This is the first in a series of four WUs intended to chronicle the events inside the ring of Professional Boxing. This WU will include descriptions of the Fight and Fighter of the Year (according to me). I will also be posting WUs describing each Weight Class, the Top 20 Pound-for-Pound and a description of all the Boxing 2002, Important Fights important fights this year.
I'm not much of a Boxing "historian" so I can't really say if this year was better or worse than previous ones. There were certainly many great fights like the ones listed below in the Fight of the Year. In general, a Boxing fan wants to see the best guys fight each other. The biggest disappointment of the year was that Roy Jones, Jr. and Bernard Hopkins not only didn't fight each other, but didn't fight anyone of consequence either. Other than that most of the top fighters had at least one good fight this year. It looks like 2003 might be off to a better start though.
Fight of the Year
1. Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti I - A fight so great there's a whole WU for it. I don't think you can find a Boxing fan who saw this fight who doesn't think it was the best of the year. For ten rounds Ward and Gatti unleashed and insane barrage of punishment on each other. Control of the fight switched from side to side, sometimes several times in a single round. In the end, Ward was given the decision largely because of a ninth round knockdown.
2. Oscar De La Hoya vs. Fernando Vargas - There was a lot of hype (and "Bad Blood", ie, Vargas's steroid filled veins) going into this fight and it was worth it. The first part of the fight was back and forth. De La Hoya controlled the outside fight in the center of the ring and Vargas controlled the inside fight with Oscar on the ropes. By the end it was De La Hoya who possessed enough strength and heart to deliver a stunning KO of Vargas.
3. Micky Ward vs. Arturo Gatti II - Ward and Gatti got in the ring again later that year. In the third round Gatti landed a blow to the top of Ward's head hard enough to send Micky to the ground and break his own hand. Somehow Ward was able to get up and last through the round. Even though the rest of the fight was fairly one-sided it was still quite a show. Gatti walked away with a lopsided decision. There's still a possibility of a third outing for the two warriors.
4. Shane Mosley vs. Vernon Forrest I - Forrest entered the fight a major underdog but his rock solid defense and tall fighting style quickly gave Mosley trouble. Forrest gave Mosley his first cut (from a bad accidental head butt), first knock down (from a vicious left hand) and first loss (an overwhelming unanimous decision). Forrest surprised everyone again by agreeing to an immediate rematch and solidly defeating Mosley again.
5. Antonio Margarito vs. Antonio Diaz - Another fight featuring an little known underdog. Antonio Margarito didn't fight like an underdog though. By using volume punching and continuous pressure he was able to wear out rising star Antonio Diaz leading to a great stoppage.
6. Elvir Muriqi vs. Sam Ahmad - These guys aren't contenders but this was one exciting fight. Elvir Muriqi, one of trainer/commentator Teddy Atlas's protégés, quickly found himself on the mat for the first time in his short career. He got back up and put Ahmad on the ground. Ahmad then knocked Muriqi down again. That was all in the first round! Round two starts with Muriqi being knocked down again. He would slip early in the round also but finished the round strong putting Ahmad in trouble again. In the third round Ahmad would find himself on the ground two more times leading to a TKO for Muriqi.
Fighter of Year
1. Vernon Forrest - Forrest takes the prize here easily. No other fighter can boast of two wins as impressive as Vernon's. Forrest has already signed up to fight top contender and belt holder Ricardo Mayorga in January 2003. This could lead to a unification bought at the end of 2003 and another Fighter of the Year award.
2. Arturo Gatti - For going 20 grueling rounds with Micky Ward and coming out on top Gatti receives high honors. In the second fight with Ward he was able to focus on Boxing to come out on top.
3. Micky Ward - While Gatti may have come out on top at the end of 2002 it's hard to ignore the performance by Ward in both fights. No other fighter has shown as much heart and determination this year.
4. Oscar De La Hoya - "The Golden Boy" is Golden again after a spectacular destruction of "Ferocious" Fernando Vargas. He's now trying to lure Felix Trinidad back into Boxing. If that fails it'll be an exciting rematch with "Sugar" Shane Mosley.
5. Marco Antonio Barrera - Barrera started the year barely getting by rival Erik Morales. He then easily outboxed former champ Johnny "Mi Vida Loca" Tapia. Marco Antonio Barrera has changed his style to a heavier influence on Boxing. While this leads to slightly more "boring" fights, it does help to keep him on top and in the game longer.
Boxing 2002 | Pound-for-Pound | The Divisions | Important Fights