Former junior-lightweight and featherweight champion Robert Guerrero made a successful transition to the welterweight division with a hard-fought decision win against Miami native and former titleholder Andre Berto in November. The bout, fought at a short range and busy pace for almost the entire distance, is a strong favorite for Fight of the Year recognition.
The heavyweight division continues without an American presence. Brothers Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko of Ukraine monopolize the heavyweight belts and neither faced a threat during the year. Collectively, the Klitschkos made five successful defenses of their titles.
American boxers also had a forgettable run in the 2012 Summer Olympics. For the first time in men’s Olympic boxing history, the Americans were shut out of medals in all weight categories. However, middleweight Claressa Shields, of Flint, Mich., won a gold medal in the first Olympics featuring women boxers.
The South Florida fight scene was highlighted by Miami’s Randall Bailey winning his second division world title on the Pacquiao-Bradley undercard. Trailing by a lopsided margin on the scorecards, Bailey lived up to his power-punching reputation with an 11th-round knockout victory over Mike Jones for the International Boxing Federation welterweight title.
But Bailey’s reign lasted only four months as he lost a unanimous decision against Devon Alexander in his first title defense.
Miami resident Guillermo Rigondeaux won a 122-pound title in January and retained his belt in two additional fights. Rigondeaux now aims for a title unification bout against Donaire.
Mired in a promotional dispute, Miami resident Yuriorkis Gamboa withdrew from a world lightweight title bout against Brandon Rios in April and was replaced by fellow local fighter Richard Abril. Although he seemingly out-boxed his opponent, Abril lost a highly-disputed split decision against Rios.
Gamboa finally returned to the ring after a 15-month absence and won a unanimous decision over Michael Farenas on the Pacquiao-Marquez undercard.
While the sport celebrated the accomplishments of its established and budding stars, boxing also was saddened by the deaths of retired world champions Carmen Basilio and Hector “Macho” Camacho, Hall of Fame trainers Angelo Dundee and Emmanuel Steward, and boxing historian and writer Bert Sugar.