Boxing in 2014: End of year awards

Crawford was sensational in 2014 (©GettyImages)

With 2014 now drawing to close it is time to have a look back at the year from a boxing perspective and give out some end of year awards.

International Fighter of The Year: Terence Crawford

For me this is an easy pick. American lightweight Terence Crawford has had an amazing year in which he has truly proven himself to be a genuine world class boxer. Highly impressive performances against the likes of Ricky Burns, Yuriorkis Gamboa and Raymundo Beltran have lead to many believing that Crawford is the best lightweight in the world.

He has shown mental strength to travel abroad to a champions home and come away with a world title, has shown scintillating boxing skills and appears to be one of the next big stars of the sport.

2015 should be another big year for Terence Crawford as he seems set to move up to light-welterweight. The division contains a host of big names such as Danny Garcia, Adrien Broner, Lucas Matthysse, Lamont Peterson, Ruslan Provodnikov, Jessie Vargas, Chris Algieri and many others.

Runner Up: Sergey Kovalev

Kovalev has had a fantastic year and for many has established himself as the dominant man in the light-heavyweight division. The Russian fought three times in 2014 and came away with the victory each time.

Knock out wins against Agnew and Caparello were expected but the way in which he beat the legend that is Bernard Hopkins, was not.

Kovalev showed discipline and technical skill to outpoint the crafty veteran but the dominance with which he did so was not expected. Kovalev won every round of the judges scorecards and didn't allow Hopkins to get into the fight at all.

It was a fantastic performance from a very dangerous boxer who will be targeting another unification fight with Adonis Stevenson next year.

British Fighter Of The Year: Carl Froch

Picking British fighter of the year was a tougher task than international fighter of the year with British boxers having another successful year. For me Carl Froch deserves the award though due to his emphatic knock out win over George Groves.

This was a huge fight that caught the imagination of the British public like none other and the pressure on Froch coming into the fight was huge. For the vast majority of their first fight he had been dominated by Groves and many felt he would be dominated again.

Froch was more switched on for the rematch and refused to let Groves get into his head. He showed Groves respect in his preparations and it paid off on the night.
He looked much more comfortable in the ring and looked like a man confident of claiming the win. The way in which the fight ended will live long in the memory of boxing fans. A huge right hand landing flush of the jaw of Groves.

Groves was flattened and there was no chance of him being able to carry on.
Producing such a win under that pressure means that Froch is without doubt British fighter of the year.

Runner Up: Kell Brook

Picking the runner up was an extremely difficult task and notable mentions to Amir Khan, James Degale and Carl Frampton must be made but for me the winner is Kell Brook.
Brook finally got his shot at a world title after a couple of very tough years with injuries preventing him from getting his chance.

Brook had to travel to America to face a man being labelled as the mini Mike Tyson, Shawn Porter. Porter had just blown away veteran Paulie Malignaggi like no other had done in the past and most believed that he would prove too much for Brook.

Brook proved his skill by outboxing the American and making him look very crude. Brook was disciplined and put on a very mature performance fitting of a world champion.

Fight Of The Year: Tommy Coyle v Daniel Beizuela

This fight was like nothing I have ever seen before. It swung one way and another With both men being knocked down four times each. There was also three point deductions in this all-action war at it made for fascinating viewing.

Coyle was pushed to his very limits but eventually came away with a 12th round technical knock out victory.

Runner Up: Orlando Salido v Tersak Kokietgym

An incredible fight featuring seven knockdowns. The action was frantic and was a great advertisement that this sport can entertain and provide drama like no other.

Event Of The Year: Carl Froch v George Groves 2

This was a huge event for the sport of boxing which has had a massive impact on the sport. To have 80,000 fans crammed into the national stadium is something most boxing fans could never have imagined would take place.

For a fight to have gained so much public interest is simply remarkable and it was a fantastic night of boxing. Knock out wins for Jamie McDonnell, Anthony Joshua, Kevin Mitchell, James Degale and of course Carl Froch provided great value for money.
It was one of those events that those present (including myself) will look back on and say that they were there on that historic day.

American fight fans may not have given the fight too much interest but this showed that boxing in Britain is bigger than ever and that the support for the sport is huge.

Prospect of The Year: Anthony Joshua

This year rising heavyweight star Anthony Joshua has flattened all men in his path. He has shown not only devastating punch power but a solid jab and good technical foundations to work from. He has looked incredible so far in the professional ranks and there is a real buzz surrounding him at the moment.

2015 is going to be a huge year for Joshua as he looks to push on and fight a higher class of opponent.

Runner Up: Callum Smith

Callum Smith is one of the most impressive young boxers in the world. He is massive for a super-middleweight, he is vicious to the body and he is a disciplined and determined young man.

The youngest of the fighting Smith brothers, he appears to be the most talented of the bunch and he has won all of his six fights this year.

His last fight of the year came against Sjekloca who had only lost at the very highest level and Smith won convincingly on points.

There is a lot to like about this young man and he seems set to have a huge future in the sport.

Knock Out Of The Year: Andy Lee v John Jackson

Andy Lee was behind in the fight under real pressure when he was up against the ropes. He threw a right hand at the same time that Johnson did. Lee's shot landed flush and sent Johnson face first to the canvas.

Johnson was completely gone and medical staff rushed to see if he was okay. He remained on the floor for some time.

It was an incredibly well-timed shot and really is worthy of knock out of the year.

Runner Up: Froch v Groves

The way in which Carl Froch ended this huge fight was an incredible one punch knock out which left Groves in bits.

It was a remarkable shot on a remarkable night of boxing in this country.

Upset Of The Year: Chris Algieri v Ruslan Provodnikov

Chris Algieri went into his world title fight with the fan-favourite Ruslan Provodnikov as a huge underdog. Most expected him to be blown away by the hard-hitting warrior like Provodnikov but that wasn't to prove the case.

Algieri showed tremendous heart and came through the fight successfully on points in what was a massive upset.

Biggest Disappointment Of The Year: Tyson Fury v Dereck Chisora II

The fight didn't start until gone 12:30 at night and it was a major let down in terms of entertainment. There was booing from the crowd at ringside and it was a fight that never got going.

Fury kept Chisora away but did so in a boring manner. It was not a good fight to watch and following the months of build-up it was a huge let down.

Runner Up: Tony Bellew v Nathan Cleverly II

There was such an intense rivalry between the two and their fight at light-heavyweight was a absolute cracker.

We all thought that their fight at cruiserweight would be just as good but we were to be highly disappointed on the night with Cleverly being very defensive and barely throwing a right hand.

It was a dull flop of a fight and left all watching feeling let-down by the performances of both men.

Trainer Of The Year: Virgil Hunter

The work that Virgil Hunter has done with Amir Khan has been absolutely brilliant. He has turned Khan into a more disciplined, thinking fighter who uses his assets to the fullest without putting himself at risk too much either.

Hunter has helped to rejuvenate Khan's career and is a major part of Khan's two dominant points wins this year over Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander.

Runner Up: Adam Booth

Watching Andy Lee win a world title is something that many of us have doubted would ever happen over the last few years. Under Booth, Lee has developed a new style of fighting and has showed his punch power with emphatic knock out wins against John Jackson and Matt Korobov.

Booth seems to have made a major difference to Lee's strategic thinking and must be partly credited for Lee's big wins this year.

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