Year-End Awards: Middleweight, 2012

This is the first time I’ve done this, and I hope you like it.  It’s been a lot of effort.  First, a list of awards for the division.  Then, a look at the 20 fighters that did the best work in 2012 specifically, followed by a rundown of the year’s rankings history.  Dig in!

 

Middleweight Fighter of the Year: Sergio Martinez
You always know you’re doing pretty well as a reigning Champ when you also win Fighter of the Year.  Martinez’s best win of the year- over #3 Matthew Macklin back in March- matches the best win of runner up Gennady Golovkin, who beat #3 Grzegorz Proksa.  But Sergio’s other win over #4 Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. is much much better than Golovkin’s answer- a stoppage of then-unranked Makoto Fuchigami.

 

Prospect of the Year: Sanosuke Sasaki
In what tured out to be a very easy category to win, one-loss fringe prospect Sasaki’s upset KO victory over gatekeeper Tadashi Yuba from October turned out to be all that was required.  The only other real options were Billy Joe Saunders- likely the better fighter but with a slightly less-impressive win- and I guess Marcos Nader if you give him credit for the dubious draw with Roberto Santos.

 

Most Important Knockout of the Year: Champ Sergio Martinez RTD11 #3 Matthew Macklin
Easy call here- this award is automatic for the fight with the highest-rated fighters that ends in a stoppage.  Champ vs. #3 was the best match-up in the year, and Sergio closed the show.

 

Most Sensational Knockout of the Year: Sanosuke Sasaki KO4 Tadashi Yuba
Forget the huge upset involved.  Sasaki’s looping right hand was the only middleweight punch this year that put a top 50 fighter down for the full 10-count.  See the video by clicking on “KO4” above.  The only candidate even close in my view was Gennady Golovkin’s TKO of Grzegorz Proksa, but even in that case Proksa beat the count after a big punch, but was stopped by the referee as unable to continue.

 

Match-Up of the Year: Champ Sergio Martinez vs. #3 Matthew Macklin
If you count the Champion at #0, then this fight featured an average ranking of 1.5.  Only Martinez vs. #4 Chavez and #1 Geale vs. #4 Sturm were even close.

 

Fight of the Year: #20 Peter Quillin UD12 #6 Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam
This category had a lot of worthy candidates this year.  Martinez-Macklin, Geale-Sturm, Geale-Adama, and Vera-Mora were all competitive bouts with plenty of action.  But how can you go against a fight that featured 6 knockdowns and still should have been a 1-point fight.  The story of the fight: N’Dam wins every round in which he stays on his feet, but still gets edged out because Quillin’s left hook couldn’t help but drop him.  The only negative thing I can say about the event is that if N’Dam had managed to keep his feet one or two more times and thereby earn a draw or a win, the judges were not going to let him have it.

 

Upset of the Year: Sergio Sanders W (SD8) vs. #18 Billi Godoy
There were 3 clear choices this year.  Journeyman Roberto Santos clearly beat German undefeated prospect Dominik Britsch back in February, was robbed by the judges, and then reinforced his superiority by stoppage in September.  Untested one-loss fringe prospect Sanosuke Sasaki stunned veteran gatekeeper Tadashi Yuba by knockout in October.  But taking the cake was journeyman Sergio Sanders’ ever-so-narrow points win over 18th-ranked undefeated prospect Billi Godoy.  You could make a case for any of the 3 fights.  Santos appeared to be a permanent journeyman with 6 losses, including one right before that, to a nobody, in a 6-rounder.  But he had also beaten a reasonably decent journeyman in 2011, and Britsch was coming off a poor performance against Billy Lyell that had cost him a spot in the top 20 already.  Sasaki was the least-proven of any of the fighters and had lost a shutout 4-rounder to a nobody early in his career, but Yuba was the least impressive of the three upset victims, and any time a fighter has only one loss, he has the capacity to surprise you.  Sanders’ win was actually the least clear-cut of the three (I had it a draw), but Godoy was the most prestigious of the three victims despite struggling against mediocre competition even leading up to the fight.  Sanders had won only 3 of his previous 13 fights, and only a handful of those were against truly solid competition.

