HBO Boxing Insiders Year End Picks: KO of the Year

Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

With the end of the year approaching and Boxing's Best airing, it's as good a time as any to take a look back at a stacked year of fights on HBO. HBO Boxing Insiders made their selections for the top everything from this year's HBO fights. Next up, KO of the Year.

Previously: Fighter of the Year, Breakthrough HBO Fighter, Best Blow, Best HBO Boxing Moments, Trainer of the Year, Round of the Year

Kieran Mulvaney: Gennady Golovkin KO3 Matthew Macklin

Adonis Stevenson's annihilation of Chad Dawson and the cold-eyed destruction of Ismayl Sillakh by Sergey Kovalev are high on the list, but Golovkin's one-punch body shot stoppage of Macklin was the kind of performance that burns itself into the memory. Macklin, a quality contender who had pushed Sergio Martinez to the brink, looked confident before the fight, deeply concerned after taking his opponent's first couple of punches, and broken in half after Golovkin dropped him with a shot that cracked his rib and kept him on the canvas for several minutes. It was an emphatic end to a powerfully dominant performance from the Kazakh-born sensation -- one that announced he is a true force to be reckoned with in the middleweight division.

Eric Raskin: Gennady Golovkin KO3 Matthew Macklin

Because I didn't care for the way in which Stevenson-Dawson was stopped -- the ref never asked Dawson to step forward and called what struck me as a slightly panicky halt in a fight of that magnitude -- I have to pick GGG's bodyshot blastout of Macklin. This wasn't like Bernard Hopkins' bodyshot stoppage of Oscar De La Hoya, which did the job but didn't look like much. Golovkin's left hook to Macklin's middle packed all the aesthetic punch you could ask for. You could almost feel Macklin's pain from your living room couch -- especially when he was still struggling for breath as Michael Buffer announced the result a couple of minutes later.

Nat Gottlieb:  Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson

Complete shocker as Dawson, despite his loss at 168 to Ward, was still considered the man at 175. Adonis took over The Man status in short order with a brutal left cross that nearly lifted Dawson off his feet and sent him down flat on his back. Dawson bravely got up to beat the count, but the ref took one look at the fighter, who probably didn't know where he even was, and waved it off.

Tim Smith: Mikey Garcia KO8 Roman Martinez

There is nothing quite like a perfectly executed left hook to the liver to bring matters in the ring to a quick and decisive conclusion. And that is exactly what Mikey Garcia did when he landed that perfect KO shot on Roman "Rocky'' Martinez at 56 seconds of the eighth round of their WBO super featherweight match. When Garcia landed the shot, Martinez was frozen like a block of ice from its paralyzing effect. The victory solidified Garcia's credentials a legitimate star.

Hamilton: Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson

Adonis Stevenson knocking out Chad Dawson in the first round. This was the single most emphatic "Hello, goodbye" moment of the year in boxing. A changing of the guard.

Michael Gluckstadt: Adonis Stevenson KO1 Chad Dawson

There was no KO more emphatic or dramatic than Adonis Stevenson proving out Emmanuel Steward's prediction that he would be the number one fighter at light heavyweight, and doing so in the first round.

Before 2014, the Best of 2013

By Kieran Mulvaney

Photo Credit: Will Hart

Households across the country have had the opportunity to exchange gifts and wear garish sweaters. But for boxing fans, the most wonderful time of the year presents a special challenge. Granted, you're grateful for that tie, and who doesn't need more socks, but where's the sanctioned, televised violence? Sure, Uncle Ernie and Cousin Jerome might square up after too much eggnog, but it's hardly the same, is it? And it may very well be a wonderful life, but I think we can all agree that James Stewart is no Ruslan Provodnikov.

Never fear, HBO Boxing is here. To help bridge the gap until our first live fight card of 2014 on January 18, we're bringing you the best of 2013. If you missed any of these 10 fights the first time around, you can watch them now on HBO.com:

Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II

Three years after Kessler scored a narrow decision win over Froch in his native Denmark, the Englishman extended an invite for a rematch in London, and the result was another 12 rounds of first-rate action.

