgil Hunter: Hey, who says I can't have two winners? Both trainers may be known for having only one signature boxer but they have to be given credit for playing such an integral part in their careers from the very inception. Hunter has molded Ward into one of the most unsolvable riddles in all of boxing. As for Wolfe, well, it's this simple: you think he beats Angulo the way he did without her preparing him the way she does or guiding him in the corner?
These two don't have the most fighters in their stables but it's hard to argue that they don't have the greatest impact on their prized pupils.
3. Robert Garcia: Got off to a strong start in 2011 and his fighters scored some strong victories throughout the year. What's troublesome is Rios’ inability to consistently make weight- which, in many respects, falls on the trainer. But with Garcia’s strong stable, you could see him picking up this award in the upcoming years.
TEX RICKARD AWARD (for “Promoter of the Year”)
1- Top Rank: In an era full of TV packagers that do nothing more than live off television licensing fees and casino subsidies, this company better than anyone else knows how to create attractions and stage big events. Their last two big cards (Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III and Miguel Cotto-Antonio Margarito II) were complete sell-outs and did strong pay-per-view numbers. Top Rank remains on the cutting edge as it relates to the new technology and social media.
2- Golden Boy Promotions: GBP had another productive year, staging some of the year’s best fights of under its banner (Marcos Maidana-Erik Morales and Lamont Peterson-Amir Khan), continued the development of Saul Alvarez and bolstered its relationship with Floyd Mayweather. 
3- Frank Warren/Eddie Hearn (Tie): These two British rivals will ensure this market will be strong for years to come. On a routine basis, they stage cards that are full of energy, atmosphere and, most importantly, fans.
1- Nobu Ishida TKO 1 James Kirkland: Ishida was thought to have absolutely no hope versus “Mandingo” but he put him down three times in the first round in stunning fashion, handing Kirkland his first pro loss.
2- Salido TKO 8 Lopez: “JuanMa” paid the price for being a tad unfocused against this hardnosed Mexican who kept banging away at him with solid right hands.
3- Marco Antonio Rubio TKO 7 David Lemieux: Before this fight, Lemieux was on his way to stardom, it seemed. Nobody told Rubio to follow the script.
4- Grady Brewer TKO 4 Fernando Guerrero: Brewer adds another scalp to his collection of upset specials.
THE KEITH HUGHES AWARD (for guttiest referee)
Joe Cooper: Yeah, Golden Boy and Khan can complain all they want about “home cooking” but the bottom line is that, unlike most third men, Cooper actually had the courage to follow the rulebook and dock Khan for tactics clearly deemed illegal. Folks, this is boxing, not the MMA. Do you want good fights or just mauling? More referees like Cooper will facilitate better action. Now, will other referees follow suit or will they take the easy way out like they have for years, ignoring repeated fouls and pandering to the house fighters?
THE MARIANO RIVERA AWARD (for coming out of the bullpen)
William Joppy: After Jurgen Brahmer skipped out on his light heavyweight unification tilt against Beibut Shumenov, Joppy (who was scheduled to be on that undercard in Kazakhstan) was called into duty late and given WBA approval. Hey, the show must go on, right? Joppy was stopped in six.
THE AT&T-VERIZON AWARD (for most heated rivalry)
Top Rank-Golden Boy: So please tell me that a fight between Yuriorkis Gamboa and Daniel Ponce de Leon won’t be the last time these two promotional giants work together for the foreseeable future. There are simply too many good fights (for instance, a Rios-Maidana clash) that can be made but not even discussed because of this ongoing “Cold War.” 
Someone call Henry Kissinger!
THE TITANIC AWARD (for biggest disaster)
The Silverdome: Or as Bob Arum described it, the “decrepit barn.” Seriously, you had to be there to really appreciate just how broken down the old home of Billy Sims and Eric Hipple had become. As my friend, Matt Swider, said to me as the media shuttle approached this building, “Geez, they didn't even put lipstick on the pig.” This whole event and its staging really highlighted the need for real promoters and it was another nail in the coffin of the failed regime of Ross Greenburg at HBO Sports.
Seriously, I actually covered a fight at the Silverdome in 2011? What in the name of Bennie Blades was going on here?!
Manny Pacquiao leaves HBO for Showtime: In the beginning part of 2011, this was THE big story in boxing, signaling a shift in the business.
THE KYRIE IRVING (for being one-and-done)
Pacquiao and Top Rank go back to HBO: Well, that didn't last long- but Arum got the desired effect from Time Warner executives.
THE RICK PERRY AWARD (for putting foot in mouth)
Gary Shaw: In reference to the lagging attendance figures for the Timothy Bradley-Devon Alexander bout (and he was being serious), Shaw said, "I don't care if 500 people buy tickets for this fight." Funny thing is, some media members actually bought into this, delivering a self-fulfilling prophecy as the only way they could've attracted a crowd to this building was to give away the new Jordans.
THE JAKE LAMOTTA AWARD (for toughness in a losing effort)
Manuel Vargas: Not many guys can go the distance with Roman Gonzalez but that's what he did, taking the best that “Chocolatito” had to offer for all 12 rounds and never backing down.
THE JOE NAMATH AS A RAM AWARD (for it being over)
James Toney, Roy Jones Jr., Shane Mosley (Tie): Guys, you were great and will be in Canastota one day for your efforts- but the time has come to call it a day.
THE LEON SPINKS AWARD (for winning a world title early on)
Kazuto Ioka: Defeated Oleydong Sithsamerchai in his seventh fight to capture the WBC minimumweight title.
P.T. BARNUM AWARD (for a sucker being born every minute)
Anyone who bought the Pacquiao-Mosley pay-per-view: Well over a million bought this waltz. But based on Mosley's “fight” versus Sergio Mora, what did they expect? They should've known better.
