Who doesn’t love a good fight? A great bout can announce the arrival of a new star, turn a star into a legend or simply entertain a thrilled audience. And let’s be clear here… 2013 was a great year for fights. The hardest part of compiling this list was thinking about what to leave out rather than looking for bouts to put in and there are number of contests that likely deserve at least an honorable mention only to find themselves excluded because I didn’t want to list dozens of contests.
Coming into this bout few expected much. Provodnikov was an exciting fighter, coming forward and throwing heavy shots but he had spent his time facing limited opposition on Friday Night Fights. Bradley in contrast was a world ranked boxer coming off a controversial victory over Manny Pacquiao. More then that, he was a fighter with a history of, quite frankly, boring fights with a sensible but uninspiring style that generally involved a lot of jabbing, unintentional headbuts and rough-house mauling.
Perhaps we underestimated Provodnikov or perhaps Bradley came in with the wrong gameplan… or perhaps a bit of both. Whatever the reason, we were treated to an epic fight that featured toe-to-toe action from virtually the opening bell.
Segura and Marquez had both arguably seen their stars wane over the past year or two. Segura had burst into the boxing world’s consciousness by stopping Ivan Calderon twice but since then he’d lost his two most important bouts, being stopped by Viloria and outpointed by Sosa. Marquez was a fringe contender for 2011 fighter of the year (and his first bout with Luis Concepcion being a contender for fight of the year… and their first round a contender for round of the year) but he’d likewise been stopped by Villoria in 2012 in a bout where he was dropped multiple times.
And let’s be honest, even when the fighters are hyped few in the West pay much attention to flyweights, especially when not on major TV cards.
But none of that stopped this bout being a war with unrelenting action, frequent momentum changes and a dramatic stoppage. If both guys had weighed 30lbs more and this had taken place on Showtime or HBO we’d be calling it a bout for the ages. As it is, it’s certainly a contender for fight of the year.
Marquez vs Segura may not have been a high profile bout, but at least it was between two boxers that most fans would have heard of. Heiland and Godoy are not household names. Two Argentinian contenders who have been found wanting when they step up in competition, this was a rematch of their entertaining 2012 bout.
And it surpassed expectations.
What do you want from a boxing bout? Non-stop action? Huge displays of heart? Constant changes in momentum? And a stunning late stoppage? Well, here you go.
Figueroa was developing a reputation as a hard punching lightweight, with first round stoppages over Henry Aurad and Abner Cotto showing his power and relentless aggression… the bout with Aurad in particular featured more action in less than a round then many bouts do over 12. As a fight fan I was licking my lips at the prospect of someone who could stand up to Figueroa’s power and make a real fight of it.
And in veteran Japnese contender Nihito Arakawa I found someone who could do that.
Toe-to-toe action, knockdowns, insane displays of heart, resiliance and will to win? It had it all.
Sometimes rematches fail to live up to the hype of the previous bouts. Taylor vs Pavlik 1 was a classic… the rematch far less so. Corrales and Castillo put on a performance for the ages in their first bout… the rematch was a farce and the eventually cancelled third bout even more so. And when a first contest is as good as the original bout between these two aggressive punchers it’s hard to see how they could possibly match it… let alone surpass it.
But they did.
Much like the first bout it featured high workrate, stunning levels of aggression, hateful bodywork and a remarkbale lack of regard for self-preservation. Unlike the first bout Alvarado was able to move in direction other than straight forwards and as such was able to not only survive but also use that movement… limited thought it was… to hurt Rios with powerful combinations from angles. It was an enthralling bout where the violence was almost intoxicating.
Another rematch that surpassed the original, the two warriors went to war in the middle of the ring. Kessler landed huge power shot after huge power shot but Froch never wilted and never stopped coming forward. The bout was in essence a contest to find the second best 168lbs boxer of the planet but it rose above that to become the sort of war that 168lbs has often threatened to produce but never quite managed to.
James Kirkland vs Glen Tapia: The sheer intensity of Kirkland… albeit rusty… against a powerful prospect in Tapia who wanted to make a statement? Yes please.
Denis Lebedev vs Guillermo Jones: Jones susbequantly failing a drug test makes me reluctant to include the bout but judged simply on it’s quality, this war was everything you wanted… and hated… out of boxing.
Erislandy Lara vs Alfredo Angulo: Lara wanted to make a statement after some underwhelming performances. Angulo was boxing to save his career as a top level fighter. Both gave their all.
Yota Sato vs Srisaket Sor Rungvisai: Yes, you’ve probably never heard of them. No, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch this incredible war.
Carl Froch vs George Groves: The ending somewhat spoilt it and prevents it from being higher on the list but what came before between these two British rivals was epic. Groves’ showed that he belong at this level by dropping Froch early and punishing the title holder, but Froch came back and by the time of the farcical ending the pair were stood in front of each other exchanging blows like it was going out of fashion.
Kohei Kono vs Liborio Solis: Again you might not have heard of them… but please, watch this bout. It’s worth it.
Kompayak Porpramook vs Koki Eto: And again, simply because you don’t know the boxers in question it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t watch them box.