Ringside Seat picks boxing’s best of 2013: knockout, upset, comeback, emerging star

Gennady Golovkin wins our Knockout of the Year award - twice

SAN DIEGO, January 16, 2014 – People like to organize and rank things. It helps us make sense of our world. We love to see who comes out on top. Boxing writers are no different.

So we put together Top Fights lists, and select individual achievements that impressed us in the 12 months that have ended. Every writer has differing criteria, and sees the fights, fighters, circumstances and backstory in their own ways. I enjoy reading my colleagues’ lists and their smart reasoning for their choices.

Gennady Golovkin wins our Knockout of the Year award – twice

Ringside Seat named our Top Fights of 2013 and our Fighter of the Year, Adonis Stevenson, in separate columns. Following are the remaining top performers in boxing in various categories for 2013. .

Knockout of the Year

Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin, June 29, 2013; and vs. Nobuhiro Ishida, March 31, 2013

As spectacular and surprising as Fighter of the Year Adonis Stevenson’s first round KO was, Chad Dawson did get up. The recipients of the two punches tied for the Knockout of the Year weren’t going anywhere.

They were delivered by one fearsome fighter. Gennady “Triple G” Golovkin is one of the hardest punchers in boxing. Without a doubt he’s among the best body punchers ever. His stunning body shot knockout of Matthew Macklin in June at 1:22 of Round 3 established him as a top tier fighter and one of the most exciting in the sport today. Golovkin hit Macklin so hard it was as if someone had used an industrial strength taser on him. Golovkin walked away calmly after landing the punch. It was just another day at the office for him. Macklin later said he’d never been hit so hard. He couldn’t breath; the punch cracked a rib.

Just a few months before, Golovkin delivered a devastating knockout of Japan’s Nobuhiro Ishida in a fight in Monte Carlo, Monaco. Golovkin circled Ishida quietly for two and a half rounds, then sent him to the canvas at 2:11 of the third round. The referee didn’t even bother to administer a count. Ishida, who had never been stopped in a fight, was out cold. It was a display of force many compare to Mike Tyson.

Golovkin generates plenty of excitement among the boxing community. He loves to fight and the fans love him for it. If he gets the kind of matchups he deserves in 2014 and keeps up the pace, he wil be hard to beat as Fighter of the Year in 2014.

Emerging Star of the Year: Sergey Kovalev

Sergey Kovalev barely missed making the Russian Olympic team in 2008. He only started fighting serious competitors two years ago. In January, he had his first real opportunity, facing respected veteran Gabriel Campillo. Kovalev knocked Campillo down three times and stopped him in the fourth round. On ESPN’s Friday Night Fights in June, the boxer nicknamed “Krusher” crushed Cornelius White. It was his fourth round TKO of WBO champion Nathan Cleverly of Britain, a talented athelete, on Cleverly’s home turf in Wales that made the boxing community finally take notice of this powerhouse.  Kovalev put an exclamation point on his year by taking out Ismayl Sillahk in two brutal rounds.

Kovalev is the kind of boxer that thrills a crowd with skill and power. He joins Stevenson, the freak of nature Bernard Hopkins, and another impressive newcome, Beibut Shumenov, along with the still viable Cleverly, Dawson, Cloud, and others in a newly invigorated light heavyweight division

Undercard Fight of the Year

Nihito Arakawa vs. Omar Figueroa Jr., July 27, 2013

Boxing fans who ignore the smaller weight classes are missing out on some of the best bouts in the sport. Nearly 2,200 punches were thrown in 12 rounds between lightweights Nihito Arakawa of Japan and Omar Figueroa, Jr. of Texas in the fight on the “Knockout Kings 2” card in San Antonio, Texas in July. From the first bell, it was a full-on brawl and the fans couldn’t have been happier. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t even the main event of the night. It barely even mattered what the scorecard said. Although the unanimous decision went to Figueroa, Arakawa has many new American fans that can’t wait to see him fight again, hopefully against Figueroa. This was the clear Undercard Fight of the Year.

Upset of the Year

Adrien Broner vs. Marcos Maidana, December 14, 2013

The hard partying, trash talking Broner, who fancies himself the heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather, suffered his first loss at the hands of hard-punching Argentinean Maidana. Maidana made his case early, knocking Broner down for the first two times in his career, once in round two and again in round eight. Maidana stayed focused and stayed cool. Trainer Robert Garcia put together a smart game plan for Broner including body shots to wear him down. It worked. On this night, Broner’s probem was El Chino. Maidana now hopes to be an equally big problem for Floyd Mayweather in 2014.

Comeback of the Year: James Kirkland

The short list here is composed of Timothy Bradley, Manny Pacquiao, James Kirkland, and Marcos Maidana. It seems strange to have an undeafeated fighter on the list, but Bradley’s career was in free fall before his brawling decision over Ruslan Provodnikov and his decision over Juan Manual Marquez. Maidana’s win over Broner may earn him a fight with Floyd Mayweather, quite a change of fortune for him. Pacquiao’s place in boxing history is assured. He could retire at this point with no shame, though he will probably fight a few more times.

But for the sheer emotional impact, James Kirkland is my choice. Kirkland, a professional boxer for 13 years, has always showed the promise of being a powerhouse. Two timeouts spent serving prison time have derailed his career. A move away from his longtime trainer, Ann Wolfe, didn’t appear to serve him well. Kirkland returned to Wolfe and returned to form with a spectacular sixth round stoppage of a talented Glen Tapia, who was undefeated until then. Kirkland and Wolfe were elated by the victory. Here’s hoping they have more chances to celebrate in 2014.

Gayle Lynn Falkenthal, APR, is President/Owner of the Falcon Valley Group in San Diego, California. She is also a serious boxing fan covering the Sweet Science for Communities. Read more Ringside Seat in the Communities. Follow Gayle on Facebook and on Twitter @PRProSanDiego.

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