By Frank Warren
After yet another fabulous year for boxing broadcast by Sky and BoxNation, it's time to reflect on the fights that have ignited and excited the fans in 2013. Here, in descending order, are my personal top ten.
10. Billy Joe Saunders WPTS12 John Ryder, London, 21st September
Hatfield ace Saunders had boxed four times racking up 38 rounds by the time he came across Ryder, his biggest domestic rival.
Middleweight Saunders was pushed hard all the way by his strong unbeaten challenger and despite a late flurry from Ryder, Saunders came away the winner on all three judges' scorecards to defend his British and Commonwealth belts.
Despite picking up a hand injury, which ruled him out of fighting in November, Saunders is back in action in February defending his British title and win will see him win it outright.
9. Amir Khan WPTS12 Julio Diaz, Sheffield, 27th April
Khan's homecoming magnified all that is good and bad about the one time Olympic finalist.
Again the fragility of his defence was exposed and he was dumped by a hook in round four by a naturally smaller opponent, who was supposedly on the slide.
However, 'King Khan' rallied in thrilling fashion, re-iterating the size of his fighting heart to skilfully box his way to a unanimous if never comfortable decision.
8. Darren Barker WPTS12 Daniel Geale, Atlantic City, USA, 17th August
Barker's IBF middleweight truimph was as much as result of his unquenchable desire as his considerable ring skills.
In round six, the Barnet man was left breathless on all fours after copping a crippling body shot. The referee's count had reached nine and three quarters before he finally hauled himself vertical.
Cut in round ten and battered from pillar to post in the final session, in between 'Dazzler' connected with the cleaner, heavier shots and just about deserved the tightest split decision in his favour.
He dedicated the win to his late brother Gary, tragically killed in a road accident in 2006.
7. Stuey Hall WPTS12 Vusi Malinga, Leeds, 21st December
After faltering twice at European level, few envisaged Hall ever contesting - never mind winning - a world title.
But after McDonnell was stripped, promoter Hobson cleverly slipped the Darlington man in for the vacant title and even delivered home court.
Entering as underdog, Hall dominated from the off, flooring the South African in round three and sustaining a frightening pace thereafter.
Compromised by a left eye that was completely closed for the final four rounds, a large dollop of northern grit saw Hall navigate his way to the finish line and deliver the north-east its first world champion for 23 years.
6. Guillermo Jones WRSC11 Denis Lebedev, Myakinino, Russia, 17th May
This was a fight that reflected the sport at its rawest and most gory.
After ten rounds of frightening fury, home star and defending champion Lebedev was clearly ahead on all cards. However, his grotesquely swollen face had begun to replicate a gargoyle. Blind but unbowed, he desperately required rescuing from his own courage but both the referee and his corner let him down badly.
Finally, the Russian dropped to his haunches without a punch landing; his title conceded but his valour never forgotten.
5. Marcos Maidana WPTS12 Adrien Broner, San Antonio, USA, 14th December
A sizeable percentage of fight fans will have rejoiced long and loud after the 24 year old Ohioan – previously unbeaten in 27 – had his jaw snapped and was twice left kissing the canvas at the feet of Argentina's irrepressible Marcos Maidana.
Despite his audacious talent, Broner's lewd and vulgar demeanour, in and out of the ring, plus his utter contempt and disrespect for fellow fighters, earned him many enemies among the sport's purists.
Hopefully, Maidana has dispensed a long overdue and very public dose of attitude adjustment.
4. Carl Froch WPTS12 Mikkel Kessler, London, 25th May
These serial gladiators conducted themselves like true gentlemen throughout the build up. However, once the opening bell tolled, they went at each other like alley cats before a frenzied 19,000 sell out at the O2.
Both had faded noticeably since their initial set-to in Denmark three years ago and their abject neglect of defence made for a wildly exciting slugfest.
Each survived moments of crisis before Froch – who started and finished better – took the unanimous decision, unifying the WBA and IBF super-middle titles.
3. Mike Alvarado WPTS12 Brandon Rios, Las Vegas, USA, 30th March
One for those who like their action fast and furious!
In a re-sit of their October 2012 war – won in seven by Rios – the Latino warriors clumped each other with a combined total of almost 1700 punches.
Alvarado withstood a lethal leather blizzard in round two, and was brutally disfigured by the finish. However, by adding some lateral movement to his signature slugging, he exacted revenge by the closest of margins. Expect the clamour for a third sitting to be frenetic.
2. Carl Froch WRSC9 George Groves, Manchester, 23rd November
The most debated fight of 2013.
Young lion Groves played the pantomime villain to perfection in the build-up, clearly unnerving Froch. But he backed up his bragging to flatten the aging 'Cobra' with a hellacious right hand in round one and amass a sizeable points advantage by the turn.
Though Froch's reflexes and speed appear in recess, his heart and chin clearly aren't. Yes, referee Howard Foster halted the carnage a punch or two prematurely but the champion had assumed the ascent and would probably have executed shortly after.
That said, Mr 'Anyone, Anywhere' appears in no rush to grant Groves a rematch!
1. Timothy Bradley WPTS12 Ruslan Provodnikov, Carson, USA, 16th March
What was expected to be a stroll in the park for unbeaten WBO welter boss Bradley proved anything but.
Riled by claims that he'd been 'gifted' a decision over Manny Pacquiao in his previous gig, 'Desert Storm' abandoned his usual cautious ring manner to wage war with the ridiculously rugged Siberian. Not smart!
Clattered to the canvas in both the first and final minutes of this relentless tear –up, Bradley was always just one clean strike from disaster.
However, by throwing a phenomenal 1000 punches he managed to persuade the judges that he deserved to retain his title and unbeaten status. Just!