Round to Watch: In round 5, Kessler landed a hard left-right combination that buckled Froch, only for the Brit to shake it off and take it to the Dane for the rest of the round.

 

Sergey Kovalev vs. Nathan Cleverly

Kovalev's reputation as a fearsome puncher preceded his HBO debut against Cleverly, and it was only enhanced after he blew away Cleverly and took his light-heavyweight belt in the process.

Round to Watch: Although it wasn't the final frame of the contest, round 3 was the one in which the fight was effectively knocked out of the Welshman, courtesy of a pair of heavy knockdowns.

 

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Ruslan Provodnikov

Bradley's first outing since his highly controversial 2013 win over Manny Pacquiao was nearly a disastrous one, as he (and the world) was introduced to the relentless punching power of Siberia's Provodnikov.

Round to Watch: Round 12 was the most dramatic final three minutes of professional prizefighting since Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. nearly pulled victory from the jaws of defeat against Sergio Martinez last fall.

 

Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez

Fan favorite Cotto returned to HBO after back-to-back losses in 2013, and rebounded in style, with arguably his most emphatic victory in years.

Round to Watch: Officially, the contest ended in the second, but it was all but over before that, as Cotto came bouncing out of his corner on his toes and spent the first three minutes tearing into Rodriguez with his long-vaunted but much-missed left hook.

 

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II

In a rematch of their hellacious first encounter, Rios and Alvarado once again thrilled fans with a bruising battle in which neither man gave any quarter, both ended the night battered, but only one man was beaten.

Round to Watch: Just try and watch the second round without your jaw dropping. Go ahead. Try it.

 

Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin

After rolling to two stoppage wins on HBO, Golovkin took on the sternest challenge of his professional career in the form of former title challenger Macklin. The aftermath saw a lot more passengers clambering aboard the Golovkin bandwagon.

Round to Watch: The third-round ending is a study in violent artistry, as Golovkin maneuvers Macklin into position before dropping the hammer blow.

 

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

Bradley's reward for escaping Provodnikov was a pay-per-view bout against Mexican veteran Marquez, and the result was two men putting on one of the year's best displays of skilful boxing-punching.

Round to Watch: For the second Bradley fight in the row, the final round had the most drama, the result of the contest seemingly hinging on the final three minutes – and even the very last punch of the fight.

 

Adonis Stevenson vs. Chad Dawson

Dawson was returning to light-heavyweight after an unsuccessful attempt to wrest the super-middleweight crown from Andre Ward. Few had heard of Stevenson before the opening bell; it only took 79 seconds for that to change dramatically.

Round to Watch: Let's put it this way. Once the fight begins, try not to go to the bathroom or the kitchen, or even to sneeze.

 

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios

Eleven months after the sudden and disastrous end to his fourth fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, Pacquiao returned to action against Rios, in the first pay-per-view boxing card to be broadcast from China.

Round to Watch: Bit by bit, round by round, Pacquiao's speed proved too much for Rios; the final frame, when Rios made one last effort to turn the tide, was the best of the bunch.

 

James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia

There are boxing bouts, and there are fights. This was a fight.

Round to Watch: All of them. Seriously. All of them.

 

HBO Boxing's Best For 2013

Gennady Golovkin, Matthew Macklin - Photo Credit: Ed Mulholland

The schedule is set for HBO Boxing's Best for 2013. 

Over the course of five consecutive nights in December, HBO2 will present 10 of the year's biggest fights, featuring the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, Timother Bradley Jr., Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, and more.

The Best Of series kicks off on Monday, December 23 at 11:00 PM ET/PT, with a back-to-back feature of Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II and Sergey Kovalev vs. Nathan Cleverly. 

Revisit the most memorable fights of 2013 with the full schedule below.

(Winners names in italics)

 

Monday, December 23 at 11:00 p.m.

Carl Froch vs. Mikkel Kessler II

Sergey Kovalev vs. Nathan Cleverly

Tuesday, December 24 at 11:00 p.m.

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Ruslan Provodnikov

Miguel Cotto vs. Delvin Rodriguez

Wednesday, December 25 at 11:00 p.m.

Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado II

Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin

Thursday, December 26 at 11:00 p.m.

Timothy Bradley Jr. vs. Juan Manuel Marquez

Adonis Stevenson vs. Chad Dawson

Friday, December 27 at 11:00 p.m.

Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios

James Kirkland vs. Glen Tapia

 

Which fight was your favorite? Let us know in the comments or at @HBOBoxing on Twitter.

 

In Win Over Agbeko, Rigondeaux Puts on a Clinic

by Michael Gluckstadt

Photo: Ed Mulholland

Guillermo Rigondeaux put on a masterclass against Joseph Agbeko at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. He darted in and out, dancing circles around his befuddled opponent, landing uppercuts Agbeko never saw coming. Rigondeaux didn't lose a round on any of the judges' cards in keeping his 122-pound title-- and he didn't lose a second of the fight.

When he fought for Cuba in the Olympics, Rigondeaux was regarded by some as the greatest amateur to ever fight. He brought all those skills to bear tonight, outthinking his Ghanian opponent at every turn. Like a great chess player, Rigondeaux (13-0, 8 KOs) set up several moves ahead of time. In the early rounds, "Rigo" kept Agbeko's right hand at bay with a probing jab, punished him with lightning-quick counters every time he came in, and artfully set up a punishing left uppercut to land just as Agbeko leaned into a crouch.

Figured out, Agbeko (29-5, 22 KOs) simply gave up. According to CompuBox figures, Agbeko landed 48 punches in the entire fight, four per round. "It was an easy fight for me," Rigondeaux said afterwards, "because Agbeko didn't come to fight." The crowd agreed with the sentiment, serenading the fighters with a smattering of boos, and one man simply shouting, "Boring!"

This isn't the first time Rigondeaux has a made a world class athlete look like he just came off the street, and he's been criticized in the past for not pressing the action more in his fights. If the aim is simply to win, there's no doubting Rigondeaux is one of the top talents in the sport. But as an entertainer, he left the Atlantic City crowd wanting more.

Read More

Resolute Rigo Ready to Defend His Title

Guillermo Rigondeaux (left), Joseph Agbeko (right) - Photo: Ed Mulholland

When Guillermo Rigondeaux, the champion at 122-pounds, stared across at his opponent, Joseph Agbeko, he didn't betray any emotion. Seconds passed, maybe minutes, and it could have been seasons before Rigondeaux would have flinched from his cold-eyed posture.

When the standoff at the weigh-in at Caesar's Atlantic City was finally broken up, Rigondeaux remained just as resolute. "Enough talk," he said. "Training camp is over. I'm ready to take care of business."

Rigondeaux is headlining Saturday's HBO Boxing After Dark  tripleheader, airing at 9:45 PM ET/PT from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. The broadcast kicks off when middleweights Matthew Macklin and Lamar Russ square off in a 10-round contest.

Undefeated contender Glen Tapia will then meet seasoned veteran James Kirkland in a 10-round bout at a catchweight of 156 pounds.

Then, the feature event showcases Rigondeaux as he defends his titles against Agbeko in a match scheduled for 12 rounds.

 

Official Weights from Atlantic City:

Guillermo Rigondeaux: 121 lbs.

Joseph Agbeko: 121.6 lbs.

 

Glen Tapia: 156 lbs.

James Kirkland: 155.1 lbs.

 

Matthew Macklin: 159 lbs.

Lamar Russ: 159 lbs.

 

Join the conversation on Twitter: #RigoAgbeko

Golovkin Answers Questions by Crumpling Macklin

by Kieran Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin, Matthew Macklin - Photo: Ed Mulholland

So does that answer the questions?

Gennady Golovkin hasn’t fought anyone, they said. His highlight reel knockout wins have been over blown-up junior middleweights, they said. Wait until he fights a full-size middleweight like Matthew Macklin, they said.

Well, what are they saying now?

