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Boxing review 2010 (Sky Sports)


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Boxing review 2010


Despite the biggest fights failing to happen we still had a huge amount to enjoy, both domestically and internationally, in the boxing year.


While Pacquiao v Mayweather and Haye v Klitschko may have to wait for another year (hopefully 2011) all four proved to be at the top of their game, although none fought more than twice.


Amir Khan remained, like Haye, a WBA champion while Scotland's Ricky Burns ended 2010 with a WBO strap, although Kevin Mitchell came up short in his attempt to win a world title against Michael Katsidis.


Carl Froch is a fourth British world champion after regaining his WBC super-middleweight belt following a defeat to Mikkel Kessler earlier in the year, while super-bantamweights Rendall Munroe and Jason Booth both saw brave bids to win world titles come up short.


We had some fantastic domestic action on Sky Sports with promoter Frank Warrenbreaking new ground by staging the Mitchell-Katsidis clash at Upton Park, there was the' Magnificent 7' and - to celebrate his 30 years in the business - King Khan & The Brit Pack.


Kell Brook, Nathan Cleverly, Matthew Macklin and Matthew Hatton all moved closer to a world title shot in 2011, while former crack amateurs James DeGale and George Groves remain on a collision course after collecting British and Commonwealth belts respectively.


Fighter of the year


Manny Pacquiao

What is there left to say about the Pac Man?? He fought just twice this year, on both occasions in front of huge audiences at the Cowboys Stadium in Dallas plus of course millions around the world on TV.


First was a routine victory against the out-classed Joshua Clottey, who entered the ring with solid credentials only to freeze on the big occasion, bringing little to the table as Pacquiao recorded a wide points win.


But it was the second occasion when the popular Filipino made history, winning in an eighth weight class when he pummelled Antonio Margarito to a brutal lop-sided points defeat.


It is just over 10 years since Pacquiao left the flyweight division behind, yet here he was taking on the teak-tough yet controversial Margarito for the WBC light-middleweight crown.


And although few could envisage a Margarito win, there is always the thought that one day the diminutive Pac Man will bump into a fighter who is simply too big and too strong.


Margarito had an official 6lb weight advantage over his opponent which was probably closer to a stone come fight night, but it mattered little as once again Pacquiao's lightning speed, his variety and volume of punches overwhelmed the former two-weight champion.


The Mexican was not long out of a 12-month suspension for being found to have loaded gloves before a previous fight, but his courage was there for all to see as he continued to stand in front of his opponent despite taking so many accurate blows that he ended the fight with a fractured cheekbone.


He did hurt Pacquiao with a body shot midway through the contest but that was just about as good as it got, and Margarito did well to reach the final bell despite his opponent giving the referee every chance to step in during the final two rounds.


Pacquiao had become a Congressman earlier in the year but his desire to please the beleaguered Filipino people shows no sign of dimming, and his conduct both in and out of the ring is a lesson to his fellow professionals.


Fight of the year


Amir Khan v Marcos Maidana

No points for originality but it has to be Khan's pulsating points defeat of Maidana in December.


The fight named as 'Thunder vs Lightning' lived up to its billing as the big-punching Argentine came from off the deck to give Khan all the trouble he needed in the Briton's third title defence.


All the pre-fight talk concerned whether Khan would prove elusive enough against a man who had won 27 of his 29 fights by KO.


Still labelled 'chinny' after being wiped out by Breidis Prescott two years ago, Khan finally proved that he can take a shot - and come back firing - on his Las Vegas debut.


Khan took the fight to his opponent from the outset and had Maidana down at the end of the first session following a great left hook to the body.


However, Maidana quickly regrouped and while Khan's speed was proving too much for the Argentine, he enjoyed success of his own as the pair freely traded combinations.


Khan's 'rope-a-dope' tactics surprised many as he soaked up Maidana's upper cuts and big right hands, but each time the Brit responded with classy combos to remind his opponent who was in charge.


He was clearly winning the fight after a one-sided seventh round but Maidana had proven durability and continued to come forward, nailing Khan with a trademark right hand in the 10th round.


The bell was too far away to save the champion, and he had to take countless blows as Maidana looked to finish it there and then.


More than a minute passed without Khan retaliating, but he finally hit back with some shots of his own before wobbling back to his corner on unstable legs.


However, the minute's rest proved crucial as Khan's head cleared, and he came through the final six minutes unscathed to retain the title with all three cards giving him the win by a couple of rounds.


Rising star


Nathan Cleverly

'Clev' may already be the WBO interim light-heavyweight champion but much bigger things surely await the 23-year-old from Wales.


Having finally put the text books away after completing his maths degree, Cleverly is now able to devote his attentions to the ring full-time, and he delivered a statement of intent as part of Frank Warren's 'Magnificent 7' promotion in September.


