2nd Annual: Snowsy's Year End Awards
Mark Snow - 12/17/2004
Another year in the books. More ups, downs, thrills, and spills in the game of boxing. We still aren't 100% sure if we have a heavyweight champion, the pound for pound lists are upside down, and with all of the pay-per-view we were forced to gobble up this year our beloved boxing is pushed just a bit further into the shadows and perilously closer to the mouth of the abyss. On the flipside we've got about a trillion great fights between 135-140 to look forward to, the best prospects have become true championship contenders, and we've got at least one more year of Bernard Hopkins. Yep, another confusing-exciting-awful-banner year for the sweet science. Though my year end awards don't come with a cash prize for the winners I'm sure that they will bask in the light of my approval just the same.
Fighter of The Year:
Bernard Hopkins: Like Aerosmith says "The train keeps rollin". Hopkins has staked his claim as a natural world wonder and has fought off the effects of aging the same way he fights his opponents, dominantly.
2004 accomplishments: Bested Robert Allen for a 3rd time and knocked out Golden Boy(and new business partner) Oscar DeLaHoya in the 9th round with a body shot.
Rafael Marquez: Pound for Pound the hardest hitter in the sport. The Mexican Bantamweight put his title on the line thrice and still came away having only fought 13 rounds with 3KO's
2004 Accomplishments: Knocked out Pete Frissina in two rounds, Heriberto Ruiz in three, and Mauricio Pastrana in 8. Only Frissina had been knocked out before, and that was 9 years ago.
Diego Corrales: We are thrilled to see Corrales back in the mix at Lightweight. Somebody needs to step up and pay this man, not only is he on top of his game but he's one of the few in the sport still thirsty for greatness.
2004 Accomplishments: Came back and avenged stoppage loss to beat slick boxer Joel Casamayor by close decision and looked to be headed for a loss only to turn it around with a shocking power display against Acelino Freitas
Winky Wright: You don't have to be flashy to be good. Winky had a fantastic year in the ring and looks to be king of the hill at 154. There might not be a champion in the sport who is as far above his nearest competition.
2004 Accomplishments: Handed two convincing beatings to Shane Mosely.
Vitali Klitschko: There is so much there to knock this guy about, except for one thing. He wins. A proposed heavyweight tournament could make things much clearer for Vitali.
2004 Accomplishments: Bookend dominating 8th round knockouts against Corrie Sanders and Danny Williams - Two guys that haters said would destroy the WBC Champ but quickly changed their tune to say they were never worthy challengers.
And The Winner Is: Diego Corrales
Fight Of The Year:
Marco Antonio Barrera vs Erik Morales: The fight had drama, a nice ebb and flow, and tons of landed leather. The public pick went with Morales, and these two proved us wrong for the third time in three tries.
Felix Trinidad vs Ricardo Mayorga: Might have been more of a great even than a great fight, but I can tell you that I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through.
Juan Manuel Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao: I absolutely hate to give FOY to a match that ended in a draw, but from the opening bell to the end of the 12th this fight had everything that makes me a boxing fan; Power, speed, skills, blood, knockdowns, heart, and of course a good bit of drama to top it off.
Scott Pemberton vs Omar Sheika: You positively can't get more gutsy than these two warriors. Pemberton always looks hurt and Sheika is eternally one punch from winning or losing. Great "Pier Six" brawl.
Brian Minto vs Vinnie Maddalone: The best heavyweight fight gets lumped in by default each year because usually the heavyweights don't do enough to keep up with the lighter guys, but this slugfest deserves the nod. Not too many heavyweight brawls go 10 all action rounds. Kudos.
And The Winner Is: Juan Manuel Marquez vs Manny Pacquiao
Comeback Fighter of The Year:
Felix Trinidad: No return may have been as important to the financial well being of the sport as Trinidad's, an instant Pay-Per-View superstar. His comeback fight was against slugger extraodinaire Ricardo Mayorga and Trinidad proved that he's not just back, but he's as good as ever.
Diego Corrales: At this time last year Corrales was recovering from a knockout to Joel Casamayor and the naysayers were gloating that they knew Corrales wasn't that good to begin with. Since then he has beaten two world class stars and is Fighter Of The Year.
Kostya Tszyu: Forget everything you have ever heard about ring rust. 2 years meant nothing to Tszyu who jumped right into a fight against the concensus #2 fighter in boxing's deepest and best division, knocking Sharmba Mitchell out in the second round. Let's hope his next fight doesn't take as long to get here.
Andrew Golota: Golota came from no man's land this year to fight for, and in many eyes win, two world title belts. You can't say he hasn't had a profound impact on the division - he did the impossible by making a John Ruiz fight worth watching. It was the decision that stunk.
