Closing the Year with Boxing’s Best

by Kieran Mulvaney

What to do when HBO’s live boxing broadcasts have wrapped for the year? Revisit the very best bouts from an action-packed 2012, of course. The last 12 months have provided some jaw-dropping action, and for five days, beginning December 25, HBO will be showcasing seven of the year’s best examples of boxing brilliance. All times are ET/PT.


Floyd Mayweather vs. Miguel Cotto
Tuesday, December 25 at 11 PM


In May, Puerto Rican superstar Cotto put his junior middleweight belt on the line against pound-for-pound king Mayweather. In one of the finest performances of his likely Hall-of-Fame career, Cotto pushed Money May to the edge, forcing Mayweather to dig deeper than he has had to in at least 10 years.

 

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. vs. Sergio Martinez
Wednesday, December 26 at 11 PM

 

Martinez was regarded as the true middleweight champion. But Chavez had the belt he coveted, and Martinez agitated for over a year for an opportunity to take it from him. When the chance came, the Argentine appeared well on his way to doing what he had sought to do, until a dramatic finale that was one of the most explosive rounds of the year.

 

Robert Guerrero vs. Andre Berto
Thursday, December 27 at 11 PM

 

Three years ago, Guerrero was campaigning as a junior lightweight, having begun his professional career as a featherweight. One month ago, he appeared on HBO World Championship Boxing in just his second bout as a welterweight, taking on a hard-hitting former 147-pound-title-holder whose own professional debut had been at 162 pounds – almost 37 pounds heavier than Guerrero’s. But Guerrero was the aggressor, dragging Berto into an old-fashioned down-and-dirty street fight that was one of the roughest, toughest and best of 2012.

 

Antonio DeMarco vs. Adrien Broner
Friday, December 28 at 11 PM

 

Flashy Adrien “The Problem” Broner inspires a gamut of emotions – and it’s safe to say that few if any of them are ‘indifference.’ Love him or hate him, it is hard not to respect him; increasingly tipped as the sport’s next big star, Broner went a long way to establishing his bona fides with a devastating and dominant performance against Mexican DeMarco.

 

Andre Ward vs. Chad Dawson
Friday, December 28 at 11:45 PM

 

Light-heavyweight titlist Dawson took the unusual step of dropping down in weight to take on super middleweight kingpin Ward. He may still be regretting it, after Ward – in many pundits’ eyes, second only to Mayweather on the pound-for-pound list – opened his full bag of tricks and cemented his place among boxing’s elite.

 

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado
Saturday, December 29 at 11 PM

 

The moment this junior welterweight clash was signed, boxing fans everywhere had the date circled on their calendars. Both Rios and Alvarado entered the contest unbeaten and with reputations for possessing that rare combination of immovable object and irresistible force. There seemed no way this could fail to be a serious Fight of the Year candidate, and so it proved. Each man dished out and received hellacious punishment, and the contest swayed back and forth, with first one man and the other seizing advantage and momentum, until an ending that seemed to come almost out of the blue.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez 4
Saturday, Dec. 29 at 11:40 PM

 

Pacquiao and Marquez had pursued each other like Ahab and the whale, across eight years and 36 rounds, before meeting for a fourth time on December 8. Each man insisted beforehand that this would be their final battle, but after six rounds that exceeded even the dizzying heights of their previous encounters, and a conclusive, concussive ending that was among the most shocking and emphatic in years, who would bet against a fifth?

 

Broner Makes the Defining Statement of His Career. So Far

by Kieran Mulvaney

 

Antonio DeMarco, Adrien Broner - Photo Credit: Will Hart

There were those who thought that Antonio DeMarco would, at the very least, ask demanding questions of Adrien Broner in Atlantic City on Saturday night. Not surprisingly, Broner was not one of them. Every time he considered the possible permutations in advance of his challenge for DeMarco’s lightweight title, he said, it just seemed easier and easier.

Such a statement is Broner exemplified: brash and confident to the point of arrogance. But for all Broner’s loud talk outside the ring, the undefeated Cincinnati fighter has thus far been able to more than back up his words with deeds inside the ropes, and he did so again in devastating style against DeMarco, stopping the Mexican in the eighth round and maintaining his seemingly inevitable progression to the very pinnacle of the sport.

After a cautious opening round, Broner began to find the target in the second round with a fast left hook that rapidly marked up DeMarco’s face. DeMarco pressed forward earnestly, but Broner looked effortless and relaxed behind a high shoulder guard, taking his time and gradually beginning the process of picking his man apart.

