boxing revival

It is time for every boxing newspaper, website and television network to put the year in review, complete with superlatives.

And here is mine: 2008 was a banner year for this sport, when boxing went from the brink of certain death to a resurrection.

This year did not only bring good match-ups and great fights, but also the rise of young prospects, history and the end for fading legends.

Though half asleep, Mike Tyson hit Mzansi in April - I doubt if he remembers being here. New Boxing SA board members, Peter Ngatane (chairman), Sakhiwo Sodo, Mxolisi Tsika, Archie Jonas, Claude Bassuday and Joyce Baloyi were announced.

In all likelihood, Simon Ramoni's illustrious is over, medical experts see this as a precaution to an accident waiting to happen.

Boxing cannot afford another death. Samora Msophi died in a hospital ward after going through an operation to remove a clot from his brain after taking a pounding from Mfundo Gwayana.

On a positive note, Cassius Baloyi, former WBU junior featherweight, featherweight, IBO junior featherweight, IBO and IBF junior lightweight champion reclaimed the IBF belt to become a world champion six time over.

We saw the rise of young stars like Jared Lovett, Hekkie Budler, Anele Makhwelo and Cleutus Mbele.

Here is a look at the best and the worst.

PROSPECT OF THE YEAR: "The Storm" Lovett. Though was a tough one as there is a difference between a prospect and a legitimate contender but for me it came down to four guys, Lovett, Budler, Makhwelo and Mbele. The last three may be polished and exciting at this point, but they did not step up as did Lovett.

EVENTS OF THE YEAR: Two IBF title eliminators featuring Ali Funeka and Moruti Mthalane against highly rated fighters, American Zahir Raheem and Hussein Hussein from Australia.

It was co-presented by Branco Milenkovic of Branco Sports Production, Jacob Matlala and the Eastern Cape government.

Vus'Umuzi Malinga, who in Thailand won the right to challenge for the WBC belt next year, dominated sport headlines. That just doesn't happen with boxing anymore.

While Funeka tore Rameen to pieces in four rounds, Mthalane outpointed Hussein over 12 one - sided rounds.

Funeka's brutal knock out punch deserves the Knockout of The Year award.

The second achievement was when Nick Durandt presented the second edition of his Prive Boxing Ball taking the sport to another level.

UPSET OF THE YEAR: This must be Evans Mbamba destroying Devid Lookmahanak in seven rounds for the number one spot in the WBC junior flyweight ratings.

Mbamba's next fight will be against WBC, WBA and IBF undisputed champion, Australian Vic Darchinyan, who ended the illustrious career of this country's best ever left hander, the then sensational Mzukisi "Laciar" Skali on March 27 in 2005.

Mbamba's victory against this Thai fighter is a legitimate candidate for this award.

ACHIEVER OF THE YEAR: Nick Durandt, Branco Milenkovic and Jacob Matlala.

Durandt guided his four fighters, Moruti Mthalane, Jeffrey Mathebula, Malcolm Klassen and Mbamba to mandatory status for respected world titles (two for IBF and a WBC). Milenkovic and Matlala staged all these fights.

TWO WORST DECISIONS: Two referees for gifting Manelisi Mbilase the vacant SA featherweight belt at the expense of Thando Vukuza on October 24. This was the worst decision ever.

Boxing SA has since rightfully ordered a rematch .

Another appalling decision was when Boxing SA flagrantly disregarded its own rules to allow a five bout bill of promoter S'Phatho Handi to go ahead. This is despite him having failed to deposit purse monies within the required 14-day period.

WORST SCENE: Boxing fans at the above mentioned tournament at the Mdantsane Indoor Arena on November 21 when they threw missiles into the ring. They were demonstrating their wrath at Handi who told them at the eleventh hour that international fights between their idols Nkosinathi Joyi, Ludumo Galada and Lubabalo Msuthu against Mexicans had been postponed to the next day.

MOST IMPROVED FIGHTER: William Gare who had earlier been dismissed as a has-been. Four rounds against Maselino Masoe helped change that. Gare was crowned WBF super middleweight holder in Bloemfontein.

He produced a poetic performance in his second defense against Jindrich Velecky. Gare was honoured with a plaque by the Australian based WBF for being its ambassador in Africa. But credit must go to trainer Johnny du Plooy and promoter Blacky Seoe.

The year saw the return of Philip "Time Bomb" Ndou after being declared medically fit. This paves the way for this pugilist from Limpopo to do what does best. Ndou had been rudely stopped by a cyst in his brain four years ago.

The least said about Mike Motloung, who duped Bongani Khumalo into believing that he had R10,5 million to sponsor Boxing SA, the better. What a year it was.