Year-End Awards: Super Middleweight, 2013

Welcome to my 2nd Annual Super Middleweight Year-End Awards and Wrap-Up.  First, a list of awards for the division.  Then, a look at the 20 fighters that did the best work in 2013 specifically, followed by a rundown of the year’s rankings history.  Dig in!

 

It is a year dominated by Carl Froch.  He is the fighter of the year and won both the fight and match-up of the year against Kessler.

 

Super Middleweight Fighter of the Year: Carl Froch
Froch owns this category for a second year in a row.  The only other guy even close is Robert Stieglitz, who grabbed arguably the best single win of the year over #2 Arthur Abraham.  Now was Abraham really better than Froch’s win over #3 Kessler?  Nah, probably not…just a result of timing.  Still, whatever doubt there is as to the relative quality of Froch and Stieglitz’s best wins is rendered irrelevant by Froch’s additional win over #8 George Groves.  Even if you are among the many that question the timing of the stoppage, I think it’s hard to argue that the stoppage wasn’t likely to come at some point, considering Groves’ condition at the time.

 

Prospect of the Year: Ryota Murata
I know, I know.  He’s really a middleweight.  But he didn’t make middleweight for his huge win over Akio Shibata, and thus is ineligible for consideration at that weight, technically-speaking.  He’s certainly the prospect of the year at SOME weight, having proven himself the best fighter in Asia at or near his weight class, and having done so in his pro debut, no less.  Don’t like his winning this at 168 still?  Fine.  Feel free to substitute Caleb Truax, with his upset win over credible super middleweight Don George.  But that was at a catchweight.  Still too much of a middleweight for your tastes?  Fine.  Take Fedor Chudinov, the unbeaten Russian who destroyed a light heavyweight version of Francis Cheka while making 168, himself.

 

Most Important Knockout of the Year: #5 Robert Stieglitz TKO3 #2 Arthur Abraham
This would also probably qualify as most surprising knockout if I had such a category.  Stieglitz was known for his boxing and considered a fairly light hitter, especially by comparison to Abraham, whose power was- at least as a middleweight- considered rather legendary.  Abraham had won a 2012 meeting by competitive but clear decision, so while I don’t think a Stieglitz decision win would have been too much of an upset, the idea that the 2nd-ranked Abraham could be stopped by Stieglitz was unfathomable.  None of that really bears on the decision to recognize it as the most important of the year, however, since Abraham’s ranking alone makes this a no-brainer.

 

Most Sensational Knockout of the Year: #7 George Groves TKO5 Noe Gonzalez
This was a close call between Groves-Gonzalez and Caleb Truax’s destruction of Don George.  On one hand, Groves’ victim was able to get to his feet after a few seconds before the referee correctly deemed him unable to continue, which takes away from the sensational knockout credibility quite a bit, while George could only get to his hands and knees before the count of 10 was reached.  On the other hand, Truax put George down with a series of punches while George was trapped on the ropes.  There was no readily-apparent single punch that dropped him, as George appears to have succumbed to the overall onslaught.  As for Groves, he landed a beautiful shot in an exchange that dropped the Uruguayan fringe contender, making it quite picturesque.  

 

Match-Up of the Year: #1 Carl Froch vs. #3 Mikkel Kessler
By far the top rankings match-up of the year, with an average ranking of #2.  It wasn’t a half-bad fight, either.  The runner-up was #2 Arthur Abraham vs. #5 Robert Stieglitz, followed by #1 Froch vs. #8 Groves.

 

Fight of the Year: #1 Carl Froch UD12 #3 Mikkel Kessler
The rematch of the best super middleweight fight of 2010 didn’t truly live up to the great action of its predecessor, but although it was also less competitive than the first meeting, it was still the probably the best action fight and certainly the best match-up of the year.  There were no knockdowns and no stoppage, with Froch taking either 8 or 9 of the 12 rounds beyond much doubt, but even when not lighting the world on fire to the extent they’re capable of, Froch and Kessler still can hardly disappoint.  Froch-Groves very well may have been the runner-up.  If you don’t mind your action a little sloppy, the razor-thin all-out war between Sakio Bika and Marco Antonio Periban would be a worthy choice, as well.

