Pound4poundireland’s 2015 Fight, Knockout, Round, Prospect, Upset and Trainer of the Year

Fight of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua-Dillian Whyte

2. Takashi Miura-Francisco Vargas

3. Edwin Rodriguez-Michael Seals

Knockout of the Year

1. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez ko3 James Kirkland

2. Courtney Blocker ko2 Dominic Goode

3. Gabriel Bracero ko1 Danny O’Connor

https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/video-gabriel-bracero-vs-danny-oconnor-ii-knockout-of-the-year-candidate/

Round of the Year

1. Edwin Rodriguez-Michael Seals Round 1

2. Amir Imam-Fidel Maldonado Jr. Round 3

3. Marco Huck-Krzysztof Glowacki Round 6

Prospect of the Year

1. Anthony Joshua

2. Takuma Inoue

3. Callum Smith

Upset of the Year

1. Tyson Fury UD12 Wladimir Klitschko

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AxevmnXq-w

2. Yvan Mendy SD12 Luke Campbell

3. Aron Martinez UD10 Devon Alexander

Trainer of the Year

Joe Gallagher – for his work with Anthony Crolla, Scott Quigg, Callum Smith & Liam Smith

Pound4poundireland’s 2015 Fighter of the Year

Fighter of the Year

1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.

2. Tyson Fury

3. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez

This is not a popularity contest.

This is not a personality contest.

Based on accomplishment in the ring, Floyd Mayweather Jr. is the Fighter of the Year for 2015.

The facile Berto coda was meaningless, this is all about the Pacquiao fight. It was craved as much as any other bout in history, teased for 5+ years, and caught the imagination of the wider sport-watching public & way, way beyond.

As with many mega-fights in boxing, it took place when the fighters were past their prime, and, unfortunately, it was a damp squib in terms of action, Mayweather making Pacquiao look like almost all of his prior opponents, comfortably outboxing him for a wide decision win.

Nobody had ever done anything approaching this to Pacquiao before.

Distracting talk of Pacquiao’s (laughable excuse/)shoulder injury aside, Mayweather proved beyond doubt that he is by far the best boxer of his generation.

IV/USADA-gate was another dampener on what was a cynical money grab from everyone involved, but no fighter produced anything this year to rival Mayweather’s display of pure boxing mastery from 7 months ago.

mayweather.pacquiao

However, Tyson Fury’s display to ‘out-Klitschko’ Klitschko and improbably lift the heavyweight crown comes in at a healthy second place.

An easy win over clubfighter Christian Hammer confirmed his credentials as a solid mandatory challenger for Klitschko, who had reigned for 9 1/2 years (the 2nd longest title reign in heavyweight history) over 18 successful defences.

A Fury knockout due to Klitschko’s much maligned chin was remotely conceivable, but not the manner in which he made Klitschko malfunction with his reach, size and constant movement. Klitschko’s final punch output of just 52 landed out of 231 was desultory. He looked old and unable to pull the trigger.

Ultimately, it was a close fight but Fury was not to be denied, walking away with the biggest prize in boxing to compliment his formidable size and self belief.

A rematch is in negotiations for May or June, and, while it will likely be another messy affair, it is intriguing. The result will go a long way to determining the future of the division in the coming years.

Canelo had his best year yet in 2015, confirming his status as Mexico’s premier fighter.

Washing the bad taste from many people’s mouths post-Mayweather-Pacquiao was never going to be an easy task, but Canelo did his best just a week later with a brutal knockout of James Kirkland in front of a partisan packed house at the Houston Astros’ baseball stadium.

Then came the fight craved by so many, a middleweight championship showdown (albeit at a catchweight unfortunately dictated by the champion) with Miguel Cotto, and, thus, the torch was passed.

The bigger Canelo used a mixture of brawn & sharp, composed boxing skills to win a well-deserved decision and make his first real mark in the history books.

Canelo has balls, and has to be praised for the high level opposition he’s consistently faced since taking on Austin Trout in mid-2013.

If anyone’s going to give Gennady Golovkin the shot at super-stardom he so deserves, it’s Canelo, and the fight is mooted for September.

Fights to look forward to in 2016?

Note: I’ve kept this list to fights that can realistically happen next year, hence why you won’t see any fights like Thurman-Bradley or Santa Cruz-Lomachenko on this list that are prevented by promotional/TV differences.

 

  1. Anthony Joshua-David Haye

God knows what’s left of David Haye, or what he’ll look like after a 3 and a half year layoff & major surgery, but this classic clash of young and old could quite easily be built up into a money-spinning stadium filler.

 

2. Deontay Wilder-Alexander Povetkin

Povetkin, mandatory to Wilder’s portion of the title, would be the perfect test of Wilder’s still-largely-untested pretensions of bringing American glory back to the heavyweight division.

