Story by: Paul “Paparazzi“ Jones
In this two-part review, I chronicle six of the most anticipated bouts of 2014. In Part I, I cover three key fights from the first half of the year. In Part II, I describe three fights from the remainder of the year and list match-ups that deserve honorable mention.
I selected each of these contests based on their ability to produce drama, historical significance, and/or sustained action. In addition, I emphasize tilts with pound-for-pound and title implications.
Fight Billing: Pacquiao – Bradley 2: Vindication (Main Event)
Location: MGM Grand (Las Vegas, NV)
Date: April 12th
Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao wins by Unanimous Decision over Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley
Pacquiao becomes WBO Welterweight Champion
Scorecards: 116-112 (twice); 118-110
Summary: After losing his WBO title to Timothy “Desert Storm” Bradley (31-1-1, 1NC 12 KOs) by split decision in 2012, via of one of the worst boxing decisions on record, Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao (57-5-2, 38 KOs) looked to set the record straight by removing Bradley from the unbeaten ranks. Although Pacquiao had more knockouts (38) than Bradley had pro fights (33), Desert Storm entered the rematch confident that he would knock the Pac Man out.
When Bradley, 31, and Pacquiao, 36, met at the MGM Grand Garden Arena for the second time, it was clear that both men were all business.
Round 1 got off to a fast start with both fighters trying to find their punching range. However, Bradley landed the first meaningful shot of the fight — a straight right hand to Pacquiao’s head that backed up the Filipino icon. Bradley continued to attack Pacquiao over the remainder of the round and built an early lead on the scorecards.
In round 2, Pacquiao zeroed in on Bradley’s chin and tagged Desert Storm with a hard left hand to the chops that wobbled the champion. Though the two combatants exchanged heavy leather before ending the second stanza, it was clear that Pacquiao was gaining momentum.
Round 3 was difficult to score featuring back-and-forth action highlighted by power shots landed by both fighters. At the end of the round, however, Bradley’s body began to breakdown as he complained of fatigue and a pulled (right) calf muscle to his trainer Joel Diaz.
Bradley sucked it up and landed several solid punches to Pacquiao’s body and head — one of which picked the Pac Man up off the canvas for a split second — that secured the 4th and 5th rounds for Desert Storm.
In middle rounds, Pacquiao picked up the pace and became the aggressor, while Bradley began to fade. Bradley also tried to goad Pacquiao into a brawl, but he was unsuccessful in most of these instances.
By the 9th round, the Pac Man had taken command of the fight. Bradley frequently missed with his punches and Pacquiao thwarted many of Desert Storm’s advances with fast-twitched combinations.
In the championship rounds, Pacquiao could smell blood in the water. As Bradley’s stamina continued to dissipate, the Pac Man took advantage of his adversary and piled up points on the scorecards.
Despite Bradley’s spirited effort in rounds 11 and 12, Pacquiao would avenge his “loss” to Desert Storm by earning a hard-fought, unanimous decision win in the rematch. In the process, the Pac Man regained the WBO title and notched his second consecutive victory.
A November bout against unheralded Chris Algieri (20-1, 8 KOs) loomed in Pacquiao’s future, but boxing fans clamored for the long overdue mega-fight between the Filipino champion and boxing’s top dog, Floyd “Money” Mayweather (47-0, 26 KOs).
Bradley, who was classy in defeat, remained idle until December when he faced Diego Gabriel Chaves (23-2-1, 19 KOs), of Argentina, in a 12 rounder.
Fight Billing: History at the Capitol: Bernard Hopkins vs. Beibut Shumenov (Main Event)
Location: DC Armory (Washington, DC)
Date: April 19th
Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins Tops Beibut Shumenov by Split Decision
Hopkins Retains the IBF Light Heavyweight Title and Wins the WBA/IBA Championships
Becomes the Oldest boxer to Unify World Championships
Scorecards: 116-111 (twice); 113-114
Summary: The early rounds of this contest were tough to score, with Bernard “The Alien” Hopkins (55-7-2, 2 NC 32 KOs), 49, and Beibut Shumenov (14-2, 9 KOs), 31, feeling each other out and throwing few meaningful punches. Nonetheless, Shumenov’s pressure helped him build a lead on the scorecards by the end of the third round.
Hopkins took charge of the fight thereafter by capitalizing on his opponent’s mistakes. Making Shumenov miss and pay for his miscues, with well-timed counters, occurred with increasing regularity.
By the middle rounds, Shumenov’s frustration was mounting and his face was marked up. B-Hop, on the other hand, was getting into a comfortable groove that allowed the 49-year-old champion to set traps and lure his younger foe in.
By the 11th round, Hopkins was in complete control, while Shumenov was wearing down. A hard right hand, set-up by Hopkins’ jab, downed the Kazakhstan-native and whipped the crowd into a frenzy as they chanted, “B-Hop! B-Hop!” Shumenov returned to his feet and finished the bout, but it was clear that Hopkins was the superior fighter.
When the final scorecards were read, Hopkins led on two of three cards (116-111, twice). It was judge Gustavo Padilla’s inexplicable 113-114 scorecard (for Shumenov), however, that drew the ire of many in attendance. Thank goodness that two judges had a pulse that night.
Despite Padilla’s botched scorecard, the win was historic for Hopkins who became the oldest boxer to unify world titles. In addition, the bout marked B-Hop’s second consecutive victory in the nation’s capital where he is 2-1 including wins over Shumenov and Robert Allen (TKO7). His sole loss in the District of Columbia was to Roy Jones Jr. in 1993.
The victory set the stage for a potential fall showdown with The Ring/WBC Light Heavyweight Champion Adonis “Superman” Stevenson (24-1, 20 KOs), 37, presuming that he defeated Andrzej Fonfara (26-3, 1 NC 15 KOs), 27, in May. A bout with Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev (26-0-1, 23 KOs), 31, was also a possibility.
The career path of Shumenov remained unclear.
Fight Billing: Froch vs Groves 2: the rematch (Main Event) Continue reading