By Frank Warren
IT’S time to reflect on what has been another fantastic year for our fantastic sport domestically.
And the only place we could begin is with the Olympics, where Great Britain demonstrated to the world how to plan, promote and present a boxing tournament.
The atmosphere at The ExCel Arena in London’s Docklands surpassed any other Olympic venue with every session a 10,000 sell-out.
In addition, largely due to the expertise of head coach Robert McCracken and his extensive back-up team, we emerged as the most successful boxing nation.
Half of our squad reached the podium, with super-heavyweight Anthony Joshua, bantamweight Luke Campbell and flyweight Nicola Adams all powering to gold medals.
Nicola lit up the nation with her radiant smile and shuffling feet, and made history as the first-ever female Olympic boxing champion.
Over in the professional code, Britain entered the 2012 campaign with three world champions and Ricky Burns and Nathan Cleverly both retained their belts twice.
WBO lightweight king Burns, the obvious candidate for British Fighter of the Year, looked classy bamboozling Namibia’s Paulus Moses in March, then clinical when destroying Dagenham’s Kevin Mitchell in September.
WBO light-heavy king ‘Clev’ outfoxed America’s Tommy Karpency in Cardiff and beat Shawn Hawk in LA.
Amir Khan had his WBA super-light-welter belt returned to him when it emerged his December 2011 conqueror Lamont Peterson was a drug cheat.
However, ‘King Khan’ lost the title in Las Vegas in July, courtesy of Danny Garcia’s potent left hooks.
In May, Nottingham super-middle Carl Froch added to Britain’s world title haul when he destroyed Montreal’s IBF king Lucien Bute in five.
Controversial heavyweight Dereck Chisora and Birmingham middleweight Matt Macklin just faltered in gallant world title challenges overseas while St Helens middleweight Martin Murray and Bury super-bantam Scott Quigg both got a foot on the world championship ladder — snaring WBA ‘interim’ belts.
At super-middle James DeGale reigned at European level but George Groves propelled himself onto the world stage with his complete shut-out of Glen Johnson at the ExCel last weekend.
Billy Joe Saunders added the British title to his collection on the same night to cap a year that saw him win the Commonwealth title.
Eclipsing Ricky Hatton’s comeback and Test cricketer Andrew Flintoff’s flirtation with boxing as Event of the Year was the controversial heavyweight grudge fight between David Haye and Chisora.
Haye won an epic shootout in five but boxing emerged the real winner.
At grassroots level, Board of Control figures show the number of promotions and boxers are up dramatically again. We now have 951 licensed professional boxers in Britain.
And there are now 19,000 carded amateurs — the most since just after World War II.
Those who prefer to enjoy their boxing from an armchair have benefitted from more fights on more TV channels than at any time.
All in all, a huge bloody nose to the doom-mongers who bleat The Noble Art is heading for its funeral! Happy Christmas and many Boxing Days.
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