COMMISSIONER’S CORNER: Who Is the “Fighter of the Decade?”
In a little over seven weeks, it will be time for our yearly awards.
You know: “Fighter of the Year,” “Fight of the Year,” and a bunch more.
However, the one award which will prominently stand out is only given every 10 years. It’s the “Fighter of the Decade.”
Who will it be?
We’ll give you some names and tell you what they accomplished during the decade, so you can digest those facts and guess who we’ll be choosing for this coveted and prestigious award. So as not to list who you think is the obvious choice first, we’ll give you the contenders alphabetically by last name.
Here they are:
Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
The overall records of each fighter will be in italics, while their respective records from January 2010-December 2019 will be in bold type. We’ll begin with #1 on the alphabetical list:
Canelo Alvarez: (53-1-2, 36 KO’s), (23-1-1, 14)…Picked up four divisional titles (154, 160, 168 and 175 pounds) during the decade. Make it five if you count the NABF Welterweight Title he won in March 2010…Has become the biggest money-maker in the sport as well as the face of boxing. He is the man seemingly every top middleweight, super middleweight and light heavyweight wants to face.
Terence Crawford: (35-0, 26 KO’s), (25-0, 19 KO’s)…Crawford took a 10-0 record into the start of this decade. With each victory, he took major steps up in competition. After beating veteran Breidis Prescott on points and stopping 34-1-1 Alejandro Sanabria three months later, his promoter—Top Rank—put him in with 16-0 Andrew Klimov. Crawford shut him out over 10 rounds. Then came a WBO Light Title fight against champion Ricky Burns. Crawford, too fast and slick for Burns, won his first world title, taking the decision. Two defenses followed. Then he moved up to win the WBO Super Lightweight Title. Six defenses later, he unified all four 140lb titles with a third round, body shot knockout of previously unbeaten Julius Indongo. He captured the WBO Welterweight Title in his next fight, and has defended it twice, since. His next fight will be on December 14 against 21-0-1 Egidijus Kavaliauskas at Madison Square Garden. Three divisional titles in four years and a slew of defenses make Crawford a solid challenger for “Fighter of the Decade” honors.
Tyson Fury: (29-0-1, 20), (20-0-1, 13 KO’s)…Despite missing two-and-one half years of the decade because of a myriad of problems, after winning four of the title belts from Wladimir Klitschko, Fury was still able to return with four victories, a WWE event, sign a co-promotional deal with Top Rank, hold Deontay Wilder to a draw and make himself a social media star. As 2020 unfolds, Fury is negotiating for a rematch against Deontay Wilder.
Gennady Golovkin: (40-1-1, 35 KO’s) (22-1-1, 20)…During one stretch in the decade, won 18 in a row by knockout or stoppage. All were in title defenses between August 2010 and Sept. 2016. His two controversial bouts against Canelo Alvarez have fans, the media and promoters discussing a rubber match, most likely in May 2020.
Naoya Inoue: (19-0, 17), (19-0, 17 KO’s)…He is nicknamed “The Monster,” and for good reason. He turned pro at 19…In his sixth fight, he captured the WBC Light Flyweight Title…In his eighth fight, he won the WBO Super Flyweight Title…In his 16th fight, he won the WBO Bantamweight Championship. In his latest victory, he won the World Boxing Super Series Muhammad Ali Trophy by defeating Nonito Donaire. All this, and he’s just 26!
Wladimir Klitschko: (64-5, 53 KO’s), (11-2, 7 KO’s)…When the decade began, Klitschko was 34, and the owner of the IBF, IBO and WBO Heavyweight Titles. He added the WBA belt to his collection in 2011. He held them all through eight more defenses until losing to Tyson Fury in November 2015. In his next fight—17 months later—he lost to Anthony Joshua in 2017’s “Fight of the Year.” He has said he wants to surpass George Foreman and become the oldest heavyweight champion. In that case, Klitschko will have to get—and win—a title shot after January 2022, when he’ll be 45 years and 10 months old, the age Foreman was when he beat Michael Moorer in 2004.
Vasily Lomachenko: (14-1, 10 KO’s), (14-1, 10 KO’s)…When this double Olympic gold medalist turned pro in 2013, he did so in a 10-rounder…He fought for a world title in his second fight (losing a decision to a bloated Orlando Salido) and winning the WBO Featherweight Title in his third fight. After making six successful title defenses, he won the WBO Super Featherweight Title in his seventh fight. After four successful defenses of that title, captured the WBA Lightweight Title in his 11th fight. The victory marked the quickest any fighter had ever won title in three different weight classes. In his three following successful defenses, he had added the WBA & WBC Lightweight Title belts to his collection.
Floyd Mayweather: (50-0, 27 KO’s), (10-0, 2 KO’s)…Floyd went from being “Pretty Boy” Floyd to be “Money” Mayweather during the decade. Two of his final three bouts set PPV buy-rate records (Manny Pacquiao, May 2015 & Conor McGregor, August 017). He will be headed into the International Hall of Fame in 2021 as a first-ballot selection, should he not return for another major money bout.
