Let’s get right into it. We will recap the Cotto, Sergio, and Ward returns. We will also touch on Erislandy Lara, who had a fantastic year. Lastly, I would like to recap Kirkland vs. Tapia. That was one battle that I completely forgot to cover, in this series. Please note that my intentions were to complete this series in 2013. I guess we are just a few days late, but good things come to those who wait.
In 2013 we had so many solid candidates for fight of the year, so many legitimate nominations for fighter if the year. That the debate will probably continue for some time to come. In many ways it was also the year of the return, because it marked a year that some of the sports brightest stars re-entered the squared circle after being out for a while, all looking to continue their boxing careers, and to add to their already great, ring legacies. Some did better than others, so let’s explore further and pick this all apart.
This year Miguel Cotto decided to take his talents down to the state of Florida. He showcased them in front of a very loud and proud, Puerto Rican crowd, who were there to witness his return after an 11 month ring absence. He joined forces with Freddy Roach and looked awesome in the fight, as he made quick work of perennial contender and one of my favorite action fighters in Delvin Rodriguez, knocking him out in 3 rounds while resurrecting that legendary left hook to the body.
It was unfair to Miguel and Delvin, to proclaim this as a simple showcase bout, after the way the fight played out. Especially when some of these same critics were picking Delvin to win the fight, and thought that it was a dangerous and legitimate test for Miguel going in. I personally thought it would be competitive as well, although I picked Cotto. I could see Delvin giving Cotto all sorts of problems. Rodriguez had always been a durable fighter, who could box and bang. He also had many upsets wins in his career. Cotto vs. Rodriguez produced the highest ratings of any regular cable fight of 2013. Solidifying Cotto’s position as still perhaps, the third biggest star in boxing.
Ward like Cotto, got very little credit for putting on an extremely dominant performance, against a very tough and dangerous opponent in Edwin Rodriguez. While Andre was recovering from shoulder surgery, Edwin was terrorizing guys for a year and half, on his way to building his reputation as a dangerous puncher and more importantly a winner. In fact he won $1Million prize, taking part in a boxing tournament out in Monaco.
HBO brass, frankly gave Ward a very hard time in making this fight. They rejected a number of lesser foes that were mentioned as possible opponents, before finally settling on the legitimate challenge, presented by Edwin Rodriguez. Ward beats him up, wins almost if not every round, and now; He was supposed to do that, so he gets little recognition, that’s just not fair. I thought it was a very impressive performance by Andre.
Sergio Martinez made his comeback in Argentina, and basically got his ass kicked from pillar to post, by Martin Murray. He was dropped twice and ripped his knee once again, an injury, requiring yet another surgery. Somehow the judges had Sergio beating Murray on the cards, despite Murray being able to walk and beat Sergio down, for the majority of the bout. I doubt that Cotto can do that to him, if their proposed fight, actually does takes place next year. Though Sergio’s propensity for getting hit cleanly and often, at this stage in his career, must be very encouraging for the sharp shooter; Miguel Cotto.
On to Erislandy Lara, who unbelievably made Alfredo Angulo quit, in yet another possible fight of year in 2013. Lara was dropped twice in this one, only to get his ass up, clear his damn head and keep to his damn fight plan, like the true professional he is. He became only the second man to stop Angulo. Later in the year he went on to dominate the highly touted Austin Trout. Dropping him hard, making him do the, Bambi/Stanky Leg dance, he has gotten accustomed to doing lately. If boxing was still a purists sport, more than it is a commercial business, we would all want Lara vs. Floyd; however the casuals don’t know and can’t appreciate the skill of an Erislandy Lara. I think he is brilliant and can’t see many fighters that can beat him at 154 lbs.
Because styles make fights possibly, one of the guys that can possibly beat Lara happens to be the beast we call, James Kirkland. Kirkland also made his ring return this year, after a tumultuous prior year, in which he found himself in legal trouble and behind bars. Amazingly shortly after signing with 50 Cent’s SMS Promotions, they made an ambitious return in a HBO bout, against a young tough prospect from New Jersey, named Glen Tapia.
Tapia’s team was clearly hoping to catch Kirkland slipping, after being out for so long. As the fight began, it seemed that team Tapia had made a good educated gamble, as Glen managed to beat Kirkland to the punch and hurt him in the first. He even swelled up James’ face and won the most of the round except for the last 30 seconds, in which James came back and put his heavy hands on the young Tapia, hurting him along the ropes.
The fight was hard to watch, from there on out as James just beat the living crap, out of Tapia. Although Tapia made various, valiant attempts, to turn things around, It was just too much, too early for the young fighter. Some nominated it as a possible fight of the year. That it was not possibility, simply not competitive enough, for that honor. This fight should have been stopped between rounds, before the last round. Tapia’s corner, the referee, and the doctors did this young man a disservice, in my humble opinion. Kirkland ultimately brutally Ko’d Tapia in very scary fashion.
Good bye 2013! 2014 has quite an act to follow.