 

Comeback Fighter of the Year: Felix Sturm
5 different guys struck me initially as possibilities.  Felix Sturm, Sam Soliman, Roberto Santos, Brian Vera, and Sergio Sanders.  I first eliminated Soliman because despite his surprising late-career rise, he’s not really coming back from anything identifiable.  He came into the year on a 5-fight winning streak since his last loss 4.5 years ago to Anthony Mundine.  His only problem has been that he’s gone long stretches without fighting anybody worthwhile.  I then eliminated Sanders and Santos, since the term comeback implies that you were already somewhere to begin with at some point.  Those two were career-long journeymen who are flashing potential for the first time, really.  That leaves Sturm and Vera.  Vera was coming back from a revenge loss to Andy Lee late last year.  But what did he really do to accomplish that comeback?  He beat a no-hoper in April and then narrowly outpointed a decent fighter he’d already beaten once before.  I still don’t see him as having rebounded to the status he enjoyed before the Lee loss.  So that leaves Sturm.  What is Sturm coming back from?  On paper, he’s only coming back from a low top-5 ranking.  But he was buoyed at that level by his past glory.  His 2011 had been all but a disaster, as he squeaked by with an undeserved win over underdog Macklin and managed only a draw with unproven prospect Martin Murray.  Despite his still-decent ranking, he honestly didn’t seem like an obvious top 10 fighter in reality.  To be frank, he looked nearly washed-up.  But 2012 was a true comeback from all that.  First, he handled fringe contender Sebastian Zbik WAY more easily than had Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr., and then fought to a true stalemate with #1 contender Daniel Geale.  He lost the decision in that fight- the first time I can remember him potentially getting less than he deserved in Germany- but proved that he’s still viable at the top level.

 

Robbery of the Year: Roberto Santos Draw (SD12) vs. Dominik Britsch
Santos won this fight anywhere between 117-111 and 115-113, but only managed to walk away with a split draw.  One shameful judge- Zvonko Rukavina- somehow saw it 117-112 for Britsch, while Dave Parris cemented the robbery with a 114-114 scorecard.  Santos also suffered a draw against Marcos Nader in a less clear fight that I also thought he won later on.  But luckily, he was able to clear the air by stopping Britsch in a rematch.

 

Now, for anyone that cares, I will rank the division based solely on the fighters’ 2012 accomplishments.  I will use the same criteria that I use to rank them overall (with victories, draws, or should-be victories and draws over top 50 opposition making one eligible), but will completely ignore all fights prior to 2012.  Only 17 fighters qualified for rankings this year.

 

1) Sergio Martinez
Significant Results: Mar 17- RTD11 #3 Matthew Macklin.  Sep 15- UD12 #4 Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr..
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Champ.
2) Gennady Golovkin
Significant Results: May 12- TKO3 fringe contender Makoto Fuchigami.  Sep 1- TKO5 #3 Grzegorz Proksa.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 19: #16.  Feb 20-Mar 4: #17.  Mar 5-May 13: #16.  May 14-27: #14.  May 28-Sep 2: #13.  Sep 3-Dec 31: #3.
3) Daniel Geale
Significant Results: Mar 7- UD12 #11 Osumanu Adama.  Sep 1- W (SD12) (should be draw) vs. #4 Felix Sturm.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: #1.
4) Felix Sturm
Significant Results: Apr 13- RTD9 Gatekeeper Sebastian Zbik.  Sep 1- L (SD12) (should be draw) vs. #1 Daniel Geale.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: #4.  Feb 6-Apr 15: #5.  Apr 16-Jun 17: #3.  Jun 18-Sep 2: #4.  Sep 3-Dec 31: #2.
5) Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.
Significant Results: Feb 4- UD12 #10 Marco Antonio Rubio.  Jun 16- TKO7 SMW #10 Andy Lee.  Sep 15- L (UD12) vs. Champ Sergio Martinez.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: #7.  Feb 6-Mar 18: #4.  Mar 19-Apr 15: #3.  Apr 16-Jun 17: #4.  Jun 18-Sep 2: #2.  Sep 3-16: #4.  Sep 17-Dec 31: #5.
6) Peter Quillin
Significant Results: Jun 2- UD10 inactive former JMW Champ Winky Wright.  Oct 20- UD12 #6 Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-May 27: Unranked.  May 28-Oct 21: #20.  Oct 22-Dec 31: #6.
7) Sam Soliman
Significant Results: Feb 19- UD12 #15 Garth Wood.  Aug 24- UD12 gatekeeper Giovanni Lorenzo.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 19: Unranked.  Feb 20-Mar 4: #11.  Mar 5-Sep 2: #10.  Sep 3-Oct 21: #11.  Oct 22-Dec 31: #12.
8) Roberto Santos
Significant Results: Feb 25- Robbery Draw (SD12) vs. fringe contender Dominik Britsch.  Sep 15- TKO8 prospect Dominik Britsch.  Nov 2- Draw (MD12) (should be win) vs. undefeated prospect Marcos Nader.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Unranked.
9) Matthew Macklin
Significant Results: Mar 17- L (RTD11) vs. Champ Sergio Martinez.  Sep 15- TKO1 fringe contender Joachim Alcine (.5 over limit).
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1- Mar 18: #3.  Mar 19-Apr 15: #4.  Apr 16-Sep 16: #5.  Sep17-Dec 31: #4.
10) Dmitry Pirog
Significant Results: May 1- UD12 #20 Nobuhiro Ishida.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-May 6: #8.  May 7-Dec 31: #7.
11) Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam
Significant Results: May 4- UD12 #15 Max Bursak.  Oct 20- L (UD12) vs. #20 Peter Quillin.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 5: #5.  Feb 6-Oct 21: #6.  Oct 22-Dec 31: #10.
12) Paul Williams
Significant Results: Feb 18- UD12 #17 Nobuhiro Ishida.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Feb 19: Unranked.  Feb 20-Mar 4: #14.  Mar 5-May 27: #13.  May 28-Dec 31: Unranked (paralyzed).
13) Bryan Vera
Significant Results: Aug 11- W (MD12) vs. gatekeeper Sergio Mora.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Oct 21: Unranked.  Oct 22-Dec 23: #20.  Dec 24-31: #19.
14) Sanosuke Sasaki
Significant Results: Oct 8- KO4 gatekeeper Tadashi Yuba.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Unranked.
15) Billy Joe Saunders
Significant Results: Sep 14- TKO2 undefeated prospect Jarrod Fletcher.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Unranked.
16) Sergio Sanders