 

Upset of the Year: Don Mouton Robbery Loss vs. #10 Anthony Dirrell
Technically, the #10 contender here got the win over a journeyman, which makes this an unlikely upset, indeed.  Yet as my long-time readers know, I pay no attention to clear robbery decisions except two categories below.  This was such a robbery.  Dirrell, first of all, showed up as a full-sized light heavyweight at the weigh-in, dwarfing his super middleweight opponent.  This could be seen in one of two ways: either Dirrell had an even greater advantage than his rank and apparent skill alone, or else he was woefully under-prepared.  The course of the fight would suggest the latter.  Dirrell looked lackadaisical throughout much of the fight, and seemed to believe that he could win the fight by hanging out on the ropes and absorbing thudding body shots from an aggressive Mouton.  The fact that he was technically right is of no consequence to any but those that would take the word of a corrupt or incompetent judge, as Dirrell won at most 3 of the 8 rounds.  I gave him only the 2nd, for a score of 79-73 in Mouton’s favor.  It’s not as if Mouton hadn’t done anything of consequence before.  His overall record features a 2009 win over prospect Jerson Ravelo that was of some consequence, for example.  But he had been treated as an opponent of late, losing fights as an underdog, often on short notice.  He had the boxrec rating of a mid-level journeyman coming into this fight, and had no business clearly beating the #10 contender as he did.  Brandon Gonzales’ should-be win over #5 Thomas Oosthuizen would be the runner up, while Christopher Rebrasse’s shocking domination of #10 Mohammed Ali Ndiaye would be the first and second runners-up.  All, sadly, were robbed from the rightful winner.

 

Comeback Fighter of the Year: Don Mouton
I alluded to some of this in the last category.  Mouton had shown himself a more than capable gatekeeper during 2009.  After a close 2008 loss to top prospect Maxim Vlasov, Mouton outpointed gatkeeper Walid Smichet, stopped Ravelo, and went life and death in a debatable losing effort against Curtis Stevens.  But then he went to prison for possession of stolen mail, and didn’t fight at all for well over 3 years.  Upon coming back, he beat 3 unproven guys (one an undefeated prospect) before dropping close decisions to Badou Jack and Brandon Gonzales, leaving him at an apparently low level before his great performance against Dirrell.  Unfortunately, the boxing world largely will not recognize this comeback, because he got saddled with the official loss and wasn’t televised all that widely due to local FSN blackouts all over the place.

 

Robbery of the Year: #10 Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye Draw (SD12) vs. Christopher Rebrasse
As a boxing fan, this is the one category in which you certainly don’t want a lot of options to choose from.  Unfortunately, we’ve got ’em.  Gonzales beat Oosthuizen alllmost beyond all doubt, but received only a draw, which was reasonably possible only if you happen to have given Oosthuizen all of the toss-up rounds.  Ezequiel Maderna was the victim of a loss against Oosthuizen that probably should have been a draw, and a loss to Edwin Rodriguez that, while close, I had as a win.  Don George was saddled with a loss against David Lopez despite being in his hometown and winning anywhere between 5 and 10 of the 10 rounds.  And as mentioned before, Anthony Dirrell clearly lost to Don Mouton by at least a one-round margin, and probably more, but got the win anyway.  The sad fact is, however, that none of these bad to atrocious decisions were even close to eclipsing the winner.  Ndiaye won no rounds on my card…an absolute shutout…and there were only two rounds that were even arguable- the 4th and 11th.  There was only one additional round- the 3rd- that was even kinda close.  The rest were clear-cut Rebrasse rounds, and beyond even an unreasonable doubt.  Now to the clown show known as the judging.  First of all, kudos to Finland’s Anssi Perajoki for his 119-111 scorecard.  He’s a bit enamored with even rounds, it would seem, but otherwise escapes serious criticism by recognizing Ndiaye as the winner of only 1 round.  The others are not so fortunate.  Manuel Oliver Palomo of Spain, it seems, does have the ability to judge competently.  He had a perfect scorecard in a very difficult fight to score between Braehmer and Gutknecht early this year.  But he’s also responsible for the 2011 outrage that was Helenius-Chisora.  This scorecard was maybe even worse.  Even.  114-114.  Yep.  Even worse, if you can believe it, was the other Spanish judge, Francisco Vazquez Marcos, who had it 115-114 FOR NDIAYE (!!!!).  I can’t say I’ve ever scored a fight along with Vazquez, so I have no book on him before this.  What this does seem to suggest is that Spanish judges are a little cheaper to buy than Finnish ones.  Or maybe it was a buy one, get one situation.  I don’t like to jump to conclusions, but this scoring- when combined with Palomo’s prior record- is just too out of bounds to be chalked up to simple incompetence or a bad night.  I would bet a fair amount of money that these guys were paid off, or something of that nature.