Manny Pacquiao: (62-7-2, 39 KO’s), (12-4, 1 KO)…He fought in big fights (Floyd Mayweather) controversial fights (Tim Bradley I and Jeff Horn) and stunning fights (Juan Manuel Marquez) during the decade. He was supposed to be on retirement’s doorstep when he faced Adrien Broner last January. If Pacquiao was on retirement’s doorstep, it was only because he was politely holding the door for Broner, sending “The Problem” into a retirement for at least the remainder of 2019…During the decade, Pacquiao held title at 147 and 154 pounds…The 16 fighters he faced during the decade were not only top-10 ranked, but either current of former world champions…There has never been—and never will be—a fighter quite like the one-of-a-kind Manny Pacquiao.
Andre Ward (32-0, 16 KO’s), (11-0, 3 KO’s)…Won the WBA & WBC Super Middleweight belts…also won the WBO, WBA & IBF Light Heavyweight Titles…Biggest wins: Sergei Kovalev (W 12 & TKO 8); Sullivan Barrera (W 12); Chad Dawson (TKO 10); Carl Froch (W 12); Arthur Abraham (W 12) and Sakio Bika (W 12)…Beat three undefeated contenders during the decade (Edwin Rodriguez, Sullivan Barrera & Sergei Kovalev).
Deontay Wilder: (41-0, 40 KO’s), (33-0-1, 32 KO’s)…He was 8-0–all knockouts—when the decade started. Seven of the knockouts were in the first round. Weak opposition, said his critics. Since that time, Wilder has knocked out 32 more opponents. Thirteen have been in the first round. Included among those first-rounders was Bermane Stiverne and Dominic Breazeale. His right cross is already regarded as one of the hardest the division has ever seen. Prior to losing to Andy Ruiz, Anthony Joshua wanted nothing to do with facing Wilder. Nor is Tyson Fury clamoring for a rematch against Wilder, against whom he fought to a draw on December 1, 2018. Wilder won the WBC title in January 2015, on a 12-round unanimous decision against Bermane Stiverne (Wilder’s only points win), and his since made nine successful defenses. An impressive showing against Luis Ortiz on November 23 will put him solidly in contention for, not just “Fighter of the Year.” It’ll put him seriously in line for “Fighter of the Decade” honors.
Since September, boxing has seen one terrific fight after another. Vasily Lomachenko v Luke Campbell, Tyson Fury v Otto Wallin, Errol Spence v Shawn Porter, GGG v Sergei Derevyanchenko, Artur Beterbiev v Oleksandr Gvodzyk and Josh Taylor v Regis Prograis are just a handful of the thrilling fights we’ve seen in the last 10 weeks. Then came Nanoya Inoue v Nonito Donaire for the WBSS Bantamweight Championship. It was breath-taking! It was a bantamweight division classic, a “Thrilla’ in Manila” in Japan: The Slugfest in Saitama. Inoue won a unanimous decision, the WBSS Muhammad Ali Trophy and the IBF and WBA Bantamweight Titles. Two little men producing a huge fight for DAZN, for the boxing world and for the rich history of boxing. We thank both of them for what they gave of themselves in Saitama, Japan.
NO WORD ON ERROL: Last month, Errol Spence was involved in an accident, when the Ferrari he was driving in Dallas, Texas, veered out of control, then flipped several times. Spence, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the vehicle. The Ferrari was destroyed. Miraculously, Spence survived. Taken to a local hospital, it was announced that Spence had suffered only a few bumps, scrapes and minor cuts and bruises. However, Spence was kept in the hospital for almost one week. Since that time, there has been no sighting of Spence or any word from he or his promoter, the PBC. His Twitter feed has also been silent. What is going on with Errol Spence? The boxing world hopes and prays he is just laying low after an event what could have turned out much worse than what we’ve been told.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR CANELO? Do not be surprised if newly-crowned WBO Light Heavyweight Champion Canelo Alvarez, after surveying a list of possible challengers who are looking to become his next opponent, chooses GGG. Canelo is not, despite what detractors say, looking for soft opponents. Names and champions like Dmitri Bivol, Artur Beterbiev, Callum Smith, Billy Joe Saunders, Demetrius Andrade and GGG are amongst a long list of top fighters who have called Canelo out. While he has said, when asked, that he’d consider facing the 15-0 (15 KO’s) Artur Beterbiev, you can almost hear his management saying, “That is not going to happen anytime soon.” So, who can he face which will make senses in terms of sales? The answer is: Gennady Golovkin. The two have faced each other twice before, with both fights being steeped in controversy. Their first fight, in September 2017, was a draw. Their rematch, one year later, ended in a majority decision for Alvarez. GGG did his part, winning the vacant IBF Middleweight Title with a unanimous decision over Sergei Derevyanchenko in October. It’s time for one more battle. This corner believes it will happen.
At 168 pounds.
On Cinco de Mayo Weekend in Las Vegas.
For Canelo and for boxing, it makes the most sense.
PUBLISHER'S NOTE: Michael Woods here. I recommend you buy and read Randy's superb fight-ography, “Glove Affair.”