One of the great joys of boxing is watching new stars appear seemingly from nowhere, thrust into the limelight not by salivating promoters or over-eager media but instead simply through the strength of their performances and the acclamation of their fans. This award is to celebrate those who rose from (relative) obscurity in 2012 to become notable names in boxing as 2013 comes to a close.
Did anyone expect a different winner?
You know a doorstop attached to the wall? One the sits there unmoving, has the door crash into it again and again, get chipped, splintered and broken down… but every so often you stub your toe on it? That’s Brandon Rios. He was a cricket ball bowled by the England team; more in hope than expectation and then blocked, parried, hit and occasionally smashed to long on while sticking around for over after over despite the damage done to it… and every so often glancing painfully off a hand.
Manny Pacquiao won and won easily. He was too quick, too sharp, too accurate, too fast with his hands and feet and too slick. That’s not really surprising. If a bigger, stronger, more powerful and more experienced Margarito… a man who had actually shown the ability to track down fairly quick boxers previously… couldn’t really do anything to Pacquiao there was no reason to suspect Rios would be able to. The pre-fight discussion was all about how Rios was tailor made for Pac and the fight simply showed that to be true. Rios was slow, flat footed, befuddled by movement, defensively weak and simply outclassed. He tried to box in the first round and that didn’t work. He went back to his brawling and didn’t do much better. He had no answers to Pacquiao’s speed, to his combinations or to his movement. Frankly I wouldn’t have objected if his corner pulled him out after about seven rounds… there was no indication anything would change going forward and… unsurprisingly… it didn’t.
I’ve complained before about some pretty underwhelming undercards in boxing, and here we are with yet another pretty underwhelming undercard. It consists of two showcase bouts where amateur stars will beat boxers who shouldn’t be in the ring with them, one heavyweight bout that should on paper be fairly exciting but doesn’t really mean much in the division and a world title rematch between two boxers no-one really likes or wants to see.
Can you tell my excitement? Predicted winners in bold with analysis under the cut…