It's the July lull in combat sports, so we continue our look back on the first half of 2013 and think about the year so far. Tim Burke has already bestowed a number of 2013 Half-Year MMA Awards, but here, it's all about the boxing.
So far, we've had the nominees for the KO of the year, and fighter of the year. Today, we wrap things up with the fight of the year. And for only six months into the year, we already have an incredible line-up of nominees. If you needed any proof that boxing is alive and well in 2013, look no further than this collection of fights. If the back half of 2013 even comes close to producing this level of fights (and, given what is booked, it could even surpass it), then this will go down as a truly special year in boxing.
And the nominees are...
Timothy Bradley vs. Ruslan Provodnikov - March 16
Bradley has been persona non grata in boxing ever since his highly suspect win over Manny Pacquiao last year, and so his comeback fight with the largely unknown Provodnikov didn't draw much interest. But over the course of 12 incredibly dramatic rounds, Bradley and Provodnikov went to war, turning in a shocking back and forth war that saw incredible heart from both men. It's a fight that pretty much single-handedly made Provodnikov and resurrected Bradley. Not bad.
Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II - March 30
There's always a risk in expecting a Fight of the Year. When you build your expectations so high, it's just so easy to disappoint. For this rematch, expectations were VERY high - how could they not be after these two men turned in an incredible war in 2012? This one maybe was a notch below that first encounter, but was still amazing, with Alvarado adding a new level of boxing to the expected slugfest.
Nonito Donaire vs. Guillermo Rigondeaux - April 13
You either love this one, or you hate it. And to be clear, a lot of people hated it. These two men approached the fight from a supremely technical side, with Rigondeaux in particular using defense, footwork, angles, and all of the things that make technical boxing. It was a performance for the purists, but it wasn't the slugfest most of these other fights were, and to many, it was dull. I think they're nuts, and these are my nominees, so here you go.
Danny Garcia vs. Zab Judah - April 27
For casual fans, Zab Judah may still be a name that draws some interest, but boxing's more devoted followers know there's not much left in that tank, and so didn't expect much from his clash with the very talented Garcia. Instead, they got a very game performance from Judah, who fought his heart out against the tougher Garcia. He may have come up short in the end, but it was a hell of a showing.
Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II - May 25
This rematch has kind of been lost in the shuffle, which is a shame. These two men put on a Rios/Alvarado-esque performance, with the two just slugging it out and giving it their all. One of the things I love in this fight is the way it steadily grows, starting on a more technical level, and steadily becoming more and more of a dogfight as we progress. Hopefully this one won't be forgotten.
Marcos Maidana vs. Josesito Lopez - June 8
These are two fighters who consistently turn in entertaining fights, and when paired together, they brought out the best in each other. Lopez turned in one of his best showings, hitting Maidana with a number of power shots and looking in control at times. But Maidana showed his combination of heart, chin, and big power. When you have those three elements, you're willing to use them, and you're facing a fighter who is going to push you, you're looking at a great fight.
What's your pick? Vote now.