Fighter of the Year: Tough Call

By Ted Sares on December 14, 2011
Fighter of the Year: Tough Call
So, who is the standout boxer of the year 2011? Who do you think deserves the award?


As I put the finishing touches on my annual Boxing Awards for 2011, most categories present ample candidates and interesting choices. However, Fighter of the Year is not one of them. For that matter, Trainer of the Year is an equally difficult pick.

Juan Manuel Marquez is on my list but Manny Pacquiao is not. Floyd Mayweather Jr. didn’t do enough and Sergio Martinez did not look all that good in his last outing. Yuriorkis Gamboa, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez, Austin Trout, and the active Lucian Bute come to mind, and Pongsaklek Wonjongkam (6-0 in 2011 and 83-3-1 overall) must be given serious consideration. Abner Mares’ low blow fest with Joseph Agbeko in their first fight takes him out of the running, but Nonito Donaire remains a distinct possibility. Brandon “Bam Bam” Rios for his work against Acosta and Antillion warrants mention as does James Kirkland for his 5-1 mark in 2011.

Jorge Arce and Jhonny Gonzalez continue to streak and while they don’t get the publicity of others, they deserve the same attention. Jhonny is 4-0 in 2011 and 51-7 overall. Arce is 59-6-2 and has won three tough fights in 2011 including the dramatic 12th round stoppage of undefeated Wilfredo Vasquez Jr. in May for the WBO super bantamweight title. A case can be made for either one.

In 2011 so far, Carl Froch (28-1) beat Glen Johnson and Andre Ward (24-0) beat Arthur Abraham. Now they meet on Saturday with the Junior Middleweight Super Six title at stake. Depending on the nature of that fight, the winner seems the likeliest candidate for Fighter of the Year though I am also leaning toward Donaire and Wonjongkam

So, who is the standout boxer of 2011? Who do you think deserves the award?

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  1. the thresher 01:13pm, 12/20/2011

    NowPitching, you just pitched a real fast ball, mate. No arguments from me. Except, Haye won “Toe of the Year” also.

  2. NowPitching22 01:09pm, 12/20/2011

    I have another idea for recognizing a significant fighter of the year but . . . how about “recognizing” an INFAMOUS one? A fighter that most disappointed, fell flat on his face, or otherwise did not live up to potential or his own hype. And, my selection for the award I’ve just suggested. . . (it’s an easy one) but first, a few runners up: Antonio Margarito, Arthur Abraham, Allen Green, Amir Khan.

    Okay, now onto Boxings 2011 heel of the year . . . who else? . . . David Haye!

    After stalking the Klitschkos for two years, hurling an almost unprecedented amount of trash talk and verbal venom their way often making it personal, AND crowning himself the savior of the HW division . . . Haye’s limp attempt at unseating Wladimir Klitschko ‘earns’ him this ‘award’. Add to that, Haye’s super-lame little toe excuse and the humiliating post-fight press conference that found Haye standing on a table willing to show anyone his little toe that would listen certainly added to his pathetic display. And if all of that wasn’t enough, Haye seems content to let this infamous night live on as his lasting legacy. Big talk, no heart, a load of excuses, and no interest in redemption despite being only thrity-one . . . David Haye has secured his place as a punchline in HW championship history.

  3. the thresher 06:01am, 12/18/2011

    WARD LEADS NOW

  4. the thresher 05:16pm, 12/17/2011

    Yes, Viloria warrants strong consideration as well

  5. JC45 04:47pm, 12/17/2011

    Hernan Marquez , deffo had a great year Ted .l I meant JMMarquez LOL .  Villoria is someone nobody mentioned . His win over Segura was a beauty. Cheers Ted , Donny .

  6. Don from Prov 03:25pm, 12/17/2011

    Even though things got a little touchy at times, there were some interesting POV’s expressed on this thread, IMO.  raxman put out some opinions about Garcia for instance, and my buddy JC went insane and wants to name a Klit as fighter of the year.  And of course hardly anyone agrees—
    Which is great.

  7. the thresher 02:57pm, 12/17/2011

    Pongsaklek Wonjongkam is fighting a guy with a 5-1 record tonoght. That takes him out of the running.

  8. the thresher 02:47pm, 12/17/2011

    “How can Marquez be fighter of the year? Thats insane “


    Horseshit it’s insane. He beat Conception twice by KO and Dapdond once by KO all in title fights.

  9. JC45 02:13pm, 12/17/2011

    The actual winner would have a fair cop at being fighter of the year. Fair point Ted. If either of them win convincingly or it is an incredible fight then I’d have no problem with either Ward or Froch winning it.

