Comeback Fighter of the Year in Boxing:
The comeback is the classic boxing story, and logically so, because so few of the sport’s luminaries dominate in the style of Floyd Mayweather or Wladimir Klitschko. In recent times, even the dynamic Manny Pacquiao suffered a severe defeat and had to hit the comeback trail.
While most boxers find themselves launching one or more career comebacks, and many enjoy some success, few achieve the golden prize of the comeback: either to completely restore or surpass their former place in the sport. So unusual is that degree of accomplishment that the list for Comeback of the Year is often a short one with clear candidates, and so it was this year.
Boxing Comeback of the Year 2013: Tony Thompson
To understand how the Washington, D.C., heavyweight won Comeback of the Year, one must understand his place in the sport at the beginning of the year. Tony the Tiger was widely perceived as a semi-protected fringe contender, a guy whose management shuttled into lucrative fights with Wladimir Klitschko. Prior to 2013, Thompson had never fought an above-journeyman opponent of any kind other than Big Wlad, let alone triumphed against one, so everyone thought Thompson was a paper tiger.
Then came his February 2013 and July 2013 knockout victories over hot prospect David Price. The wins accomplished that great rarity in comebacks: Thompson’s stock went higher than it had ever been before. Although his August points loss to Kubrat Pulev diminished his standing and pushed him out of the Top 10, Thompson is still better thought of now than he was a year ago, and enjoys the status as the heavyweight division’s reigning gatekeeper.
Runner-Up: Jhonny Gonzalez
If Gonzalez’s stunning 1st Round knockout of Abner Mares didn’t win him Comeback of the Year, it was because Gonzalez was not as lightly regarded as Thompson, so the win did not vault him as far. The Mares win was a huge upset and vaulted Gonzalez higher than Thompson in relative terms, but despite being the underdog in the fight Gonzalez was still a well thought of former featherweight champion with a respectable two-year reign to his name. Simply put, people took Gonzalez seriously, but not Thompson, and that is why Thompson had the bigger comeback.
With his recent win over Adrien Broner, Marcos Maidana did more than just make himself a hero to boxing fans everywhere by shutting up the classless Broner. He also did more than earn the wrath of dodgy boxing officials in Texas. Maidana’s biggest achievement was starting what promises to be a major career revival, as he showed his customary power plus some new polish in solving “The Problem.”
Jose Soto-Karass had a brief-but-bright comeback with his late stoppage of the once highly regarded Andre Berto. However, that comeback run was brief for the welterweight journeyman, as Soto-Karass was stopped in his very next outing by Keith Thurman.
WBA cruiserweight champion Guillermo Jones breathed some new life into his unusual and unorthodox career with his 11th Round KO of the hard-punching Denis Lebedev. He also stretched out the career of the semi-retired Don King, since at the time Jones was the sole champion left in King’s stable.