Only count on this fight taking place if a deal can be arranged to bring it to America. If a purse bid dictates Russia, then Haymon will almost certainly have Wilder bin his belt.

 

3. Sergey Kovalev-Andre Ward

Probably the best fight that can realistically be made for next year, and, supposedly, a deal is already tentatively in place if they both win 1 or 2 interim bouts.

Can Ward make his layoff pay off, or will his years on the shelf rob him of the apex of his prime needed to beat the fearsome, also highly skilled Kovalev?

The winner of this one could lay a strong claim to pound for pound supremacy.

 

4. Adonis Stevenson-Artur Beterbiev

Stevenson-Kovalev never happened due to the Haymon/Main Events divide, but this is the next best thing.

It could be the logical passing of the Haymon 175lb. torch, as the unbeaten amateur sensation meets an ageing champion who has been on a steady diet of also-rans.

 

5. James DeGale-Badou Jack 

This fight would decide the #1 super middleweight in the world (sorry, Arthur Abraham), and is makeable because they are both with Haymon.

Jack has been a real success story in 2015 & his high-activity pressure style should be a good match with the slick, but hittable and sometimes lazy, southpaw DeGale.

 

6. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin

Golovkin is Canelo’s mandatory but that doesn’t seem to mean much to the Mexican sanctioning body in question.

That said, the fight seems possible for September, would once & for all decide the true middleweight champion, and would either establish Canelo as a true Mexican great or give Golovkin the marquee name he’s been craving to propel him to PPV stardom and the big bucks his talent deserves.

 

7. Billy Joe Saunders-Chris Eubank Jr. II

They served up a thriller laced with bad blood in 2014, and, now that Saunders has a world title, it’s a rematch that makes sense next year.

It’s made more realistic due to Eubank’s surprise departure from Matchroom & Boxnation’s announcement of a new PPV outlet, meaning more money to make bigger matchups.

 

8. Kell Brook-Amir Khan

God, how we’ve longed for this fight.

Maybe now that Mayweather and Pacquiao have definitively given Khan the finger, he will finally take the big pot of gold on offer for a Brook Wembley showdown.

Does Khan still have the passion for boxing, fighting as infrequently as he has & begging in the media for big fights, rather than going out and earning them? Could that be the difference if it happens?

 

9. Keith Thurman-Shawn Porter

Rumoured for February or March, this is a fight fans have been calling for since Porter beat Broner in June.

He’ll get his shot at a career-defining win, and provide Thurman with a chance to justify his hype by taking on a top welterweight in his prime.

 

10. Viktor Postol-Terence Crawford

Who’s the best at 140lbs.?

This fight would decide all, and would match two of the best technicians in the sport. Let’s hope it happens before Crawford moves to welterweight & calls for super fights.

 

11. Takashi Uchiyama-Nicholas Walters

Uchiyama has long been one of the best fighters few outside the hardcore fans have heard of, and is the top man at 130lbs.

A rumoured trip to America to take on the rapidly rising ‘Axe Man’ Walters would be a premier matchup & chance to showcase his skills to the widest audience.

 

12. Gary Russell Jr.-Leo Santa Cruz

There are many excellent in-house fights that Haymon can make in his loaded featherweight stable, but this is the one that I like the most.

Russell’s speed versus Santa Cruz’s relentless pressure would be a delicious confrontation.

 

13. Roman Gonzalez-Juan Francisco Estrada II

Here we are again…

They served up a jr. flyweight thriller in 2012, and, as the top two boxers at flyweight, a rematch is a must.

Now that Gonzalez has made a name for himself on HBO, this could be bankrolled as a ‘Boxing After Dark’ headliner in the summer somewhere in America.

Winner versus Naoya Inoue in 2017, please?

December 30th’s Random Boxing Rants

Via Dan Rafael on twitter: “Awesome [Tommy Burns vs. Jack Johnson] factoid from 107 yrs ago today: The promoter (Hugh McIntosh) served as referee!! 1st fight he ever officiated!”

I can name a few 21st century promoters who wouldn’t mind operating under those rules.

 

It’s been enjoyable & informative, but quite a task, to compile a list of boxing’s worst offenders in the area of officiating each month in my Judging the Judges segment which debuted this year on Pound4Pound Ireland.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…yet boxing has a way of forgetting about past sins & assigning the same officials involved in botching fights to the next big one.

With that in mind, who were some of the worst repeat offenders of the year?

Ian John-Lewis tops the list with a whopping 7 gaffes in the 11 months I covered, with countrymen Marcus McDonnell, Terry O’Connor, Dave Parris and Steve Gray all repeat offenders also.

