Boxing 2004: Year End Awards

23.12.04 - By Matthew Hurley: As 2004 comes to a close it's time to look back and present some awards, or at least some approbation, to the many participants in the boxing world. It's also a good time to sling a few arrows and shoot some withering disdain in a few directions as well. But ultimately, in spite of a heavyweight division that often seemed like rats taking over a sinking ship, 2004 was a very good year for boxing. It was a transitional year, but then our beloved sport is one that seems to undergo constant change. So, without further ado here are some of the highs and lows of 2004.

Fighter Of The Year: Glen Johnson. The always underrated road warrior, the recipient of many a questionable decision loss, earned this honor with an upset knockout over Roy Jones and then with a characteristic, workmanlike performance over Antonio Tarver. His fight with Tarver was close, but Johnson again proved that his relentless aggression is both crowd pleasing and worthy of recognition by the fans and the judges. Knowledgeable fans always knew, the judges finally got it right..

Runners Up: Kostya Tszyu, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales and Felix Trinidad.

Fight Of The Year: Erik Morales – Marco Antonio Barrera III. What more can be said about these two great fighters that hasn't already been said? The fight was as good as their first epic bout and after thirty-six rounds of heated battle they are about as even in terms of heart, skill and courage as two fighters can be. The record of their trilogy may read 2 to 1 for Barrera, but it should read 3 to 0 for the fans.

Runner Up: Felix Trinidad – Ricardo Mayorga. More than a bit one sided, but the excitement of Tito's return, before a raucous crowd, and against a fearless Mayorga provided for tremendous excitement.

Comeback Of The Year: Kostya Tszyu. There were a lot of concerns about Tszyu. Was his body simply breaking apart? Did he have the desire anymore? Could Sharmba Mitchell stay on the outside and box, box, box? After two serious injuries and a prolonged absence from the ring it was all academic. He blasted out Mitchell with ease and appeared more menacing than ever. Accolades must also be given to Felix Trinidad who also returned after nearly two years out of the ring.

Trainer Of The Year: Joe Goosen. Goosen trained Joel Casamayor for his defeat over Diego Corrales and then switched corners and led Corrales to a close decision victory in the rematch. He also manned the reigns for Shane Mosley's attempt at regaining his belts against Winky Wright in their rematch. Mosley fought much better but the feeling by most has always been that Mosley is a welterweight or even a junior welterweight trying to take on the big boys because ego, and wins over fellow welterweight Oscar De La Hoya clouded his vision. Still Goosen was able to get a much better effort out of Shane. Wright was just too good and too big.

Worst Fight Of The Year: John Ruiz – Fres Oquendo. Some respect has to be given to Ruiz, albeit incredulous, because he keeps winning. But this ugly win was so bad Lennox Lewis walked out on it and I turned it off. Throw in Ruiz trainer, the execrable Norman Stone and you're left with nothing but the worst boxing has to offer. Don King must have been pulling his hair out when Ruiz pulled out another ugly victory over Andrew Golota in his next bout.

Best Pay Per View: Erik Morales – Marco Antonio Barrera III. The under card was lacking but the fight was so great it didn't matter.

Worst Pay Per View: Any Don King Heavyweight show featuring John Ruiz. Nobody should have to pay to see Ruiz.

Award For Meritorious Service To Boxing: The New York State Athletic Commission. By leveling a harsh suspension on Evander Holyfeild after his anticipated, abysmal performance against Larry Donald, someone has finally stood up and said "enough is enough". Hopefully the commissions in each state will follow this brave stance taken by Ron Stevens and Holyfield will finally be protected from himself.

Finally, on a sad note, this corner bids a fond farewell to New York columnist Jack Newfield. Newfield's relentless reporting for the Village Voice, the Post and most recently the Sun along with countless documentaries and books was an inspiration. He described his pen strokes as "… a Joe Frazier method of reporting." Newfield, who died on Monday, represented the tough-minded reporter who formed a triumvirate with Pete Hamill and Jimmy Breslin in New York. "Keep coming forward, don't get discouraged and be relentless," he said. He will be missed.

Article posted on 23.12.2004

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