And The Winner Is: Kostya Tszyu
Faded Fighter of the Year:
Roy Jones Jr: Jones looks to be a runaway winner this year. After getting blasted out by Antonio Tarver in two rounds back in May Roy picked the wrong comeback opponent in newly crowned IBF Champ Glen Johnson. Jones was never in the fight, getting knocked clean out in the ninth. I can't remember a much worse year for an elite boxer. Ever.
Dominick Guinn: Coming in to 2004 some people thought that they were looking at the next Muhammad Ali, even the skeptics figured Guinn to be a major player in a bum crop. It was not to be. Guinn took decision losses to Monte Barrett and Serguei Lyakhovich.
Shane Mosley: Sugar continues to fall. With only one questionable win in his last six outings it seems as though his better days have passed him, regardless of who is training him.
Oscar DeLaHoya: Oscar had a tough year, but that had more to do with fighting over his head than anything else. He has announced that when he returns to the ring it will be as a welterweight. That's good news for everyone. Recent outings have undoubtedly hurt his PPV marketability.
And The Winner Is: Roy Jones Jr.
Danny Green: In 2004 The Green Machine's name seemed to grow in stature and much was made over a brief sparring session with heavyweight James Toney, however Green didn't capitalize like we'd have liked to see. 2005 has big potential.
Glen Johnson: Probably among the most likable athletes in the sport. Johnson has been tossed on the scrap heap time over time but keeps coming back. The win over Roy Jones validates his entire career and now he has a shot at finishing the year near the top of some pound for pound lists by taking on Antonio Tarver on Saturday.
Jose Luis Castillo: Before his fight with favored Juan Lazcano it seemed that Castillo was the other fighter, the hispanic who wasn't causin' a panic, and soundly whooped Lazcano. Came back and beat Joel Casamayor when he wasn't supposed to. Now there is a possibility for Diego Corrales in an all action fight.
Felix Sturm: Seemed to beat DeLaHoya more convincingly than Mosely or Trinidad had. But the decision came down on Oscar's side. Still managed to forge a name for himself as a middleweight and finished the year with two wins over reasonable competition.
And the Winner Is: Glen Johnson
Cream Of The New Crop:
Jermain Taylor: Everything is right on schedule for Taylor. His destruction of Joppy was total and complete. Not many more baby steps to take before he's knocking on Hopkins' door.
Miguel Cotto: The WBO Junior Welterweight Champ had four quality wins in 2004 and his ability continues shine through in new ways every time out. Fighting at 140 means that there is a lot of opportunity and a lot of dollars. Cotto is ready for anyone at the top.
Rocky Juarez: I don't know that we'd be talking about him if Zahir Raheem just would have let go of Rocky's head, but alas...Juarez and his sweet left hook have been making waves at Featherweight and Rocky's title shot should be coming in 2005.
Jeff Lacy: The new IBF Super Middleweight Champion is ready to rule the roost. Lacy spent 2004 against stiff competition and seems to have a taste for back and forth action. In 2005 Lacy's fights are going to become can't-miss events, even in the zombie-zone 168 pound division.
Juan Diaz: The Baby Bull has never seen an opening he didn't take. Won WBA Lightweight Title against Lakva Sim and won't look back. Diaz makes up a lack of power with sheer numbers, the division should give him some interesting fights.
And The Winner Is: Miguel Cotto
Punch Of The Year:
Arturo Gatti vs Leonard Dorin: There was a moment in the fight in which Gatti appeared to hurt his right hand. It seemed to step up his urgency and he went to work, ultimately placing a picturesque left hook onto Dorin's ribcage that floored him for the 10 count.
Robbie Peden vs Nate Campbell: Could be renamed the "Be Careful What You Ask For Award". Campbell was winning the fight on cruise control until the fifth round when he literally asked Peden to hit him. Left Hook. Nighty Night.
Antonio Tarver vs Roy Jones: We never thought we'd see it. Tarver's overhand left crashed through Jones' guard and hit the off switch. Roy fell limply to the canvas. He managed to regain his feet but was clearly out on his feet.
Felix Trinidad vs Ricardo Mayorga: It was the most highly anticipated punch of the year. Everyone knew it was coming. Mayorga dropped his gloves and stuck out his chin in a fight he was still in. Trinidad tapped him with a left hook and Mayorga asked for more. Tito wound up and hit him with another that stumbled Mayorga, it went 8 rounds but it was never the same fight after that.
Bernard Hopkins vs Oscar DeLaHoya: Hopkins has seized full control over the fight and began bullying DeLaHoya around the ring. When DeLaHoya found himself stuck in the ropes in the 9th Hopkins dug in with what seemed to be a modest left hook to the ribs, but DeLaHoya stayed down.
And The Winner Is: Felix Trinidad vs Ricardo Mayorga
...Stay tuned next week for the second half of the Snowsy Awards. We've still got quite a few honors to hand out including "Best Prospect", "Boxing Moment Of The Year", "Oops Of The Year" and many more...
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