Print this page
Monday, 02 January 2012 16:53

2011 Fighter of the Year | Nominees and Winner

Written by

FightSaga's 1st Annual 'Fighter of the Year' honors.

FightSaga's 'Fighter of the Year' award is given to the boxer whose performance in a calendar year out-shined the rest based on a combination of the following:

  • Level of success against the best quality opposition in high-profile bouts
  • Special achievements, records or feats that impacted the sport
  • Overall, end-of-year ranking versus the sport's most elite fighters
  • Sportsmanship; Representation of the sport inside and outside the ring

10. Miguel Cotto

Record: 37-2, 20 KOs
Division: Jr Middleweight
Titles: WBA Jr Middleweight

Fights in 2011:

  • TKO 10 Antonio Margarito (38-7-0, 27 KOs)
  • KO 12 Ricardo Mayorga (29-7-1, 23 KOs)

Given Miguel Cotto suffered a devastating knockout loss to Margarito in their first bout and the revenge factor that was born from the hard-wraps controversy and drama, Cotto is recognized for rising to the occasion in their rematch. While Cotto's performance fell short of dominant, he arguably won at least 7 or 8 of the nine full rounds, outboxing and outfoxing the aggressive Margarito. Earlier this year, Cotto also preformed admirably against a revitalized, always-dangerous Ricardo Mayorga in an exciting bout which served as Cotto's first title defense at jr middleweight. Cotto stopped Mayorga in the twelfth.

9. Sergio Martinez

Record: 48-2-2. 27 KOs
Division: Middleweight
Title: Ring Middleweight

Fights in 2011:

  • KO 11 Darren Barker 23-0, 14 KOs)
  • TKO 8 Serhiy Dzinziruk (37-0, 23 KOs)

So Dzinziruk and Barker aren't exactly high-profile names but both men entered their bouts against Martinez undefeated (37-0 and 23-0 respectively) and both men were stopped inside the distance. Sergiy Dzindziruk, then the WBO Jr Middleweight champion, was floored five times in their bout. And Barker, touted by some analysts and experts as a future champion, gave Martinez problems early on but Sergio made the proper adjustments and stopped a very rugged Darren Barker inside the distance.

8. Brandon Rios

Record: 29-0-1, 22 KOs
Division: Lightweight
Title: WBA Lightweight (Stripped in Dec for failing to make weight)

Fights in 2011:

  • TKO 11 John Murray (31-1-0, 18 KOs)
  • KO 3 Urbano Antillon (28-2-0, 20 KOs)
  • TKO 10 Miguel Acosta (28-3-2, 23 KOs)

The fighter nicknamed 'Bam-Bam' went 3-0, 3 KOs in 2011 and seized the WBA Lightweight title in the process by soundly beating Miguel Acosta. However, what really captured the public's attention was his impressive demolition of the skilled, highly-rated Urbano Antillon last summer. In December, Rios closed the year by stopping John Murray, a durable fighter with an excellent record whose not easy to look good against and even harder to KO.

7. Saul Alvarez

Record: 39-0-1, 29 KOs
Division: Jr Middleweight
Title: WBA Jr Middleweight

Fights in 2011:

  • TKO 5 Kermit Cintron (33-4-1, 28 KOs)
  • TKO 6 Alfonso Gomez (23-4-2, 12 KOs)
  • TKO 12 Ryan Rhodes (45-4-0, 31 KOs)
  • UD 12 Matthew Hatton (41-4-2, 16 KOs)

Although better suited for a 'Breakout Fighter of the Year' winner, Alvarez is on this list because he won a major world title, went 4-0, 3 KOs against some pretty gritty, although not elite, competition and was more impressive as the level of his competition rose.

6. Bernard Hopkins

Record: 52-5-2-2 NC, 32 KOs
Division: Light Heavyweight
Titles: Ring, WBC Light Heavyweight

Fights in 2011:

  • NC 2 Chad Dawson (30-1, 17 KOs)
  • UD 12 Jean Pascal (26-1-1, 16 KOs)

Despite his ugly, controversial no contest against Chad Dawson, Hopkins earned his placement on this list when, at 46, he became to oldest boxer to win a world title by defeating Jean Pascal in April. What made this feat even more compelling is that Hopkins defeated the Ring's legitimate, lineal light heavyweight champion. Hopkins' vanquished foe, Quebec native Jean Pascal, was the 'la creme de la creme' in the light heavyweight division and not just another titleholder. 

