Boxing in New York picked up the pace in 2012. The new series at the Barclays Center took off, and the debut in October was a success. Having a focal point is an immense boost to the local scene, as young fighters can know that they have a stage ready for them when they're ready to rock. Madison Square Garden has taken notice and is getting more active booking fights cards, with a slate booked into the Theater Jan. 19. All these men can benefit from the amped-up buzz in NYC.
Ladies and gents, here is your 2012 NYC Top Ten Pound-For-Pound List.
1) PETER QUILLIN He has an XL personality and his boxing has been improving, fight by fight. No reason why Quillin shouldn't be a full-on star in 2013. The 29-year-old Manhattan resident retired Winky Wright in June, and then whacked Hassan N'Dam around, exiting the Barclays Center with the WBO middleweight belt, on Oct. 20. He is the NYFightBlog BOXER OF THE YEAR. (No. 3 last year)
2) PAULIE MALIGNAGGI Paulie escaped the Barclays Center with a W over young Mexican rumbler Pablo Cano on Oct. 20, and was looking forward to a career-best payday rematch against Ricky Hatton. Hatton's body didn't cooperate, and he was stopped in his return bout. So the 32-year-old Bensonhurst tactician is still hunting Plan B. We wonder -- and suspect he wonders -- if he has lost a quarter-step, or if he can return in his next bout in fine form, with peppy legs, a busy jab, the whole package. We're betting yes ... but just in case, he's been setting up business prospects and is doing a bangup job as an analyst for Showtime, so if he has lost a foot off his fastball, 2013 will find Malignaggi with options regardless. (No. 2 last year)
3) DANNY JACOBS Last year, he thought he would die. This year, Jacobs has been climbing his way up the middleweight ladder, and doing it with as much grace and charm as any pugilist out there. The Park Slope resident, age 25, looks to rise to 25-1 when he gloves up Feb. 9 at Barclays. He kicked cancer's ass, I suspect he will do the same a few times in the ring this year, and by the end of the year, he should be ready to tackle a titlist. I root for him -- sorry, just being honest. (No. 8 last year)
4) ARGENIS MENDEZ The Dominican-born Brooklyn resident won an IBF super featherweight title eliminator over Martin Honorio in July, so we can presume an opportunity will pop for the 20-2 hitter soon. He came up short against Juan Carlos Salgado for the vacant IBF super feather belt in 2011, but we're betting he gets over the title hump in 2013. At 26, he should be in his physical prime. (N0. 5 last year)
5) ZAB JUDAH The Brownsville native is 35, and we're tempted to say he's looking at his last chance when he meets junior welterweight champion Danny Garcia at Barclays in the headliner Feb. 9. But Judah is a name, and a character, and even if he can't get the better of the under-appreciated Philly hitter, Judah will continue to receive opportunities. He's been talking tough ahead of the Garcia bout, and dad is back in his corner, but we still recall the stinkbomb effort he turned in against Amir Khan in July 2011. Will Good Zab or Bad Zab show up at Barclays? (No. 7 last year)
6) JOSEPH AGBEKO Last year's No. 1 went 0-for-2012, as the Bronx based Ghanian didn't glove up once this year. He could have fallen off the list but he gets consideration for what he's done. The 28-2 32-year-old is slated to meet 34-8-1 Luis Melendez on Feb. 22, so he could rise again next year if he regains his step. (No. 1 last year)
6) JOAN GUZMAN The Dominican formerly known as Little Tyson tasted defeat for the first time, losing a technical decision to 17-0 Khabib Allakhverdiev on Nov. 30. At 36, it looks like Guzman (33-1-1) has lost a mile off his fastball. Can he transition to being a clever junkballer, or will he be off this list next year? (Guzman No. 4 last year)
7) PATRICK HYLAND The Irish transplant lost his 0, when Javier Fortuna beat him, with the interim WBA feather crown up for grabs, on Dec. 8, underneath Pacquiao-Marquez, but showed he belonged at that class. We suspect he will learn from the loss and might well come back stronger, secure in the knowledge that that sized stage is appropriate for him. And whatever happens, he can take this to his grave: he is the top boxer in the stable of MTV's Snooki. (Not rated last year)
8) LUIS COLLAZO The 32-5 Queens-based boxer looked sharper than I expected in a win against Steve Upsher Chambers on the first Barclays card. An ex welterweight champion, he's 31, has his head on straight, is freed from promotional entanglements (cough Don King cough) and is backed by Golden Boy, which has the pull to get him opportunities. It is up to him to keep winning, and 2013 could be the year he gets to wrap another belt around his waist. (No. 16 last year)
9) EDDIE GOMEZ The 20-year-old from the Bronx fought and won five times this year. He has confidence galore and perhaps the skills to match it. If he stays healthy, and doesn't let rising fame mess with his head, 2013 could be a breakthrough year for Gomez (12-0). We can see him headlining a ShoBox by the end of the year. (Not rated last year)
10) DMITRIY SALITA/HECTOR CAMACHO JR (TIE) These two will clash underneath Garcia-Judah at Barclays on Feb. 9. The winner gets this spot, the loser drops off. The 35-1 Salita, age 30, is slightly favored for the 152 or under contest, as the 34 year-old Camacho was knocked out cold in his last outing, by 12-1-1 Luis Grajeda in July. (Salita No. 20, Camacho No. 15 last year)
Honorable Mention: Sechew Powell (No. 10 last year), Joe Hanks (last year not rated), Seanie Monaghan (last year not rated), Will Rosinsky (last year not rated), Chris Algieri (last year not rated), Gabriel Bracero (last year No. 13)