 

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 2013.

 

1) Carl Froch
Significant Results: May 25- UD12 #3 Mikkel Kessler.  Nov 23- TKO9 #8 George Groves.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: #1.
2) Robert Stieglitz
Significant Results: Mar 23- TKO3 #2 Arthur Abraham
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Mar 24: #5. Mar 25- Dec 31: #2.
3) Brandon Gonzales
Significant Results: Jun 29- Draw (should be win) vs. #5 Thomas Oosthuizen.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-Jun 30: Unranked. Jul 1- Dec 31: #5.
4) Ezequiel Maderna
Significant Results: Mar 30- UD10 L (should be win) vs. #17 Edwin Rodriguez. Nov 9- MD12 L (should be draw) vs. #6 Thomas Oosthuizen.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-20: #18. Jan 21- Mar 3: #17. Mar 4-10: #16. Mar 11-31: #15. Apr 1- May 5: #17. May 6-19: #16. May 20- Jun 30: #14. Jul 1-7: #15. Jul 8- Sep 29: #14. Sep 30- Nov 10: #13. Nov 11- Dec 31: #7.
5) Christopher Rebrasse
Significant Results: Jun 8- Robbery SD12 Draw (should be win) vs. #10 Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Jun 9: Unranked. Jun 10-30: #10. Jul 1- Sep 29: #11. Sep 30- Nov 10: #10. Nov 11-17: #11. Nov 18- Dec 31: #10.
6) Andre Ward
Significant Results: Nov 16- UD12 #13 Edwin Rodriguez.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Champion.
 7) Thomas Oosthuizen
Significant Results: Jun 29- SD10 Draw (should be loss) vs. Prospect Brandon Gonzales. Nov 9- MD12 W (should be draw) vs. #13 Ezequiel Maderna.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- May 19: #6. May 20- Jun 30: #5. Jul 1- Sep 29: #7. Sep 30- Dec 31: #6.
8) James DeGale
Significant Results: Jun 8- RTD4 Gatekeeper Stjepan Bozic. Nov 16- UD12 Fringe Contender Dyah Davis.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-20: #17. Jan 21- Mar 3: #16. Mar 4-10: #15. Mar 11- May 5: #14. May 6-19: #13. May 20- Jun 9: #11. Jun 10-30: #9. Jul 1- Sep 29: #10. Sep 30- Nov 10: #9. Nov 11-17: #10. Nov 18- Dec 30: #9.
9) Sakio Bika
Significant Results: Feb 16- UD12 Gatekeeper Nikola Sjekloca.  Jun 22- W (MD12) vs. Undefeated Prospect Marco Antonio Periban.  Dec 7- Draw (SD12) vs. Prospect Anthony Dirrell.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-20: #12. Jan 21- Feb 17: #11. Feb 18- Mar 3: #10. Mar 4- May 19: #9. May 20- Jun 30: #8. Jul 1- Sep 29: #9. Sep 30- Nov 10: #8. Nov 11-17: #9. Nov 18- Dec 31: #11.
10) Ryota Murata
Significant Results: Aug 25- TKO2 #14 Middleweight Akio Shibata.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-Aug 25: Unranked (Amateur). Aug 26- Sep 29: #16. Sep 30- Dec 31: #15.
11) Edwin Rodriguez
Significant Results: Mar 30- UD10 W (should be L) vs. #15 Ezequiel Maderna.  Jul 13- TKO1 #16 LHW Denis Grachev (at LHW). Nov 16- L (UD12) vs. Champ Andre Ward.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-20: Unranked. Jan 21- Feb 24: #20. Feb 25-Mar 3: #19. Mar 4-10: #18. Mar 11-31: #17. Apr 1- May 5: #16. May 6-19: #15. May 20-Jun 30: #13. Jul 1-7: #14. Jul 8- Sep 29: #13. Sep 30- Nov 10: #12. Nov 11- Dec 31: #13.
12) Caleb Truax
Significant Results: Jun 21- TKO6 #15 Don George. Sep 21- TKO4 Prospect Ceresso Fort (at 160).
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Jun 23: Unranked.  Jun 24-30: #16. Jul 1-7: #17. Jul 8- Aug 25: #16. Aug 26- Sep 29: #17. Sep 30- Dec 31: #16.
13) George Groves
Significant Results: May 25- TKO5 Prospect/Gatekeeper Noe Gonzalez. Nov 23- L (TKO9) vs. #1 Carl Froch.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-20: #9.  Jan 21- May 19: #8. May 20- Jun 30: #7. Jul 1- Sep 29: #8. Sep 30- Nov 10: #7. Nov 11- Dec 31: #8.
14) Fedor Chudinov
Significant Results: Dec 21: RTD3 Gatekeeper Francis Cheka.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: Unranked.
15) Callum Smith
Significant Results: Oct 26- KO6 Gatekeeper Ruben Acosta.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- Dec 31: Unranked.
16) Badou Jack

