This past year’s been rather interesting in terms of selecting a fighter of the year. Each nominee seems to have a strong case but for every person who agrees with that candidate, there is a critic who can poke holes and make you rethink your decision. However after a lot of thought and consideration, I’ve made my decision.
Fighter of the Year: Terence Crawford
This might cause you to groan and believe me I’ve really considered every option out there (Kovalev, Golovkin, Pacquiao) but the reason I chose Crawford is also because right now we’re seeing a young potential superstar showcase what he’s got and Crawford looks like he has a lot to showcase.
He had no problem going over to Scotland to win his lightweight title against Ricky Burns and then surprised me by stopping Cuban superstar Yuriokas Gamboa. He finished off 2014 with a 12 round shutout of Raymundo Beltran to win the vacant Ring Magazine championship.
With a lot of other young fighters around his age like Danny Garcia and Keith Thurman having really pedestrian years, it’s nice to see a young fighter reaching for the top, daring to be great and hopefully he’ll continue to do that next year as well.
Fight of the Year: Orlando Salido vs Terdsak Kokietgym
Two fighters, 11 rounds, seven knockdowns, 100% action. What more can you ask for? You probably know of Salido but Terdsak Kokietgym was a name unfamiliar to me until this fight and boy is that a name I hope to see again.
When I watched this fight on YouTube, I put it on full screen and decided not to pay attention to the time and each time there was a knockdown I thought, “That’s it, it’s gonna end soon.” But it kept going and going. Finally at the start of the eleventh round, Salido got Kokietgym on the ropes and unloaded a barrage of punches that put his opponent on his back and ended the fight right then and there.
Orlando Salido is a fighter who doesn’t have the most impressive looking record but he has a record of giving exciting fights and he and Terdsak Kokietgym certainly delivered the best in 2014.
Knockout of the Year: Andy Lee KO 5 John Jackson
If Andy Lee hadn’t been once trained by the late, great, Emanuel Steward, I probably wouldn’t have cared that much about his career. But since he did come out of the Kronk gym, I followed his career and knew that his fight with John Jackson (Son of hard hitting former champion Julian Jackson) was a crossroads fight. If he wins, his chances of earning another title shot go on. If he lost, he would most likely be reduced to journeyman status and become a “name opponent” for up and coming fighters to put on their resume.
John Jackson probably already had that opinion of Lee. He had knocked him down in the first round and was looking to really take control and possibly stop the Irishman in the fifth round when Lee, backed up against the ropes, fired a single right hook that froze Jackson on the stop and tipped over like a plastic army figure. The fight was immediately waved off and Andy Lee scored the knockout of the year in classic Kronk fashion. Emanuel Steward would have been proud.
Upset of the Year: Chris Algieri vs Ruslan Provodnikov
I might be in the minority here but when Judi Abate told me that she, too, was picking this fight, I knew I had to go with my gut and pick this fight. No one out of Huntington, New York had really heard of Chris Algieri and there were probably those in Huntington who didn’t know about him. All we did know that he was the stepping stone for Ruslan Provodnikov to get a superfight with Manny Pacquiao.
And for a while it looked like that was the obvious outcome when Provodnikov dropped Algieri twice in the first round. From then on, Algieri not only had to deal with Provodnikov coming at him but also dealing with a plum growing out of his right eye. However, despite all of that Algieri was using his reach to keep Ruslan at bay and in most rounds was outlanding his opponent. As I watched I kept telling myself, “Ruslan’s punches are harder but Algieri could easily be winning this fight.”
And after 12 rounds, Algieri had won the fight, his first world title in boxing and the much desired showdown with Manny Pacquiao. He couldn’t repeat the same display of skills against Manny Pacquiao but against Ruslan Provodnikov, Chris Algieri showed that he had the skills to pull the upset of the year.
2014 has been in an interesting year. There were personal highs and lows on my end but as for BOXING 4 FREE, things were just better and better. The podcasts are getting great numbers, interviewing the awesome Glen Johnson was exciting and gave me the confidence to know I can hold my composure when talking with boxers who have reached the big time and all in all, I also enjoyed discussing the sweet science.
The year also brought Judi Abate to the site and she’s been getting great interviews, David Lemieux being one of them and we can’t wait to see who she’s got lined up for next year as well.
Here’s to 2015