Having picked up the European title against Anthony Brancalion earlier in the year, the former British and Commonwealth champion faced his biggest test yet against unbeaten German Karo Murat.


And while Cleverly was immediately on the offensive, he was surprisingly willing to go to war with his opponent rather than pick his shots, much to the annoyance of a livid Warren at ringside.


And the young Welshman continued to mix it with the teak-tough Murat rather than use his reach advantage on the outside, displaying an admirable work ethic not to mention solid chin.


And there was no sign of fatigue as Cleverly ploughed relentlessly forward, breaking the heart of Murat, if not his spirit, the referee bringing the fight to a halt before the start of the 10th round.


It was a remarkable performance from the youngster, who admitted afterwards that he wanted to make a statement and announce himself on the world stage.


He will have plenty to prove in his first outing of 2011 however, after he ended the year with a lacklustre points victory over late replacement Nadjib Mohammedi.


Cleverly later admitted he had underprepared for the fight and also had difficulty nailing his opponent, who proved very slick and unwilling to meet in the centre of the ring.


Hopefully, it will serve as a reminder to the 23-year-old that nothing can be taken for granted at the highest level.


Knockout of the year


Sergio Martinez v Paul Williams

Last year's first instalment showed their could be plenty of mileage in a rematch, and after Williams had taken care of Cintron and Martinez decisioned Kelly Pavlik for the WBC strap, the pair met for a second time at the Boardwalk, Atlantic City.


Both had hit the canvas in the very first round 11 months before, and although Williams took a majority decision, Argentinian-born Martinez thoroughly deserved a second bite at the cherry.


And the champion came in with extra venom after Williams had negotiated a 158lb catchweight, throwing bombs from the outset in an even more lively start than their first encounter.


Williams tried to fight fire with fire but paid a heavy price, walking on to a big left hand that landed right on the button, putting the challenger's lights out before he had reached the canvas.


The spectacular win catapulted the 46-2-2 Martinez into the big time, with all those between 154 and 168lb within range.


Comeback of the year


Carl Froch

Nottingham's 'Cobra' had a perfect 25-0 record at the start of the year and had twice defended his WBC super-middleweight title.


But he finally met his match in April when he ran into former Joe Calzaghe victim Mikkel Kessler, dropping a uninamous decision.


If it wasn't for Froch's involvement in the ill-conceived World Boxing Super Six Series it is questionable as to where he could have gone thereafter.


As it was, Kessler was forced to give up the belt after being diagnosed with an eye condition, meaning Froch's final Super Six group match against former middleweight champion Arthur Abraham would be for his old strap.


It was incentive enough for the Brit, who was back to his dominant best against the German in Helsinki, winning virtually every round as he made it perfectly clear there are many more big paydays ahead.


British fighter of the year


Jamie McDonnell

The Doncaster bantamweight made his pro debut at just 19, so back-to-back defeats during the winter of 2007/08 have not been the setback they might have been had McDonnell started out further down the road.


Indeed, the losses meant he could leave the super-flyweight division behind and set his sights on the best domestic fighters higher up the scales.


And after four confidence-boosting wins, McDonnell - then 23 - was ready to step up against British champion Ian Napa in January with the Commonwealth strap also on the line.


McDonnell appeared to be on the losing end of a close decision but the judges favoured the much taller man, Dave Parris scoring it 117-112 against the unfortunate 'Dappa' Napa, who felt he had done enough.


He needn't feel too aggrieved though, as McDonnell duly went on to European honours, defeating Jerome Arnould of France with a 10th round stoppage, before successfully defending the crown against Rodrigo Bracco in devastating fashion, halting the Italian inside three rounds.


At 5ft 8in, McDonnell has a height and reach advantage over most of his potential foes at 118lb, and victory in his next defence in January could set up a mouth-watering clash with current British champion Stuart Hall, who is in fact higher in the European rankings.


Mismatch of the year


David Haye v Audley Harrison

Many asked the question 'why' when this WBA heavyweight title fight was announced, and several weeks and a lot of hyperbole later, the question remained.


Virtually the entire boxing community had written off Harrison on numerous occasions - the former Olympic champion simply lacking the heart to match his undoubted skills.


It looked like the end of the road in April when he was losing on points to Michael Sprott in a European title fight, only for Harrison to flatten his opponent with a left hand in the final minute.


That gave Audley a springboard back to the big time, and he managed to convince not only himself, but his promoter Eddie Hearn and countless fans that he had put his mental demons behind him.


But, peering through the fog of rhetoric, there was nothing in Harrison's CV to suggest he could live with Haye and so it proved come fight night.


Harrison froze - badly - no doubt in fear of his opponent's 'Hayemaker', which finally landed in the third round, putting A-Force on his backside before another barrage of shots ended matters abruptly.