If they’re anything like the several thousand fans and media in the MGM Grand Theater at Foxwoods on Saturday night, they may have trouble saying anything until they pick their slack jaws up off the ground. Nobody can know what the future holds, of course, but it’s hard to escape the feeling that dominating Macklin and knocking him out with a third round body shot was for Golovkin what annihilating Michael Spinks was for Mike Tyson: the defining moment of tightly coiled, almost superhuman, power and intimidation.

Indeed, from the moment the opening bell rang, the fight had the air of Tyson in his pomp: a wrecking ball of a fighter reducing the toughest of opponents to jelly before the first punch has even been thrown. Macklin (29-5, 20 KOs) knew what he had to do: keep Golovkin (27-0, 24 KOs) at distance, flick out the jab, and not let him get close. But he did so with so little confidence that he was unable to keep his stalking predator at bay; the first couple of punches that landed seemed to confirm in Macklin’s mind his sense that punishment was just around the corner, and then a straight right hand and left hook near the end of the first round sent the Anglo-Irishman into the ropes and seemingly on his way to an early exit.

Read the Complete Gennady Golovkin vs. Matthew Macklin Fight Recap on HBO.com.

Irish Fans Are Cheering as Macklin Prepares for Golovkin

by Kieran Mulvaney

Gennady Golovkin, Matthew Macklin - Photo: Ed Mulholland

Unlike the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, its namesake establishment in Connecticut’s Foxwoods Resort complex is surrounded not by a riot of light and noise but by the genteel charm of small-town New England. Yet despite its comparative isolation, Foxwoods is no stranger to big fights. It hosted its first professional fight card – headlined by heavyweight Tommy “The Duke” Morrison – in 1992. A young Floyd Mayweather fought here; so did an up-and-coming Andre Ward. More recent contests include Sergio Martinez sending Sergiy Dzinziruk to the canvas five times and Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto exchanging furious knockdowns in a bout that had HBO’s late Emanuel Steward rhapsodizing ringside.

Not every fight can be so exciting, of course, but hopes are high that Saturday night’s main event just might be. Gennady Golovkin, the middleweight titlist from Kazakhstan, is undefeated as a professional, and his 26 wins include 23 by way of knockout. His hands appear to be made of some kind of amalgam of concrete and dynamite, landing with a heavy thud on his opponents’ chins and exploding with a ferocity that quickly renders them prone. His Anglo-Irish foil, Matthew Macklin, is a worthy foe, who twice previously came up short in title tilts, but on one of those occasions – a disputed decision loss to Felix Sturm – arguably shouldn’t have.

He is also, unlike Golovkin’s two most recent victims, Gabriel Rosado and Nobuhiro Ishida, completely at home in the middleweight division. As he and Golovkin faced off on a stage in a ballroom on Friday, Macklin looked the physically sturdier of the two, although both men weighed in at 159 pounds – one pound inside the middleweight limit – and Golovkin appeared the taller man, an illusion created by his wearing sneakers while Macklin stood only in socks.

There is a certain incongruity to the idea of a fighter from Kazakhstan facing an opponent from the British Isles in a casino on verdant Native American land, but to judge from the roars that greeted Macklin as he stepped on the scales, this is something of a home game for the man from Birmingham.

Golovkin is the favorite of the handicappers, a walking highlight reel who may be on the verge of vaulting into his sport’s highest echelons. But Macklin, drawing on the heavy Irish community in the region, will likely be the darling of the crowd in the arena on Saturday night. If they are able to roar him onto victory, it will be a famous one indeed; but a Golovkin win – and particularly an emphatic one – against his most dangerous foe yet would go a long way toward demonstrating whether he is merely a very good fighter or potentially genuinely great.

Check Out a Golovkin-Macklin Weigh-In Slideshow at HBO.com.

Junior and Super Middleweights Support Saturday’s Main Event

by Kieran Mulvaney

In swift succession, Gennady Gennadyevich Golovkin (GGG to his friends) has moved from YouTube sensation to HBO debutant to bona fide main event star. His clash with Matthew Macklin on Saturday would be reason enough to tune into Boxing After Dark; but there are two intriguing undercard contests on the broadcast, featuring young prospects and contenders looking to make their own names in weight classes just below and above the one through which Golovkin is presently prowling menacingly.