I’ll admit that this is somewhat skewed due to my viewing of British boxing being more comprehensive than international bouts, but one can only draw the conclusion that British boxing has some of the worst referees and judges in the world.

Pat Russell, responsible most notably this year for ending Bradley-Vargas ten seconds too early with Bradley reeling, takes the boxing razzie for worst international official with 3 total offences on my scale of incompetence.

 

 

How did my prospect of the year picks for 2015 pan out?

(https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2014/12/31/pound4poundirelands-2014-fight-knockout-round-prospect-upset-and-trainer-of-the-year/)

Felix Verdejo made his HBO debut and continued to progress, although a hand injury did put him on the shelf for a while.

Errol Spence made it look easy as he demolished a quartet of fringe contenders at 147. He’s ready for world level in 2016.

Oleksandr Usyk continued to rise at cruiserweight with 3 wins, and, despite middling opposition, looks ready for anybody after just 9 pro fights.

Definitely a blue chip trio of ‘can’t miss’ future titlists.

 

 

What about the fights I hoped would happen in 2015?

(https://pound4poundireland.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/fights-to-look-forward-to-in-2015/)

Unfortunately, only 3 of the 12 hoped-for fights happened, although Frampton-Quigg is set for February.

Not a good haul.

Some of the fights on the list (Canelo-GGG & Brook-Khan, for example) just might be ready to ripen in 2016, while others (Stevenson-Kovalev & Lomachenko-Walters) seem unlikely to ever take place.

 

Wrap-up of the two big UK cards that ended the boxing year: Saunders MD12 Lee: a purist’s exercise in fistic chess.

I was very impressed by Saunders, and expect him to be matched right (think more Tommy Langford than GGG) & hold onto the belt for quite a while.

He showed great improvement from the Eubank Jr. contest a year ago. His strategy was spot on, he kept his composure throughout, showed surprising power, and, even though he again faded to a degree late, it seemed less due to conditioning than to playing it safe with a healthy lead in hand.

As for Lee, his luck was bound to run out sooner rather than later, but he showed great heart as always to survive the torrid third round. He can come again right back into a significant fight, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him in the ring with Danny Jacobs next year in NYC.

 

Joshua KO7 Whyte topped the card of the year on December 12th.

I’m not usually given over to unqualified superlatives, but this was a night of thrilling entertainment that left me breathless.

Two upsets were authored by Barroso knocking out Mitchell (to earn a shot at Anthony Crolla) & Luke Campbell floundering, and Bellew-Masternak was fun.

All heart, no head from Eubank Jr. in the co-feature. I couldn’t believe I was watching an Adam Booth fighter in there. He’s nowhere near ready for Danny Jacobs (whom he’s now mandatory for) & I’d be surprised if he’s sent to New York to fight him next year.

Perfect stoppage by Spike’s corner after round 7. It boggles the mind that the same corner let Frank Buglioni absorb a full 12 rounds of hellacious punishment against Fedor Chudinov in September. Maybe they’ve learned a valuable lesson.

The Campbell loss was one of the biggest upsets of the year, as he was one of the sport’s brightest prospects.

He’ll learn a lot from the defeat but was seriously exposed at this stage of his development. His weak, amateurish punches hardly penetrated Yvan Mendy’s guard at all, and, as a bantamweight amateur, clearly he had trouble dealing with pressure from a decently skilled, natural lightweight. In fact, Mendy has gone 12 rounds with divisonal leader Viktor Postol at 140lbs.

A lot of work for ‘Cool Hand’ to do, but I still think that someday he will win a world title. However, the expected showdown next year with Anthony Crolla is down the tubes.

I knew the AJ journey would be exciting, but the main event was a surprisingly early test of his mettle. He flirted with disaster and it’s telling of how raw he is that he struggled so mightily the first time he faced somebody with ambition, a decent chin and who threw punches of his own in return.

A world level fighter would likely have ended matters in the 2nd, which puts the kibosh on the hype merchants who would have us believe that Joshua is already one of the best in the world. His defence needs to be improved, and he lacked fluency in there at times, appearing stiff in the shoulders. Those improbable muscles had him gulping oxygen mighty early too.

On the plus side, he’ll have gained a lot of experience & his composure from round 4 onwards to break a tiring Whyte down was admirable, as was the spectacular finish.

Spike & Whyte both see their stock rise in defeat, and can come again. I see Joshua-Whyte II in the future. In Joshua’s immediate future, perhaps it will be Chisora next on April 9th, or Helenius for the European title?

 

Funniest boxing moment of 2015?

My vote goes to the belated realization of Alan Partridge’s concept of Chris Eubank reviewing youth hostels.

 

Bonus Eubank hilarity to end the year’s ‘random rants’.

Frank Bruno could never dance that well.

Happy 2016 everybody!

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