By Yuri Tarantin
Former WBO middleweight champion Dmitry Pirog (20-0, 15KOs) has been inactive since a lopsided decision over Nobuhiro Ishida on May 1. He suffered a back injury that canceled a planned fall match with Gennady Golovkin. The WBO stripped him of the title for failing to make his mandatory defense against Hassan N'dam N'jikam. As he waits for a potential March return to get finalized, he discussed a number of topics in the sport.
What performance in 2012 impressed you the most?
Juan Manuel Marquez. Over the years, I have witnessed how he fought for rematches with Manny Pacquiao - and because of his hard work, which lasted more than a year [since their third fight] - it earned him the desired result. I watched closely as he prepared to meet with Pacquiao and in every single battle the Mexican approached things completely differently. Out of the ring, always tried to change himself, constantly changed tactics and I will not deny that I was very impressed.
What should Pacquiao do next? Should he continue his career after such a bad knockout?
"I think it is correct for me to give an opinion on his future. Manny is an adult, a self-sufficient person and the decision to fight on or not to fight on will come from him. But, in my opinion, it all depends on his psychology. Yes, the knockout was very harsh and we don't know how he was affected by this defeat, and how this injury will affect his health. And also do not forget that Pacquiao is a boxer who achieved more than anyone in professional boxing and his ultimate decision should not be challenged by the fans. If he decides to continue, I'm sure he will continue to please us.
The best fight of the year?
- Disappointment of the year?
One of the major disappointments of the year for me was the defeat of Miguel Cotto in the title bout with Austin Trout. I admit that I did not think he would lose. And, of course, the fall of Manny Pacquiao, which left very bitter aftertaste. The same thing I felt after Roy Jones Jr. lost to to Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson. His defeat brought on a feeling that a certain era in professional boxing is coming to an end. And probably it was good that this landmark battle [between Pacquiao and Marquez] took place at the end of the year and overshadowed everything that came before it.
- Who would you select as the best young fighter in 2012?
- I would like to mention the young Mexican Saul Alvarez. In my opinion, this guy is very talented and possibly a real prodigy. And speaking of him, I must say that God has given him a good physical layout. He has very good coaching and we see that from fight to fight as Alvarez is improving and growing as a fighter. Look at his fights, they are very interesting and this year it confirmed that he is in constant development. And, of course, regardless of age, I think there should be a separate note regarding the accomplishments in 2012 by Filipino Nonito Donaire.
Yuri Tarantin covers boxing for Allboxing.ru