Fighter of the Year
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
2. Adonis Stevenson
3. Guillermo Rigondeaux
* 2013 will be remembered by many as the year of the punchers, with significant successes for Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Ruslan Provodnikov, Lucas Matthysse (despite his defeat to Danny Garcia), Jhonny Gonzalez, Marcos Maidana, and Adonis Stevenson, and it is the latter who secures the 2nd spot on my Fighter of the Year list.
Beginning the year as a 36 year old 168lb. contender, and mandatory challenger to titlist Carl Froch, without much profile, he avenged the sole defeat of his career to journeyman Darnell Boone by 6th round knockout.
The came a surprise shot at lineal light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson, and one of the year’s most stunning upsets, a 76 second destruction of the shellshocked American.
Stevenson showed he wasn’t just a one-dimensional flash in the pan by displaying slick southpaw skills en route to two further dominant kos of top ten opponents Tavoris Cloud and Tony Bellew to round out his year, truly one to be proud of.
Let’s hope 2014 bring that Stevenson vs. Sergey Kovalev shootout that has everyone salivating.
* Despite the prominence of punchers this year, the other two spots on my list are reserved for two of the finest exponents of pure boxing skill to grace the ring in recent decades.
Guillermo Rigondeaux had a breakout year, schooling many people’s pick for 2012 FOTY, Nonito Donaire, to catapult himself to the forefront of the sport in just his 12th pro fight.
He only had one further contest in the year, a shutout of the highly capable Joseph Agbeko, due to dissatisfaction on the part of his promoter Top Rank (Bob Arum no doubt disgruntled that Rigondeaux had ruined his star fighter Donaire), and the network HBO, with his perceived ‘boring’ style.
When considering his prospects next year, it is worrying to read quotes such as this one from HBO Sports boss Ken Hershman: “I’m very torn, I have to say. I was expecting more from him. This is one where you listen to the fans. The fans voted by turning off the channel. At the end of the day we’re a TV network, and we have to please our subscribers. If they’re not interested, we have to respect that. In the right match maybe there will be another opportunity, but it’s not something getting done in the near future. I have tremendous respect for what he does, but it’s not something our subscribers responded to.”
It is equally disappointing to read the disgraceful, persistent and sophomoric criticism of Rigondeaux’s sublime skills perpetuated in the media by prominent journalists such as Dan Rafael (who embarrassingly picked Donaire to easily knock out Rigondeaux) and Kevin “MMA” Iole.
* My top spot this year is reserved for the pound for pound king, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Fighting twice in the same year for the first time since 2007, he completely dominated top 147 contender Robert Guerrero, and the undefeated 154lb. number 1 Saul “Canelo” Alvarez.
His win over Canelo (a man whom most thought Mayweather would avoid fighting at this stage) brought him a lineal championship in a 4th weight class, a feat only equalled by Manny Pacquiao.
He is more dominant than ever, beating top level opposition while barely breaking a sweat or taking a punch in return.
Though it factors little into my decision, it is also worth noting that Mayweather’s transcendence of the sport continues as strong as ever, his fight with Canelo being the most lucrative in boxing history, both at the gate and in terms of PPV revenue generated.
His 6-fight contract with Showtime, which will keep him active with 4 more fights over the next two years, is the most lucrative in the history of all sports.
It has never been more clear that Mayweather is the king of boxing, both in the ring and out.
He is the Fighter of the Year for 2013.