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Fightnews @ ringside:
Year 2008 in photos

Photos by Chris Cozzone for Fightnews/FightWireImages.com

Fight of the Year: While the year had its upsets and thrillers, outside of Pacquiao-Marquez II, nothing came close to Vazquez-Marquez III. Lucky enough to cover all three fights, I thought the rubber match not only matched the ferocity of the first two classic battles, but exceeded expectations with its drama.
Defining moment. In what was a razor-close fight on the scorecards, going into the final round, the knockdown at the end of the round was the capper for Vazquez, who won by split decision.
 
cozzone.com Victory shot: Announced winner by split verdict, this shot of Vazquez, I thought, displayed the most emotion.
Fight of the Year, runner-up: Matching the drama of the original match, in 2003, the rematch between my top two pound-for-pound picks, Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao, had it all. This shot, I felt, was indicative of just how close this fight was. cozzone.com

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Pound-for-pound runner-up: After his defeat of Oscar De La Hoya, the year ended with everyone talking about how good Manny Pacquiao is. Not about to argue his credentials for the top P4P spot in boxing, I would like to, however, add Marquez's name to the list as a close second. In fact, my Marquez-Pacquiao II scorecard had Marquez winner.

In the rematch, judges were split, 115-112, 112-115 and 114-113. Before the scores were announced, it was Marquez (photo, left) that had the airs of victor.

First round shocker: Crafty Bernard Hopkins' first round knockdown of Joe Calzaghe was one of the biggest surprises of the year--as was the outcome. Though he faded as the fight wore on, I thought Hopkins pulled off the victory, 114-113. Based on his clinic over Kelly Pavlik, if Hopkins had been in the same shape, the fight would not have even been close. cozzone.com
cozzone.com . . . And still undefeated: Calzaghe punched, slapped and hustled himself out of an early lead to edge Hopkins for the victory.
Double impact: One of boxing's rising stars, Victor Ortiz (left) and opponent Dario Esales both land crunchingblows on the undercard of De La Hoya vs. Forbes. cozzone.com
cozzone.com Pacquio wins a lightweight belt: Can't say I place too much value these days on "world championships," but Pacquiao's demolishing job of former lightweight champ David Diaz was . . . well, about as one-sided as his demolition of former welter champ Oscar De La Hoya.
Pacquiao moves to lightweight: The move to lightweight for Manny Pacquiao excited fight fans who envisioned Pacquiao-J. Diaz, Pacquiao-Casamayor and Pacquiao-Marquez III battles to come . . . . until another leap up in weight had Pacquiao fighting De La Hoya. cozzone.com
cozzone.com Upset of the Year, Pt. 1: My top 'victory shot' of the year in what might've been the year's biggest upset -- Antonio Margarito's crushing win over formerly undefeated Miguel Cotto. Most ringside dopesters, however, did not see the win as an upset.
Cotto goes down: Round and round they went, Margarito in hot pursuit, until the pressure and the pummelling proved too much for Cotto. The eye contact between Margarito and Cotto makes this one of my favorite shots of the year. cozzone.com
cozzone.com Persistance pays off: Margarito's manhandling of Cotto paid off in the late rounds. This would have been my top shot for the fight . . . had I not seen a better version of it by fellow photographer Chris Farina, who was next to me.
Heat of battle: Too many photogs think a good shot needs contact, but this one of Margarito and Cotto says everything--without a punch landing. cozzone.com
cozzone.com Tiiimmmmber: Monte Barrett's one-round destruction of much-hyped Tye Fields, on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Diaz bill, restored my faith in boxing.

Diaz does not disappoint: Juan Diaz hasn't failed me yet. It's nearly impossible to take a bad shot of a fighter who puts heart and soul into every punch. This shot was my top pick for his battle with Michael Katsidis.

(Below, right) Diaz and Katsidis land simultaneous blows.

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Juarez batters Barrios: On the same card as Diaz-Katsidis, Rocky Juarez was on the upswing in an impressive performance with Jorge Barrios.

(Below, left) Blood spews out of Barrio's ripped mouth.

UFC shots: The fight was less than two minutes, but two of my best UFC shots in 2008 come from Wanderlai Silva's destruction of Keith Jardine.

(Below, right): Silva victory shot atop the cage of the Octagon.

