- Dan Rafael, Boxing
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Yes, 2011 is in the books, but as is usually the case, the Fight Freaks have been tweeting me for more boxing award winners than just those I handed out last week. I'm here to serve. Now that I've borrowed Adrien Broner's brush and styled my hair, here are a few more, with Part 2 coming tomorrow:
Trainer of the year: There were several good candidates, including Robert Garcia (who trains, among others, Nonito Donaire and Brandon Rios); Freddie Roach (Manny Pacquiao, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Amir Khan), who has made the running for this award his personal playground in recent years; Barry Hunter (whose charge, Lamont Peterson, upended Khan); and Ann Wolfe, who deserves a ton of credit for the rebound of James Kirkland. But I'm going with Virgil Hunter, who led Andre Ward to unifying two super middleweight titles, the Super Six championship and fighter of the year honors. Hunter has trained Ward since he first picked up gloves as a kid, and they have climbed the mountain together. Now they can celebrate together.
Comeback of the year: You could certainly go with Kirkland, who returned to Wolfe and eventually outslugged Alfredo Angulo to rebound from a shocking first-round knockout loss to Nobuhiro Ishida. But I'm going with Erik Morales, whose return in 2010 from a 2½-year retirement looked like it would be spent fighting low-level opponents. But in 2011, Morales begged Golden Boy for a fight with Marcos Maidana, which everyone but Morales thought was a very bad, unhealthy idea. Many believed the Nevada commission shouldn't have approved the fight, calling it a death match. Instead, although Morales lost a majority decision, it was a massive upset that he was even still standing after a few rounds, much less that he made it an exceptionally competitive fight. Morales had turned back the clock. For good measure, he claimed a vacant junior welterweight belt (albeit a paper one, because it had been disgustingly stripped from Timothy Bradley Jr.) in his next fight.
Three Blind Mice robbery of the year: Three stand out -- junior middleweight Erislandy Lara getting ripped off against Paul Williams, Matthew Macklin being shafted in a middleweight title bout in Germany against hometown fighter Felix Sturm and heavyweight Dereck Chisora getting similar treatment against Robert Helenius in his native Finland. But Lara-Williams was the worst. While Williams was getting hammered so badly that HBO's announcers discussed the notion that he should retire, judges Hilton Whitaker (115-114), Don Givens (116-114) and Al Bennett (114-114) were tallying scorecards that were so abominable that the New Jersey commission suspended them indefinitely. They still haven't been reinstated.
Non-event of the year: Same as 2010. No Pacquiao-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight. And the soap opera continues.
TruTV court story of the year: Mayweather dealt with multiple court cases -- none more serious than the eight charges (four felonies and four misdemeanors) related to a domestic violence incident with his ex-girlfriend, the mother of three of his children. Mayweather eventually pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor battery charge and no contest on two harassment charges. He was sentenced to six months in county jail in Nevada, three of which were suspended. Instead of arranging the monster fight with Pacquiao, Mayweather, one of boxing's two most famous fighters, will spend the early part of 2012 in the can. He's due to report to jail Friday. He could be out by mid-March, but surely he won't fight in May as originally planned.
TMZ scandal of the year: Oscar De La Hoya went to rehab for drug and alcohol abuse. Then he admitted to multiple affairs, suicidal thoughts and came clean about those bizarre photos of him that wound up on the Internet a couple of years ago -- the ones supposedly taken by a stripper he was partying with in a hotel room showing him in sexually suggestive positions while wearing fishnet stockings, a woman's wig, panties and high heels -- admitting that they were indeed authentic.
All bark, no bite award: David Haye, obviously. After a couple of years of ducking heavyweight champ Wladimir Klitschko and trash-talking him to no end, Haye finally manned up and got into the ring. Instead of actually fighting and trying to back up his stream of venom, Haye spent more time flopping to the mat looking for penalty points than fighting as Klitschko kicked his butt in a virtual shutout. Then Haye made himself the laughingstock of boxing when he complained that he lost because of a sore pinky toe, even taking off his boot to show off the digit after his shameful performance. Haye showed himself to be a classless buffoon. The only bigger joke than Haye was his toe-tally pitiful excuse.
Video of the year: After all the trash-talking Haye did, Klitschko responded with this brilliant Internet video shortly after his July victory.
Boxing body parts of the year: 1. Haye's toe; 2. Antonio Margarito's right eye; 3. Pawel Wolak's hematoma; 4. Bernard Hopkins' left shoulder.
Non-effort of the year (after Haye's): It's a tie. Shane Mosley spent 12 rounds trying to touch gloves with Pacquiao instead of fighting, and Omar Narvaez ran from Donaire for 12 rounds -- and hopefully had his visa revoked when he returned to Argentina so that we never have to see him fight on U.S. soil again.
Non-sanctioned fight of the year: Junior middleweight titlist Saul "Canelo" Alvarez, with his 46-pound weight advantage, allegedly beating up junior flyweight titlist Ulises Solis in a street fight over a girl in Mexico.
Interview of the year: So upset by the decision after his fight with Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marquez didn't stick around in the ring to do an interview with HBO's Max Kellerman. So the cameras went to his dressing room, where Marquez agreed to talk. Having already stripped out of his ring gear, Marquez gave Kellerman an interview seated with a sombrero strategically positioned over his junk.
Faker of the year: Likar Ramos turned in an award-winning performance in his supposed first-round knockout loss to Marquez, who was using the fight as a tune-up for his third meeting with Pacquiao. Marquez landed a nice right hand, but you'd have thought Ramos got hit by Mike Tyson given the ridiculously exaggerated manner in which he went down. It looked like a tank job. I've seen better acting in the WWE.
Ducker of the year: Bradley. After repeatedly calling out Amir Khan for a junior welterweight unification fight, Khan accepted and HBO made deals with their promoters for a July fight. But Bradley, using the excuse of a feud with promoter Gary Shaw, refused. After Khan called his bluff and offered to do a 50-50 deal, including giving Bradley half of his British television money, which is unheard of, Bradley still balked. Then Bradley had the audacity to say that fighting Khan would do nothing for his career. Instead, he left Shaw, signed with Top Rank and beat the totally shot Joel Casamayor in a terrible fight. So what did that do for his career?
Most inspiring: Hands down, Dewey Bozella, who spent 26 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit and, at age 52, finally lived out his dream by making his pro debut in October. He won on the Hopkins-Chad Dawson undercard at the Staples Center. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
Biggest miracle: The Super Six World Boxing Classic actually reached its conclusion as Ward painted a masterpiece to unify super middleweight titles by easily outpointing Carl Froch.
Biggest bummer: Kelly Pavlik, who simply cannot get his life together as what little is left of his career circles the bowl.
In memoriam: Among those we lost in 2011 were Joe Frazier, Nick Charles, Genaro Hernandez, Gil Clancy, Bouie Fisher, George Benton, Bill Gallo, Ron Lyle, Henry Cooper, Gary Mason, Billy Costello, Butch Lewis and Scott LeDoux. Rest in peace.
Yes, 2011 is in the books, but as is usually the case, the Fight Freaks have been tweeting me for more boxing award winners than just those I handed out last week.