The Livefight Super Eight; Boxing Stars who excelled in 2013
By Michael J Jones
After a gripping year in the world of boxing, Livefight lists eight fighters who reigned supreme in 2013.
A Good year for (in no particular order)…
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr
For the first time since 2007, Floyd Mayweather Jr fought more than once in a twelve month time frame and didn’t fail to disappoint with two of his most impressive victories of his 45-0 career to date.
The American star began his campaign in May with a points thrashing of Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero to lift the WBC welterweight title and would box again just four months later.
At the MGM Grand Las Vegas in September (also the setting for the Guerrero fight), “Money” would take on the thirteen-years-younger Saul Alvarez in a 154lb superfight. The 36-years-old Floyd would face “Canelo” for only his third bout at the light-middleweight limit but it mattered little in the fight.
Mayweather was at his dazzling best against the younger, but far less-skilled champion. The multi-weight world champion showed faster hands and his usual hermetically-sealed defence, expertly timing every punch to make the bullish Mexican look one-paced and, at times, rather plodding.
At the end of twelve one-sided rounds, the battle of unbeatens was won via decision by the classy Mayweather despite one judge bizarrely scoring a draw.
With the win, Mayweather Jr won both the WBC and WBA Super light-middleweight titles and cemented his position as the world’s greatest pound-for-pound fighter.
2. Danny Garcia
Danny Garcia sure has a knack of proving the experts wrong and this year was no exception. After beating Amir Khan by knockout and doing the same to the aged Mexican Erik Morales in their rematch in 2012, some thought the WBC and WBA Super light-welterweight champion may be ripe to be upset himself.
Dangerous veteran Zab Judah seemed motivated to cause an upset in April after a heated build-up instigated by Garcia’s father and Coach Angel. Judah at 42-7 (29) actually had more knockouts than the 25-0 champion had fights and came in as a very live underdog for the Brooklyn contest.
The southpaw former champion boxed well but the ten-years-younger Garcia edged a good fight by unanimous decision after flooring Judah in the eighth. Scores were 116-111, 115-112 and 114-112 for the dual champion.
After beating Judah though Garcia would next take on his most formidable foe to date in streaking knockout artist Lucas Matthysse on the undercard of Mayweather-Alvarez.
Few though Garcia could pull off another shock but up he stepped to the plate again with a tough but disciplined twelve-round performance to out-box the favoured Matthysse to take the spoils by a deserved 115-111, 114-112 (twice) decision.
Garcia dropped the Argentine in the eleventh and caused a serious eye damage with his crisp, numerous blows. It would end a six-bout knockout streak for the loser as “Swift” Garcia would answer his critics once more.
Whatever his fortunes in 2014, few will be quick to count out the Philly champion again.
3. Dereck Chisora
Entering 2013, Chisora was coming off two defeats last year to Vitali Klitschko and David Haye. In fact the controversial Londoner had lost four of his last five in total (though all in good company). After causing a huge storm before and after his WBC challenge to Klitschko and five-round stoppage loss to Haye, Chisora needed a big year in 2013 and got one.
The talented but erratic “Del Boy” got serious and put in four solid performances against decent opposition. In April he returned after a nine-month break to ease to a late stoppage over journeyman Hector Alfredo Avila to return to winning ways.
After that rust-shedder he disposed of previously unbeaten American Malik Scott in six. Although there was controversy at the conclusion, Chisora was in command and coming on strong when the fight was waved off.
In September the Englishman would stop respected Edmund Gerber in five to claim the European title which he defended in his final outing of the year when crushing late sub’ Ondrej Pala in three one-sided rounds.
Zimbabwe-born Chisora, who turns 30 today, looks to be ready for another assault on the world stage this year. He is now 19-4 (13) and many would favour him against previous conquerors Tyson Fury and Robert Helenius.
4. Marcus Maidana
Many an expert wrote Argentinian puncher Maidana off after a landslide loss to Devon Alexander early last year but he took his licks, got with new trainer Roberto Garcia and has never looked back.
In June “El Chino” started his campaign with a brutal war with solid contender Josesito Lopez. Maidana prevailed in the fight-of-the-year candidate in the sixth after taking much punishment himself.
With the win he won the WBA InterContinental welterweight belt to set up a meeting in December with new champion Adrien Broner in Texas.
Broner at 27-0, was already a three-weight champion and the slight favourite going in but Maidana came in with a good game-plan and showed absolutely no respect for the arrogant champion.