Significant Results: Feb 23- UD8 Quality Journeyman Don Mouton. Jul 19- UD10 Prospect Farah Ennis. Sep 12- MD10 Draw (should be loss) vs. Prospect Marco Antonio Periban.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-Jul 21: Unranked. Jul 22- Aug 25: #19. Aug 26- Sep 29: #20. Sep 30- Dec 8: #19. Dec 9-31: #18.
17) Don Mouton
Significant Results: Jan 11- L (UD8) vs. Prospect Brandon Gonzales. Feb 23- L (UD8) vs. Undefeated Prospect Badou Jack. May 3- Robbery L (should be win) vs. #10 Anthony Dirrell.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1- May 19: Unranked. May 20- Jun 2: #20. Jun 3-30: #19. Jul 1-7: #20. Jul 8-21: #19. Jul 22- Aug 25: #20. Aug 26- Sep 29: Unranked. Sep 30- Dec 8: #20. Dec 9-31: #19.
18) Anthony Dirrell
Significant Results: May 3- Robbery W (should be loss) vs. Journeyman Don Mouton. Dec 7- Draw (SD12) vs. #11 Sakio Bika.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-20: #13. Jan 21- Mar 3: #12. Mar 4-10: #11. Mar 11- May 5: #10. May 6- Dec 8: Unranked. Dec 9-31: #20.
19) Marco Antonio Periban

Significant Results: Jun 22- L (MD12) vs. #8 Sakio Bika. Sep 12- MD10 Draw (should be win) vs. #20 Badou Jack.
2013 Rankings History: Jan 1-Dec 31: Unranked.
20) Gilberto Ramirez

Significant Results: Aug 24- UD10 Gatekeeper Derrick Findley.
2013 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.  Nearly half are no longer around:

 

Arthur Abraham– Jan 1- Mar 24: #2. Mar 25- May 19: #5. May 20- Dec 31: #4.