THE FED EX AWARD (for worst delivery)
David Haye versus Wladimir Klitschko: Haye promised so much and delivered so little. I mean even this guy had a more satisfying delivery:
Matt Godfrey spitting at Lateef Kayode: During their fight, it was about the only thing Godfrey landed all night.
THE EUGENIA WILLIAMS AWARD (for worst scorecards)
Al Bennett and Hilton Whitaker give Paul Williams round 11 in his fight with Erislandy Lara (Whitaker scored the 12th even): It was just part of perhaps the most bizarre scoring we saw in the States this past year where Lara was on the short end of a dubious decision.
THE JIM TRESSEL AWARD (for resigning under pressure)
Ross Greenburg: His tenth year as the president of HBO Sports comes to end, mercifully for the sport of boxing and its subscribers.
THE RODDY PIPER AWARD (for best heel)
Antonio Margarito: Margarito played up his part as the bad guy in the lead-up to his rematch with Miguel Cotto. The haircut and the sunglasses were a great touch.
THE RYAN LEAF AWARD (for being a bust)
Francisco Bojado: Yeah, I can't lie; I was as high as anyone on Bojado and now it's come to this for “Panchito”:
THE DEATH ROW-BAD BOY AWARD (for most heated rivalry)
Vernon Paris and Tim Coleman: You know two guys don't like each other when they get into it at the hotel lobby like Paris and Coleman did prior to their fight.
THE TUPAC AWARD (for making a dollar out of 15 cents)
Doug Loughrey of ESPN: Loughrey consistently made entertaining fights like Rodriguez-Wolak while operating on a shoestring budget, compared to the likes of HBO and Showtime. He is moving on to other things at “The Worldwide Leader” in March and will be missed.
THE BRUCE SELDON AWARD (for most dubious knockout)
Juan Manuel Marquez-Likar Ramos: OK, has anyone seen the punch that Marquez landed against Ramos in the summer? I still haven't.
THE CARMAGEDDON AWARD (for overhyped event)
Tim Bradley-Devon Alexander: The bout between Bradley and Alexander had some scribes comparing it to Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns (I know, I know). Some breathlessly wrote just how “important” this fight was and how it was supposed to create a new American star. Well, the fight was a commercial and critical bomb in every way, taking up a large portion of HBO's 2011 budget to boot.
Rico Ramos-Guillermo Rigondeaux: As the bout between Ramos and Rigondeaux was pulled from the Cotto-Margarito II pay-per-view show on December 3rd at the Garden for various reasons, it led the way for the rematch between Rodriguez and Wolak. No one complained about this.
THE ANTI-MONTY HALL AWARD (for not making a deal)
Dan Goossen: After making such a fuss about what the aforementioned fight was worth to his client, Goossen didn't even bother to make a bid for the purse held by the WBA.
THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS AWARD (for coming from behind)
Antonio DeMarco: DeMarco was far behind on the scorecards against Jorge Linares but the game southpaw from Tijuana rallied back furiously in the 11th to stop Linares and win the vacant WBC title (
THE SENIOR CIRCUIT AWARD (for beating up old guys)
Denis Lebedev: After defeating the likes of Roy Jones and James Toney, the word is that Denis Lebedev will face Matthew Saad Muhammad, Eddie Mustafa Muhammad and S.T. Gordon in 2012.
Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez III: To some, the third chapter of Pacquiao-Marquez III was either a blatant robbery of Marquez or a close Pacquiao victory, where Marquez simply didn't press the action enough to defeat the Filipino icon.
Lamont Peterson: Peterson went from homelessness, tough losses on the big stage and getting dropped by two promotional companies to beating Khan as a 10-1 'dog. It's stuff like this that keeps us coming back for more.
THE DODGER ATTENDANCE AWARD (for declining turnout)
The “Super Six” semifinals and finals: The “Super Six” started out with plenty of buzz back in 2009 and did well at the gate in Europe but the semifinals and finals in 2011, well…let's just say plenty of seats were available for all three fights (Carl Froch-Glen Johnson, Andre Ward-Arthur Abraham and Ward-Froch). I'm guessing they weren't that “important”?
THE PLAYBOY CLUB AWARD (for low ratings)
The “Super Six” finals: Less than 500,000 live viewers tuned into the “Super Six” finals on December 17th between Ward and Froch.
THE BENNY HINN AWARD (for miraculous recovery)
Andre Dirrell: Last year, Andre Dirrell had “lingering neurological issues,” forcing him to cancel his bout with Ward and subsequent pullout from the “Super Six.” Well, this “Dr. Shaw High” must've done some Benny Hinn-style stuff ( ) because now, Dirrell's fully recovered and back on Showtime to end the year- just as the “Super Six” came to its conclusion.
THE MITT ROMNEY AWARD (for flip-flopping)
The WBC: Last week, the WBC said its WBC middleweight beltholder Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. had to absolutely face Sergio Martinez in his next bout. Well, already the organization is waffling on that decree by saying that perhaps it could meet after each man’s respective bouts on February 4th and March 17th. Regardless, Chavez is facing Marco Antonio Rubio, his mandatory challenger.
THE GUNG HO AWARD (for falling apart)
Nicky Cook: Anyone remember that line from Michael Keaton’s character, Hunt Stevenson in “Gung Ho” (a personal favorite of mine), as one of the last cars rushed through the assembly line fell apart after he drove for about two seconds? “Hey, outside of that, I thought it ran great!”
Well, that was Nicky Cook as his back gave out in the first minute of his challenge for the WBO 130-pound title versus Ricky Burns.

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