By Lyle Fitzsimmons
OK, so you didn’t exactly ask for it.
But darn it, it’s Christmas… and it’s my obligation to give it to you anyway.
While I’ll be happy to break out the 2014 crystal ball next week for a forward glance at the year that’s about to arrive, it’s my obligation on this holiday eve to look backward to see how this space did when it came to forecasting the year that’s been.
That’s right, people. In a week where many journalistic contemporaries are content to simply provide views on which was 2013’s most titillating domestic fight involving southpaws born west of the Mississippi, I’ll go a step further and actually see if my advance guesses were correct.
It’s a tough Tuesday life we lead, but someone’s got to do it.
And with that… on with the “Fitz Hitz and Misses” recap show.
COMEBACK OF THE YEAR
He entered the year without a win in more than 47 months, but something about Christmastime last year made me think Shane Mosley was going to provide a few final memories in 2013.
And doggone it, for a few months of the year at least, the pick didn’t look terrible.
But once the May defeat of fringe contender Pablo Cesar Cano was old news, it got a little tougher to sell Mosley’s return story as the best of the year. And when he was beaten into surrender after six rounds by Anthony Mundine in November, it was officially the wrong choice.
Give me a do-over and it’s Manny Pacquiao all day long, but based on the facts at hand… the grade for the Mosley forecast is no better than a D.
UPSET OF THE YEAR
OK, admit it. As the fight between Zab Judah and Danny Garcia came down the stretch on April 27, there appeared at least some chance that the old man would actually pull it off.
Had it happened, you can bet I’d have spent the last eight months reminding you about the fact that I picked Judah in January to score the year’s top upset when the men met in Brooklyn.
But it didn’t happen, so we have to take our medicine here and give ourselves a D - which is surely lousier than an A, but warrants higher than an F because the “Super” man did at least make it tough on his much younger foe before finally dropping a unanimous nod.
When it comes to the upsets that did actually occur, none were more significant to these eyes than Maidana over Broner just a few weeks before year’s end.
KNOCKOUT OF THE YEAR
Into every one of my prediction review columns, a few Fs must fall.
The call that Manny Pacquiao would stop Juan Manuel Marquez to account for 2013’s top stoppage has to get the lowest assessment possible - not necessarily because it was a poor guess, but because the fight never actually came off to begin with.
Pacquiao got back near the top of the heap with a thrashing of Brandon Rios, and Marquez indeed lost in his lone pay-per-view appearance, but - for just the sixth year since 2004 - their agendas for the calendar year did not involve each other.
Not to worry, though, because it’s hard to imagine their fifth get-together would have produced a more dramatic and sea-changing ending than the year’s rightful winner - Adonis Stevenson’s first-round starching of light heavyweight champion Chad Dawson.
FIGHT OF THE YEAR
Every now and then, you get the urge to push the envelope.
I can’t recall what inspired it at this time last year - probably the onset of stir-craziness while spending the holidays with in-laws in Tennessee - but it came to me in a vision that the match between Bernard Hopkins and Tavoris Cloud would fly in the face of B-Hop’s typical offerings.
Which is to say… boring as, well, spending the holidays in Tennessee.
Regardless, while the fight did come off and the predicted result was spot on in terms of accuracy, the excitement it yielded along the way was sorely lacking - thanks to the big-talking Cloud’s reticence to go all-in against the crafty old man - from start to finish. In the aftermath of a vision gone wrong, it’s worthy of no better grade than a D.
Elsewhere, Tim Bradley and Ruslan Provodnikov showed zero hesitance to engage and deserve full recognition for sharing in what was the rightful winner in the category.
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR
This was another one that looked good after five months.
When Carl Froch outgunned Mikkel Kessler down the stretch to win their May 25 rematch in London, the “Cobra” was one strong second-half performance away from a legitimate say in the fighter of the year conversation for 2013.
Unfortunately, his November date with George Groves did little to advance his cause.
Rather than blowing out a foe with comparatively little big-stage experience, Froch hit the deck in the opening round and struggled mightily throughout before rallying for a ninth-round stoppage that earned referee Howard Foster no Christmas love from the Groves clan.
And while the heartiest of Froch’s hearty fan base might still suggest he ought to be considered for the award, the selection of him in January deserves no better than D grading in December.
Instead, it’s Adonis Stevenson and his four-KO calendar - in which he fought just 20 overall rounds - that have earned the highest marks among the year’s best performers.
This week’s title-fight schedule:
No fights scheduled.
Last week's picks: 1-2
2013 picks record: 83-42 (66.4 percent)
Overall picks record: 546-194 (73.8 percent)
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full-fledged title-holder – no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA “world championships” are only included if no “super champion” exists in the weight class.
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.