 

Mikkel Kessler– Jan 1- Dec 31: #3.

 

Lucian Bute– Jan 1-May 19: #4. May 20- Dec 31: Unranked (Moved Up).

 

Adonis Stevenson– Jan 1- May 19: #7. May 20- Sep 29: #6. Sep 30- Dec 31: Unranked (Moved Up).

 

Kelly Pavlik– Jan 1-20: #8. Jan 21- Dec 31: Unranked (Retired).

 

Karoly Balzsay– Jan 1-20: #10. Jan 21- Mar 3: #9. Mar 4- Dec 31: Unranked (Retired).

 

Andy Lee– Jan 1-20: #11. Jan 21- Feb 17: #10. Feb 18- Mar 3: #11. Mar 4-10: #10. Mar 11- May 19: Unranked (Moved Down). May 20- Jun 2: #17. Jun 3-23: #16. Jun 24-30: #15. Jul 1-7: #16. Jul 8- Sep 29: #15. Sep 30- Dec 31: #14.

 

Will Rosinsky– Jan 1-20: #14. Jan 21- Mar 3: #13. Mar 4-10: #12. Mar 11- May 5: #11. May 6-19: #10. May 20- Jun 9: #9. Jun 10-30: #11. Jul 1-7: #12. Jul 8- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

Mouhamed Ali Ndiaye– Jan 1-20: #15. Jan 21- Mar 3: #14. Mar 4-10: #13. Mar 11- May 5: #12. May 6-19: #11. May 20- Jun 9: #10. Jun 10- Dec 31: Unranked.

 

Dimitri Sartison– Jan 1-20: #16. Jan 21- Mar 3: #15. Mar 4-10: #14. Mar 11- May 5: #13. May 6-19: #12. May 20- Dec 31: Unranked (Moved Up).

 

Jesus Gonzales– Jan 1-20: #19. Jan 21- Feb 24: #18. Feb 25- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

Maxim Vlasov– Jan 1-20: #20. Jan 21- Feb 24: #19. Feb 25- Mar 3: #18. Mar 4-10: #17. Mar 11-31: #16. Apr 1- May 5: #15. May 6-19: #14. May 20- Jun 30: #12. Jul 1-7: #13. Jul 8- Sep 29: #12. Sep 30- Nov 10: #11. Nov 11- Dec 31: #12.

 

Dyah Davis– Jan 1- Feb 24: Unranked. Feb 25- Mar 3: #20. Mar 4-10: #19. Mar 11- May 5: #18. May 6-19: #17. May 20- Jun 2: #15. Jun 3- Dec 31: Unranked (Inactive).

 

Hadillah Mohoumadi– Jan 1- Mar 3: Unranked. Mar 4-10: #20. Mar 11-24: #19. Mar 25- May 5: #20. May 6-19: #19. May 20- Jun 2: #18. Jun 3-30: #17. Jul 1-7: #18. Jul 8- Aug 25: #17. Aug 26- Sep 29: #18. Sep 30- Dec 31: #17.

 

Glen Johnson– Jan 1- Mar 10: Unranked.  Mar 11-24: #20. Mar 25- May 5: Unranked. May 6-19: #20. May 20- Jun 2: #19. Jun 3-30: #18. Jul 1-7: #19. Jul 8- Aug 25: #18. Aug 26- Sep 29: #19. Sep 30- Dec 8: #18. Dec 9-31: Unranked (Moved Up).

 

Don George– Jan 1- Mar 24: Unranked. Mar 25- May 5: #19. May 6-19: #18. May 20- Jun 2: #16. Jun 3-23: #15. Jun 24-30: #20. Jul 1-7: Unranked. Jul 8-21: #20. Jul 22- Dec 31: Unranked.

 

Brian Magee– Jan 1- Jun 2: Unranked. Jun 3-23: #20. Jun 24- Dec 31: Unranked
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