2013 Kissing The Canvas Fight of the Year
Almost every award has had more than one legitimate candidate. This was another tough call but in the end it became clear.
There were three fights that I considered one fight featured a surprise knockout, another was a spirited loss by a former world champion, and the other was an action packed draw.
Rod Salka, 2013 Kissing The Canvas Fighter of the Year, went into his NABA US title fight with no knockouts in his 14 fights. There was no reason to think he would change that trend against veteran tough guy Emmanuel Lucero.
Lucero was coming off of two brutal wars with big puncher Monty Meza Clay. Salka dominated every second of the fight and finally got his third stoppage win when the fight was stopped in the fifth round.
Paul Spadafora came into his fight against Johan Perez without a loss in 49 fights. Perez was his toughest challenge since he last held the title in 2003 but many observers thought he still had enough to beat the young lion.
The fight was a back and forth affair and most at ringside and in the audience knew it was going to be close when the final bell had sounded. It was a close one but Perez eked it out with scores of 114-114, 115-113, and a rather wide 117-111.
It was a significant fight for Spadafora and Pittsburgh boxing. It was the first time since 2003, Spadafora's last world title fight, that a major championship was fought for near Pittsburgh.
Spadafora had worked very hard and had a long journey to get back to this stage.
Although both of them were very good fights in the end there was one fight that stood above the rest. Morgan Fitch came into his fight with Darnell Boone looking to make a name for himself at 168 pounds.
He was finally health and was ready to test himself. Him and his team decided to take the step up against veteran spoiler Darnell Boone. Boone has been in with the best and sometimes he beats them.
He owns a win over lineal light heavyweight champion Adonis Stevenson, a very tight loss to Sergey Kovalev, and is the only man to knockdown pound for pound star Andre Ward.
Nobody expected Fitch to have an easy time with Boone but what transpired was worthy of this honor. Fitch barely took the first two rounds before running into disaster at the end of the third.
Fitch was again narrowly winning the third round when a big uppercut dropped him. If the knockdown had happened earlier Fitch may not have made it out of the round.
The minute in between rounds got his head clear but he ran into more trouble in the fourth and was knocked down again. Fitch said he doesn't recall the knockdown in the fourth round.
That meant that Fitch had lost two rounds 10-8 and if he had won the first two rounds he needed to win the last two rounds to escape with a draw.
He did just that and avoided the first loss of his career by showing massive heart and determination. Fitch may not have won the fight but he won respect on that night.
That is why I decided that this fight was the 2013 Kissing The Canvas Fight of the Year.