by Andrew Schweitzer
Fighter of the Year: Andre Ward
Was there anyone else you could think of for this title when the year came to an end? This is something Ward's been working towards since 2009 when he upset Mikel Kessler in the first round of Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic. And from there on it's but nothing but W's for the S.O.G..
Early this year he took care of Arthur Abraham after a few shaky rounds and finished off the year and the Super Six tournament with an equally dominating decision against Carl Froch. Ward controlled the pace of the fight, slipped Froch's punches and just outclassed the English fighter and did it with a fractured hand from the sixth round on.
We're looking at the future of the sport in Andre Ward. I know that he's said before that he never set out to be a star in this sport but I have a feeling he's well on his way.
Ward and his trainer, Virgil Hunter, have gone on the record saying that we haven't seen the best from him yet.
It makes you wonder, if he's this good already against top opposition and isn't at his best yet, who out there can beat him?
Round of the Year: Kirkland/Angulo Round 1
We knew that someone was going to go down in this fight when it was announced. We just didn't know WHEN it would happen and WHO would be hitting the canvas.
We knew that Kirkland had a shaky chin ever since earlier in the year when he was knocked out in one round by feather fisted Nohubiro Ishida. So to see him get dropped in the first thirty seconds by the hard hitting Angulo, you had a feeling that Kirkland was going to be out of there soon. But he hung on, taking punches, slipping and landing some of his own until Angulo punched himself out and allowed Kirkland to take control and drop him. It was a great start to a great fight.
Knockout of the Year: Nonito Donaire TKO 2 Fernando Montiel
Before I get started, I just have to ask, isn't it a bit weird that all these Knockout the Year awards seem to occur in the second round (2009: Pacquiao vs Hatton; 2010: Martinez vs Williams II).
I stated before that I didn't always hold Nonito Donaire in high regard. That said, Nonito made me look like a colossal moron when he landed a beautiful left hook that dropped Montiel. And that was where the beauty ended. Watching Montiel twitch on the canvas and fall over again as he tried to rise was scary. Russell Mora letting him continue was stupid, but thankfully he stopped it after two more shots landed on the hurt Mexican.
It was a great knockout by Donaire and showed that he has got thunder in his gloves for such a small fighter, but it was also very frightening. I can't really recall seeing someone twitch and spasm like Montiel did, but when they do, that's a sign that they shouldn't be allowed to keep fighting.
Upset of the Year: Nobuhiro Ishida KO 1 James Kirkland
We knew what was supposed to happen when James Kirkland continued his comeback streak against unknown feather fisted Ishida: Kirkland was supposed to dominate him and make it a short night.
We knew what Ishida was supposed to be: Just another stepping stone for James Kirkland on his road to the title.
What we didn't know was that Nobuhiro Ishida didn't care what we thought was supposed to happen. He was making his own fate that night and he shocked the boxing world.
To see Kirkland down from a punch that didn't look or sound very hard was shocking, but to see him down twice after that boggled the mind. It would be like if I (currently weighing in at 139lbs) was able to knock out Tim Bradley in sparring; you'd just look away, shaking your head saying, "What in the hell just happened?"
That's probably what James Kirkland was saying that night as well. Thankfully he got back together with his longtime trainer Ann Wolfe after a brief falling out and since his very impressive performance against Alfredo Angulo, Kirkland was able to turn it around for himself.
But we shouldn't forget the man who put him on his back one night and made himself look like a giant slayer.
Ishida is currently scheduled to face former titleholder Paul 'The Punisher' Williams. If he can do the same thing to Williams that he did to Kirkland, look for Ishida to be in this category next year as well.
Comeback of the Year: Antonio Tarver
I was very tempted to give this to James Kirkland however Tarver...just seemed to stick in my mind a lot better for some reason. Maybe it's because I wrote him off after his two losses to Chad Dawson and his "meh" fight at heavyweight against Nagy Aguilera and also because I thought that he was trying to find life as an old man in a young man's game. I thought he should have retired and stuck to doing commentary for Showtime (Something he's really amazing at); not everyone can have the same career longevity like Bernard Hopkins.
So when I heard that he was scheduled to fight Danny Green, the man who knocked out his former rival, Roy Jones Jr., in one round, I thought that this would surely be the end for the Magic Man. Now I'm a guy who loves being right with my predictions, but I like being surprised every now and then. Tarver surprised me.
He used his jab to control the fight, constantly had Green on the ropes and didn't let him mount any sort of counter attack. To have new life in a young man's sport when in your 40's is interesting to watch. The only bad thing about this is that Roy Jones Jr. will probably lobby for a fourth fight between them and frankly, the world doesn't need to see that.
Fight of the Year: Akira Yaegashi TKO 10 Pornsawan Porkramook
Ever watch a fight that's so intense, so full of adrenaline that when it's all done you feel exhausted, drained simply by watching it? I can think of only a few but you can add it to the short list.
Now had you heard of any of these fighters before? No, of course not. They're strawweights and in the land where a Big Mac is considered an appetizer for some of us, we don't pay attention to fighters who are outweighed by obese toddlers on Dr. Phil. But it seems that this fight which didn't get any mainstream attention is getting plenty of it now. Most of the people who've seen it have mostly seen it through YouTube and if you haven't, I strongly suggest you do.
I didn't know this fight was taking place, didn't think it was going to be big but I'm glad that I saw it.
Andrew Schweitzer is a contributing writer to boxing4free.com. When not writing or discussing the sweet science, Andrew can be found at www.SchweitzerMan.blogspot.com where he rants on stuff you may not care about, but will enjoy nonetheless.