Thursday, January 3, 2019
Boxing Awards 2018-The Best
I'm not going into a ton of detail because I assume that A) If you care you know this information already or B) You don't care and have already left the building so to speak.
This will be the first of a three-part series with the second part being the worst of 2018 and part three awarding "The Zabbies" for fighters that we don't need to see any further in the ring.
Fighter of the Year: Oleksandr Usyk
This was an easy choice as Usyk won three big fights, all of them on the road, unified the four cruiserweight titles, won the first World Boxing Super Series and then added a former division champion as a victim in his first defense.
That's a hell of a year!
Usyk narrowly decisioned (I scored it a draw) Mairis Bredis in the semi-finals of the WBSS to win the WBC title in Latvia, delivered a dazzling performance over feared WBA and IBF champion Murat Gassiev in Russia to win the tournament and then knocked out former champion Tony Bellew with one left hand in London to end the year.
Amazing what being active against strong competition can do for a yearly resume'.
Silver: Vasyl Lomachenko, only a shoulder injury that kept him to two fights kept him from challenging Usyk after two wins against champions Jorge Linares and Jose Pedraza.
Bronze: Deontay Wilder, a win to start the year over Luis Ortiz and a draw with Tyson Fury ended it.
Honorable Mention: Canelo Alvarez, Mikey Garcia, Josh Warrington.
Fight of the Year
Kosei Tanaka Majority Decision over Sho Kimura
The best fight almost no one saw and I was fortunate enough to watch this live at work in the late night/early morning hours,
Action packed with the tide turning back and forth, one can only hope to see these two in a 2019 rematch for Tanaka's WBO flyweight title.
Silver: Murat Gassiev KO 12 Yunier Dorticos- Two huge hitters pounding each other for twelve rounds and then a violent ending.
Bronze: Jarrett Hurd Split Decision over Erislandy Lara.
Imagine that- an entertaining Erislandy Lara fight! This one would have been scored a draw, if not for Hurd scoring a final round knockdown
Honorable Mention: Canelo Alvarez Split Decision Gennady Golovkin
Srisaket Sor Rungvisai Majority Decision Juan Francisco Estrada
Alex Saucedo TKO Lenny Zappavigna
Knockout of the Year
Naoya Inoue KO 1 Juan Carlos Payano
Inoue's demolition of Payano with one crushing right was one for the ages that dropped Payano to his back and only able to tip to his side like a collapsed brick.
Silver; Murat Gassiev KO 12 Yunier Dorticos
Bronze: Oleksander Gvozdyk KO 12 Adonis Stevenson
Honorable Mention: Oleksandr Usyk KO 8 Tony Bellew
Dillian Whyte KO 11 Dereck Chisora
Teofimo Lopez KO 1 Mason Menard
Upset of the Year
Elieder Alvarez KO 7 Sergei Kovalev
Watching this in a hotel room in Wytheville, Virginia, Kovalev won the first six rounds and seemed to be on cruise control against Alvarez, who Adonis Stevenson had shamelessly ducked for years.
That was until Alvarez turned Kovalev's legs into ramen noodles and three knockdowns later, owned the WBO title and might have ended Kovalev's viability for good.
Their rematch is held next month.
Silver; Josh Warrington Unanimous Decision Carl Frampton
Bronze: Rob Brant Unanimous Decision Ryota Murata
Honorable Mention; Maurice Hooker KO 7 Alex Saucedo
Emmanuel Navarette Unanimous Decision Isaac Dogboe
Tony Harrison Unanimous Decision Jermell Charlo
Round of the Year
Alex Saucedo- Lenny Zappavigna Round 4
A back and forth round that saw both fighters hurt and both fighters withstand booming shots and punishment.
If Saucedo-Zappavigna would have been for a world title or the brave Zappavigna been higher in the ratings, this bout might be higher in my fight of the year consideration.
The punishment Saucedo took in victory played a major part in his losing title challenge to Maurice Hooker in his next fight.
Silver: Deontay Wilder-Tyson Fury Round 12
Bronze: Murat Gassiev- Yunier Dorticos Round 12
Honorable Mention: Canelo Alvarez- Gennady Golovkin Round 10
Sriskaet Sor Rungvisai-Juan Francisco Estrada Round 12
Kosei Tanaka-Sho Kimura Round 2
Prospect of the Year
Lopez has mowed through the lower level competition impressively and has reached the point of meeting fringe contenders and his one round dispatching of Mason Menard was as good of a win as you'll see from a young fighter.
Lopez will fight a top ten contender and former champion in Diego Magdaleno on the Alvarez-Kovalev undercard in February.
Should Lopez win impressively defeat Magdaleno and his other fights in 2019, I wouldn't be shocked to see Lopez challenge Vasyl Lomachenko in 2020, should Lomachenko stay at lightweight or Lopez could be the one to leap to 140 pounds.
Silver: Josh Kelly
Bronze: Devin Haney
Honorable Mention: Shakur Stevenson
Commentator of the Year- Blow by Blow
Jim Lampley HBO
The voice of the now defunct HBO boxing program and one of the classiest guys in the game.
Lampley struggled through his final year with HBO through no fault of his own due to less than intriguing fights, the loss of interest by his company and being saddled with two color commentators that to be kind have become quite grating, but Lampley didn't allow it to affect his performance.
Lampley always understood that real emotion doesn't come with every boxing telecast and unlike so many in sports television today doesn't believe in manufactured emotion.
He'll be missed.
Silver: Brian Kenny DAZN
Bronze: Barry Tompkins Showtime
Commentator of the Year-Color
Al Bernstein Showtime
The veteran that has seen it all still breaks down a bout with the best of them and does it in a way that
doesn't oversimplify for the knowledgeable fan, but isn't too involved that the newer fan feels overwhelmed with nuances from the game.
What I like best about Bernstein is that he's not afraid to state an opinion, but also isn't afraid to veer away if there is a reason to change that opinion, whether during a fight or even over a boxer's career.
Bernstein ranks with the most versatile in television as he can do blow by blow or host if needed and doesn't feel the need to make the broadcast about himself.
Silver: Paulie Malignaggi Showtime
Bronze: Steve Farhood Showtime
Broadcaster of the Year
Considering that Showtime has the top three color commentators on my list for Showtime Championship Boxing and their developmental series ShoBox, a good host in Brian Custer and very readable graphics (Don't laugh that's not always the case in television), the Showtime broadcast isn't number one because HBO stepped aside, they are number one because they bullied them aside.
Showtime isn't perfect (as you'll see in part two) and sometimes they are at the mercy of their provider (Al Haymon's PBC) for too many showcase/squash matches that often times seem like there is a little too much buildup for a good fight, not great that should have been made earlier.
An example of this is in the welterweight division where PBC holds all the stars except for Terence Crawford, yet forces showcase fights to build for fights that are anticipated, but not breathtaking. such as any fight made between the trio of Keith Thurman, Danny Garcia, and Shawn Porter.
Still, the network only has so much control and Showtime's presentation ranks above them all.
Both of these networks are badly in need of help as the streaming aspect grows.
ESPN's team of Joe Tessitore, Mark Kriegel, and Tim Bradley along with DAZN's aforementioned Brian Kenny, Sugar Ray Leonard and occasionally Sergio Mora needs upgrading to keep pace with Showtime.
Opinions on these and more in part two.