SAN DIEGO, Dec 31, 2012 – Every boxing columnist tries his (or her) hand at naming the top ten fights of any given year. Who am I to be any different?
What presents the biggest challenge to me isn’t choosing the fights. It’s defining exactly what is meant by “top” fights. Are they the fights with the most action? Killer knockouts? Underdogs who prevail, or champions who show their dominance? Does the story outside the ring matter? What about the element of surprise?
Column writing has its privileges, including the right to my own definition. What’s important is to let you the reader in on my criteria before throwing down my list.
First, I want to see a fight. I appreciate tactical contests, but they don’t launch me out of my seat and make me cheer. Give me a brawl, show me willingness to engage. Great boxing should be entertaining.
Second, I want to see proficiency within that action. Smart, not foolhardy aggression. Well-placed, effective punches. Speed and endurance. Smart defense and the ability to take a shot.
Third, great fighters have heart. Boxers can’t help but bring relationships and emotion into the ring.
And never discount the element of surprise, the knockout from nowhere, the boxer who rises to the occasion when it really counts.
With this in mind, my Top Ten Fights of 2012:
1. Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez IV, December 8, 2012
Pacquiao-Marquez III was second on my 2011 list. Despite everyone wanting to see a fight made between Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather next, no one can be disappointed with the intense action between these long time rivals, capped off by the stunning knockout punch delivered by Marquez to Pacquiao at the end of the sixth round. The knockout was so breathtaking it threatens to make fans forget just how good a fight Pacquiao was having against Marquez up to that moment, the best since he took out Ricky Hatton in 2009. Who wants to see Pacquiao-Marquez V? Count me in.
2. Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado, October 13, 2012
This classic inside brawl delivered more wicked shots per minute of action than any fight since Mickey Ward and Arturo Gotti got it on. Yet both fighters chose to engage at close quarters round after round, delivering and taking incredible punishment in equal measure. Like Pacquiao, Alvarado was winning the fight until Rios found the perfect placement for a right hook that finally hurt Alvarado enough to allow Rios to get the upper hand and force referee Pat Russell to step in. A rematch could happen as soon as March in Los Angeles. Count on a much bigger crowd than the lucky 7,655 people in attendance at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California for the first fight.
3. Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Orlando Salido II, March 10, 2012
Fans got their money’s worth with this fight between the number one and number three featherweights in the world. This ferocious rematch proved Salido’s victory in the first fight wasn’t a fluke. Salido of Mexico had to fight on Lopez’ home turf in Puerto Rico. He earned the victory by surviving a fifth round knockdown and by having to deal hurt to Lopez repeatedly until he finally went down in round ten. Lopez got to his feet, but he had taken a thrashing and referee Robert Ramirez Sr. had to call the fight or Lopez would have fought to the death.
4. Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Caesar Chavez Jr., September 15, 2012
This fight answered a lot of questions about both fighters. Martinez toyed with Chavez Jr. through most of the fight like a cat plays with a mouse before it kills the rodent and it was fun to watch. But the element of surprise played a role when Chavez Jr. dug down deep in round 12 and unleashed a wicked shot that put Martinez on the canvas. The Argentinean warrior refused to play possum and instead chose to fight his way out for the final 90 seconds of the round. Martinez made it by his sheer force of will and that is what champions are made of. For those who have been disappointed by Chavez Jr.’s lack of discipline, this fight might have been exactly the shock he needed to get him to take his career seriously.
5. Danny Garcia vs. Amir Khan, July 14, 2012
Yet another toe-to-toe bout this year, Garcia showed he’s the real deal in the competitive junior welterweight division. Garcia sat Khan down on the canvas with a powerful left hook in the fourth round following a challenging contest with Khan over the first three rounds. Although Khan got to his feet, the fight was called before the end of the round by referee Kenny Bayliss, who saw no reason to let Khan be broken down further. Not only was this a career making fight for Garcia, it has put serious swagger in his step, and attitude can make a real difference if you can back it up. Now all we need is for Garcia to get a handle on his loudmouthed father Angel, who does him no favors.
