Mayweather-Pacquiao stays hot topic in 2014

Evening the score: Manny Pacquiao avenged a disputed decision loss against Timothy Bradley with a unanimous decision victory in April.
Evening the score: Manny Pacquiao avenged a disputed decision loss against Timothy Bradley with a unanimous decision victory in April. AFP/Getty Images

The five-year tease that has become the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight again managed to creep into boxing’s storylines in 2014.

Although it didn’t dominate the news cycle the entire year, talk of the still-discussed, but-never- realized fight between boxing’s top two attractions began to gain traction again the past two months.

Pacquiao’s performances in 2014 provided additional fodder for the eight-division world champion to resume Mayweather fight talk. The native of the Philippines avenged a disputed decision loss against Timothy Bradley two years ago with a unanimous decision victory and reclaimed a welterweight title in their rematch April12. Pacquiao further staked his spot among the sport’s best pound-for-pound fighters when he dropped Chris Algieri six times in a lopsided decision victory Nov.22.

For only the second time in his career, Mayweather fought the same opponent twice as the sport’s top pound-for-pound fighter faced Marcos Maidana over a four-month span. Mayweather weathered Maidana’s relentless aggression and managed a majority decision victory May3. Mayweather dictated pace more on his terms and won a unanimous decision in the rematch Sept.13.

Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin continues to keep his fight’s judges from scoring an entire bout. The native of Kazakhstan defended his multiple sanctioning body belts with knockout victories over Osumano Adama, Daniel Geale and Marco Rubio. Still searching for his first pay-per-view date, Golovkin has now stopped his past 18 opponents.

Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez became a pay-per-view headliner with his two bouts. Alvarez scored a TKO win over countryman Alfredo Angulo in March then escaped with a disputed split-decision victory against Erislandy Lara four months later.

Alvarez plans to move to the middleweight class and challenge Miguel Cotto next May. Cotto dropped defending middleweight champion Sergio Martinez four times and scored a 10th-round TKO victory to capture his fourth division world title June7.

After two additional defenses, Wladimir Klitschko now has the third-longest title reign in heavyweight history. A champion since 2006, Klitschko scored knockout victories in April and November and increased his successful title defense streak to 17, trailing only Joe Louis and Larry Holmes.

Part-time Miami Beach resident Bernard Hopkins continued to defy age when the 49-year-old light-heavyweight champion defeated Beibut Shumenov April19. But Hopkins could not overcome Sergey Kovalev’s power shots and lost a lopsided decision in their title unification bout Nov.8.

Boxing featured emerging stars in 2014, none more notable than Terence Crawford. In one of the year’s most entertaining bouts, Crawford withstood a fast start from Miami resident Yuriorkis Gamboa, applied repeated pressure in the middle rounds and scored a ninth-round TKO in their world lightweight title bout June28.

Algieri elevated to the pay-per-view scene following his victory over power puncher Ruslan Provodnikov in June. Algieri survived two first-round knockdowns and won a split decision, earning him a world junior-lightweight belt.

Non-participants also made headlines, such as with the thawing of boxing’s so-called “Cold War.” After years of friction, rival promoters Bob Arum and Oscar De La Hoya agreed to work together, matching their respective fighters in lucrative bouts. The Arum-De La Hoya pact was finalized following the departure of Arum nemesis Richard Schafer as chief executive officer of De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions.

Influential manager Al Haymon continued to add fighters to his growing stable. Haymon’s imprint on the sport was evident when his middleweight champion Peter Quillin vacated his belt instead of fighting a mandatory title defense presented by music mogul Jay Z’s new boxing promotional company. Quillin would have earned the highest purse of his career but opted to renounce his title.

The local scene had its poorest fight activity in years as only four cards were promoted in South Florida. Moreover, the local boxing calendar has been dark since July10, when Miami resident Rances Barthelemy defeated Argenis Mendez to win a lightweight title at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Rances Barthelemy joined Guillermo Rigondeaux as the only South Florida-based fighters with world titles. Rigondeaux retained his 122-pound belt with a first-round knockout win over Sod Kokietgym on July19 in Macau, China. Rigondeaux will return to Asia for his second title bout of the year and face Hisashi Amagasa on Wednesday night in Osaka, Japan.