  10. JC45 02:09pm, 12/17/2011

    How can Marquez be fighter of the year? Thats insane . Once again i say ” Wlad Klitschko ” Ted. Heavyweights are the big time and Wlad v Haye was the biggest fight of the year. When in doubt go for the Heavyweights . Cheers mate.

  11. the thresher 12:40pm, 12/17/2011

    So far, Carl Froch (28-1) beat Glen Johnson and Andre Ward (24-0) beat Arthur Abraham. BIG deal.

  12. the thresher 12:39pm, 12/17/2011

    Right now, and depending on what happens tonight, I’m leaning to a tie between Rios and Tyson Marquez.

  13. the thresher 10:32am, 12/17/2011

    What does Manny have to do with Fighter of trhe Year? JUST ASKING

  14. raxman 08:13pm, 12/16/2011

    JC - everything you said about manny i’ve been on about since the jmm fight #1 i mean. if you can step back and fight off your back foot you can beat him. he lunges to attack instead of coming behind a jab so jmm takes a half step back and then counters. and infighting and etc etc… but donaire well i can’t agree with you there coz i dont think we have seen enough of him to know - and thats not his fault i truly believe he is an avoided fighter has been since he cleaned vic’s clock. i wont pass judgement on donaire until he fights the best, same with gamboa - now that would be a fight!!

  15. raxman 08:07pm, 12/16/2011

    ted - that’s just facetious. you’re better than that. but i’ll roll with coz i know that its only the pactards, you, yank and the three judges that scored the fight for pac had it been scored properly you’d be singing a different song, so given the controversial manner of that fight nacho certainly shouldn’t be dismissed as an a grade trainer and i think thats what you were doing. and yet your singing the praises of garcia who let margarito get two horrible beat downs, saw rios lose his title on the scales and then struggle to finish a b grader in murray. i haven’t seen a single thing in garcia’s playbook that makes me think he is any more than a point and shoot latino trainer. plan a machismo, plan b more machismo. you want trainer of the year - robbie mccraken has taken froch to the stratosphere and he shows great dedication to the sport by still working with the amateurs or manny steward who gets no credit for klit, and has revitalized Lee to the point of him being on cusp of world championship.

  16. JC45 05:41pm, 12/16/2011

    Ted , only Poms and Yanks drink Fosters . A genuine Aussie wouldnt be caught dead drinking that cats piss LOL Be like an American wine aficionado drinking Thunderbird or Ripple :)

    I know it sounds crazy but I still reckon in some ways both Manny and Donaire are limited. More so Manny. Donaire’s weaknesses are more in the experience , hard rounds , facing all styles and knowing how to fight them areas. When I say Manny is limited its not necessarily a knock on him as a fighter , more an acknowledgement of his weaknesses. He has the worst lead hand of any great fighter I’ve seen. Even his pet punch , the left is always thrown from the same trajectory . Flat and straight.  Manny never loops his left ala Tim Withersppons overhand right. Manny cant infight at all, no body attack inside , no holding and hitting , no clinching.  His only defense are his southpaw stance , his foot speed and his offence. His jab is ordinary at best .In some ways he’s like Thomas Hearns in the fact he is brilliant at doing what he does but if you can make him fight in a way he’s not used to he is basically a beaten fighter. He cant adjust at all. I cant forget an old Morales outboxing Manny or his traumas against Marquez. Manny is very fast of hand and foot , has great power in his left and a warriors spirit but compared to other modern greats at 135-147 like Robinson , Leonard , Duran , Napoles , Emile Griffith , Ike Williams ,  JC Chavez ,  Carlos Ortiz , Shane Mosely , Hearns , Manny IS a limited fighter . Even Hearns who I mentioned earlier could outbox someone at range simply with his jab. Manny cant. You have to remember Arum called him the greatest fighter in history. Wouldnt make my top 50 , if not my top 100. Cheers Ted , Donny. Hope the Xmas season is a good one for both of you.

  17. the thresher 06:04am, 12/16/2011

    For God’s sakes man. Manny was Fighter of the Decade. He is getting long in the tooth and that makes him perhaps limited but that’s the only reason.

    As for Donaire, he IS NOT limited. He has uncommon technical skills.

    Khan IS limited. No argument there.


    Keep in mind there is no such thing as a perfect fighter.

  18. Don From Prov 06:00am, 12/16/2011

    I don’t think that saying Donaire, Kahn, and Manny are limited is odd at all JC.  Of course, ALL fighters are limited to one degree or another,  but there are some basics that Nonito could very well do with, IMO, and Kahn still often fights like he’s in the Golden Gloves. Manny? He is just who he is at this point.  But how far Roach has brought him is a little bit of a myth, IMO—or it has to do well how well he’s promoted him more than brought him.

