If there was a true definition of a true breakout star in boxing that came out of nowhere, then two names come to mind, Gennady Golovkin and Adonis Stevenson. Golovkin slightly edged out Stevenson in our panel to earn breakout fighter of the year.
Golovkin, unlike Stevenson does not have a home base to support him as the Montreal contingent continues to support the Haitian born Canadian. Golovkin, a native of Kazakhstan, and training out of Big Bear, California landed on our shores in 2012 when he was supposed to take on another hard hitting middleweight champion from Russia, Dmitry Pirog in upstate New York. Pirog pulled out with an injury and in stepped in Polish middleweight Gregorz Proksa. He obliterated his foe with hard jabs to the face and crushing body shots in 5 rounds.
In 2013, Golovkin would have a major issue, and that was finding opponents to fight him. Long the mandatory to Felix Sturm’s WBA ‘Super” middleweight title, Sturm took on many on comers not named Golovkin in Germany in 2012. When Sturm lost the title to Daniel Geale that very year, Geale decided to drop the belt instead of fighting Golovkin.
Golovkin began his year fighting Jr. Middleweight Gabriel Rosado in what is likely becoming his new fighting home, New York City on the undercard of Mikey Garcia-Orlando Salido. In his “2 Days” Episode of a fighter, it was revealed that Golovkin fought Rosado with the flu. Incredibly enough, Golovkin was still dominate and bloodied Rosado in 7 forcing Rosado’s corner to call the fight. Rosado proved to be a viable middleweight threat the rest of the year. Many felt Rosado beat J’Leon Love and gave another middleweight champion, Peter Quillin, his toughest fight to date. It was also a fight that was stopped controversially because of a cut to Rosado’s eye.
Golovkin then fought durable Nobihuro Ishida off American TV in Monaco, doing what many fighters don’t do when they don’t get an American TV date, remain active. Golovkin dispatched Ishida in 3 rounds with a knockout of the year contender.
He returned back to the states in June fighting a viable contender in Matthew Macklin in Connecticut on HBO. Macklin had given Sergio Martinez a tough fight when they fought in 2012 and some feel he even beat Felix Sturm for his title in 2011. That would not be the same with Golovkin. Golovkin was on the prowl ending Macklin in 3 rounds with another Knockout of the year candidate with a vicious body shot. Golovkin’s popularity rose as his second HBO main event fight garnered an average of 1.097 million views.
With Martinez on the shelf for the rest of the year, Geale choosing to fight Darren Barker instead of Golovkin, and Peter Quillin on the other side of the network war, again, Golovkin needed an opponent. This time in November of 2013, it was hard hitting former Super-Middleweight Curtis Stevens. Stevens, now campaigning at 160, and knocking fighters out on the NBC Sports Network with Main Events got the call. If anything, we would find out the durability of Golovkin’s chin in this fight and that’s exactly what we did.
Golovkin dropped Stevens in the second and the facial expression on Stevens was a classic one. But Stevens returned valiantly landing heavy shots to Golovkin and making Golovkin think about his speed. But in the end, Stevens would get broken down as his corner stopped the fight in the 8th. Stevens proved that he belonged. He also showed that he would be a tough out for any middleweight and Golovkin did what he did all year, destroy. Golovkin again rose his popularity as the fight averaged 1.41 million viewers making it the 3rd most watched boxing fight on premium cable behind Puerto Rican superstar Miguel Cotto (1.555 million) and Mexican star Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (1.416 million). He certainly is a big star in the making but will he get his marquee fight with Sergio Martinez or Peter Quillin? Will he have to move up to get it in 2014 to fight an Andre Ward, Carl Froch, or is it somewhere else? It remains to be seen as Golovkin returns February 2nd in Monaco against Osumana Adama.
Other notable break out fighters:
Adonis Stevenson: 4 fights, 4 knockouts. A candidate for upset of the year and fighter of the year, and gets the best knockout celebration. Not a bad 2013 for the Haitian Born Canadian.
Danny Garcia: I know I know, he won it our award in 2012 but again, I don’t think the sentiments reached everyone. He only fought twice but beat a game Zab Judah in continuing to be an east coast draw in Brooklyn and then quieted the doubters once again like he did in 2012 when he beat Amir Khan by outpointing Lucas Matthysse. I think the man deserves our respect.
Ruslan Provodnikov: From Espn 2 to Fight of the Year to world champion to maybe Manny Pacquiao or Juan Manuel Marquez? He certainly came a long way in 2013 and has a variety of options in 2014.
Sergey Kovalev: Much like Stevenson and Golovkin, 4 fights, 4 knockouts, 2 on the NBC Sports Network and 2 on HBO. Kovalev is like the Golovkin of light heavyweight. Pray to the boxing gods for Stevenson-Kovalev.
Shawn Porter: Maybe his ceiling is reached or it hasn’t been yet. But he had a strong 2013 with notable wins over Julio Diaz then dethroning IBF title holder Devon Alexander in a fight where he was the definite underdog. Plenty of fights for him in 2014 are available for Porter but the one I like is unification with Marcos Maidana.
Marcos Maidana: He was in a fight of the year candidate versus Josesito Lopez and had an upset of the year candidate against Adrien Broner to close out 2013. While he was known before this, he was never a world title holder, now he is. With Golden boy fights like Shawn Porter, an Adrien Broner rematch, Keith Thurman, and even a Floyd Mayweather fight could be in store for Chino.
Juan Francisco Estrada: The little guys get no love! After giving Roman Gonzalez a run for his money in 2012, he beat Brian Viloria winning 2 flyweight titles in the process and Milan Melindo decisively in 2013. Bring on Gonzalez-Estrada 2 please
Mikey Garcia: He’ll probably win this award and fighter of the year in 2014. He’s the goods. He won 2 world titles in 2 different weight classes. He’s soon to be pound for pound. Anything else I can add? Watch in 2014.