6. Brian Viloria vs. Hernan Marquez, November 17, 2012
Smaller weight classes don’t capture the attention of boxing fans very often. American TV networks don’t help by ignoring good fights in the lower weight classes. It’s a shame, because these fighters produce a lot action with speed unencumbered by size. Case in point: this exciting flyweight fight in which Viloria and Marquez rocked, rolled and rallied throughout ten rounds. Marquez had Viloria in trouble in the first round until Viloria knocked him down before the round ended. The same thing happened again in round five, with Viloria getting himself together after being hit hard by Marquez to drop him again. Finally, Viloria knocked down Marquez in the tenth round, Though he beat the count, Marquez’s trainer Robert Garcia threw in the towel to stop Viloria from doing any more damage.
Postscript: while most people were watching Broner vs. DeMarco on HBO, this fight was streamed online on Wealth TV (huh?) with Larry Holmes in the broadcast booth. Some American fans could watch it on TV Azteca in Spanish with Marco Antonio Barrera and Julio Cesar Chavez, Sr. on the broadcast team although the fight was cut off before the tenth round ended due to it running late. Viewers in the Philippines had the fight called on GMA by Congressman Manny Pacquiao.
7. Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto, November 24, 2012
This matchup provided far more action than expected. Guerrero dropped Berto in rounds one and two and it looked like it would be an early evening. But no one asked Berto. Despite his left eye being swollen completely shut for most of the fight, Berto stayed with Guerrero and gave him everything he could muster. It wasn’t enough in the end as Guerrero won a unanimous decision that he had to earn, taking his own punishment from the hampered Berto along the way. By the end of the fight, neither of them could have passed an eye exam at the DMV. The victory has probably earned Guerrero a shot at Floyd Mayweather, as early as May 2013.
8. Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto, May 5, 2012
Two exciting personalities with huge followings squared off in a tough, exciting fight with high stakes. Although Mayweather was in the lead throughout, Cotto is a determined warrior style fighter. He never let up and made Mayweather work for the victory. Cotto bloodied Mayweather’s nose, a sight some fans never expected to see. He got through Mayweather’s defenses at times and it always seemed Cotto was on the brink with a chance to do the unthinkable and unleash a well-placed shot. It didn’t happen; it was in fact Mayweather who hurt Cotto in the 12th round, wrapping up a terrific fight and unanimous decision that lived up to expectations.
9. Mike Alvarado vs. Mauricio Herrera, April 14, 2012
Alvarado makes a second appearance on my list with this bout, yet another fight with non-stop action from start to finish. Alvarado is a fan’s fighter because he only has one gear, and that’s pedal to the metal. He earned the unanimous decision due to his relentless attack of Herrera, doing serious damage to his left eye. Due credit to Herrera for hanging in through all ten rounds and winning several of them, making Alvarado earn the unanimous decision. The last 30 seconds of the final round may have seen more punch output than any fight in recent memory. Fast and furious hardly describes it.
10. Gennady Golovkin vs. Grzegorz Proksa, September 1, 2012
This fight made my list in the pleasant surprise category, shaking up the middleweight division. Golovkin came in undefeated as the number six middleweight in the world but he hadn’t been seen much outside Europe. This was his first U.S. fight. Was he as good as the rumors made him to be? Yes indeed. Proksa, no pushover, went down in rounds one, four and five from perfectly placed monster shots to suffer his second defeat. It’s the kind of bout that wants to make you see more of a fighter, and fans won’t have to wait long. Golovkin will take on Gabriel Rosado at Madison Square Garden on January 19 as the undercard to Orlando Salido vs. Mikey Garcia.
It’s an auspicious start to the year in boxing to come. Happy New Year, boxingheads!
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Media Migraine in the Communities at The Washington Times. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
Copyright © 2012 by Falcon Valley Group
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