Boxing: Marco Huck boxing 2012 'Other Awards'

December, 26, 2012
There are two kinds of year-end awards: the ones that matter, and the ones you're about to read.

First, an acknowledgement: Boxing is a deadly serious sport, and just for having the guts to step into the ring, every professional fighter deserves the respect of us know-it-alls on press row.

But it is sometimes a writer's job to provide levity and to playfully mock the brave men (and women) whom he wouldn't dare mock to their faces. In that spirit, enjoy these awards recognizing some of boxing's best, worst and just plain weirdest from 2012:

The Fastest Way to Throw Away All of Your Street Cred Award goes to Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose carefully cultivated gangsta image unraveled when "Money May" went to prison and insisted he couldn't survive without bottled water. I'm pretty sure when Suge Knight did time, he didn't complain about the scarcity of Evian. I can't wait until Floyd meets Dewey Bozella and bends Dewey's ear with tales of how tough his two-month stretch was.

The Male Undergarment Trendsetter of the Year Award goes to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., who turned heads and burned out retinas with his neon pink briefs on "24/7." It could have been worse, I suppose; at least Chavez never forced HBO to go to the blurcle.

The Most Appropriate Name Award goes to Guy Robb, who was the guy robbed when ref Vic Drakulich called a premature stoppage in his January fight with Joel Diaz. Sure, Robb was behind on points and probably going to lose anyway. But I'm willing to stretch a bit to give him this award, because the alternative involved making a bunch of jokes about Adrien Broner's last name that would have put my editor in an uncomfortable position. Speaking of Mr. Broner ...

The Most Polarizing Figure in Boxing Award was a tight race between Broner and Danny Garcia's father Angel, but in the end, I'm giving it to the Twinkie-tweetin' lightweight sensation. By a nose, it's the "Can Man" over the least popular man in Pakistan.

The Live TV is not for Everyone Award goes to Chuck Giampa, who in his debut appearance as a Showtime analyst in January took us inside the mind of a boxing judge ... revealing it to be an awful lot like going inside Al Capone's vault. Giampa hit for the cycle of on-camera work: The freeze, the repeat-your-line, the four-letter word and the premature cutaway were all represented in his first 10 seconds on the air.

The Wasted Year Award goes to Gary Russell Jr., who, at age 24, followed up his Prospect of the Year campaign by fighting just twice against nondescript opposition. If Russell doesn't show up to collect his award (a realistic possibility, given his recent disinclination toward public appearances), we'll instead give it to his Olympic teammate Demetrius Andrade, in recognition of his racking up five rounds of professional experience this year as a fellow 24-year-old.

The Best Performance of a Bette Midler Song by Two Men About to Fight Each Other Award goes to Kevin Johnson and Tyson Fury, who delivered a stirring piano-and-vocals rendition of "Wind Beneath My Wings" in December. Full-on "Beaches" remake, anyone?

The Best Story About Biting out Another Dude's Eye Award goes to Freddie Roach, as revealed on the outstanding HBO documentary series "On Freddie Roach." Meanwhile, the Worst Investigative Journalism Award goes to the production team behind "On Freddie Roach." Freddie tells this amazing and gruesome story about getting jumped and biting out the eyeball of one of his attackers, a one-eyed man happens to work at his gym and appears regularly on the show ... and we don't get any follow-up questions?

The Most Inspiring Fighter Award (hey, nobody said we couldn't mix in a serious category or two) goes to Paul Williams, who handled his motorcycle crash and subsequent partial paralysis with more positivity than I ever would have thought possible. A runner-up nod to Orlando Cruz, who this year became the first openly gay active pro boxer.

The You Might Want to Stick to Promoting Award goes to 50 Cent, for the quality of his rapping during Yuriorkis Gamboa's ring entrance in December.

The Worst Refereeing Award goes to Luis Pabon, who simply wouldn't get out of the way in February's Marco Huck-Alexander Povetkin heavyweight fight and almost certainly cost Huck a knockout win as a result. Pabon proved to be the fight game's equivalent of a helicopter parent, always hovering, always looking to break clinches before they even happened. Pabon even got clocked by an errant punch at one point -- which is the sort of thing that happens when a ref inserts himself while the fighters are actively attempting to, you know, fight.

The Hottest Twitter Trending Spectacles of the Year Award goes to Jim Lampley's tortoise-shell frames. Better luck next year, Jim Lampley's matte black frames and Jim Lampley's wire frames.

The Please do Your Business Off TV From Now on Award goes to Miguel Vazquez, who put two audiences to sleep in a six-week span late in the year with his action-free decision wins over Marvin Quintero and Mercito Gesta. Vazquez is a skillful fighter who has every right to make a living in the ring. I just don't want to know about it until the fight is over and the result is posted somewhere on the Internet.

The Least Welcome Fight of the Year winner is a toss-up between Christy Martin-Mia St. John II and Wladimir Klitschko-Jean-Marc Mormeck. In the end, I lean toward Klitschko-Mormeck because it lacked the potential for a wardrobe malfunction from a former "Playboy" cover girl.

The Chin of the Year Award would have gone to Mariusz Wach for the beating he endured from Klitschko, but because Wach's performance was tainted by a positive drug test, I'm instead giving this one to all the loyal boxing fans who took it on the chin from the sport's feuding, counterprogramming power brokers on Sept. 15. The fans who support this sport take enough abuse week in and week out without being forced to miss either a Chavez fight or a Canelo Alvarez fight because rival promoters and rival networks need to have their diva standoffs. Hopefully, in 2013 more of the powers that be will consider what's best for the fans and the Chin of the Year Award can be bestowed on an actual fighter.

