The Top 3 Upsets of 2005
By Oleg Bershadsky (December 23, 2005) 
Photos © HoganPhotos.com
In boxing almost no fight is ever a sure thing. One punch, one slip, one pretty much of anything can change or influence the outcome of a fight. The year of 2005 had its share of upsets like all the years before it. The top 3 upsets of 2005 are as follows:

#3 - Hopkins vs. Taylor I

The only reason why this fight is in the top 3 is that Bernard Hopkins prior to this fight had gone undefeated for over a decade. He was ranked by many ringside observers as the best pound for pound boxer, who was on the brink of making history with 21 consecutive title defenses, considering he could get by Jermaine Taylor. While most agreed that Taylor was the future of the middle weight division a minority believed he had what it takes to beat Bernard.

Taylor, the more physical of the two fighters, would face the most dominant middleweight of his era in Bernard Hopkins. A champion who was set on making history and appeared that he would not be denied. In a seesaw battle that ensued, Taylor was able to impose his will on Hopkins in the early rounds, something no one has been able to do in over a decade. While Hopkins came on strong in the later rounds he fell short losing a close split decision to Taylor. This fight was a big upset in a sense that despite Taylor’s prowess in the ring he was able to defeat a living legend in Bernard Hopkins who over the years became so dominant that his defeat prior to his retirement seemed unlikely at best.

#2 Tszyu vs. Hatton

In this Junior Welterweight match-up there was a concrete favorite in Kostya Tszyu. Like Hopkins, Tszyu reigned supreme in perhaps the toughest weight division for many years. His ring smarts and tremendous punching power gave him a serious advantage over the young star Ricky Hatton. Similar to the Hopkins vs. Taylor fight this bout put an up and coming star against a proven champion whose dominance reigned supreme for many years.

There were doubts on whether Hatton, who has been criticized severely for not fighting outside of England could seriously challenge someone of Tszyu’s caliber. In the end, what made this fight such a big upset was not only that Hatton beat Tszyu, but that he completely dominated him. In his first real mega fight Hatton did what no one else had been able to do against Tszyu and that is making him quit after lashing out a tremendous amount of punishment. Any time a rising star can dominate a seemingly dominant champion it inevitably raises lots of eyebrows.

#1 Morales vs. Raheem

While the first two upsets listed above can certainly be questioned as whether they were truly big upsets considering the pedigree of the challengers, the Morales-Raheem match-up I believe was certainly the upset of the year. In this fight, Zahir Raheem was basically chosen as an easy sacrifice for Eric Morales before his second mega fight with Manny Pacquiao. Raheem was virtually given no chance of winning the fight and no one took him as a serious threat to Morales.

I’m not a big fan of easy setup fights that are designed to protect a fighter for a future mega bout. I mean, what is the point of watching a fight when the outcome is all but certain? It doesn’t exactly leave a lot of suspense for the fans. That is why I love it when a fight like that backfires and the sacrificial lamb turns into a tiger, which is precisely what happened in this bout as Raheem fought the best fight of his career by completely out-boxing Morales. He made the all time great Mexican fighter look confused and helpless throughout the fight by using his superior boxing ability to overcome the toughness Morales always brings to the table. In a stunner, Raheem dominated Morales and almost derailed the plans for a Pacquiao vs. Morales rematch. Considering the odds Raheem was given of winning this fight and the fashion in which he won, this fight certainly deserves to be the top upset of 2005.


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