5. Brian Viloria

Record: 30-3, 17 KOs
Division: Flyweight
Title: WBO Flyweight

Fights in 2011:

  • TKO 8 Giovani Segura (28-1-1, 24 KOs)
  • UD 12 Julio Cesar Miranda (35-5-1, 28 KOs)

Viloria's December upset of Giovani Segura, a fighter who was previously in the Ring's Top 10 Pound-for-Pound list secures 'Fighter of the Year' consideration for the new flyweight champion. Viloria stopped the super Segura in the eighth and was ahead on all scorecards at the time of the stoppage. 

4. Lamont Peterson

Record: 29-1-1, 15 KOs
Division: Jr. Welterweight
Titles: IBF/WBA Jr Welterweight

Fights in 2011:

  • SD 12 Amir Khan (26-1, 18 KOs)
  • KO 12 Victor Cayo (26-1, 18 KOs)

While his win over Victor Cayo was impressive, he's here because he beat Amir Khan. And although controversy ensued after the win, many argue Peterson's victory was well-earned - with or without the point deductions. In defeating Khan, Peterson won two world titles and derailed the ascent of a fighter who was arguably boxing's fastest rising star. Peterson was supposed to be Khan's last victim at jr welterweight before the Brit moved up to welterweight to secure a possible megafight fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Someone obviously didn't tell Peterson he was merely a stepping stone for Khan.

Interesting tidbit: Peterson's opponents last year, Khan and Cayo, had identical records of 26-1, 18 KOs entering their bouts with Lamont.

3. Jorge Arce
Record: 59-6,-2, 454 KOs
Division: Bantamweight
Title: WBO Bantamweight (Also won the WBO Super Bantamweight title)

Fights in 2011:

  • UD 12 Angky Angkota (28-3-2, 14 KOs)
  • TKO 4 Simphiwe Nongqayi (16-1-1, 6 KOs)
  • TKO 12 Wilfredo Vazquez Jr (20-0-1, 17KOs)

It was Arce's stellar performance, not his trademark ring entrance which usually features him wearing a black cowboy hat and sucking a cherry lollipop, that earned him a spot on this list. Arguably more suited for 2011 'Comeback Fighter of the Year,' Arce went 3-0 in 2011 and upset heavily-favored WBO Super Bantamweight champion, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr in May. He also collected the WBO Bantamweight Title by defeating Angky Angkota. In 2011, Arce won two major world titles and went 3-0 - a great year by any standard.


2. Nonito Donaire

Record: 27-1, 18 KOs
Division: Bantamweight
Titles: WBC/ WBO Bantamweight

Fights in 2011:

  • UD 12 Omar Narvaez (35-0-2, 19 KOs)
  • KO 2 Fernando Montiel (44-2-2, 32 KOs)

Although his October bout with Narvaez was viewed by many as 'forgettable,' his smashing knockout win over elite foe Fernando Montiel in February was anything but dull. Donaire rocked Montiel with a left hook that sent the unified bantamweight champion and Ring's No. 7 pound-for-pound fighter to the canvas before the referee stopped the bout seconds after Montiel arose. Did Donaire get lucky? Well, he controlled most of the first round as well, stunning Montiel in the opening stanza.

1. ANDRE WARD  * Winner *

Record: 25-0, 13 KOs
Division: Super Middleweight
Titles:Ring, WBA/WBC Super Middleweight

Fights in 2011:

  • UD 12 Carl Froch (28-1, 20 KOs)
  • UD 12 Arthur Abraham (32-2, 26 KOs)

While some fighters had more wins and others won in more dramatic fashion, no one accomplished more in 2011 than Andre Ward.  The native of Oakland, California won Showtime's Super Six World Boxing Classic and decisively beat two elite caliber opponents. After a slow start, Ward overwhelmed former middleweight king Arthur Abraham, winning by comfortable margins on all three scorecards. Ward culminated the year by hammering-out a hard-fought but unanimous win over highly-regarded, WBC Champion Carl Froch.

In 2011, no other top 15 pound-for-pound fighter decisively defeated two opponents on the level of Arthur Abraham and Carl Froch and no other 'Fighter of the Year' nominee posts a perfect record (no loses or draws).

Ward's critics may argue his No. 1 ranking at super middleweight is undeserved because he has yet to fight the undefeated Lucian Bute but Ward's level of opposition has been, to date, far superior to Bute's as the Canadian opted not to participate in the competitive tournament.

Honorable Mention Nominees

  • Ricky Burns
  • Nathan Cleverly 
  • Pongsaklek Wonjongkam
  • Alexander Povetkin
  • Adrien Broner
  • Orlando Salido
Leroy Cleveland

Lee is Managing Editor of, a student of the Sweet Science and longtime boxing fan.


{youtube}BsIIRquG7Xk{/youtube} Montiel vs Donaire FULL FIGHT rd 2