Picking a fighter of the year wasn't as easy for me as you might think.
It was a difficult choice for me as a few Pittsburgh fighters had good years. You had Paul Spadafora getting back to the world title level before falling just short in a title fight, Brian Minto going to New Zeleand and upsetting Shane Cameron, and Rod Salka winning then defending the NABA US lightweight and winning the IBO International lightweight title.
All three of these fighters had good years but none of them made it out of the year unscathed. Spadafora lost to Johan Perez in his bid for the title, Minto lost twice to top fighters, and Salka was jobbed out of a win against Ricardo Alvarez.
After looking at the losses I decided that the Salka loss was the most dubious of the bunch. Spadafora lost a tight, but in my eyes, a clear decision to Perez and Minto's losses were to top fighters but were clear.
So that leaves Salka as the Kissing The Canvas Fighter of The Year. Salka had an outstanding year winning the NABA and IBO International lightweight titles and getting to 3-0 before losing a very debatable decision on national television to Ricardo Alvarez.
Salka opened up the year with a dominating TKO-5 over Emmanuel Lucero. The win netted Salka the NABA US lightweight title and was more impressive than the two wins Monty Meza Clay had over Lucero.
After that win Salka took a non-title fighter against tough Osnel Charles at the brand new University of California of PA Convocation Center. It was an easy win for Salka as he dominated Charles and won a unanimous decision over eight rounds.
Salka then took a fight against the awkward Ryan Belasco. It was an ugly affair as Belasco didn't come to win and stunk the joint out.
After the Belasco win Salka got the good news that Golden Boy Promotions was going to sign him and put him in a big time fight. They made quick on their promise and got Salka a shot at Ricardo Alvarez on Showtime Extreme.
Salka fought the perfect fight and everyone with two eyes had Salka winning the fight rather easily. The only problem is that the three judges each had one eye. They gave the fight to Alvarez, the brother of Saul, and deprived Salka of his signature win.
Thus ended the year for Salka at 3-1 and many would say he went 4-0. I decided that a bogus loss wasn't enough to keep Salka from being named my fighter of the year.
Congratulations to the first ever Pittsburgh Fighter of The Year Rod Salka.