• Steve Bunce

Pacquiao knockout one for the ages

Steve Bunce December 24, 2012
David Haye and Dereck Chisora served up an absolute cracker © PA Photos

To sign off 2012, I thought I'd take a look back on the moments that made it such a fantastic year of boxing.

Fight of Year

This is simple, David Haye v Dereck Chisora. Why? Not only was it the best British heavyweight title fight for 20 years, since Lennox Lewis fought Gary Mason, but nearly 30,000 people turned up for a genuine grudge match. Too much was written about the fight and how they were "banned". The truth is they were never banned, they were never fighting under a ban. They chose to box under Luxembourg licenses and they put on a stunning and ultimately savage fight. Not only was it the fight of the year, it was the best heavyweight fight involving British boxers for 21 years.

Moment of Year

There are a lot of choices here, but for me it was the moment the referee hauled Carl Froch off Lucien Bute in Nottingham in May. It was a make or break fight for Froch, those are his words, and he was up against an unbeaten champion. And we forget now that Froch was the underdog and Bute the favourite. It was a staggering performance. It was ruthless, it was calculated and the moment he was hauled away the sense of relief and at the same time celebration in a packed Nottingham Arena was incredible.

Knockout of Year

There can only be one here, it is simple. It is arguably the knockout of the decade, arguably one of the greatest knockouts in boxing history. It was the moment when Juan Manuel Marquez threw a right hand that travelled all of a few inches to send Manny Pacquiao into dreamland. Pacquiao was out before he had even started to fall and it took him a while to come round. It is a knockout for the ages. If it isn't the best knockout ever, it is in the top three.

Ricky Hatton's comeback was brief and ultimately disappointing © PA Photos

Upset of Year

I think this is as simple as knockout of the year, it is Ricky Hatton's loss to VSS. The reasons why I say this are because Hatton was the promoter, Hatton was his own matchmaker and Hatton was the man who ended up getting taken down by the man he had hand picked. It is hard to find anybody who thought Senchenko would win and his body language when he finally showed up for the weigh-in suggested he did not think he had a chance of winning. However, on the night he stuck gamely to the task and as Ricky tired he took over and finished it with a staggering body punch. It was shock of the year and at the same time was one of the year's saddest moments.

Breakthrough Fighter of Year

There are dozens of young boxers in Britain and around the world who have had five, six, seven fights and could lay claim for this title. But I am going for the British heavyweight David Price. A year ago he was an unbeaten fighter trying to get his title chance. And 12 months later he is a being touted as the leading contender for the Klitschko brothers having had a series of fights, and the high-profile 90-second knockout of Audley Harrison being the biggest. He has come from a pack of about 20 heavyweights to the top. That is a breakthrough in anyone's language.

Moan of Year

This is the alarming undercurrent of drug busts that have taken place. We've had obscure British fighters like Ali Adams and high-profile Americans like world champion Antonio Tarver. There have been a growing and disturbing trend and the rumour mill has been working overtime. If there is one single word that sums up the moan of the year it would be: Drugs

Hope for 2013

The general hope is the same as ever year that the best boxers get to fight each other when they are at their best and mean something (and that we do not ever have another Pacquiao-Mayweather situation).

The hope in terms of boxer is Khalid Yafai. This kid has come through the junior and amateur ranks and has impressed since turning pro. His camp are looking to fast-track him in 2013 and I will be watching with interest.

Here's to a great 2013

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.