2003 - The Year of Boxing
What a year it has been for boxing fans this year!! I'm not sure how many boxing heads we have on 'the rock' but if you missed all the action this year, too bad.
The year double03 was unlike other years in boxing. Where you had one or two major spectacular shows like an Iron Mike pay per view or Lennox Lewis or DeLaHoya. It seems like the sport reverted to it's grassroots and showcased the best fighters, underdogs and up and comers in the industry.
We saw the final chapter of the Aturo Gatti & Mikey Ward epic battle come to a close with the already legendary third fight between the two warriors. The fight was already dubbed T3 (based on the carnage in the Terminator movies) even before the dday and heavily hyped. But this was one of the rare occasions where you knew the card will mosDEF live up to it's billing. What a massacre it was!! 12 rounds of brutal aggresseion meted out by both (strangely) very close friends. As the final bell sounded and the two blood soaked warriors embraced themselves in the middle of the ring, boxing heads worldwide stood up and realized that they had just witnessed a historic night that will never be duplicated. A much older Ward announced that he was retiring that night...
Emerging superstar and champion Vernon Forrest was toppled by the chain smoking and beer guzzling tout Ricardo Mayorga twice in the same year. Just as the sport crowed Mayorga the next superstar along came Cory Spinks (aka Spink Jinx) to put an end to that notion by toppling the hard-punching Mayorga in one of the most beautiful display of scientific boxing I have ever witnessed.
De la Hoya and Sugar Shane Mosley fought a spectacular rematch. Roy Jones Jr proved to the world that he was the best PERIOD, by moving up to heavyweight and dismantling John Ruiz and coming down to lightweight and settling his unfinished business with Antonio Tarver in a span of a few months.
Zab Judah capped off the year with a first round knockout and officially put himself back into title contention.
Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather pulled out a riveting KO win in a classic bout with tough South African journey-man N'Dou.
Unknown Manny 'Pac Man' Pacquiao thrashed the once unstoppble and battle tested warrior Marco Antonio Barrera.
Bernard 'The Executioner' Hopkins went to work with Joppy and dispelled any notion that at 38 he wasn't better than any young buck in the middleweight division. The man is simply unstoppable.
James 'Lights Out' Toney came back hard this year to take the title of comeback of the year and fight of the year. In an easy candidate for the fight of the decade Toney went to war with the rugged Vasily Joriv. A fight that saw the two men go toe-to-toe till the very last 10 seconds of the fight, when Toney landed a combination that sent Jirov to the canvas in the ultimate climax. Toney followed up that performance with the systematic dismantling of Evander Holyfield.
2004 seems to be even more palatable as there are a lot of top-notch fighters with unfinished business and some enticing match-ups in the near future.
Hopkins vs De La Hoya, DLH vs Mosley, Spinks vs Mayweather or Mayorga, Jones JR vs Tyson, Lewis vs Klitchko, Toney vs Jones Jr or Chris Bryd, the pissiblities are too numerous.
While the boxing world is still waiting for the greatest heavyweight that never was, Ike Ibeabuchi to be broken out of the bird-cage we look ahead to 2004 as we relish that year that was 2003. Boxing is still alive and well despite popular notion.