This year has been one of the toughest in terms of selecting the Fighter of the Year. Several of boxing's top stars have put together truly solid years, but nobody has really stood out as a singular force in the sport. Last year's winner, Andre Ward, made a clear case for himself with wins over Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch to win the Super Six World Boxing Classic. This year, however, will likely produce plenty of debate.
So, listed in no particular order, here are the top candidates for 2012 honors as Fighter of the Year:
The Philadelphia native had a solid 2011, but then really had a breakthrough in 2012. Early in the year he was able to win the vacant WBC junior welterweight title via unanimous decision against veteran future hall of famer, Erik Morales. After that, he scored a major upset via stoppage against defending WBA champ, Amir Khan, in four rounds. To close things out, Garcia would defend his WBA and WBC junior welterweight world titles by once again defeating Morales, this time by fourth round knockout.
This year, "The Filipino Flash" blew away criticisms of being inactive and overly careful in his opponent selection by scoring victories over three legitimate, Top Ten fighters. Donaire began the year by taking the vacant WBO junior featherweight title in a bout with Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. He then went on to unify the WBO and IBF titles by defeating reigning IBF titlist, Jeffrey Mathebula. From there, he would take on former WBC titlist and no. 1 ranked junior featherweight in the world, Toshiaki Nishioka, registering a dominant TKO 9 victory. Donaire has one more fight scheduled this year, against multi-division champ, Jorge Arce this coming Saturday in Houston, Texas. A loss, of course, removes him from Fighter of the Year consideration, but a win over the tough, but likely overmatched Mexican veteran certainly helps Donaire's case to take top honors for 2012.
Juan Manuel Marquez
The 39-year-old Marquez didn't even have a long-shot chance at winning Fighter of the Year honors until last Saturday's brutal six-round knockout victory over arch-rival, Manny Pacquiao. The Filipino icon's scalp weighs heavily on Marquez's short list of accomplishments this year because, prior to the devastating KO, the Mexican's only other bout was a solid, but unspectacular unanimous decision over Serhiy Fedchenko for the interim WBO junior welterweight title.
The Argentine southpaw slickster earned Fighter of the Year honors in 2010 and made a pretty good case for himself this year as well. In March, he defeated a legitimate Top 10 middleweight in Matthew Macklin via corner stoppage between rounds eleven and twelve. Then, in September, Martinez beat Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in a long-awaited grudge match to take possession of the WBC middleweight title. The victory over the second generation star was the culmination of an almost two-year pursuit of the belt that had been stripped from him via boardroom politics.
Austin Trout (Noteworthy wins: Delvin Rodriguez, Miguel Cotto)
Abner Mares (Noteworthy wins: Eric Morel, Anselmo Moreno)
Robert Guerrero (Noteworthy Wins: Selcuk Aydin, Andre Berto)
Adrien Broner (Noteworthy wins: Eloy Perez, Vicente Escobedo, Antonio DeMarco)
Brian Viloria (Noteworthy Wins: Omar Niño Romero, Hernan Marquez)
Yoan Pablo Hernandez (Noteworthy Wins: Steve Cunningham, Troy Ross)
Carl Froch (Noteworthy Wins: Lucian Bute, Yusaf Mack)
Ricky Burns (Noteworthy Wins: Paulus Moses, Kevin Mitchell)
Andre Ward (Noteworthy Win: Chad Dawson)
Floyd Mayweather Jr. (Noteworthy Win: Miguel Cotto)
Daniel Geale (Noteworthy Wins: Osumanu Adama, Felix Sturm)
Vitali Klitschko (Noteworthy Wins: Dereck Chisora, Manuel Charr)
Wladimir Klitschko (Noteworthy Wins: Jean Marc Mormeck, Tony Thompson, Mariusz Wach)
Paul Magno was a licensed official in the state of Michoacan, Mexico and a close follower of the sport for more than thirty years. His work can also be found on Fox Sports and as Editor-in-Chief of The Boxing Tribune. In the past, Paul has done work for Inside Fights, The Queensberry Rules and Eastside Boxing. For breaking news, additional analysis, and assorted crazy commentary, follow him on Facebook, @TheBoxingTribune or on Twitter, @BoxingBTBC.
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