It was yet another boxing year where the two biggest fighters in the sport had the biggest fights, but not against each other. Manny Pacquiao won an easy decision against Shane Mosley and then a close decision in fight with Juan Manuel Marquez. Floyd Mayweather beat Victor Ortiz in an odd fight after Ortiz earned his chance by beating Andre Berto in an outstanding slugfest.
And the Super Six World Boxing Classic finally ended and Andre Ward was declared the winner after defeating Carl Froch in the tournament final.
Boxer Of The Year
Jake – Andre Ward
Andre Ward navigated the Super Six and emerged undefeated, with two title belts and the tournament championship. Not only did he beat Carl Froch, Mikkel Kessler and Arthur Abraham, he dominated them all. Ward is the clear choice for Fighter of the Year – his two 2011 performances over Froch and Abraham are enough to justify that – and it’s the culmination of a longer journey which led him from unproven to division kingpin.
Duan – Andre Ward
In a year when a lot of the sport’s big names had bad nights, Ward’s consistency has to be admired. He’s earned the right to be called the best Super Middleweight in the world.
Jason – Andre Ward
Andre Ward won the Super 6 and dominated some of the best fighters boxing has to offer.
Big D – Miguel Cotto
Great year for the Puerto Rican with a win over Ricardo Mayorga and a sweet win over Antonio Margarito. People are talking Pac for 2012 already!? I’d like to see it again!
GG – Andre Ward
The Super Six final against Carl Froch clinched it for Ward. It wasn’t just that he won the tournament. It was the way he won it. He clearly won all of his fights, going through some great boxers along the way.
Fight Of The Year
Jake – Andre Berto vs. Victor Ortiz
There are more than half a dozen fantastic candidates for Fight of the Year, and that’s not always the case in boxing. The one that stood out to me the most was Andre Berto vs. Victor Ortiz. It had it all – they traded knockdowns, and then knocked each other down in the same round, the crowd was off the charts, and the underdog pulled out the win in a fight which saw sustained, hard-hitting action from start to finish. It’s hard to discount fights like Delvin Rodriguez vs. Pawel Wolak I, Alfredo Angulo vs. James Kirkland, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. vs. Jorge Arce and seemingly scores of others, but Berto-Ortiz wins it for me.
Duan – Erik Morales vs. Marcos Maidana
Morales rolled back the years to add one more classic to his hall of fame worthy career. An amazing slugfest.
Jason – Andre Berto vs Victor Ortiz
It turned out that the winner would fight Mayweather and both laid it on the line.
Big D – Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Manny Pacquiao III
Pac’s greatest rival pushed him to the limit to where many people felt Marquez won the fight. Has this broken the imaginary teflon shield of Pac? Will Pac become Fedor in 2012? We need to see another one!
GG – Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Manny Pacquiao III
Berto/Ortiz was a much more entertaining fight blow-for-blow. But no fight in 2011 had me more locked in than this one. Duan and I re-watched the first two fights and scored them all over again, so by the time the third fight rolled along, it was like I was going to see the second sequel of my favorite movie. While I had Pacquiao eking out a victory, my heart was rooting for Juan Manuel Marquez all night.
Big Things In ’12
Jake – Many
Can I say Mayweather vs. Pacquiao? No? Of course not? Well then, how about Andre Ward vs. Lucian Bute? How about Nonito Donaire continuing to climb to higher weight divisions? Sergio Martinez finally getting another big fight? The endlessly deep class of exciting junior middleweight fighters? There’s a lot to be excited about in boxing right now beyond the two biggest names in the sport. By the end of the year, one of the guys I just mentioned could even be positioning himself to be the pound for pound kingpin depending on how it all shakes out.
Duan – Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
The kid is still only 21 years old and he’s already a major attraction. He’s had few difficulties with the crafty veteran and tough trial horse type opponents they have fitted him with thus far. It’s time for him to step up and be really tested.
Jason – Mayweather vs. Pacquiao
I hope for Pacman vs Mayweather as it’s the fight everyone wants to see but …
Big D – Cotto and Marquez
Miguel Cotto and Juan Manuel Marquez — I’ll be following these guys closely.
GG – Miguel Cotto
It’s weird to list one of the best boxers in the game here, but I feel like Miguel Cotto is reborn. After ripping the monkey off his back by beating up Antonio Margarito, I feel like whatever has been holding him back from pure greatness these past couple years has now disappeared. I would love to see him fight Pacquiao again because I truly believe he can beat him.
Moment Of The Year
Jake – The moment of the year in the sport has to be Floyd Mayweather’s “two-piece” knockout of Victor Ortiz, and the crazy aftermath which ensued between Mayweather and Larry Merchant in the ring. Nothing produced more buzz and water cooler chat for the sport than that scene. Whatever you think of it all – I think the KO was legit and legal, and Ortiz shares the blame; and I think that Merchant had it coming after being drunk on the air for a decade – it was the single most memorable moment of the year.
Duan – Even with the deck stacked, Juan Manuel Marquez showed that he is still every bit Pacquiao’s equal inside the ropes. Perhaps the most remarkable performance of the great man’s career.
Jason – Mayweather vs Merchent was one of the most amazing things I have ever seen from both a journalistic point of view and a fighter’s point of view. It really overshadowed the entire Mayweather/Ortiz fight.
Big D – Bernard Hopkin’s shoulder injury — two words: ouch again.
GG – Watching Juan Manuel Marquez masterfully box his way to near victory left me feeling uplifted and also conflicted because while I wanted him to win, I still had Pacquiao winning the fight. It was a performance that I’ll remember for a long time.
We’ll be back soon with our MMA awards for 2011.