  19. the thresher 05:45am, 12/16/2011

    “I don’t think anyone stands out, Ted. If Froch beats Ward, he’ll be 2-0 against genuinely tough opposition this year. It might just be enough to get him home. Ditto Andre if he wins”


    That sums it up Mike, though on another site Rios is getting a big play.

  20. the thresher 05:44am, 12/16/2011

    raxman, are you picking JMM as fighter of the year? Nacho as trainer of the year? Losers now win?

  21. the thresher 05:43am, 12/16/2011

    “Donaire like Manny and Khan is a limited fighter as funny as that sounds.”

    JC, you been on the Fosters?

  22. JC45 09:40pm, 12/15/2011

    Spot on Don. My old man watched a replay of Donaire v that Argentine bloke and he told me that Nonito didnt have a clue how to fight a technical boxer - mover type. Infighting is the real lost art of modern boxing. Lamont Peterson did a fine job of catching up with a mover and wearing him down with a solid body attack. Donaire like Manny and Khan is a limited fighter as funny as that sounds. None of them can fight on the inside.

  23. JC45 09:36pm, 12/15/2011

    I’ll go out on a limb and give it to Wlad Klitschko. Klitshko V Haye was the biggest fight in the world this year.  It was a snoozefest but Wlad won convincingly. I rate that a better win than his big bro’s wins , Mr Bill.  Cheers All.

  24. pugknows 09:26pm, 12/15/2011

    Hernan Marquez is my choice. Donaire maybe,

  25. raxman 02:23pm, 12/15/2011

    Ted - and what did you hear? coz as loathe as i am to say it i think you’ve got the blinkers on with this one. last weekend we saw amir khan run. that was running at its worst example just because he propped and threw wild combos as he went doesnt change anything. jmm continued doing what he did the whole fight - the whole 3 fights. i’m in the majority that think jmm was robbed of that fight - either way nacho has come up with a fight plan that for all intents and purposes has exposed pac.

  26. dollar bond 12:32pm, 12/15/2011

    Whoever wins on Saturday night should get it.

  27. bk don 11:25am, 12/15/2011

    I agree that until we have that the winner of the ward v froch fight, if they win in a war or in a dominant fashion would probably be my favorite to win it. I also think newly crowned champion lamont peterson should get some consideration. He ko’d, after having dominated the bout, against title contender Cayo then obviously took the belt from the man considered to be the best in the division in Khan.

  28. the thresher 05:58am, 12/15/2011

    Tex, with all due respect, Manny and Roach may be on the downward slope.

  29. the thresher 05:57am, 12/15/2011

    Re trainer, I’m leaning heavily toward Garcia. He is more than a one trick pony and he trains champions. Donaire, Mikey, Rios, and now Pavlik as a work in progress. He is the guy boxers now seem to seek out.

  30. TEX HASSLER 09:19pm, 12/14/2011

    I would have to go with Pacquiao for figher of the year and Freddie Roach for trainer of the year. Like some one commented none of the men you mentioned are bad choices. It seems like Mike Casey there were no stand outs in 2011 so far. Good thought provoking article from Mr. Sares.

  31. Nopporn 08:20pm, 12/14/2011

    JMM should be Fighter of the Year 2011 and Saul Avarez should be considered as well.

    Pongsaklek has an excellent record but he beat no name fighters from Japan mostly for his World Title defences record.

  32. MR.BILL-HARDCORE XXX 07:21pm, 12/14/2011

    Vitali Klitschko for his big wins over a slob named Odlainer Solis and a rugged dude from Poland named Tom Adamek…. V.K. often has gotten dicked in the press, but he is the goods…. I also like how he is willing to accept the game Dereck Chisora as his next foe come Feb. 2012…....

  33. MIKE SCHMIDT 07:05pm, 12/14/2011

    Irish- fight of the year- i will go with Marquez vs Concepcion no. 1 and Ortiz vs Berto a close runner up. All this bullshit about Nacho blowing it in the corner is just that- BULLSHIT. He did not tell JMM to coast- he told him to keep doing what he was doing- he told him he was winning and to keep on going- he was boosting him up and pushing him thru the last three rounds. Me thinks some of the TV guys are trying to beat on Nacho AND IT AINT SO- HIS INSTRUCITONS WERE PERFECTO THAT NIGHT

  34. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 07:02pm, 12/14/2011

    The proof is in the pudding…...when you see Mikey Garcia in action, you see the product of his brother’s training program…..and it’s very impressive to say the least!

