Hello team and welcome to a holly jolly, cinnamon broom scented edition of boxing’s number one holiday-themed mid-Sunday afternoon pugilistic paper; we are the Dustin Hoffman’s character from Rain Man of boxing columns. Today we take a look at Decembers past at some of the biggest, most influential and impactful fights that took place in this auspicious month. So, grab on to your jingle bells, we’re about to get totally drunk off eggnog and hit on both of your sisters. With that being said, I gave you your instructions in the dressing room, what I say you must obey – Cuidate, escucha me, toca los manos y buena suerte…Let’s get it on!
In an epic shootout at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, “Ferocious” Fernando Vargas was stopped by Felix Trinidad in front of a crush of appreciative fans. In the last round of a close, foul-filled slugfest that was replete with knockdowns from both men, “Tito” Trinidad dropped Vargas two separate times with crushing left hooks. Each time Fernando Vargas arose on unsteady legs and for his trouble, Trinidad landed a final right handed brain-damager that sent Vargas down face first while referee Jay Nady stepped in to put a halt to the atrocities.
December 8th, 2007
Floyd Mayweather and Ricky Hatton both met at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada to see whose “0” would go when the U.K.’s most personable, most humble champion was pitted against America’s brash and outspoken new Pay-Per-View mega-star. Mayweather was 38-0, while Hatton 43-0. It was a chance for a boxer making huge waves from across the pond to take the throne from one of the most notable characters boxing has seen, someone who most fight fans loved to hate.
To this day, I contend that no fighter, nay entertainer on the planet has been able to attract 30,000+ people across an ocean for any kind of performance; let alone one that barely cracks an hour in its entirety. The phrase ‘There’s only one Ricky Hatton’ still rings in my head to this day and anyone who had witnessed this, or who was lucky enough to have been there surely observed one of the most dramatic fights of this era.
December 6th, 2008
Shooting star, Manny Pacquiao up to this point had been tearing through the weight divisions. While some cried foul with the ease in which he both rose in pounds and kept his power and speed (some would even say enhanced it), Pacquiao nevertheless kept on winning and more importantly put on dominant, memorable performances.
Leading up to the match, chants of “De La Hoya can’t pull the trigger” rained down from team Pacquiao, more specifically, from Oscar’s former trainer, Freddie Roach. De La Hoya artificially drained himself to a weight he hadn’t been at in years on a shady diet of ostrich and other exotic meats in order to prove that he could be still competitive in the division. Manny Pacquiao, in a massive upset for some, mercilessly dominated Oscar De La Hoya (who was sporting I.V. marks in his arm from attempts to rehydrate him) for eight painful-to-watch rounds en route to a swollen faced, puffy-eyed self-preservation stoppage from Oscar himself.
December 8th, 2012
Manny Pacquiao again enters the squared circle against arch-nemesis, Juan Manuel Marquez. Up to this point, Marquez was 0-1-2 against the Filipino flame thrower, though many felt that perhaps he should have been awarded victories in all three match-ups; the fourth fight, however, Marquez would not leave up to chance.
The two champions traded knockdowns in perhaps their most hotly contested battle yet, and with the best, most ferocious punch of his entire career, a cornered and bloodied Juan Manuel Marquez crashed home a titanic counter right hand (a product of years of studying Pacquiao’s every move inside the ring) in the midst of a deadly Manny Pacquiao flurry. That one punch momentarily silenced the MGM Grand and sent the once invincible Manny Pacquiao plummeting face first into the canvas and onward to boxing meme immortality.
December 19th, 1997
Experienced former WBC titlist, Kevin Kelley met with Sheffield’s showboating, undefeated WBO champion Naseem Hamed in a bout that would serve as both Hamed’s ninth title defense and stiffest test to date. The two men electrified the Madison Square Garden in New York City and exchanged three knockdowns a piece with Hamed getting the dropped in the very first round. The fighters traded splashdowns in the second frame and in the fourth as well, however, in that round, “Prince” Naseem Hamed’s were called on the back of his one glove touching the canvas whereas Kevin Kelley was splattered and was unable to beat the referee’s ten count.
Shortly after the fight, “Nas” went on record saying “…He said something to me that never ever left my mind, and it never left my mind from the whole duration from when he said till when he hit me. He said “I’m going to smoke your boots, believe me, I’m going to smoke your boots.” So, I got to America, didn’t like the changing rooms…but regardless I got into the ring and when I got into the ring and he hit me with that shot…a shot that struck me and felt like a bolt of lightning. I swear to god, it went from head to toe and I felt, once he hit me, something in my boots…and I’m not lying. It felt like an electric shock on my feet inside of my boots. The minute I felt that…I think this is what he was talking about…You know, Kevin Kelly is an amazing fighter so to beat him and to carry on, it was a big big thing for me.”
If you have any other suggestions for best, most influential and important December fights, or just want to disagree with me on some moot point, please email me at JESSEBOXINGTRIBUNE@GMAIL.COM where I will file it under “S” for I don’t give a shit what you have to say. Have a wonderful holidays, family! We’ll be back next week with another edition of Somalia’s 16th most wildly popular Sunday boxing column…until then, Santé.