SAN DIEGO, Calif., December 29, 2017 – Despite being “retired,” Floyd Mayweather still managed to be the biggest name in boxing worldwide in 2017. But let’s put his admittedly successful business venture aside and talk about the significant accomplishments in the ring which deserve recognition, if not a spot on the most popular Google search terms in 2017.
Many athletes in boxing won’t make a fraction as much money over their lifetimes as Mayweather did in one August night. It’s unlikely fans will stop them on the streets for a photo in the way even a modestly talented American football or basketball player gets attention. But no athletes work harder than boxers or go through more for our entertainment. We salute every single man and woman who gets in the ring.
Ringside Seat selects these individuals for the following Boxing’s Best 2017 Awards:
Upset of the Year: Caleb Truax defeats James DeGale
Minnesota based super middleweight Caleb Truax didn’t have much success in his two previous title fights, losing to Anthony Dirrell and Daniel Jacobs. There was little expectation Truax would fare much better against IBF titleholder James DeGale on DeGale’s home turf on December 9, his first fight in London since 2014.
In a true shocker, Truax (29-3-2, 18 KOs) soundly defeated DeGale (23-2-1, 14 KOs), the number one ranked super middleweight in the world, by majority decision with scores of 116-112, 115-112 and a hometown 114-114- draw from the lone British judge. DeGale, 31, never seemed to get his bearings, while Truax, 34, gained momentum in every round. Stlll, it’s tough to get a decision against a champion fighting at home. Fans held their breath until Truax heard the three greatest words in boxing: “And the new!”
Truax had never been ranked in the top 10, and only started boxing to pay off his college student loans. Now he can look forward to a bigger fight and better payday in 2018. There was a rematch clause between Truax and DeGale, so look for a possible April date. Truax says he’s back in the gym and would be happy with a rematch, but would love to have a championship fight this time in Minnesota.
Upset of the Year Honorable Mention: Jeff Horn defeats Manny Pacquiao
Rising Star of the Year: Ryan “Kingry” Garcia
At just 19 years, the personable super featherweight from Victorville, California is quickly winning over fans with his quick hands, quick smile, and knockout power. Ryan “Kingry” Garcia fought six times in 2017, scoring six crowd-pleasing knockouts including one within the first round. He finishes the year with a 12-0 record, and he’s only gone to the scorecards once so far in his professional career.
Garcia fights in one of the most competitive divisions in boxing with Vasyl Lomachenko and Miguel Berchelt at the top. He’s tall for a lightweight at 5-foot-10, so don’t be surprised if he moves up several divisions over the next few years. He still has a lot to learn, but it’s going to be fun for us to watch him progress. Golden Boy Promotions was smart to snap Garcia up.
Rising Star Honorable Mentions: Regis Prograis, Jaime Munguia, Katie Taylor
Comeback of the Year: Sadam Ali
Puerto Rico’s six-time, four division world champion Miguel Cotto had trouble finding a worthy opponent for his farewell fight at Madison Square Garden on December 9. Errol Spence, Jr., Mikey Garcia and Danny Garcia reportedly all turned him down. Brooklyn’s Sadam Ali finally said yes. It was the best decision of his life.
Ali defeated Cotto in a unanimous decision to win the WBO junior middleweight title. Ali had Cotto hurt multiple times in the bout. Even accounting for a left bicep injury to Cotto, the 29-yearold Ali fought with more skill and speed than the 37-year-old champion.
Since his March 2016 knockout loss to Jessie Vargas, Ali was determiend to work his way back up the ranks of the division. He had three straight wins, but few gave him any chance in what appeared to be a showcase sendof for the retiring Cotto. Ali and trainer Andre Rozier had their own plans, and rewrote the ending of the script. Ali can now look forward to a title defense in early 2018, likely against mandatory challenger and former titleholder Liam “Beefy” Smith of Great Britain.
Comeback Honorable Mentions: Ray Beltran, Miguel Roman
Trainer of the Year: Anatoly Lomachenko
By anyone’s standards, Vasyl “Hi-Tech” or “NoMasChenko” Lomachenko possesses extraordinary, almost unworldly physical talents and abilities. His speed, precision, balance, footwork, and movement is virtually unmatched, to the point his last four opponents have all quit against him.
Lomachenko has worked with only one trainer throughout his extensive amateur career and impressive professional career: his father, Anatoly. The senior Lomachenko’s training methods are unusual in boxing. They are a mix of traditional boxing skills, cross training drills including breathing, swimming, and hand to eye coordination; and a series of mental tests and puzzles intended to develop the ability to focus and think quickly in the ring, even when fatigued.
It’s possible this method wouldn’t work for anyone else, but it’s working beyond expectations for Vasyl. If his star continues to rise, Anatoly Lomachenko will win this recognition many more times over the next decade.
Trainer Honorable Mention: Andre Rozier (Danny Jacobs, Sadam Ali), Eddy Reynoso (Canelo Alvarez); Abel Sanchez (Gennady Golovkin, Murat Gassiev)
C.J. Ross Award: Judges Gustavo Padilla and Hubert Earle – Ryoto Murata vs. Hassan N’Dam I, May 22, 2017
For the fourth year, Ringside Seat presents its award for the worst decision in boxing, named for the infamous Nevada boxing judge who generated outrage over her rotten decisions in high profile fights in 2014. Following the uproar over her scoring, Ross decided to retire. Thankfully her final call was a good one. The Ross Award goes to the boxer who most got worked by an unfair decision.
Surprise, it’s not Horn vs Pacquiao or Canelo vs. Golovkin. It’s the first meeting between middleweights Ryoto Murata of Japan and Hassan N’Dam of France on May 20. This fight had not one but two inept judges who handed N’Dam a majority decision with cards of 117-110, even though N’Dam was knocked down twice by Murata and dominated throughout the fight. For once the result was so egregious, officials took punitive action. WBA president Gilberto Mendoza ordered an immediate rematch, suspended the offending judges Gustavo Padilla of Panama and Hubert Earle of Canada for six months, and apologized to the Japanese boxing public.
The October 22 rematch aired in the early morning hours on ESPN in the U.S., and scored a record TV audience in Japan of 30 million viewers. Murata showed why he’s the only Japanese Olympic gold medalist at middleweight and the first since 1964 by delivering a beatdown on N’Dam, stopping him in seven rounds.
Do you have your own winners? Another category? Tell us in the Comments section.
Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is a veteran boxing observer covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in Communities Digital News. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.
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