Within moments of the very first round Broner felt the power of Marcus and knew he had “The Problem”. Rocked in the first and dropped in the second for the first time in his career, Broner had it all to do but showed heart to try and claw his way back into the contest.
Maidana would regain control with another knock-down in the eighth and ended the fight strongly to become WBA champion by scores of 117-109, 115-110 and 115-109 as Broner raced from the ring humiliated.
Maidana is now 35-3 with two of his losses close and controversial affairs against Andrei Kotelnik and Amir Khan. He could well be the man to face Floyd Mayweather on May 3rd.
5. Adonis Stevenson
No matter what you think of Stevenson as a person one can’t ignore the heights he has scaled in 2013. A fighter who was spoken highly of by the late and great Manny Steward, Stevenson finally had his breakthrough year with four high-class and dominant victories.
In March the hard-punching southpaw would avenge his only defeat by wearing down gifted road warrior Darnell Boone in six. Stevenson would then grow tired of waiting his chance at a super-middleweight title shot so instead rose in weight to meet WBC 175lb champion Chad Dawson.
The June bout was over in just 76 seconds after a huge left hand cracked Dawson’s chin as a new champion was crowned in Canada.
In September, former IBF champion Tavoris Cloud was retired after a seven-round drubbing while in November UK hearts were broken as Tony Bellew was rescued in the sixth in another dominant and confident performance from “Superman”.
Although 36-years-old, there’s no reason why the 23-1 (20) Stevenson can’t be just as dominant in 2014. A match between him and WBO champion Sergey Kovalev would be a mouth-watering unification fight.
6. Bernard Hopkins
If he was 25-years-old he probably wouldn’t have been included but one must surely praise the amazing legend that is Bernard Hopkins.
After being clearly out-scored by Chad Dawson last year anyone would have been forgiven for thinking “The Executioner” might have simply faded away into a deserved retirement but instead he would become champion again.
In March the Philly legend faced unbeaten Tavoris Cloud for the IBF light-heavyweight crown and turned back the clock yet again by trouncing his far-younger opponent clearly on all the scorecards.
Hopkins would then defend his new belt in October by winning another wide decision this time over stocky German Karo Murat. The victories are rarely pretty these days but it’s still remarkable the level of performance “B-Hop” is still capable of at his advanced age.
Bernard, the oldest reigning world champion in the history of boxing, turns 49 next month and after the Murat defence even called out Floyd Mayweather. Hopkins hasn’t scored a knock-out in nearly ten years but his experience and conditioning continue to earn him ring success.
7. Guillermo Rigondeaux
Beginning the year as a good champion and ending it as a bonafide pound-for-pound contender is Cuban star Guillermo Rigondeaux.
The former amateur legend boxed just twice but impressed hugely in both outings. In April “El Chacal” would take on the feared Nonito Donaire in a unification bout for both his WBA Super and Donaire’s WBO super-bantamweight belts.
Donaire had only lost an early four-round fight in his career and had cleaned up in three previous weight divisions but had no answer to the speed and skill of Rigondeaux who surprisingly won at a canter over the “Filipino Flash”.
Although most saw the contest as one-sided, the three judges saw it closer at 116-111, 115-112 and 114-113. Donaire was awarded a knock-down in the tenth though it looked more of a slip. Most didn’t give Donaire even three rounds.
The Cuban champion had to wait until December for his second appearance of the year when defending both belts against former champion Joseph Agbeko in Atlantic City. Agbeko is still dangerous but the Cuban turned in another masterful showing to win by 120-108 on all cards.
Now 13-0 (8) Rigondeaux at 33 still has another great year ahead if he can get the big fights lined up.
8. Stuart Hall
Who would have though after domestic and European title defeats to Jamie McDonnell and Lee Haskins Stuart Hall would have fought for a world title let alone have won one?
Darlington’s Hall deserves huge credit for persevering in his career though and making 2013 his best yet as a pro.
In May the bantamweight contender faced 22-1 Sergio Perales in Doncaster and prevailed by unanimous decision after a hard-fought battle. The win earned Hall the IBF InterContinental belt and world rating with the IBF.
When Jamie McDonnell was (somewhat unfairly) stripped of the IBF crown, Hall was matched with experienced South African Vusi Malinga for the vacant title in Leeds.
Malinga didn’t come to surrender easily and a thrilling twelve-rounder unfolded before the scores were announced as 117-110, 116-111 and 116-111 all for the new IBF bantamweight champion Hall who is now 33-years-old and 16-2-1 (7).
A world title defence and rematch against Jamie McDonnell would appear the logical first defence for 2014 in what would be a fantastic all British world title fight.