2008 Inside Fights Boxing Awards

Boxer of the Year

Tomasz Adamek
Joe Calzaghe
Chad Dawson
Antonio Margarito
Manny Pacquiao

Adamek blistered the cruiserweight division in 2008 going 3-0, capturing a world title, and beat Steve Cunningham in a thriller. Joe Calzaghe got the big fights he was looking for in 2008 and beat both Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones Jr. Chad Dawson successfully defended his light heavyweight title twice in ’08 while Margarito handed Miguel Cotto his first loss. Manny Pacquiao beat a top fighter in three different weight classes.

And the winner is…

Manny Pacquiao

This one was an easy pick. Nothing against the other nominees, but Manny Pacquiao had a phenomenal year. He started his year by besting Juan Manuel Marquez in a fight that was also nominated for Fight of the Year. Pacquiao moved up in weight for his next win against lightweight champion David Diaz. After knocking Diaz out, Pacquiao proved his pound-for-pound dominance by moving up two more weight classes to stun Oscar De La Hoya. Pacquiao was also the 2006 Inside Fights Boxer of the Year.

Fight of the Year

Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez III (3-1-08)
Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez II (3-15-08)
Joel Casamayor-Michael Katsidis (3-22-08)
Antonio Margarito-Miguel Cotto (7-26-08)
Tomasz Adamek-Steve Cunningham (12-11-08)

This one was a tough call. There were five outstanding fights to choose from. Israel Vazquez and Rafael Marquez ended their trilogy just as they started, with back-and-forth action. Juan Manuel Marquez pushed Pacquiao to his limits in March while Joel Casamayor and Michael Katsidis put on a slugfest one week later. Margarito and Cotto lived up to all the pre-fight hype. Adamek used three knockdowns to get a split decision over Cunningham just a few weeks ago.

And the winner is…

Antonio Margarito vs. Miguel Cotto

This one had Fight of the Year buzz going on before the fight actually took place. It definitely lived up to the hype and it was almost like watching two fights in one night. Cotto used slick boxing to counter Margarito in the first half of the fight. Then Cotto grew exhausted from the pace Margarito was setting and couldn’t shake the Mexican fighter. Margarito overwhelmed Cotto in the latter half of the fight leading to an 11th round TKO for Margarito and Miguel Cotto’s first loss.

Breakthrough Fighter of the Year

Andre Berto
Tim Bradley
David Haye
Kendall Holt
Juan Manuel Lopez

Berto captured the welterweight title Mayweather Jr gave up in retirement and went 3-0 in 2008. Tim Bradley traveled to the UK to take the light welterweight title from Junior Witter while England’s own David Haye unified the cruiserweight titles before winning by KO in his heavyweight debut. Kendall Holt won a light welterweight title and will defend it against Bradley in ’09. Juan Manuel Lopez won four fights this year but only fought 6 total rounds.

And the winner is…

Juan Manuel Lopez

Lopez is a special fighter with impressive power, as shown in his domination of 2008. Defeating Daniel Ponce de Leon was his coming out party and his first world title, the WBO Super Bantamweight title. At just 25 years old, many big fights loom in his future. Israel Vazquez, Rafael Marquez, and Celestino Caballero are all stalwarts in the super bantamweight division. No matter his opponent, Juan Manuel Lopez is a fighter that you want to keep your eyes on in 2009.

Boxing Story of the Year

Mayweather Jr Retires
43-Year Old Hopkins Schools Pavlik
The Klitschko Brothers Are Simultaneous Champs
Pacquiao Makes De La Hoya Quit On His Stool
De La Hoya/Pacquiao PPV Does 1.25 Million Buys

Floyd Mayweather Jr retired while he was atop the best pound-for-pound boxer list. Bernard Hopkins proved age wasn’t a factor by dominating the dangerous Kelly Pavlik. Wladimir and Vitali Klistchko accomplished their goal of holding heavyweight titles at the same time in 2008. Manny Pacquiao made big news in the way he dominated Oscar De La Hoya but the fight also made news in generating 1.25 million pay-per-view buys, the third highest for a non-heavyweight fight.

And the winner is…

Pacquiao Makes De La Hoya Quit On His Stool

This was undoubtedly the biggest fight of the year and it delivered a shocking result. Most people picked Oscar De La Hoya to win, but even those that saw Manny winning the fight certainly didn’t think Pacman would stop the Golden Boy. Pacquiao didn’t just defeat De La Hoya, he pummeled him for eight rounds until De La Hoya didn’t want to fight any longer.

