KNOCKOUT NATION : 2008 Year In Review

AllHipHop Staff

2008 was a great year for boxing. Whether you’re a purist who enjoys slick technicians or a bloodthirsty observer who enjoys horrific brawls, there was an abundance of everything. Particularly, 2008 showcased many older stars from the 90s get brutally removed from top draw status, and younger fighters eagerly move in to replace their spots.

So who earned top marks this year? Read on.

Fighter of the Year: Manny Pacquiao

The favorite son of the Philippines continued his dominance of boxing with two signature wins over elite fighters, three weight classes apart. In March, the Pacman squeaked out a razor-thin decision over his determined rival Juan Manuel Marquez in a sensational rematch. Despite Marquez’s best efforts, a key knockdown early on was enough to give Pacquiao a controversial but hard-earned victory. Over the summer, Pacquiao moved up to lightweight to put on a brutal display of speed and power against the limited but tough WBC champ David Diaz. After nine one-sided rounds, Pacquiao ended Diaz’s night with a pinpoint straight left that deposited the rugged Mexican face-first on the canvas.

The Pacman capped his year by yet again moving up, this time to welterweight, to face the much larger Oscar De La Hoya. Despite being a big underdog and never before fighting above 135 pounds, Pacquiao beat De La Hoya from pillar to post, earning a corner stoppage before the 9th round.

As boxing’s newest mainstream star and the world’s undisputed pound for pound #1, Manny Pacquiao looks to further build on his guaranteed Hall of Fame spot with 2009 superfights with 140 pound kingpin Ricky Hatton and previous pound for pound #1 Floyd Mayweather.

Runner Ups

1. Joe Calzaghe

2. Chad Dawson

3. Antonio Margarito

4. Vic Darchinyan

5. Juan Manuel Marquez

Fight of the Year: Vazquez vs. Marquez III (March 1, 2008)

It was a rubbermatch for the ages that crystallized arguably the most action-packed trilogy in the history of boxing. In March, Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez waged war over 12 back and forth rounds. Marquez boxed well early, even dropping his rival hard in round 4, but Vazquez consistently came back to buzz Marquez with huge shots. The championship rounds continued the drama, with Marquez losing an invaluable point in the 11th for a low blow and Vazquez storming out to batter Marquez the entire 12th round and secure a much-needed knockdown with seconds remaining.

The last round heroics gave Israel Vazquez a 114-11, 111-114, 113-112 split decision win, and his second career-shortening win over Rafael Marquez. Although concern for the health of both guys abound, there is serious talk of a lucrative 4th fight in 2009. Can anyone say tetralogy?

Runner Ups

1. Steve Cunningham vs. Tomasz Adamek

2. Joel Casamyor vs. Michael Katsidis

3. Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez II

4. Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto

5. Chad Dawson vs. Glen Johnson

Most Improved Fighter: Vic Darchinyan

After getting blasted out with one punch by Nonito Donaire in 2007, pint-sized brawler Vic Darchinyan showed vast improvement in 2008 by mixing controlled aggression behind accurate jabs and hooks. Overcoming an early dubious draw in February, Darchinyan went on to capture IBF super-flyweight title in August with a dominant knockout of Dimitri Kirilov. In November, he shocked most boxing experts by annihilating pound for pound technician Cristian Mijares to become the first man to unify the super-flyweight division.

On February 7th, Darchinyan looks to continue his winning ways against hated rival Jorge Arce.

Runner Ups

1. Paul Williams

2. Andre Berto

3. Juan Manuel Lopez

4. Ricky Hatton

I’m Going Down Award: Oscar De La Hoya

The Golden Boy begins a new streak with his second consecutive award for futility. Earlier this year, De La Hoya won a lackluster albeit lopsided decision over an undersized Steve Forbes, who still managed to bust up Oscar’s face in the process. After talks fell through for a rematch with Floyd Mayweather, De La Hoya was able to secure a fight with another great but even smaller fighter in Manny Pacquiao. But instead of any easy victory, the tenacious Pacman thrashed De La Hoya all over Las Vegas for 8 rounds, forcing Oscar to quit on his stool before the 9th. If getting beat up by a blown up super-featherweight isn’t enough to convince Oscar to retire, I don’t know what will.

Runner Ups

1. Roy Jones, Jr.

2. Jeff Lacy

3. Jose Luis Castillo

Upset of the Year: Bernard Hopkins vs. Kelly Pavlik

One of these days, the boxing press will learn not to bet against the Executioner. Bernard’s dismal outing against Joe Calzaghe had many convinced the ageless wonder had finally become shot, and that young middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik would be the final nail in Hopkins’ legendary career. Instead, Hopkins put on a masterclass performance, hitting Pavlik with every punch in the book for 12 rounds without once becoming visibly tired. At 43, Hopkins still remains high on boxing’s short list of pound for pound elites.

Runner Ups

1. Timothy Bradley W12 Junior Witter

2. Carlos Quintana W12 Paul Williams

3. Nate Campbell W12 Juan Diaz

4. Manny Pacquiao TKO8 Oscar De La Hoya

Knockout of the Year: Breidis Prescott KO1 Amir Khan

You’d be hard pressed to envision a worst possible loss then Khan’s September public execution. The PPV bout was supposed to be Khan’s coming out party. Instead, he’ll be spending the foreseeable future attempting to undo his new image as a china-chinned, overhyped protected fighter who was blasted out the first time he met decent competition.

At a mere 21 years old, time is on Khan’s side to make the necessary defensive improvements echoed by many British commentators, such as former champ Barry McGuigan.

No more fighting during Ramadan, Amir…

Runner Ups

1. Edison Miranda KO3 David Banks

2. Shane Mosley TKO12 Ricardo Mayorga

3. Juan Urango KO4 Carlos Vilches

2009 Wish List

Retirements of Evander Holyfield and Roy Jones, Jr

Manny Pacquaio vs. Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather

Paul Williams vs. Antonio Margarito II

Timonthy Bradley vs. Kendall Holt

Chad Dawson vs. Joe Calzaghe

Tomasz Adamek vs. Steve Cunningham II