Boxing's best of 2004

Updated: January 4, 2005, 1:19 PM ET
By Tim Graham | Special to ESPN.com

Trophies

Glen Johnson
Glen Johnson was workmanlike in overcoming both Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver.
Fighter of the Year: Glen Johnson
Johnson, previously known as a trial horse, became a superstar in 2004. The Jamaican light heavyweight entered the year having won only two of 11 bouts since 1999 and had never been a world champ. Then he beat Clinton Woods for the IBF title in February, stunned Roy Jones Jr. in September and squeezed out a controversial split decision over Antonio Tarver in December. Runners-up: Bernard Hopkins, Winky Wright, Marco Antonio Barrera, Diego Corrales, Tarver.

Fight of the Year: Marco Antonio Barrera MD Erik Morales
The rubber match of a classic rivalry lived up to its hype. As expected, the Mexican warriors stood toe-to-toe for 12 rounds and traded bombs, with Barrera barely winning. No reason to stop at a trilogy. Uno mas, por favor. Runners-up: Manny Pacquiao D Juan Manuel Marquez; Ebo Elder TKO12 Courtney Burton; Felix Trinidad TKO8 Ricardo Mayorga.

Knockout of the Year: Antonio Tarver KO2 Roy Jones Jr.
Lucky punch? Maybe. But Tarver's booming left was one of the most dramatic ever thrown, thunderously toppling a legend. Runners-up: Samuel Peter KO2 Jeremy Williams; Hopkins KO9 Oscar De La Hoya.

Upset of the Year: Yanqui Diaz TKO1 Juan Carlos Gomez
There were so many candidates to choose from (see below) many overlooked this shocker. Gomez, the former cruiserweight champ, was 36-0 with 31 KOs and bucking for a heavyweight title shot. The crafty Cuban southpaw was trash-talking more than two sanitary workers at the water cooler, and the unheralded Diaz shut him the hell up.

Comeback Boxer of the Year: Kostya Tszyu
The junior welterweight champ climbed out of mothballs after injuries hampered him for nearly two years. But he looked splendidly sharp in dropping Sharmba Mitchell four times inside three rounds. Runners-up: Johnson, Trinidad, DaVarryl Williamson.

Trainer of the Year: Dan Birmingham
The reserved coach never received credit in discussion about the best in the biz -- until this year. Pupils Winky Wright and Jeff Lacy made sure of that. Runners-up: Orlando Cuellar (Johnson), Buddy McGirt (Tarver, Arturo Gatti).

Manager of the Year: Hopkins
Not only did he defeat De La Hoya and extend his record middleweight title defense streak to 19, but also the brash ex-con brokered a deal to become a partner at the Golden Boy's promotional firm with a reported $10 million bonus. Runners-up: Henry Foster (Johnson), Fernando Beltran (Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Rafael Marquez, Jose Luis Castillo).

Year of the Upset

Winky Wright UD Shane Mosley
Lamon Brewster TKO5 Wladimir Klitschko
Antonio Tarver KO2 Roy Jones Jr.
Danny Williams KO4 Mike Tyson
Yanqui Diaz TKO1 Juan Carlos Gomez
Glen Johnson KO9 Jones
Serguei Lyakhovich UD Dominick Guinn
Johnson SD Tarver

Hello

Miguel Cotto: Puerto Rican junior welterweight won four times in 2004, upping his record to 22-0 with 18 KOs and claiming the vacant WBO title.
Kassim Ouma: Ugandan southpaw beat Verno Phillips to become IBF junior middleweight champ and is 20-1-1 with 13 KOs.
Dimitry Salita: Junior welterweight from Ukraine raised his record to 20-0 with 11 KOs and received White House invitation from President Bush.
Jermain Taylor: Middleweight (22-0, 16 KOs) is on the verge of a world title and has established himself as a potential marquee fighter of the future.
Andre Ward: Saved the U.S. from further Olympic embarrassment by bringing home 178-pound gold from Athens; turned pro with a victory in December.

Goodbye

Julio Cesar Chavez: La Cucaracha beat Frankie Randall in an alleged farewell match May 22. He's 42 and has fought 114 times. Enough's enough.
Evander Holyfield: The New York Athletic Commission thankfully blackballed The Real Denial after Larry Donald manhandled him in November.
Roy Jones Jr.: He was the victim of highlight-reel knockouts in successive fights. Get the hint, Roy. You're not that fast anymore.
Lennox Lewis: The last great heavyweight champ of the foreseeable future gracefully retired in February. As desperately as he's needed, here's hoping the classy Brit doesn't taint his legacy with a comeback.
Vinny Paz: Swashbuckling brawler hung 'em up in March after notching his 50th victory.
Frankie Randall: He's 43 years old and is 6-12 with eight knockout losses since 1996. How has he gotten licensed?

Welcome Back

Andrew Golota: The Foul Pole brought some much-needed excitement to the heavyweight division. He deserved to win at least one of his title bouts against Chris Byrd (draw) and John Ruiz (unanimous decision).
Hasim Rahman: The former heavyweight champ closed 2003 with his third loss in four fights but rehabilitated his confidence by fighting four times in 4½ months before punctuating his year by stopping Kali Meehan in November.
Felix Trinidad: Tito came back after 2½ years of unhappy retirement and stopped Ricardo Mayorga in the eighth round of a rousing affair.
Kostya Tszyu: Junior welterweight champ finally fought after injuries kept him on the shelf for 22 months. He took just three rounds to dazzlingly dismantle Sharmba Mitchell.

Farewell

Arsen Aivazian, welterweight, 30
Mohammed Abasule, bantamweight, age unknown
Nordin Ben-Salah, super middleweight contender, 32
John Bloomfield, trainer, 57
Boy Jhony Bolang, Indonesian promoter, 56
Rufus Brassell, former heavyweight, 60
Salvatore Burruni, former flyweight champ, 70
David Chung, referee, 57
Ralph Citro, cutman and historian, 78
Joey Curtis, referee, 78
Joe Dorsey, former light heavyweight, 69
Tybius Flowers, welterweight, 20
Al Gavin, cutman, 70
Jerry Gladman, Canadian journalist, 61
David Gorman, manager, 61
Joe Griffo, former welterweight, 78
Fitzroy Guiseppi, trainer and former lightweight contender, 54
Magne Havnaa, former cruiserweight champ, 40
Alvin "Too Sweet" Hayes, former junior welterweight contender, 44
George Hunter, 1948 Olympic gold medalist, 77
Sam Kellerman, journalist, 29
Juan Antonio Lopez, former junior bantamweight contender, 52
Dennie Mancini, trainer and cutman, 71
Jimmy McLarnin, former welterweight champ, 96
Carlos Meza, bantamweight contender, 26
Bill Mordey, Australian promoter, 67
Mike Morton, manager, 92
Jack Newfield, journalist, 66
Masano Noto, super bantamweight, 24
Mike O'Callaghan, former Nevada governor, 74
Shane Patrick, former Australian junior middleweight champ, 51
Robert Quiroga, former super flyweight champ, 34
Dave Rickman, heavyweight, 29
Jon Robinson, WBU president, 62
Paolo Rosi, former lightweight contender, 75
Jack Ryan, lightweight, 23
Trino Savala, former bantamweight, 61
Antonius Moses Seram, junior flyweight, 20
Sid Tenner, promoter, 81
Hasse Thomsen, 1972 Olympic heavyweight medallist, 62
Scott "Pink Cat" Walker, former junior welterweight contender, 34
Luis Villalta, lightweight contender, 34
Moe Weiss, former lightweight, 80
Harold Weston Sr., trainer, 84

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