Back to the drawing board for Huck

November, 3, 2012
Firat ArslanThomas Starke/Bongarts/Getty ImagesCruiserweight titlist Marco Huck, left, had all that he could handle from 42-year-old First Arslan.
It will go down in the record book as a unanimous decision win and, depending on what happens from here, might very well be forgotten over time.

But let the truth be told, cruiserweight titlist Marco Huck struggled mightily Saturday night to get past 42-year-old former titlist Firat Arslan in the Serbian-born Huck's adopted home of Germany.

In fact, you could make a strong case that Huck (35-2-1, 25 KOs) didn't deserve the victory at all. Not only was the third scorecard laughable at 117-111 after two cards of 115-113 were read in favor of Huck, I scored it 116-112 in favor of Arslan, who simply outworked the champion.

The 27-year-old Huck is never in a bad fight thanks to his exciting style, and the toe-to-toe battle with Arslan (32-6-2, 21 KOs) was no exception.

But if anyone out there was still holding out hope that Huck could, per se, move up and challenge heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko -- as Huck's promoter recently attempted to hype -- Saturday's fight was a cold, hard reality check.

The 6-foot-2 Huck defaulted on his height and reach advantages by simply abandoning his jab for nearly 12 full rounds, allowing the southpaw Arslan -- whose hand speed wouldn't be confused with fast -- to continually walk right through his limited defense.

Arslan, who fought an intelligent bout, routinely set the pace by crowding Huck with his high guard and backing the champion up to the ropes. From there, he landed a series of accurate left uppercuts at close range, bloodying Huck's nose in the second and ninth rounds.

While Huck landed the harder shots throughout and rebounded in the middle rounds by working well to the body, the majority of the looping left hooks and straight right hands he threw were gobbled up by Arslan's gloves.

Huck never failed to excite and adjusted just enough to give the judges whatever it was they needed to see (and I still don't see it) to award him the decision. But the truth is, Huck's technical skill and the way he was constantly put on his heels by a 42-year-old fighter felt amateur for a champion fighter of his accolade.

It was also a victory Huck badly needed to close a 2012 that hasn't necessarily left his stock pointing upward.

Huck looked good in his February debut at heavyweight only to drop a debated majority decision to second-tier titlist Alexander Povetkin. He then took home a debated draw in a May cruiserweight defense against Ola Afolabi.

There's no doubt that Huck could make a nice living as an exciting heavyweight attraction should he decide to make the full-time move. But to be more than that, the fighter and his team should spend a little less time using words like Klitschko and a little more time back at the old drawing board.

Five things learned from the weekend

February, 26, 2012
A boxing fan learns quickly it is sometimes best to be satisfied with small victories.

It makes ample sense to book the fight all of us are hungering for, Floyd Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao, but for some reason, that isn't occurring. So rather than dwell excessively on that and fall into a river of mopiness, I will instead look on the bright side, and acknowledge that Friday and Saturday passed, and there were no egregious judging screw-ups in big fights.

Here are five other takeaways from the big bouts this weekend.

5. Boxing's not like a cold
Omar Sheika, almost a dozen years after his first title crack against Joe Calzaghe (TKO5 loss in London) is still at it. The Paterson, N.J., resident fought on Friday in Pennsylvania, and scored a 10-round unanimous decision over Tony Ferrante. Sheika is 35 years old and no longer in the mix for title shots, not unless we're talking about maybe a state strap. But he soldiers on. Because it's in his blood, it's who he is, it's what he knows. Boxing for many isn't like a cold; it's not something that passes through your blood after a certain span of time.

4. Cleverly should be careful what he wishes for
Nathan Cleverly hasn't been shy about calling out some big names at 175. So it was a bit surprising that the Welshman went along with the program, and agreed to meet the unheralded Tommy Karpency, a 21-2-1 American lefty with a genetically modified record. Cleverly rose to 24-0 with a shutout win in Wales over the catcher Karpency, but did it really do him any good? Sure, he got some rounds in, but he drew scorn on both sides of the pond for accepting such a gimme defense. And if he does ever lure someone like Carl Froch or Bernard Hopkins into a tussle, he will find rounds with Karpency didn't do anything to prep him.

3. Devon wasn't great, but was darn good
There was a lot to like about Devon Alexander's showing against Marcos Maidana in St. Louis, but, to be nitpicky, some things to critique. Yes, he shut out the bomber Maidana, but at 147, the Argentine is not really a bomber. Alexander took to welter seamlessly, but Maidana, as he stated post-bout, is best at 140. Plus, Devon can craft combos and use his feet so smartly; why then does he so often resort to the John Ruiz method of operation, the toss-and-clinch style? To his credit, he said post-bout to Max Kellerman that he knows he's still a work in progress. So all in all, tag us as Alexander fans.

2. Broner can become a star
Alexander had his moments against Maidana, yes, but I left the weekend being most intrigued by thoughts of how far Broner, the 22-year-old from Cincinnati, can go. His hand speed is ridiculous, as Eloy Perez, no slouch, figured out when he ate a nasty shot and was separated from his senses in round four in St. Louis. I'm looking forward to WBO super featherweight champ Broner moving to a sexier division and seeing what he can accomplish. I'm thinking he can be big, and can beat “AmeriCANS, MexiCANS,” etc. (You did see his post-fight interview with Kellerman on HBO, right?)

1. Paging Dr. Atlas
I have my doubts whether Teddy Atlas would even take the call, he's so hurt by the split. But Alexander Povetkin proved he's about 100 times better with Atlas in his corner, and in his life, than without. Povetkin was chomping for air in Stuttgart early on against Marco Huck, and if rounds went 3:25, Huck would today be the holder of the WBA heavyweight strap. He had Povetkin thisclose to being KO’d in Germany Saturday night. Povetkin should pick up the horn and beg and plead Atlas to come back and work with him, because his prep and game need fixing up.