  35. the thresher 07:01pm, 12/14/2011

    Bob, spot on.

  36. Bob Mladinich 06:51pm, 12/14/2011

    Had Brandon Rios not irresponsibly lost his title at the scales he would have been a good candidate for Fighter of the Year. With three action packed appearances on premium TV, he made the boxing world take notice and showed that he is at the very least a great television fighter, which is exactly what we need right now.

  37. the thresher 06:42pm, 12/14/2011

    Wolfe trains one fighter. Not enough. Plus she has never had a champion as far as I know.

  38. the thresher 06:28pm, 12/14/2011

    Rax, I speak, write and understand Spanish 100%. I know what I heard.

  39. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 06:19pm, 12/14/2011

    Robert Garcia seems a good choice for Trainer of the Year….hope he and Pavlik can click…he seems to be a steadying influence in the corner. In fact, I wish Spadafora could get a ticket to Oxnard too!

  40. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:58pm, 12/14/2011

    Ted—(addressed to the author out of respect, rather than to his posting alter-persona)—There ain’t a bad choice in all the options you offer up. For Trainer of the Year I’m leaning Ann Wolfe for rehabbing her charge and delivering a soul-saving, uplifting message along the way—human interest stories like this need to be recognized. I think Pedro Diaz might deserve an honorable mention as Trainer of the Year. And finally, the winner of the Super-Six should not only pick up a trophy, but Fighter of the Year honors as well for the damn tough road they traveled to get here.

  41. Dan Adams 04:53pm, 12/14/2011

    Ted, I’m thinking Nonito Donaire; but I wouldn’t have any problem with the winner of the Super Six tourney, Ward or Froch.

  42. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 04:20pm, 12/14/2011

    Ted Sares and the other writers on this site have the chops and I for one want to read their articles about a fight of the year candidate and not a dud of the year following Saturday night’s fight. This is perhaps the most highly anticipated fight of the year and could produce the most likely pick for Fighter of the Year!

  43. raxman 03:58pm, 12/14/2011

    irish - oh i’ve next to no doubt your right. i have every intention on putting money on the NC and DQ.

  44. raxman 03:57pm, 12/14/2011

    Ted - i will continue to take issue with you saying JMM corner mishandled him - maybe you’ve got that idea because of terrible hbo translation but when one watches the brit coverage you here the late message as clear as jmm did - be intelligent and keep doing what your doing was the gist of what was said and done. JMM didnt run - what amir khan did was running! jmm continued to counter punch the head off everybody’s most overated favourite - we have an animal down here in australia called the koala bear - i’ve started calling manny pacquiao the koala bear as they’re both protected species!!!

  45. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 03:52pm, 12/14/2011

    I know two that won’t be on any sane /sentient observers list…..two of the biggest headliners in the sport whose latest outings were pure farce. One of the contestants on Saturday is very capable of producing just such a spectacle…I just hope that S.O.G. doesn’t complete the hat trick for Money and B-Hop.

  46. raxman 03:50pm, 12/14/2011

    The first name that popped into my head when i saw the title of the piece of Nonito Donaire- but maybe that is because i just think that he is behind floyd only as p4p the man. i think cotto once again deserve honourable mention for beating two, albeit old, warriors - cotto does his best work against outside fighters he can pressure so taking on guys that’s style doesnt suit him is always worthy of respect - particualarly in the modern game.
    i think though it will be hard pressed to go past the winner of this saturdays fight though- particularly if its Froch that wins.
    to give an idea of how good nonito donaire i just notice of boxing rec they have him as the #1 122pounder despite never having fought at that weight

  47. charlie n 02:18pm, 12/14/2011

    Sorry Ted, for a keen moment that lasted less than 2 minutes-I would have backed Austen Trout, a new up and comer future real Champion. But alas,like you oldtimer,my friend, I’m stuck here in the 40’s & 50’s,and submit the Great Sugar Ray Robinson as “Fighter Of The Year” then,now and future,who would make mince meat out of all these phonies.

  48. the thresher 01:53pm, 12/14/2011

    If Froch vs Ward turns out to be a snooooze fest, all bets are off.

  49. the thresher 01:52pm, 12/14/2011

    Thanks, Mike. Garcia just bolted into the lead.

  50. Don from Prov 11:12am, 12/14/2011

    I will point out, respectfully, to mike schmidt and thresher that Harold Lederman was absolutely right in Nonito’s last fight when the rest of the HBO team was befuddled about how one was to react to a fighter who wouldn’t open up: “You step around him and break his body down like the old-timers would have known to do,” is pretty much what Harold saidt.  And I agree.  If Nacho’s advice to JMM eliminates him (and Tumbo, who speaks Spanish has indicated that what was being said wasn’t as straight forward as is being portrayed) then not knowing to tell Nonito—or having trained him to do—something so direct = a potential eliminator IMO.  Add in allowing Margarito to keep walking into the meat-slicer that was Manny and Garcia = ? too.

