The “Fighter of the Year” is
an award most boxers strive for, one last accomplishment to seal off a great year
for any given fighter. In this year’s case, Andre Ward likely wins it. However,
every year, there are a few candidates who seem to make “business decisions”
that put them in the furthest category from “Fighter of the Year.” These
fighters, from either making their own mistakes or becoming victims of outside
factors like unavailable TV dates, seemed to waste their year away. Now, there’s
finally an award for them.
Presents: the “Anti-Fighter of the Year” Award
The qualifications for
making this list are as follows:
-Not capitalizing off a
-Not backing up a claim at
rebounding in 2011, therefore wasting his chance(s).
-Turning down a large sum of
money, subsequently doing nothing instead.
-Failing to remain active.
-All of the above.
Maxboxing readers are
invited to choose the winner, validating him as the fighter who successfully
wasted away his 2011. After reading the list of ten candidates, log on to http://www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing to
vote for the winner. Here are the candidates:
The most obvious candidate
on the list for this writer is Kelly Pavlik. After seeming to get back on track
after a win over Alfonso Lopez, “The Ghost” did what ghosts do and disappeared.
Pavlik’s decision to sit out the rest of 2011 was his own and he ultimately
shot himself in the foot. Days before a scheduled tune-up against Daryl
Cunningham in his hometown of Youngstown, Ohio, Pavlik pulled out of the clash
and a scheduled fall showdown with Lucian Bute. The fight against Bute, which
would have made Pavlik 1.3 million dollars richer, was canceled because the
former World Middleweight Champion wasn’t “fighting for peanuts.”
Martirosyan (Photo © Irwin Thompson, TopRank)
When will the real Vanes
Martirosyan step up to the plate? The 2004 Olympian fought three times in 2011
against fringe level-contenders but when Martirosyan really fell off the ball
was in his reluctance to fight a very winnable fight against Alfredo Angulo.
“Ducking” might be the most overused term in boxing but Martirosyan did a lot
of talking for a man who didn’t sign the contract. It was only after Angulo
signed to fight James Kirkland that “The Nightmare” said he would sign the
original contract. What a nightmare indeed.
(Photo © German Villasenor)
This one is tricky. By all
intents and purposes, Tim Bradley fought Devon Alexander, one of the world’s best
junior welterweights, in a hyped-up main event. Normally that level of
competition would make him exempt from this list but Bradley had HBO offering
him everything but the kitchen sink to fight Amir Khan on July 23rd.
Yes, Bradley wanted to get
away from promoter Gary Shaw to “build the Bradley Brand” with Top Rank but
couldn’t that have been put on hold until one last fight with Shaw? Not only
did Bradley have a guaranteed 1.4 million dollar purse coming his way but there
was also supposedly a 50/50 spilt for the U.K. money as well. While Khan is no
guaranteed win, Bradley seemed to have a perfect style that could have beaten
Khan while still putting him in the run for a Manny Pacquiao fight.
But hey, if “Desert Storm”
can get 1.1 million for fighting old man Joel Casamayor, why would he need to
take such a gamble against Khan?
Like Pavlik, Kessler also
had a major payday waiting for him against Lucian Bute in the fall. A tune-up
in the summer was originally supposed to lead to an interesting fight resulting
in a clear, deserving opponent for the winner of the “Super Six,” Andre Ward.
Talks broke down and Kessler settled for a fight against WBO titlist Robert Stieglitz
until the fight was postponed until 2012 due to a wrist injury. If his fight
against Stieglitz had gone through, Kessler most likely would not have made this
list. Unfortunately, injuries happen and Kessler wounded up wasting his year.
It wouldn’t have been very fair to put Kessler and Pavlik on this list without
at least mentioning Bute, who got frozen out of an opportunity to be apart of
the original “Super Six” line-up. To keep him preoccupied and making sure he
stayed with Showtime, the network signed Bute to a three-fight contract that
pays him very well. The contract so far has amounted to nothing but useless
title defenses against Brian Magee and Glen Johnson [Writer’s note: Jean Paul Mendy was not televised by Showtime but that
might have been the worst defense of them all]. A very disappointing 2011
for the Romanian-Canadian after seemingly being in position to have an
interesting fight in the fall against either Kessler or Pavlik.
talking about super middleweights, we can’t forget about Andre Dirrell. I’m one
of many who publicly doubt that Andre Dirrell’s head injury is legitimate. The “Fight
Camp 360” episode was damaging to him in many ways. First, Dirrell’s trainer
claims the fight won’t happen because his fighter isn’t going to make enough
money and then pulls out with an injury that is automatically suspicious. Then,
to make matters worse, “Dr. Shaw High” and Andre’s dad suggesting they need a
lawyer to answer questions about an injury truly make Andre a candidate for
“Anti-Fighter of the Year.” It seems
very convenient that Dirrell has a fight scheduled for December 30th,
not long after the “Super Six” ended.
Juan Manuel Lopez (Photo © German Villasenor)
the start of 2011, a fight between Juan Manuel Lopez and Yuriorkis Gamboa was
one of the most desired fights in boxing. However, when “JuanMa’s” “0” was
knocked off by Orlando Salido, the fight went down the drain, resulting in two
of Bob Arum’s top fighters losing out on career paydays. To make matters
slightly worse, instead of immediately going to a rematch, Lopez decided to
take a tune-up instead against Mike Oliver in which he looked mediocre. The
rematch against Salido looks to be made on March 31, 2012 but Lopez definitely
wasted his 2011.
coming to America in 2009 to fight Rocky Juarez, Chris John appeared willing to
take risks and get exposure to fight more well-known names in the featherweight
division. Fast-forward two years later and John is back in his home country of
Indonesia racking up title defenses against unknown scrubs for easy money. Who
can blame him? He earns the most money in his hometown without taking a risk. As long as he does that, he’ll earn a spot on
been over a year since Pirog’s startling knockout over Danny Jacobs. Since
then, Pirog has amounted to nothing. While many hardcore fans are clamoring for
a fight with World Middleweight Champion Sergio Martinez, Pirog simply did
nothing to earn it in 2011. Instead of trying to build himself up in front an
American audience, Pirog fought two lesser-known opponents in Russia. At age
31, Pirog needs to pick up the pace if he wants a reasonable chance to get a
shot at Martinez.
Cloud might be one of the most exciting fighters in the game but his inactivity
killed him in 2011. He had a scheduled showdown with Zsolt Erdei planned for
the end of the year; however, Showtime canceled the card after Erdei pulled out
with a wrist injury. Cloud fought Yusaf Mack earlier in the year on HBO’s “Boxing
After Dark” then did nothing with the momentum. There’s been a large criticism
of Don King in recent years for letting his fighters sit on the shelf and Cloud
is the perfect example of that. Mix that in with Showtime scrapping its card
and we get the last candidate for 2011’s “Anti-Fighter of the Year” award.