What a year. 2012 was as
tumultuous a year for boxing as ever there has been. Positive drug tests and
the result of the new wave of drug testing created by Floyd Mayweather Jr.
nearly three years ago were at the top of a list of hot button issues this
year. And a new question regarding the place strength-and-conditioning coaches
was asked when Hall of Fame trainer Freddie Roach declared before Juan Manuel Marquez
vs. Manny Pacquiao IV in November that if you got rid of strength-and-conditioning
coaches, you’d get rid of boxing’s drug problem.
The subjective and shadowy
world of judging fights came to its brightest light in recent memory when WBO
welterweight titleholder Timothy Bradley was awarded a close decision over
Manny Pacquiao in June. As was the case with PEDs and better testing, when
there was any cause for question surrounding a Pacquiao opponent, be it the
scorecards or the strength coach, suddenly it mattered to the powers that be.
In the cases of both
boxing’s bad judging problem and its inadequate testing protocols, hey,
whatever it takes. This sport is tough enough as it is without seeing guys no
one bases whole shows on (like Steve Cunningham or Gabriel Campillo) continued
to get screwed by judging when things go against them. But those guys are grist
for the mill as far as some people are concerned.
So if it takes the
establishment getting in an uproar over an issue and following through whenever
a star gets the road warrior treatment, so be it. If this sparks someone out
there to become the “Get tough on judging” person and he goes on to expose just
why time and again fans and writers see one thing and three judges (sometimes
with a history of this affliction) see something else entirely, so be it. Then
maybe Cunningham and Campillo can take solace when a Pacquiao gets robbed and
there is an uproar that lasts longer than a night or a week. It will be worth
it. Anything less than continual action toward positive change is a waste of
Complaining that everyone
only cares when it’s Pacquiao is a waste of energy.
Pound-for-pound lists are a waste
Fake ratings boards that
think, “If we fix the ratings and go back to one champ per division, we’ll
solve the sport’s ills” are a waste of energy.
sport has had as many ups as downs in 2012.
January, Joel Diaz Jr. of Boxing 360 made his TV debut against Guy Robb and
opened the year with both a victory and a “Fight of the Year” candidate.
welterweight Danny Garcia and his father/trainer Angel Garcia took center
stage, stopping both Amir Khan and Erik Morales while keeping it incredibly
real. He may be a Puerto Rican from Philly fighting in Brooklyn but Garcia at
the Barclay’s Center for years to come sounds like a winner. The consistency and
action style will hopefully develop a fan base for the affable and classy young
Leo Santa Cruz emerged from the prospect ranks to become a titleholder,
fighting five times in one year and helping Golden Boy Promotions bring boxing
back to CBS for the first time since 1997.
“The Problem” Broner went from a perceived Floyd Mayweather clone to a
full-fledged personality of his own, complete with controversy, crazy tweets
and electrifying performances. Every fight fan who has to listen to UFC Water
Cooler Guy ask, “When Pacquiao/Mayweather retires, who does boxing have? See? You
guys don’t have stars like the UFC,” without an answer can now interrupt the
inane line of thinking with “Adrien Broner. He’s going to be a problem for both
everyone he faces and the UFC for about the next 10 years at least.”
Quigg went from “I think he can” prospect last year to a super bantamweight
beltholder with three satisfying performances this year. His impressive win
over Rendall Munroe in November sets up a dangerous match-up with Carl Frampton
next year. It’s going to be a classic - unlike my Andre Berto prediction from
last year, http://www.doghouseboxing.com/Gabriel/Montoya010112.htm.
Quigg is a memorable name for all the right reasons this year.
aging fighters’ dreams were realized this year. Sergio Martinez finally got
Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. into the ring and for 11 master class rounds,
ceremoniously beat his impetuous ass. Then in the 12th, all hell
broke loose and Martinez got to show what a true champion is made of. Right
now, the world is the 37-year-old’s oyster.
Pacquiao and Mayweather ducking and dodging the super-fight to end them all, at
age 39, Juan Manuel Marquez brought up the rear like the slow and steady tortoise
chasing two prize hares. After three tries and two booming right hands, Marquez
finally caught up to one of them. Years of toiling in the shadows of not only
Chavez, Marquez and Marco Antonio Barrera but his scorecard conqueror,
Pacquiao, it must feel good to be named Juan Manuel Marquez right now. Sweet
vindication and the “Punch of the Year.”
will be interesting to see if we get Mayweather-Marquez II in place of
Two men returned to this
sport and brought hope, light and laughter with them - and some fun ring
action. Thought by some industry insiders to be lost forever to visa issues,
Alfredo Angulo returned to the U.S., free to pursue his dreams of raising his
daughter in America and fighting for a title. He may one day do that as he has
now fought twice (both wins) under his new trainer, Virgil Hunter.
The other man is
middleweight contender Danny Jacobs. After returning from his loss to Dmitry
Pirog last year, Jacobs learned he had cancer and set off on a yearlong journey
that saw him face paralysis and death. Through all this, “The Golden Child” returned
to the sport looking to enter the title hunt.
It’s truly a testament to
the power of the mind that Jacobs was able to steel his will and come back from
a near-tragedy like this. It’s what boxing is all about.
Nonito Donaire showed what
being a champ in and out of the ring is about. He took boxing’s most explosive
subject, PED testing, and turned it into a personal statement of cleanliness
when he joined the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association’s 365/24/7 testing program.
Since July, Donaire had undergone random testing at any time, day or night, and
will continue to do so for the duration of his career. He took what Mayweather
did a step further. That’s what champions do; they see the bar and they exceed
it. Here’s hoping there are more true champions out there.
Fights like Brian Viloria
vs. Hernan Marquez and Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado humbled us all with their
violent gifts this October. For this writer, that’s the whole point. Two evenly
matched young men, suitably prepared and willing to do what it takes to win.
That’s the sport at its most pure. That’s when it is easiest to forget all the
other things in this sport.
Commissions who are either
inept or willfully ignorant. Promoters who pay lip service but offer no reformative
action. Judges who continue to not only get it wrong but get away with it.
Networks that keep showing this circus as long as we keep watching it.
Rios-Alvarado was like the “Fantasy
Island” of fights, a respite from the ills of this corrupt business. There were
no suspicions coming in, no shadowy figures in the corner. Just two guys who
knew what the crowd wanted and who were definitely going to give it up. It was
as honest an effort by both men as I have ever seen.
that, one can’t help but feel obligated to both of them that the system
surrounding them, protecting them, is as effective and safe as it can be.
Goodbye, 2012, a year that
showed boxing what it is: weak.
Hello, 2013. Hopefully, it’s
a year when we begin to positively address all that has come to light.