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Recently, ESPN released the final nominees for their 2011 ESPY (Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly) Awards, and part of that list is the Philippines’ own and boxing’s ‘Pound-for-Pound King’ Manny Pacquiao, who is vying for the ‘Best Fighter’ Award.
Pacquiao was nominated together with boxers Sergio Martinez and Bernard Hopkins, and MMA fighters Georges St-Pierre, and Jon Jones. It’s the fourth time Pacquiao has been nominated for the award.
This year’s ESPYs will be hosted by Seth Myers on July 13 at the Nokia Center in LA.
Since its addition to the ESPY list in 2007, Pacquiao is the only other athlete aside from Floyd Mayweather, Jr. to with the Best Fighter ESPY award. Also, Pacquiao is the only Filipino athlete to ever win an ESPY since its inception in 1993. No MMA fighter has won the award ever.
That may change this year, however, as Jones and St-Pierre are definitely riding a nice wave of popularity following their impressive performances in the UFC this past 12 months.
Personally, my vote goes to Jones. The 23-year-old Jones became the UFC light heavyweight champion last March after dominating highly revered and respected MMA veteran Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua of Brazil in 3 rounds. Just a month prior to that, Jones made quick work of then undefeated top contender Ryan Bader, which earned him the title shot. His two previous fights were 1st round TKO wins against Vladimir Matyushenko back in August of 2010, and Fil-Am Brandon Vera in March of the same year.
Jones has displayed maturity and class far beyond his age suggests; a welcome bonus in the brutal sport like MMA. He is a freak of nature that can only be comparable to UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. And other than his DQ loss against Matt Hamill back in 2009, in a fight that he was en route to finishing off in the first round, Jones is practically undefeated, and probably unbeatable right now at the 205 pound division.
As good a year as Pacquiao had in the past 12 months (lopsided victories over Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley), to me, it pales in comparison with what Jones achieved inside the octagon. One can argue that Margarito and Mosley were not the best available opponents for Pacquiao, while Jones faced the best possible opponents and utterly destroyed them.
Martinez, on the other hand, can also make a case for himself with his impressive wins against Kelly Pavlik, Paul Williams (earned KO of the Year from BWAA) and Sergiy Dzinziruk. His lack of a following, however, will work against him, especially in a popularity-based contest like the ESPYs.
Hopkins and GSP both had good years too. Hopkins defied ‘father time’ when he captured WBC, IBO and The Ring Light Heavyweight belts and the distinction of being the oldest boxer to ever win a major world title at the age of 46. GSP had two unanimous decision wins against former Strikeforce champ Jake Shields and Josh Koscheck, and has the backing of a huge fan base. The one thing that I feel is lacking with GSP, is his inability to finish fights.
Cast your votes for this year’s ESPY awards by clicking this link.
– DG- visit www.DSOURCEboxing.com
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