    Maybe a couple of categories remain open this year.  Anyway, I’ve had my say.

  51. FrankinDallas 11:02am, 12/14/2011

    no one stands out this year. I guess Froch if he beats Ward, and Ward if he beats Froch.

    Victor Ortiz gets the “Kiss Me Kate” award.

    David Haye gets the “Big Toe a Go Go Award” (named after a Bronx nightclub that erupted into a race riot while I was on the stage, playing bass guitar).

    Paulie Malignaggi retires the “Hands of Pasta” award for winning it 8 years in a row.

    Ann Wolfe wins the “Most Frightening Trainer” award.

  52. mike schmidt 10:55am, 12/14/2011

    Yes Robert works with Donaire- go back to my article back in June “Bang a Drum, bang it loudly” in regards to early candidate for Trainer of the Year- he is to my mind wayyyy ahead of the pack

  53. Robert Ecksel 10:08am, 12/14/2011

    Yes, you may be right.

  54. the thresher 10:07am, 12/14/2011

    I think part of it might be his health. He isn’t the same guy he was 3 years ago.

    In this regard, the HBO series is coming at a somewhat bad time for HBO.

  55. Robert Ecksel 10:02am, 12/14/2011

    I’m glad you brought up Freddie Roach. I think a reassessment is taking place after Manny’s performance against Marquez and Khan’s performance against Peterson. It’s kind of like when Buddy McGirt was working Arturo Gatti’s corner. He was riding high and was spoken about with awe. Now he’s hardly spoken about at all.

  56. the thresher 09:56am, 12/14/2011

    Nobody trains a lot of fighters except Roach these days. But his loss with Khan eliminates him.

    Nacho’s mishandling of JMM in the corner in the Pac fight removes him and so dos the Angulo slaughter.

    It’s almost a process of elimination for trainer.

  57. the thresher 09:54am, 12/14/2011

    Barry Hunter, Robert Garcia, Virgil Hunter all come to mind but I’m leaning to Garcia. He got Mago a big payday and did great stuff with Mikey Garcia and Rios. McCracken is good as well. This is an even more difficult call than Fighter of the Year.

  58. Don From Prov 09:47am, 12/14/2011

    In all honesty, I was thinking that about her even as I agreed with the suggestion.  I mean, the story is great—but… .
    Anyway, who would YOU pick for the honor?

  59. the thresher 09:31am, 12/14/2011

    Problem with Wolfe IMO is that she is a one trick pony.

  60. Don From Prov 09:28am, 12/14/2011

    I’d have to agree that no one stands out as fighter of the year and that it might go—by default as much as anything?—to the winner of Ward/Froch.  I love the “Far Too Sporting and Awfully Nice Guy” award, and the idea of Wolfe for trainer of the year isn’t half-bad.

  61. the thresher 09:04am, 12/14/2011

    Mike S, are you sure Garcia works withn Donarie?

  62. the thresher 08:59am, 12/14/2011

    Mike, lmao

  63. mikecasey 08:56am, 12/14/2011

    I don’t think anyone stands out, Ted. If Froch beats Ward, he’ll be 2-0 against genuinely tough opposition this year. It might just be enough to get him home. Ditto Andre if he wins. I don’t think Donaire - much as I like him - qualifies for this award yet. Nobody has really taken it by the scruff of the neck this year and put himself clear of the field. But I like Schmidtty’s choice of Marquez too - and for the reasons Mike states. I have all the time in the world for the brave and talented Juan Manuel Marquez, but he did lose to Pac officially - whatever our opinions on that. As for ‘Drama Queen of the Year’, definitely B-Hop. ‘Far Too Sporting And Awfully Nice Guy’ award to Victor Ortiz. ‘Best Dressed Young Debutante’ award to Oscar.

  64. the thresher 08:36am, 12/14/2011

    Thanks, Mike good stuff. Never even thought of Herman Marquez.

  65. mike schmidt 07:02am, 12/14/2011

    Fighter of the Year- hands down for me- the little man, Hernan Marquez. Quality and result not big time TV exposure but…...Trainer of the Year- Robert Garcia for work with Donaire and Bam Bam OR OR OR How about Ann the big bad Wolfe- who made a bigger impact on getting a fighter back on the big track in such a dramtic way…...Adios amigo

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