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On the Pacquiao trail: Following nemesis Manny Pacquiao's trail to lightweight, Juan Manuel Marquez took out Joel Casamayor in September.

Again: Just how good is Marquez?

Body shot pic of the year: Joshua Clottey lands a left hook to Judah's torso in their fight in August at the Palms.

(Below, right) The end was disappointing, but ended with a victory for the man who gave Antonio Margarito a tough time the year before.

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UFC upset: At UFC 86, likeable Forrest Griffin outhustled 205-pound champion Rampage Jackson.

(Left) Griffin announced winner over Jackson, in August.

Paybacks a b**ch: Vernon Forrest lands a big right on Sergio Mora in their rematch, September, on the Marquez-Casamayor card. cozzone.com
cozzone.com Dawson outclasses Tarver: My favorite knockdown shot of the year was the gymnastic feat pulled off by Antonio Tarver, when he fought Chad Dawson in October at The Palms in Las Vegas.

Not only did Jesus Soto-Karass thrill Telefutura fans all year, but, more importantly, he was the subject of several of my best shots. From top to bottom, right:

Soto-Karass spills David Estrada onto the canvas at the Hard Rock in Vegas last July.

Karass announced victor while Estrada's condition is assessed by the ringside doc.

Karass pummels Hicklet Lau November in Rio Rancho, N.M.

Karass takes over as a photographer, snatching up a few shots of a ringside girl with his cell phone camera.

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MMA victories: The biggest battle of the year might not have been Pacquiao-De La Hoya, but boxing vs. UFC. It might not be my personal preference, but there's no denying the thrills seen this year in the Octagon.

(Left) Yoshiuki Yoshida wins over Jon Koppenhaver at UFC 84.

(Below, left) 'Daddy' Joe Stevenson wins over Gleison Tibau at UFC 86.

Chavez continues to grow: Admittingly, I've had more than a few doubts concerning Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. But after his lopsided victory over Matt Vanda Dec. 1 in Las Vegas, there's no denying that Junior has grown considerably as a fighter. cozzone.com
cozzone.com Hatton is back: In one of the year's best performances, Ricky Hatton bounced back from a poor performance against Juan Lazcano, to pounce on Paulie Malignaggi in Las Vegas, November.
While Hatton's win wasn't quite an upset, his dominating pressure, newly-honed boxing skills, makes a showdown with Pacquiao 2009's most anticipated fight, thus far. cozzone.com
 
 
cozzone.com Upset of the Year: Pacquiao stops De La Hoya: Promoter Bob Arum said it best at the post-fight press conference, when he lambasted media for criticizing the match. "You said it was going to be a mismatch -- and it was."
Best Performance of the Year: Although some would argue that De La Hoya was either dried out, or that he froze, Pacquiao pulled a Henry Armstrong on the former champion by dominating every round. cozzone.com
 
 
cozzone.com No Mas: De La Hoya's corner pulled out all the mental stops but De La Hoya could not pull out of his nightmare with Pacquiao.
Vengeance served: After losing two knockout fights to former Pride champ Wanderlei Silva, Quinton "Rampage" Jackson got his payback on UFC 92, possibly ending Silva's career with a devastating first round kayo. cozzone.com
cozzone.com Griffin dethroned: At the December UFC 92 card, "Sugar" Rashad Evans lands a big right on former UFC light-heavy champ Forrest Griffin.
Outfit of the year: No one came close to Halloween card at the Hard Rock when Sharif Bogere entered the ring with weaing an enormous lion's head. cozzone.com
cozzone.com On the undercard of De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao, Adrien Broner does a victory back flip while opponent Scott Furney is walked back to his corner.
Head-to-head: On the Hatton-Malignaggi card, Heriberto Ruiz (left) and Rey Bautistsa clash noggins. cozzone.com
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On the undercard of the Hatton-Malignaggi card, youngster Adrien Broner lands on opponent Terrance Jett.

As far as action is concerned, this shot was my favorite all year--it might not have had the significance of a Pacquiao or Margarito fight, but the expression on both fighters made it my top pick.

 

Contact shot: Colorado's Manny Perez takes a shot to the jaw, courtesy of Aaron Melgarejo, June in Las Vegas. cozzone.com
 

2008 by Fightnews.com.