Read More on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: DeMarco vs. Broner

by CompuBox

In this two-fights-per-year era for those at the highest levels of the sport, it's highly unusual for a titleholder to fight just 69 days after his most recent title defense. Such will be the case for WBC lightweight titlist Antonio DeMarco, but only because he's fresh off scoring the fastest knockout in 135-pound history. His 44-second destruction of John Molina Sept. 8 broke a record that had stood since November 14, 1930 when Tony Canzoneri dethroned Al Singer in just 66 seconds. Interestingly enough, Singer had won his belt four months earlier with his own 106-second blitz over Sammy Mandell.

Don't expect similar fireworks Saturday, for DeMarco's opposition is recent 130-pound titlist Adrien "The Problem" Broner, one of the most charismatic and talented figures on today's boxing landscape and a man capable of delivering quick knockouts as well. Broner is on a four-fight knockout streak over opponents with a combined 111-7-3 record and he hopes to add DeMarco's scalp -- and his second divisional belt -- to his mantle.

Which man will walk out with the belt? Their recent CompuBox stats tell the following tales:

See more Compubox analysis of Antonio DeMarco vs. Adrian Broner on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Mitchell vs. Banks

by CompuBox

Among American heavyweights Seth Mitchell and Johnathon Banks occupy opposite ends of the scale. The undefeated Mitchell, a onetime football player, brings linebacker aggressiveness and sack-master impact to his game, elements that rate him arguably the most exciting big man in the sport. Conversely Banks is careful, calculating and cautious, throwing precious few punches and lulling everyone to sleep, including stadium crowds who are there to see the Klitschkos perform.

Will Mitchell wake up the echoes of Arturo Gatti at Boardwalk Hall -- known as "The House That Gatti Built" -- or will Banks sing him a lullaby before putting him to sleep? Their CompuBox histories offer these clues:

See more Compubox analysis of Seth Mitchell vs. Johnathon Banks on HBO.com.

Plenty of Questions, No Guarantee of Answers, From Broner and DeMarco

by Kieran Mulvaney

Adrien Broner, Antonio DeMarco

There are, by and large, two schools of thought on Adrien “The Problem” Broner.

One is that he is a fighter of almost limitless potential, possessed of power, speed, and offensive and defensive skill. Exhibit A in support of the contention is his one-round blowout last year of Jason Litzau – who, lest it be forgot, was at the time on an improbable roll following wins over Rocky Juarez and Celestino Caballero.

The other school of thought is a little less effusive.

While not necessarily dismissive of Broner’s talents, the adherents to this second school contend that he is untested, that he has achieved notoriety and fame largely on the basis of blowing out opponents not worthy of a true contender’s resume. On the one occasion he did swap punches with a high-caliber opponent, the argument continues, he escaped with a points win he arguably didn’t deserve against Daniel Ponce De Leon in March 2011. And as for his most recent outing, when he never came close to making weight against Vicente Escobedo – well, that’s the sign of a young man who has rocketed from youth to adulthood without ever stopping to fill up on maturity.

Broner (24-0, 20 KOs) and his team had already elected to move up in weight from the 130-pound weight class in which he had been competing, and his struggles with the scales prior to dispatching Escobedo within five rounds in July only served to affirm that decision. On November 17, in Atlantic City, he takes his bow at lightweight against Antonio DeMarco, a foe even his critics agree could provide a genuine test.

Read More at HBO.com.

Step Inside Adrien Broner’s Camp During His Last Fight

by Kieran Mulvaney

Adrien Broner - Photo Credit: Hogan Photos

As the rain outside pours from the sky above Cincinnati, a small entourage files into the hotel lobby.

First to emerge from the elevator is Levi Smith, hand-wrapper, cut man and corner sage, experienced and unflappable. He is followed by J.P., a large specimen of humanity whose job is to eye approaching strangers warily and who fulfills his duties instantly as he fixes me with an uncertain glare. Then Mike Stafford – “Coach Mike” – in his defining pose: bag over one shoulder, cellphone in his other hand, pressed to his ear. He looks up, smiles, offers a hand, returns to his conversation.

Quietly, unannounced, the fighter himself appears. He looks the part: face half-hidden behind huge shades, ear buds connected to an iPhone, muscles straining against his shirt. But there is no crowd, nobody seeking an autograph, and the thought that immediately occurs is that this is surely one of the last occasions on which that will be the case. Two days before an HBO fight against Vicente Escobedo, in his hometown, and Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner is able to walk from elevator to valet stand unmolested and undisturbed. It is a relative anonymity. But if, over the next couple of years, Broner’s career tracks along the path that so many have predicted for it, such anonymity will soon be a thing of the past.

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