Boxing Card of the Year

Pavlik-Taylor II (Montiel-Castillo, Mijares-Navarro)
Cotto-Margarito (Canchila-Segura, Alvarado-Bazan, Concepcion-Carrera)
Cancun Show (Peter-Maskaev, Campbell-Diaz)
Houston Show (Juarez-Barrios, Diaz-Katsidis)
Seminole Show (Abraham-Miranda II, Lorenzo-Raul Marquez)

These were all fine boxing events. Pavlik-Taylor II and Cotto-Margarito were both pay-per-view offerings but the other three cards could have been seen without the hefty price tags. The heavyweights actually delivered in Cancun while the Houston Show featured two hometown victories. Arthur Abraham’s rematch with Edison Miranda helped make the Seminole card a great one.

And the winner is…

Championship Heat

This HBO doubleheader delivered more action than a Spring Break in Cancun really needs. Sam Peter outslugged Oleg Maskaev in the main event in what was the best heavyweight fight of the year. Peter put Maskaev away in the 6th round. Nate Campbell scored an upset in the co-feature when he handed Juan Diaz his first loss and took his lightweight titles in the process. He stood toe-to-toe with Diaz and wore him out over 12 rounds.

Most Disappointing Fight of the Year

Junior Witter-Tim Bradley (5-10-08)
Humberto Soto-Francisco Lorenzo I (6-28-08)
Wladimir Klitschko-Tony Thompson (7-12-08)
Vitali Klitschko-Sam Peter (10-11-08)
Nikolai Valuev-Evander Holyfield (12-20-08)

Even though 2008 was a breakthrough year for Tim Bradley, his win over Junior Witter in May was a snoozer. Soto was robbed of a win due to an acting job by Lorenzo and a rash referee decision. Wladimir Klitschko took forever to finish Tony Thompson in the worst fight I watched all year. Sam Peter took all the momentum he garnered from his win over Maskaev to lay an egg against Vitali Klitschko. Holyfield and Valuev combined both boring and a bad decision into one fight.

And the loser is…

Nikolai Valuev vs. Evander Holyfield

This entire fight was filled with disappointment. The fact that Holyfield is still fighting is disappointing. Valuev getting outworked by a 46 year old heavyweight is disappointing. The fight lacked any action. The only thing that could have been cool about this fight, Holyfield making history by being the oldest champion ever, was taken away by a bad decision. How disappointing.

KO of the Year

Shane Mosley KO Ricardo Mayorga
Kendall Holt KO Ricardo Torres
Mikkel Kessler KO Danilo Haussler
Edison Miranda KO David Banks
Juan Urango KO Carlos Vilches

Mosley’s KO of Mayorga came in thrilling fashion as it was literally at the last second of the bout. On the flipside, Torres put Holt down twice in the first minute only to succumb to brutal KO by Holt in a fight that only lasted 61 seconds. Kessler showed quick handspeed in his KO of Haussler while both Miranda and Urnago scored visually impressive knockouts.

And the winner is…

Miranda KO Banks

Edison Miranda is a fearsome puncher and proved it with his devastating knockout of former Contender cast member David Banks. Banks was on the ropes until a right from Miranda nearly sent him through the ropes. Instead, Banks lay prone while one of the ropes supported his quick nap.

Upset of the Year

Vic Darchinyan over Cristian Mijares
Sergio Mora over Vernon Forrest
Manny Pacquiao over Oscar De La Hoya
Nate Campbell over Juan Diaz
Carlos Quintana over Paul Williams

Darchinyan and Campbell both pushed aside young lions that were atop their divisions while Sergio Mora shook off his contender status. Pacquiao moved up two weight classes to dominate De La Hoya and Carlos Quintana gave fits to the man that always gives other fighters fits.

And the winner is…

Manny Pacquiao Over Oscar De La Hoya

Going into the fight, Manny Pacquiao was being called the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. It shouldn’t seem like a Pacquiao win would be considered an upset but this was the most shocking result of 2008. The weight was never an issue for Pacquiao and De La Hoya was never in the fight. Still, not many were giving Pacman a chance in this fight and the fight was seen more as a way for Oscar to feed his ego and pad his pocketbook. Pacquiao proved a lot of people wrong and I doubt anyone will make that mistake again.

2007 Inside Fights Awards
2006 Inside Fights Awards