AS WE welcome 2020, let’s take stock of what happened in 2019 and who won Fighter of the Year and the Fight of the Year honors.
FIGHT. There were a lot of great fights last year but the one that stands out was Nonito Donaire Jr. versus Naoya Inoue.
First, it was the finale for the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament. An important criteria when you consider this award is the importance or relevance of a certain fight, and Inoue-Donaire with the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association belts on the line certainly fits that description.
Second would be the backstory. Donaire , the future Hall of Famer, and a world champion in four weight classes wasn’t even expected to make it this far in the tournament because he was the oldest of the 8 participants. But he did by defeating Ryan Burnett and knocking out last minute replacement Stephon Young.
Inoue (19-0, 16 KOs) was the heavy favorite coming in. Young, undefeated and in his prime, he was expected to handily defeat the old veteran.
However, Donaire (40-6, 26 KOs) showed he still had a lot left in his tank and gave “The Monster” the toughest battle of his young career, even fracturing his orbital bone as well as his nose, potentially endangering and delaying his fight schedule with his new promoter for this year 2020.
The scorecards (117-109, 114-113, 116-111) were all for Inoue but the drama that unfolded yielded our Fight of the Year winner.
FIGHTER. In a year that saw Oleksandr Usyk, Manny Pacquiao , Naoya Inoue and Terrence Crawford put up impressive performances, a fighter stood head and shoulders above the rest in 2019.
Saul Alvarez defeated Daniel Jacobs in May, unifying the WBC-WBA and IBF titles in the process and then followed it up by moving up two weight divisions to stop Sergey Kovalev in November.
The Jacobs victory was an impressive feat as it is, as Jacobs is one of the best fighters in the middleweight division, and in 2017 fought on equal terms with the formidable Gennady Golovkin.
But what takes the cake is Canelo’s conquest of Kovalev at the light heavyweight division. Granted, “Krusher” was not the fighter he once was, but he was certainly one of the top 5 light heavyweights at the time of the fight and the fact that “Canelo” dramatically stopped him with a two punch combination in a close fight up to that point, makes it even more impressive.
At six feet tall, Kovalev had a sizable reach and height advantage over the 5 ‘8” Alvarez and it showed in the first half of the fight.
While Kovalev was still fresh, Alvarez had a hard time landing and timing his punches as he could not get past Kovalev’s ramrod- like jab.
But he bided his time, and stuck to his gameplan. He was eventually able to wear down Kovalev enough to be able to deliver the coup de grace on his tiring, fading opponent in the 11th round.
LAST ROUND. It’s on my kumpare Jesus “Ditdit” Gorne who celebrated a milestone last week as he turned 60. Happy Birthday pre. Cheers!