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Written by Ian Wallwork

British fighters lose nine title fights in 2011

Less than a week to go until Christmas and we're all out of world title fights. How did British fighters do over 2011? Going off the stats, poorly. In December alone they had four losses, two of them coming from our pound-for-pound best; Amir Khan and Carl Froch. That's nothing though. Over the last year we've seen Britishs fighters lose nine out of fourteen title fights. It's been a bad year for British boxing.

That's not to say that the losing fighters disgraced themselves. Take Darren Barker and Martin Murray. They gave all the had against Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm but walked away with a loss and a draw. A lot of you think Murray beat Sturm, but you can't argue the same for Barker.

The record of British fighters this year tells us there is a quality gap we need to close. Let's have a look at how 2011 played out for British boxing.

March - Hatton, McGee, Burns

First up we had Matthew Hatton v Saul Alvarez in California. Let's be honest; Hatton was never going to win. He was put there to give a belt to Mexican wonderkid Saul Alvarez. What nobody expected was Hatton lasting the whole twelve rounds - he pushed Alvarez until the end. Hatton is in the top end of the welterweight division, but a few yards short of world class.

In the same calendar month when a certain blog writer was born twenty six years ago, Brian McGee lost to Lucian Bute in a super middleweight fight we knew he wouldn't win. The thirty-six year old southpaw lost by a tenth-round TKO to the number two rated champion.

A bad start, but there's no need to cry. On March 12th Ricky Burns defended his WBO super featherweight belt against Ghanaian Joseph Laryea. Burns' seventh round technical decision scored Britain its first world title fight win of 2011. After Amir Khan and Carl Froch's recent losses, and Burns' win over Michael Katsidis, the Scot is going to find himself challenging for a top 3 British P4P spot. I get the feeling with Burns that he'd fight anyone, anywhere. He'd take on Wladimir Klitschko with lead gloves if he thought he could gain the weight.

May - Cleverley

Things stayed quiet until May when Welsh light heavyweight Nathan Cleverley scored a 4th round TKO over Aleksy Kuziemski. Cleverley is one of Britain's safest world champions. He has only defended his title twice, but the Math degree-holding fighter is undefeated from twenty three fights.

One criticism he gets is his lack of big-name opponents. You can't argue with it- Cleverley hasn't faced any of the top fighters in his division. Next year we will see him fight a top-ten opponent, hopefully Beirut Schumenov who has the WBA belt.

June - Froch, Rhodes, Macklin

Carl Froch carried on Britain's winning streak in June. He beat Glen Johnson to get to the final of Showtime's Super Six tournament. Froch was still nowehere near Amir Khan in terms of fame, but his boxing achievments were better.

The rest of June was doom and gloom. On the 18th, Ryan Rhodes lost to our old friend Saul Alvarez. Alvarez makes a habit of taking British scalps, maybe because the British fighters he faces are tough but can't match his technique. It feels like the Atlantic ocean isn't the only gap here, there's also a skill divide.

A week later we had one of the most dubious results of 2011. It wouldn't be the last, because from June onward the quality of scoring turned rubbish. It started when Matthew Macklin flew to Cologne to fight Felix Sturm for his WBA title. It's hard to deny that Macklin did enough over the twelve rounds to win. The judges didn't think so though; they gave Sturm a split decision win. This would not be Sturm's last dubious decision in 2011.

Halfway through the year, Britain had won 3 and lost 4 world title fights.

July - Haye, Khan

In the hottest month of summer someone turned the hype machine on. First up was one of the most talked-about fights of the year - the heavyweight clash between David Haye and Wladimir Klischko. Everywhere you went people asked who you thought would win, and most people in Britain answered "David Haye".

There was a good reason for this - Haye talked his ass off. He coasted the chat show circuit taking any appearances he was offered to big up the fight. Haye is a great salesman. He personally sold 50% of the seats for his Hamburg clash with Klistchko. Pity he doesn't have a returns policy.

As we all know, Haye lost. A twelve round decision was given to Wladimir and you couldn't argue with it; by the last round it was clear that Haye needed a knockout, but getting one against Dr. Steelhammer was too much to ask.

A week later we saw then-P4P top-ten Amir Khan outclass a veteran Zab Judah. Fighting with a Freddie Roach gameplan, Khan was unstoppable and it took him just five rounds to end it. An Amir Khan love-in started the next day and the question we asked was "When will Amir Khan fight Floyd Mayweather?". As we will see later, it was too soon to ask that.

Going into late 2011 Britain had 4 title wins and 5 losses.

October - Barker

We had to wait three months until the next British title action, but it was worth it. Darren Barker v Sergio Martinez for the WBC Diamond Middleweight title was one of my fights of the year and I'd be surprised if it wasn't in your list too.

Barker was the European champion at the time but he had never been in the ring with someone like Martinez. For this reason he was a massive underdog before the fight. He shocked us all.

Out of nowwhere Barker gave the fight of his life. He won the early-to-mid rounds and made Martinez look bad. It looked like we would see an upset. Martinez showed his class though, and he found his gear late on. In the eleventh round he completed his comeback and knocked Barker out. Barker lost, but it did wonders for his career.

We will see him in some big fights next year.

December - M.Murray, J.Murray, Khan, Froch

December was a bumper month. First there was Felix Sturm vs Martin Murray. We last saw Sturm back in June when he scored an stupidly-judged win against Matthew Macklin. In December, he was at it again. This time he scraped a draw out of a fight Martin Murray should have won. When the judges called a draw, the cries of "robbery!" were spot on.

On the same night Martin's brother John Murray lost to Brandon Rios in a lop-sided fight. There are no complaints about this one - Rios outclassed John Murray. The day after the fight Murry-'s face was beaten to a pulp. He never had a hope.

Next we saw Amir Khan take on Lamont Peterson. When this fight was announced, I didn't give Peterson much of a chance. It seemed like a make-busy fight for Khan, one that would test him but not pose a challenge.

Then, the more I read about about Lamont, the more I liked the fight. Going into it on Saturday night, I still had Khan to get a decisive win. But I wasn't too shocked with Peterson's performance. Khan took away a points loss. Did he deserve it? I say yes - the points deductions were his own fault.

The last title fight of 2011 to involve a Brit was also one of the biggest of the year. It was the culmination of a two year tournament, one which saw the best fighters in the Super Middleweight division face off until just two were left. I'm talking about Carl Froch vs Andre ward.

The fight didn't match the hype. It was good, but early on we knew it was Wards to lose. His technique was world class and it surprised everyone, especially Carl Froch who couldn't get a grip on he fight until the last two rounds. Froch was given a unanimous decision loss, and nobody could complain. Froch didn't.

The 2011 Final Figures For British Boxers

We wrapped up 2011 with four wins, nine losses and one draw. This year is one to forget where title fights are concerned but it isn't all bad. Amir Khan will come back from his defeat and we have fighters like Kell Brook just breaking through into the world stage. Ricky Burns and Nathan Cleverley both fight early in 2012 on BoxNation and Carl Froch just signed up to a two fight deal with Lucian Bute. Here's to a better 2012.