The major categories are Knockout of the Year, Round of the Year, Fight of the Year and Fighter of the Year. The final leg is a pu-pu platter of awards ranging from Trainer of the Year to more frivolous topics.
For each category, I give five finalists, with video and/or relevant info. You tell me if my finalists and honorable mentions are lacking, and give your vote on who you think should win. Maybe you sway me to adjust the list, and maybe you sway me on the eventual winner. On the second day after a category is introduced, I give that winner and explain why. (There are no major fights left in 2011, but we reserve the right to change our category winners if something crazy happens.)
So, up first: Knockout of the Year and Round of the Year candidates. On deck: Knockout of the Year and Round of the Year winners, followed by Fight of the Year and Fighter of the Year candidates.
THE FINALISTS (IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER)
Nonito Donaire - Fernando Montiel
It's definitely the best punch of the year. But did referee Russell Mora spoil Donaire's picture-perfect KO by letting Montiel continue?
Kendall Holt - Julio Diaz
Both had power. Both were a little chinny. Holt's power got to Diaz' chin first.
Jessie Vargas - Walter Estrada
You don't see them like that very often: Vargas caught Estrada in mid-air, essentially.
Rico Ramos - Akifumi Shimoda
Ramos spoiled for six rounds while Shimoda stalked. The 7th was quite different.
Roman Gonzalez - Omar Soto
That Gonzalez uppercut is so quick you have to watch the replay to watch Soto get crunched with it.
THE HONORABLE MENTIONS (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER)
Thomas Dulorme - Harrison Cuello
Oli Afolabi - Terry Dunstan
Robert Helenius - Sam Peter
Andy Lee - Craig McEwan
Lucian Bute - Jean Paul Mendy
Eloy Perez - Daniel Jiminez
Denis Lebedev - Roy Jones, Jr.
Alexander Dimitrenko - Albert Sosnowski
Zab Judah - Kaiser Mabuza
Art Hovhannesyan - Archie Ray Marquez
Gary Russell, Jr. - Heriberto Ruiz
Pier Olivier Cote - Jorge Luis Teron
Takashi Uchiyama - Jorge Solis
One more honorable mention: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vN0FajVFJvM
I'm going Donaire, despite Mora letting Montiel get unnecessarily whacked again. Donaire did it against the best fighter on the list, and he did it early in the fight, before fatigue and other factors contributing to sloppiness and carelessness became a factor. It strikes as the most well executed shot as well - Donaire spent the first five minutes gauging when to counter Montiel's right with the left hook, and decapitated him when the right opportunity presented itself. Elite stuff.
Want to vote for Ola, but you won't let me. :-(
Has to be Donaire, against the best opponent of the lot, damn near takes his head off with a textbook counter. Beautiful boxing.
I'd like to vote for Donaire but I do feel that Mora spoiled it. I'm going to go with Ramos-Shimoda, since I'm a sucker for a nasty left hook. Just like Shimoda!
Nonito's KO was not only the best of the year, it was also in one of the years most significant fights. KO'ing a journeyman, while fun to watch, is exactly what Dulorme and Russell should be doing to the opponents they've faced. If I didn't hate Ramos, I might shade his as second best due to the significance of the Shimoda fight and him being far behind in the fight at the time of the KO.
@scottchristianson4 With the exception of the Vargas-Estrada fight, all five of the finalists were world class vs. world class, contender vs. contender or at least contender vs. recent former contender. That's no coincidence.
Even if Mora letting Montiel continue spoils the KO a little, the fact that it was the most high-profile bout, between two P4P guys no less, of all candidates makes it a clear winner IMO.
oh, man. that Estrada KO is lots of fun. perfectly placed, with that right amount of wince factor.
the Montiel KO is still my choice #1 though. I don't care if the fight continued after that punch -- Montiel was out. really really out. kudos to the guy for standing up on pure reflex, but we've all seen the imprint Donaire made on the side of face. dayum.