Here we are, a little more than 12 days into 2016 and I can safely say that now I feel comfortable with making my decisions for our End of the Year awards or whatever we call it. This is stuff that I’ve thought long and hard over and while you might not agree with everything and given some of the choices, might want to question if I’ve been replaced with a pod person, trust me, everything I’ve written here is genuine.
Fighter of the Year: Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez
Yeah, you read that correctly. Whether I like this kid or not it would be unfair of me to overlook his accomplishments this past year and give this award to a fighter who was more exciting in the lead-up to his big fights than the actual main event itself (Looking at you, Floyd Mayweather).
A week after Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao put on their great commercial for any sport other than boxing, Canelo stepped into the ring with the hard hitting James Kirkland and wasted no time in living up to the public’s reputation by weathering Kirkland’s early assault then dropping him in the first round & stopping him two rounds later.
He then made the fight that seemed destined to happen years ago and fought Miguel Cotto for the middleweight championship. In an exciting fight that saw both fighters give it their all, Alvarez was the better man and easily snagged the championship from Cotto. With these fights that are clearly bringing well needed excitement and new fans to the sport, Alvarez has established himself as the next big superstar of his generation. The only question is if he’ll maintain the momentum he’s gained by accepting a fight with Gennady Golovkin for later this year. Time will only tell.
Fight of the Year: Jorge Linares vs Kevin Mitchell
There’s something about Linares that I can’t quite put my finger on. He’s a talented fighter and looks destined to be one of the top fighters of the world when he showcases his skill, but he also seems to have some really bad luck sometimes. He got stopped in one round by Juan Carlos Salgado and suffered back to back losses against Antonio DeMarco and Sergio Thompson. After that I saw him as a guy who would look good when he won, but probably wouldn’t have a great fight that he also happened to win.
Then he stepped into the ring with Kevin Mitchell. I found that after I first watched that fight I would go off and do something else, but my mind would always keep drifting back to it. When Mitchell dropped Linares in the fifth round, I thought it might suddenly be the end, but Linares was able to survive, come back, eventually drop and stop Mitchell himself once the referee saw how swollen his face had become.
This is a fight that might not be on your list for Fight of the Year, but good thing this isn’t your list. It’s mine and that’s my pick.
Round of the Year: Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs Kirkland Round 1
“If you love action and the big fight last week (Mayweather vs Pacquiao) put you to sleep, wake up!” – Max Kellerman before the opening bell.
I’m no big Kellerman fan, but he was right on the money with that quote. Kirkland started fast, almost swarming Canelo who went up in the corner in a defensive stance, trying to pace himself and see if Kirkland would punch himself out or find an opening. He did and you could tell that Kirkland was hurt, because he had stopped punching and wanted to play Rope-a-Dope. It didn’t do him very well and he was knocked down with just a little over a minute to go in the round. From then on, Kirkland was fighting back, but you knew that it had become the Canelo show. He kept the right amount of distance between them and couldn’t miss with his right hand. For a second it looked like the referee was going to step in, but somehow Kirkland survived the round.
With three minutes, Canelo Alvarez provided more excitement and drama than Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao did with 36.
Upset of the Year: Aron Martinez vs Devon Alexander
I remember watching Martinez drop Robert Guerrero in their fight this past summer and the more the fight went on, the more I thought that Martinez was on the verge of possibly winning the biggest fight of his life. When Guerrero got the victory, I knew he was probably a bit lucky, but that the next time Martinez fought, he was going to be even hungrier.
Four months later he proved that by stepping into the ring with former champion Devon Alexander and emerging with scores of 97-93, twice and 96-94.
I know that a lot of people are probably putting Tyson Fury vs Wladimir Klitschko for this award, but personally, I feel that that wasn’t such a huge upset considering Tyson’s record of being undefeated. Martinez doesn’t have an undefeated record, he’s not well known in the boxing media, there were no victories against former champions prior to the Alexander fight. However with this upset, maybe people will know his name a little better.