 

Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KOs) vs Brandon Gonzales (17-0, 10 KOs), super middleweights

Thomas Oosthuizen

Ossthuizen, a 6’4” southpaw from South Africa, rarely fights tall, despite the physical advantages he brings into the ring. He is a fighter more than a boxer: his jab is tapping rather than thunderous and is used mostly to set up a strong left hand, and he gives up his height – and as a result gets hit – in his determination to land his punches. His 22 fights include matchups against solid opposition, such as fellow countryman Isaac Chilemba and tough veteran Fulgencio Zuniga.

 

Brandon GonzalesGonzales is in comparison relatively untested. A well-regarded amateur, he turned professional at the late age of 23, but has had just 17 fights in six years since then and has yet to go past eight rounds. Perhaps his most notable win to date was over veteran Ossie Duran in late 2011; at 29, he needs to seize the opportunity against Oosthuizen to make a meaningful move up the rankings. Conversely, Oosthuizen will feel that an impressive victory will put him in the frame for bigger bouts at world championship level. With both men likely to eschew defense in favor of aggression, it promises to be an action-packed appetizer to the main course.

 

Willie Nelson (20-1-1, 12 KOs) vs Luciano Cuello (32-2, 16 KOs), junior middleweights


Willie NelsonThe opening bout of the telecast matches Ohio’s Nelson against Cuello, an Argentine with a straight-up style and a solid left hook and right hand. Cuello fought valiantly in a close decision loss to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. in 2009 but was completely outgunned by Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez a year later, being dropped twice early before a sixth-round stoppage. Those are his only two defeats; but they are also the only two occasions on which Cuello has truly stepped up in class.

Luciano CuelloSimilarly, Nelson’s career is to this point one of potential rather than achievement. The lanky (6’3”) prospect from Youngstown was outhustled and outfought in his lone loss, an eight-round decision defeat to Vincent Arroyo two years ago; but he has rebounded strongly, with upset decision wins over Yudel Jhonson and, on the undercard of Sergio Martinez’s win over Chavez, John Jackson (son of Hall-of-Famer Julian Jackson). Most recently, he dropped Michael Medina twice – the first time with a short counter right hand off the ropes – en route to a first round stoppage win at the MGM Grand at Foxwoods, the same location as Saturday’s contest. He likely will be looking to steer the come-forward Cuello onto similar punches, doubtless seeking to fire straight rights between his opponent’s generally wider blows.

CompuBox Analysis: Golovkin vs. Macklin

by CompuBox

As of this writing, WBA middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin is regarded by many as the second-best 160-pounder on earth and after top dog Sergio Martinez's struggle against Martin Murray in April some are putting "GGG" at number one.

The German-based Kazakh will look to further his case Saturday by fighting a previous Martinez victim in Matthew Macklin, who floored "Maravilla" in the seventh before falling in the 11th in March 2012. If Golovkin can beat Martinez's score in the clubhouse, and look good in doing so, he'll bolster his case for a potential head-to-head showdown in 2014.

Each man's CompuBox history unveils factors that may influence the result.

Read the Complete CompuBox Analysis: Golovkin vs. Macklin on HBO.com.

CompuBox Analysis: Oosthuizen vs. Gonzales

by CompuBox

For all the matchmaking story lines that unfold in boxing, the one that is more desired amongst fans and media -- but not among managers and promoters -- is the one that pits two, young, unbeaten fighters who are still looking to ascend to the big leagues in terms of purses. Such fights are tremendous risks for those involved for while victory will set them on the road to potential riches, a bad loss could wipe out years of hard work.

Saturday's showdown between South African Thomas Oosthuizen (21-0-1, 13 KO) and Sacramento-based Oregonian Brandon Gonzales (17-0, 10 KO) is one such fight and the risk-reward equation may well enhance the final product. The super middleweight class is arguably the deepest in boxing and a win could gain them admittance to its highest echelons.

CompuBox factors that may determine the outcome include:

Read the Complete CompuBox Analysis: Oosthuizen vs. Gonzales on HBO.com.