As great as pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr. is inside the ring -- and he is one of the greatest to ever lace up the gloves -- he hasn't made many appearances there in recent years before fighting twice in 2013.
In fact, Mayweather had not fought as many as two times in one year since 2007, when he outpointed Oscar De La Hoya in a fight that set numerous financial records, and then drilled Ricky Hatton. That was a huge year for Mayweather as he beat two quality opponents, made gargantuan sums of money and won fighter of the year honors for his excellent performances.
It's hard to win fighter of the year when you only fight once a year, however, which is what Mayweather did from 2009 to 2012 (and he didn't fight at all in 2008).
But in 2013, Mayweather signed a 30-month deal with Showtime/CBS for up to six fights. The deal set the industry on its head and is estimated to be worth up to $200 million. It was also a sign that Mayweather had recommitted to boxing more regularly and the result was two fights, two big events, two lopsided decision victories, more riches, more pay-per-view records and the 2013 ESPN.com fighter of the year award.
Mayweather (45-0, 26 KOs) may be 36 and closer to the end of his career than the beginning, but he was still brilliant, as always, in both victories. In May, Mayweather took on Robert Guerrero, who had campaigned for the shot at Mayweather for more than a year and did something many fighters aren't interested in doing -- he earned it by moving up two weight classes, from lightweight to welterweight, and beating two legit contenders in Andre Berto and Selcuk Aydin.
But Guerrero was no match for Mayweather, who barely broke a sweat outboxing him to win 117-111 on all three scorecards in a welterweight title defense.
And then, when some doubted Mayweather would take up the challenge, he returned to junior middleweight, where he also held a belt, and faced young, strong, undefeated Mexican star Canelo Alvarez in the biggest fight since, well, Mayweather-De La Hoya.
In a sublime performance, Mayweather toyed with Alvarez and won a majority decision, a result marred only by the absurd draw scorecard turned in by judge C.J. Ross (who later quit judging because of the intense backlash).
Besides unifying 154-pound titles, Mayweather's win over Alvarez generated $150 million in pay-per-view revenue to break the Mayweather-De La Hoya record ($136 million). It also sold 2.2 million subscriptions, second all-time to Mayweather-De La Hoya (close to 2.5 million) and broke virtually every other revenue record in boxing history.
When Mayweather fights, they are the biggest events in boxing and, thanks to his activity level in 2013, and the ease with which he beat two top opponents, he showed he is still the face of boxing.
"2013 has been a big year for 'The Money Team,'" Mayweather said. "It feels good to be where I currently am in my career. I am looking forward to 2014 being another exciting year for me. I appreciate the recognition and all of the support my fans shown me over the years."
2. Gennady Golovkin: Kazakhstan's Golovkin (28-0, 25 KOs) was a good boy in 2013, defending his middleweight title four times with four lopsided knockout wins -- including two that were in the running for KO of the year honors -- and becoming one of boxing's breakout fighters. In January, despite being ill in the days leading to the bout, he routed Gabriel Rosado, badly cutting him en route to a seventh-round stoppage. He went to Monte Carlo in March and obliterated Nobuhiro Ishida -- who had never been stopped -- in a sick, third-round knockout. Returning to the United States, GGG cut down quality contender Matthew Macklin in June with an audible body shot in the third round. Golovkin capped a huge year in November with an eighth-round destruction of Curtis Stevens.
3. Adonis Stevenson: "Superman" moved up to the light heavyweight division and took it by storm with four resounding knockout wins, one of which earned him a belt and the lineal title. Stevenson (23-1, 20 KOs) first cleaned up the mess of his only loss by destroying journeyman Darnell Boone in a sixth-round knockout in March. In June, Stevenson got a shot at champion Chad Dawson and knocked him out with one big punch -- the KO of the year -- in just 76 seconds to win the title. In his first defense in September, Stevenson was extremely impressive showing off his boxing skills -- and power -- as he walked through former titlist Tavoris Cloud. Stevenson, a growing attraction in his adopted hometown of Montreal, closed a fine campaign in November with a one-sided, sixth-round destruction of mandatory challenger Tony Bellew.
4. Timothy Bradley Jr.: Talk about turning things around. In 2012, Bradley was mocked around the world for claiming a welterweight title on a bad call made by two judges, who made him a split-decision winner against Manny Pacquiao in one of the most controversial calls in boxing history. Upset by controversy and with a point to prove that he could be an exciting fighter, Bradley (31-0, 12 KOs) let it all hang out in March as he went toe-to-toe with Ruslan Provodnikov in a brutal slugfest. Bradley was badly hurt numerous times, nearly knocked out in the first and second rounds and dropped in the waning seconds of the fight, but pulled out the well-deserved decision. Bradley returned in October and went back to his boxing ways as he claimed a split decision, one he deserved this time, against future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez.
5. Danny Garcia: Garcia claimed a pair of junior welterweight belts in 2012, but he stamped himself as the division's legitimate champion in 2013 with two important victories. In April, Garcia (27-0, 16 KOs) faced former titlist Zab Judah in Judah's hometown of Brooklyn, N.Y., and survived a tough battle. Garcia dominated early and scored an eighth-round knockdown before surviving a late Judah rally to retain his belts via unanimous decision. In September, Garcia left no doubt as to who the true 140-pound champion was when he outboxed and outslugged "The Machine," Lucas Matthysse, the huge puncher and betting favorite. Garcia swelled up Matthysse's eye and sealed the tight, unanimous decision with a knockdown in the 11th round.