by Tim Harrison
The year’s end is the time to reflect on the year, compile lists of the best moments, top fighters, and hand out awards and recognition to those deserving. What you seldom see is what is hidden away in the dark corners; the worst of the year. Although to the credit of the wonderful and creative minds behind The Boxing Tribune, our Year End Awards do a damn fine job of recognizing the negatives. In any case, without further ado, some of the worst moments of 2014.
Adonis Stevenson’s 1st year with Al Haymon
When Adonis Stevenson signed with the powerful Al Haymon in February, it’s doubtful he envisioned his 2014 campaign ending the way it did. Not only did the move to Haymon and Haymon’s Showtime-exclusive deal torpedo any realistic plans for a showdown between Stevenson and Sergey Kovalev, a separate backroom Haymon deal was rumored to be the motivation behind Bernard Hopkins’ impetuous move to sign a contract to fight Sergey Kovalev, ruining a potential Hopkins-Stevenson unification bout. The cherry on top of 2014’s shit sundae plopped down when Jean Pascal signed to fight Sergey Kovalev in March, leaving Adonis Stevenson once again all alone out in the cold.
Deontay Wilder’s knockout of Malik Scott
Malik Scott put in a whole 90 seconds of work in challenging the undefeated Deontay Wilder in March, and went down from a punch that internet stooge Charlie Zelenoff was able to promptly get up from. Keanu Reeves, the master of emotionlessly deadpanning his lines in big budget movies, has put in better performances.
Deontay Wilder giving Charlie Zelenoff the attention he craves
It was hard not to feel a sense of satisfaction when video of 6-foot 7-inch Deontay Wilder standing over a cowering Charlie Zelenoff surfaced back in April, but it was also a shame that Wilder would even give Zelenoff the time of day. Anyone who has ever stumbled upon a Zelenoff YouTube video and wasted several hours going down that insane rabbit hole will agree that the kid needs his comeuppance. Zelenoff has made a full-time job out of posting videos of his idiotic antics on YouTube, claiming to be an undefeated underground boxing legend and hardest pound-for-pound puncher in the world. He’s also spent many hours calling out professional boxers with personal insults, and Wilder was the only one to respond. In his defense, Wilder’s emotional reaction is a sympathetic one, but it does not excuse the irresponsibility behind his actions. Wilder stands 7 inches taller and some 70-80 pounds heavier than Zelenoff, not to mention he’s a professional boxer facing off with a scrawny, delusional head case, and Zelenoff was lucky to not sustain any serious damage.
Chris Algieri’s June 14 win over Ruslan Provodnikov had the makings of a screw job, to those who chose to see the writing on the wall. Top Rank’s options of Provodnikov were set to expire, and new options on Algieri were just beginning. Bob Arum event went so far as to express his desire to pit Algieri against Manny Pacquiao in the fall in the week leading up to Provodnikov-Algieri. And after getting up from two first-round knockdowns, the HBO commentary crew painted the picture of a lion-hearted warrior fighting back against tall odds and dominating the rest of the fight, while a majority of the world saw a man running for his life against a brute ill-equipped to cutting off the ring and corralling his prey.
Provodnikov-Algieri would eventually lead us to…
Manny Pacquiao’s November pay-per-view fight was a dud, plain and simple. The lopsided main event was supported by two meaningless showcase bouts featuring Zhou Shiming and Vasyl Lomachenko taking on handpicked opponents. If not for Jessie Vargas’ win over Antonio DeMarco in the opening bout, the entire card would have been completely meaningless. In the end, the fight sold so poorly that no official number has been released.
Danny Garcia’s return bout from his disastrous “homecoming” in March turned out to be more of a farce than his decision win over Herrera in March. Rod Salka, an unranked lightweight, came up to challenge the top junior welterweight in the world in a non-title, 142-lb catchweight slaughter. Garcia needed only two rounds to send Salka back to the minor leagues, and Showtime’s commentary crew was left with the tall task of trying to legitimize the whole thing.
Nothing more needs to be said. “Shannon” and “Briggs”: two words tells the whole story. You can add two more words: “Wladimir” and “Klitschko”, if he’s in on that nonsense.
Gennady Golovkin’s knockout of Marco Antonio Rubio
For some, the outcome of Golovkin-Rubio was set from the moment the ink on the contracts dried. Rubio, a tough veteran and former world title challenger, presented the perfect style to walk into the buzzsaw that is Gennady Golovkin. But the boxing media shamelessly sold Rubio as the man to end Golovkin’s magical run. In the end, Rubio got the last laugh, as he cashed a full paycheck for less than two rounds of work. Golovkin’s first somewhat solid punch landed and Rubio went down and didn’t even bother to try to get up before the count of nine-and-a-half.
The “He Must Have Kicked a Midget” Award Winner: Mauricio Herrera – It’s possible Mauricio Herrera did something very bad in his recent past, because the man is either cursed and/or carrying around the worst karma. He started the year pitted against Danny Garcia during his March 2014 “homecoming” in Puerto Rico. After putting forth what many saw as the winning effort, Herrera walked away with a majority decision loss and a bad taste in his mouth.
Actor-turned-boxer-turned actor, Micke Rourke made his comeback to the sport at the ripe old age of 62, on the undercard of Ruslan Provodnikov’s public execution of Jose Luis Castillo in November. Rourke quickly dispatched of his much younger opponent in two rounds, only to have his opponent later reveal he was ordered to take a dive. It’s not often that exhibition matches make major headlines and give the sport such a black eye.
Rumors of an Al Haymon takeover
Al Haymon, with an already large stable of star talent, went on a signing spree in 2014. In addition to his star talent, Haymon has a large cavalcade of warm bodies to throw to his lions. The rumor is that Haymon is poised to take on a large number of nationally televised fight dates or start a subscription-based internet boxing network. The evidence certainly starts to lend credence to the rumor. On one hand, Al Haymon is great for those who have signed with him. He makes his fighters the most money with the least amount of risk. The problem is those small risks often lend to painfully one-sided mismatches and pointless showcases. But this is nothing new, it is business as usual, save for the inclusion of someone not in the ordained fraternity of boxing’s established swindlers.
A big thank you should go out to all of the loyal Boxing Tribune readers, the first-time readers with a penchant for negativity and pessimism who stumbled upon this link, and the staff, who have made 2014 our best year yet. Keep your browser tuned into The Boxing Tribune in 2015.
You can email Tim at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheTimHarrison.