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For their own good
Fifty years ago, they were screwed-up kids sent to the Florida School for Boys to be straightened out. But now they are screwed-up men, scarred by the whippings they endured. Read the story and see a video and portrait gallery.
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Hatton, Wright cream of '05 crop
By JOHN C. COTEY
Published December 27, 2005
Boxing in 2005 had the usual - stunning upsets, thrilling knockouts and enough title changes to confuse even the most loyal fan.
Oh, and a 7-foot Russian won the heavyweight championship.
But the very best of the year is right here:
FIGHTER OF THE YEAR: Kostya Tszyu and Felix Trinidad were two of the most feared punchers when 2005 began. Both have been knocked off the map, maybe for good.
Their slayers, Ricky Hatton and St. Petersburg's Winky Wright , are the fighters of the year for their stunning efforts - Hatton taking Tszyu out in 11 rounds of a fierce battle and Wright completely defanging Trinidad.
Hatton was nobody when the year started, but victories over Tszyu and an impressive knockout of Carlos Maussa gave him the IBF and WBA junior welterweight titles, perhaps making him the man to beat in the division. Are you listening, Floyd Mayweather ?
Wright doesn't have any belts, but his big 2005 has set him up for his biggest paydays and a few belts in 2006. Jermain Taylor may be the middleweight champ, but Wright is regarded as the division's best.
Runnerups: Taylor, Mayweather, Antonio Tarver .
PERFORMANCE OF THE YEAR: The more time that passes, the more impressive Wright's victory over Trinidad looks. It was just that good.
Runnerup: Carlos Maussa , the most odd fighter of 2005, beating Vivian Harris .
FIGHT OF THE YEAR: This one should be unanimous - Jose Luis Castillo and Diego Corrales , Part I. These warriors went toe to toe in a fight many called the best ever. It wasn't quite that good, but the way Corrales came back from two knockdowns to stop Castillo was absolutely breathtaking.
Runnerup: Erik Morales beating Manny Pacquiao . Rematch is Jan.21.
UPSET OF THE YEAR: Remember when people were clamoring for Wright to face Kassim Ouma , the IBF 154-pound champ? Remember when Ouma showed up at Wright's postfight news conference after he beat Mosley demanding a fight? Remember in July when some guy named Roman Karmazin beat up Ouma for 12 rounds to make all that clamoring and demanding look misplaced?
Runnerup: The Morales-Pacquiao rematch lost some of its luster when Zahir Raheem whipped Morales a few months ago.
TRAINER OF THE YEAR: Billy Graham did wonders with Hatton in 2005, but how do you vote against St. Petersburg's Dan Birmingham ?
Wright had the perfect game plan against Trinidad, then fought a completely different fight in beating Sam Soliman to close his year. And he did both convincingly.
Birmingham, 2004 trainer of the year, also deserves a great deal of credit for the improvement of Jeff Lacy , whose skills seem to expand with every fight. Lacy knocked out all three of his opponents (combined record of 93-8-2) in 2005, but became a better boxer, improving his defense, movement and becoming a more well-rounded (and dangerous) fighter.
PREDICTIONS FOR 2006: Lacy will be fighter of the year after beating Joe Calzaghe and making the most of a shot at Academy Award nominee for best supporting actor Tarver in the fall. ... Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones will combine to throw 11 punches, but one will be a knockout right by Hopkins, sending Jones into retirement with four straight losses. ... James Toney will beat Hasim Rahman . ... Mayweather and Zab Judah will meet in the fight of the year, with Mayweather winning. ... Wright beats Taylor, but not before both fight someone else. ... Fernando Vargas knocks out Shane Mosley , looks into the camera and says, "That's how you do it, Winky!" thus setting the scene for a big-money, pay-per-view rematch with Wright.