Photo Credit: Will Hart
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, Fight of the Year.
Kieran Mulvaney: Timothy Bradley W12 Ruslan Provodnikov
In a terrific 12 months of boxing, March produced the two best fights of all. In pretty much any other year, the Mike Alvarado-Brandon Rios rematch would likely have taken this prize (just as the first clash between the pair would have won the same award in 2012 were it not for Juan Manuel Marquez knocking out Manny Pacquiao), but the gold medal goes to Bradley's desperately hard-fought win over Provodnikov, in which the Amercian survived being nearly knocked out by the Russian at the very beginning and the very end, but did enough in between to eke out a thrilling win.
Eric Raskin: Timothy Bradley W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov
If I'm going purely on sustained action, Alvarado-Rios II edges this out. But there was something special about the drama of Bradley-Provodnikov, an edge-of-your-seat factor that Alvarado-Rios II lacked. Bradley showed bigger stones than any other fighter had to in 2013, fighting the last 11 rounds in a fog and surviving a 12th-round onslaught from the animalistic Provodnikov that called to mind the thrills of 2012's incredible finish to Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.
Nat Gottlieb: Timothy Bradley W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov
This was a thriller from start to finish, a crowd-pleasing slugfest with dramatic moments galore. Provodnikov came forward all night, and Bradley didn't back down. Provodnikov added extra drama in the 12th round by knocking Bradley to the canvas, but the Russian couldn't finish him off. Bradley got the close UD win.
Tim Smith: James Kirkland TKO 6 Glen Tapia
You knew Kirkland-Tapia was going to be fireworks from start to finish and it wasn't going to go the distance. Tapia, a New Jersey resident, was seeking to become the new Arturo Gatti -- the all-action king of Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. Kirkland is the embodiment of Gatti's blood and guts spirit. It was one of the few times that a match more than lived up to its billing.
Hamilton Nolan: Guillermo Rigondeaux W12 Nonito Donaire
This certainly won't be a popular pick. It didn't feature a great deal of bloodshed, or staggering fighters winging blows while barely clinging to life. What it did feature was a highly respected but (professionally) untested challenger, Rigondeaux, absolutely dominating every aspect of the fight against Donaire, who had been touted as one of the three best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Rigondeaux proved that master boxing skills can beat athleticism and punching power. Rigondeaux, in fact, is the one who is among the best pound for pound fighters in the world. Anyone who finds his style "boring" is not a fan of boxing.
Michael Gluckstadt: Timothy Bradley W 12 Ruslan Provodnikov
You want backstory? Tim Bradley was coming off one of the most depressing "victories" in the sport; Ruslan Provodnikov, "The Siberian Rocky," has one of the most remarkable backgrounds of any athlete. You want action? From the opening bell Bradley decided to engage and Provodnikov was only too happy to oblige. You want drama? The results of the fight were in doubt until the very last second, with Provodnikov gunning for the KO. This was a fight that had it all.