The ageing Olympian had simply talked his way into a whole load of trouble, and didn't have a clue how to extricate himself.


Shock of the year


Ricky Burns

In September Scotland's Burns took on the previously undefeated Rocky Martinez, who was brought from Puerto Rico to defend his WBO super-featherweight title for a fourth time.


It was expected to be a routine defence for Martinez, who had knocked out Nicky Cook to win the title 18 months previously.


And it looked like that would be the case when a straight right hand detonated on Burn's chin in the opening round, causing the challenger to take a count.


However, the Coatbridge brawler weathered the storm, and quickly set about turning the fight around. If Martinez entered the ring with a gameplan, it was soon abandoned as he went after his opponent looking for an early finish.


But his crudeness was exploited by Burns, who took advantage by landing the shorter, sweeter shots and eventually disheartened the champion. By the end of the fight it was clear this was Burns' night, and it came as no surprise that all three judges gave the home hero the decision.


Farewell to....


Danny Williams

One of the British boxing stalwarts of the last decade, 2010 saw the last of the former British and Commonwealth champion, Tyson-tamer and world title challenger.


In a career of remarkable highs and lows, Williams remained an enigma to the end. The 'Brixton Bomber' seemed destined to remain at domestic level after defeats to European champ Sinan Samil Sam and then Michael Sprott, but fortune smiled on Danny when he was hand-picked by Mike Tyson's team in the summer of 2007.


Tyson was seriously diminished, but looking for a way back to the top where he could earn the kind of cash he needed to pay off his enormous debts. But he caught Williams on a good day, the Briton taking some serious punishment early on before dishing out plenty of his own, eventually stopping the former champion in the fourth.


A different Danny turned up later that year when his Tyson victory earned him a shot at WBC belt holder Vitali Klitschko. Williams was down four times and took a horrible beating from which he arguably never recovered.


He beat Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton in dreadful affairs before losing to both in re-matches, and although he saw off John McDermott twice - the first points win was hugely controversial - he clearly had nothing left. Defeat to Carl 'The Fridge' Baker in Prizefighter was nearly the end...but he was still British champion and wanted to go out on his sword.


And he did so in February, despite admitting he was 'shot' he defended the belt against Dereck Chisora, who demolished him in two rounds in which Danny could barely defend himself. It was a sad end to what was an extraordinary career.


Enzo Maccarinelli

It is to be hoped that we have seen the last of Enzo inside the ropes, for his own sake more than anything else.


The Welshman reigned as WBO cruiserweight champion for 18 months until he was short-circuited by David Haye in 2008, a defeat from which he never recovered.


Maccarinelli's air of invincibility was shattered by the then WBA and WBC champ inside two rounds of their unification bout, and he went on to hit the deck twice in 2009, suffering shocking KO losses both times.


Things were starting to look up for Enzo after scoring three first round stoppages of his own, before he took on the unbeaten Alexander Frenkel on September's 'Magnificent 7' card.


Maccarinelli appeared to have nullified the threat posed by the German until, like so often before, he let his guard slip and Frenkel landed on the button, putting the Welshman on his backside. Surprisingly, the referee allowed the fight to continue, but it only served to give Frenkel the chance to put his opponent down - and out - for good.


It's hard to see any way back now for Maccarinelli, who did himself and his country proud in a 32-5 career.


Gone but not forgotten


Harry Carpenter

The iconic commentator was the BBC's voice of boxing from its formative years right through to the modern era.


Famous for his 'double act' with popular heavyweight Frank Bruno during the 1980s, he became a household name thanks in part to Bruno's catchphrase 'Know what I mean 'Arry?'.


Carpenter, who died in March aged 84, was a former Fleet Street journalist who covered a number of sports for the Beeb over a 45-year period.


Edwin Valero

The Venezuelan became a phenomenon in his home country after winning his first 18 fights with first round knockouts.


He went on to win all his 27 fights inside the distance, picking up the WBA super-featherweight title and the WBC lightweight titles along the way.


Sadley, Valero was as fearsome outside the ring as he was inside, subjecting his wife to numerous beatings before being charged with her death in April.


'Dinamita' was on the cusp of greatness, being mentioned as a future Manny Pacquiao,but he would never get the chance to fulfil that prophecy, being found hanged in his prison cell - dead at the age of 28.



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Farewell to Valero? Really?


I say good riddance!


I can't condone what he did outside the ring, and while there's definitely some suspicious circumstances surrounding his death, there appears to be no doubt he was a woman-beater, and very likely murdered his own wife.

That's unforgivable, and he went from being my favourite active fighter, to a pariah overnight.

That all aside, he was great to watch inside the ring and delivered a knockout in every single fight.

That will only come around once or twice in a lifetime.

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