In boxing, greatness is measured in moments. And in 2008,
There were the nine rounds of torture Pacquiao inflicted on
And, of course, there was the bell-to-bell,
To be certain, there were other qualified candidates.
His duel with Marquez, a rematch that was four years in the making, was worth every day that passed between the two fights. In a clash of styles between the fiery pugilist (Pacquiao) and the technically proficient boxer (Marquez) it was the adaptability of Pacquiao that ruled the day. Though unable to finish Marquez with one of the emphatic knockouts that have become his trademark, Pacquiao grinded out a win, absorbing a vicious beating while dishing out one of his own on his way to stripping the super featherweight champion of his alphabet title.
Another title was at stake against Diaz, a 135-pound lightweight champion who, quite frankly, never stood a chance. From the opening bell it was clear Pacquiao's speed would negate any size advantage Diaz brought to the table. Pacquiao's stinging jabs and slashing right hands carved up Diaz's face until, finally, he could go no further. "It was his speed, it was all his speed" muttered Diaz after the fight. "I could see the punches perfectly but he was just too fast."
Finally, the punctuation, the triple exclamation point on Pacquiao's year that came at the expense of De La Hoya. A heavy underdog coming in, Pacquiao's relentless style befuddled De La Hoya, who couldn't get one punch off before Pacquiao lit him up with five. Once again, size did not matter. Pacquiao packed on 12 pounds to approach the 147-pound welterweight limit. The extra padding was supposed to make him slower, more susceptible to the big shot. Instead, it made him faster and more powerful when delivered shots of his own.
He accomplished so much and he did it with the style and grace that befits a true champion. Whether he was passing out turkeys to the underprivileged in Los Angeles or cold cash to his adoring fans in the Philippines, Pacquiao became the best ambassador boxing could ever hope for in 2008, as dangerous in the ring as he is benevolent out of it.
And this could only be just the beginning. A potentially electrifying 2009 schedule -- which could feature Pacquiao taking on the equally entertaining
We could be handing Pacquiao this same award next year. And if we do, like this year, I have no doubt it will be well deserved.
Cotto's blueprint for victory was simple: wear the opponent down with stinging jabs that connect with pinpoint accuracy and wait for their body to inevitably fail them before delivering the knock-out blow. Cotto did all those things against Margarito. He peppered Margarito's head with jabs. And Margarito kept coming. He thudded his skull with power shots. And Margarito kept coming. He beat him in such a way that a lesser man -- nay, any other man -- would have been at risk of hospitalization. Yet, Margarito kept coming. He kept coming until the life drained from Cotto's eyes and his body could no longer continue. It was then, in
Boxing had several electrifying knockouts in 2008 --
A questionable stoppage in their first fight heightened the anticipation for this junior welterweight rematch. But no one could have anticipated the result.
Here's some inside information for those wondering how De La Hoya got a black eye during his recent training camp: Ortiz did it. A sensational blend of power and speed, the 21-year-old (23-1-1) is the pride of Golden Boy Promotions' young stable of fighters. Ortiz has won his last seven fights by knockout, some in brutal fashion. A natural right-hander who fights in a southpaw stance, Ortiz has quickly risen up the ranks in the junior welterweight division and looks to be a serious factor in 2009.
Fighter, philanthropist, politician --