Significant Results: Jan 5- L (TKO8) vs. journeyman Mateo Veron.  Oct 20- W (SD8) vs. #18 Billi Godoy.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Unranked.
17) Marcos Nader
Significant Results: Nov 2- Draw (MD12) (should be loss) vs. gatekeeper Roberto Santos.
2012 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Unranked.

 

The following fighters could be found in the top 20 at various parts of the year, but did nothing at this weight to help their ranking:

 

Grzegorz Proksa: Jan 1-Jun 17: #2.  Jun 18-Sep 2: #3.  Sep 3-Dec 31: #8.
Martin Murray: Jan 1-Feb 5: #6.  Feb 6-May 6: #7.  May 7-Sep 2: #8.  Sep 3-Dec 31: #9.
Sebastian Sylvester: Jan 1-Mar 4: #9.  Mar 5-Dec 31: Unranked (retired).
Marco Antonio Rubio: Jan 1-Feb 5: #10.  Feb 6-19: #12.  Feb 20-Mar 4: #13.  Mar 5-11: #12.  Mar 12-Sep 2: #11.  Sep 3-Oct 21: #12.  Oct 22-Dec 31: #13.
Anthony Mundine: Jan 1-Feb 5: #11.  Feb 6-Mar 4: #10.  Mar 5-Sep 2: #9.  Sep 3-Oct 21: #10.  Oct 22-Dec 31: #11.
Osumanu Adama: Jan 1-Feb 5: #12.  Feb 6-19: #11.  Feb 20-Mar 4: #12.  Mar 5-11: #11.  Mar 12-Sep 2: #12.  Sep 3-Oct 21: #13.  Oct 22-Dec 31: #14.
Avtandil Khurtsidze: Jan 1-Feb 19: #13.  Feb 20-Mar 4: #15.  Mar 5-May 13: #14.  May 14-27: #15.  May 28-Oct 21: #14.  Oct 22-Dec 23: #15.  Dec 24-31: Unranked (inactive).
Max Bursak: Jan 1-Feb 19: #14.  Feb 20-Mar 4: #16.  Mar 5-May 13: #15.  May 14-27: #16.  May 28-Oct 21: #15.  Oct 22-Dec 23: #16.  Dec 24-31: #15.
Garth Wood: Jan 1-Feb 19: #15.  Feb 20-Dec 31: Unranked.
Nobuhiro Ishida: Jan 1-Feb 19: #17.  Feb 20-Mar 4: Unranked.  Mar 5-May 27: #20.  May 28-Dec 23: #19.  Dec 24-31: #18.
Demetrius Andrade: Jan 1-Mar 4: #18.  Mar 5-May 27: #17.  May 28-Oct 21: #16.  Oct 22-Dec 23: #17.  Dec 24-31: #16.
Darren Barker: Jan 1-Mar 4: #19.  Mar 5-May 27: #18.  May 28-Oct 21: #17.  Oct 22-Dec 23: #18.  Dec 24-31: #17.
Billi Godoy: Jan 1-Mar 4: #20.  Mar 5-May 27: #19.  May 28-Oct 21: #18.  Oct 22-Dec 31: Unranked.
Makoto Fuchigami: Jan 1-Dec 23: Unranked.  Dec 24-31: #20.

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