This was a very unique year as we had many top flight performances. For most of the year, one person stood out as the leading contender as he scored three knockout victories and won two regional titles.
However, as we started to recap the year, we realized that another boxer represented the area by competing in three championship bouts -- regaining one world title and winning and successfully defending another. HER success should not be overlooked as she was named the Boxer of the Year for the federation she represents as a two-division world champion.
Combined, these two boxers competed in five title bouts in 2013 and now hold five titles. This was an outstanding year for the both of them.
“The Real Deal” Phil Jackson Benson (13-1, 12 KO’s), super middleweight, Landover, MD
Tori “Sho Nuff” Nelson (8-0-3), welterweight, Ashburn, VA
Benson started competing in the Beltway region in 2012 after moving from New York City in search of more opportunities to compete. The move paid dividends in 2013. After a first-round TKO of the normally-durable John Micheal Terry on March 10 in Fort Washington, MD, Benson received his first regional title bout -- a 10-round contest with Baltimore veteran Maxell Taylor on May 11 in Club One Fitness in Millersville, MD. The bout was one of the best of the year and was a breakout performance for Benson as he scored a seventh-round TKO.
On September 7, Benson received another title opportunity as he faced Scott Sigmon for the vacant WBC USNBC Super Middleweight title in the main event at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, MD. In front of a packed house, Benson did not disappoint as he stopped Sigmon in six rounds. The wins moved Benson into the top 20 of the WBC rankings. The three wins put Benson into a good position to have an outstanding 2014.
Nelson was involved in three bouts in 2013 -- all 10-round championship contests. Nelson started her year by returning to Bermuda, the site of a majority draw in October 2012 against hometown boxer Teresa Perozzi. The two would meet again on February 2 in front of a packed house in Pembroke, Bermuda for the vacant WBC Middleweight title, a belt Nelson once held. The two would once again battle to a 10-round draw.
Nelson prepared for a WIBA (Women’s International Boxing Association) middleweight title defense in DC against Maria Lindberg of Sweden in March. However, Lindberg was deemed unfit to compete just hours before the bout was scheduled to begin. Nelson stayed in the gym and discovered she was losing weight. The decision was made for Nelson to compete as a welterweight and she received an opportunity to battle for the vacant WIBA welterweight title on September 13 in Lincoln, RI against Aleksandra Magdziak Lopes of Marshfield, MA. Calling the bout the easiest contest she has had, Nelson won a 10-round unanimous decision (with two judges registering a shutout - 100-90) and captured her third world title.
Not resting on her laurels, Nelson put the newly-won title on the line less than two months later when she faced Kali Reis of Providence, RI on November 7 at Martin’s Valley Mansion in Cockeysville, MD in the main event of the Jonathan Ogden Foundation charity boxing card. Nelson and Reis put on great performances before Nelson won a 10-round unanimous decision. The WIBA named Nelson its Boxer of the Year earlier this year and her efforts to elevate the women’s game earn her the same award here.
Honorable Mention (listed in alphabetical order):
Emmanuel “Tranzformer” Taylor (17-1, 12 KO’s), junior welterweight, Edgewood Arsenal, MD
Only inactivity over the last nine months of the year kept this rising junior welterweight contender from earning top honors in this award. Taylor scored two nationally-televised technical knockouts in 2013. The first was a solid performance on Showtime stopping Raymond Serrano on January 25 in six rounds in Huntington, NY. Then on March 3 in Atlantic City, NJ, Taylor got off the canvas against Victor Cayo on ESPN2 to register an eighth-round TKO.
Unfortunately, Taylor could not get a regional title shot or another bout in 2013. The wins did however, lift Taylor to the number 4 ranking by the IBF. Taylor could get off to another great start in 2014 if he can defeat Chris Algieri on February 14 back at the Paramount Theatre in Huntington in the main event of another ESPN2 broadcast.
Tony “The Tiger” Thompson (38-4, 26 KO’s), heavyweight, Washington, DC
After Thompson’s sixth-round TKO loss in his second title bid against Wladimir Klitschko in July 2012, many folks wrote Thompson off and said he never would get close to another shot at a world championship. Whether the 42-year-old Thompson actually does get a third title bid remains to be seen but Thompson is definitely making another legitimate run.
In 2013, Thompson twice took advantage of another boxer’s youth and inexperience to keep his title hopes alive. On February 23, Thompson traveled to Liverpool, England and faced highly-touted undisputed prospect David Price in his hometown. In front of a shocked crowd at the Echo Arena, Thompson stopped Price in the second round. The rematch would be on July 6 in Liverpool and not even the very vocal ringside support of hall of famer Lennox Lewis would keep Price from falling to defeat at the literal hands of Thompson, who stopped Price in the fifth round. Thompson was now just one step away from a third title bout with Klitschko. However, the opportunity came just one month after the second win over Price on August 24. Maybe that was too soon to face the undefeated Kubrat Pulev in Germany. Thompson managed to last the full 12 rounds in the contest but lost a unanimous decision. Thompson is slated to battle Odlander Solis in March.
Thomas “Top Dog” Williams, Jr. (15-0, 10 KO’s), light heavyweight, Fort Washington, MD
The 2012 Beltway Boxing Prospect of the Year reached contender status with four wins in 2013. On January 12 in Sunrise, FL, Williams scored a third-round TKO over Jason Smith followed by another third-round TKO over Kevin Engel on March 2 in Las Vegas.
Williams then stepped up in competition on May 18 and won an eight-round unanimous decision over former “Next Great Champ” winner Otis Griffin in Atlantic City. That bout was followed by the first 10-round contest for Williams against former multi-time regional champion Yusef Mack on November 26 back in Sunrise, FL in front of a nationally-televised Fox Sports1 audience. Williams fought very well en route to a unanimous decision.
Williams is now ranked number 12 by the IBF and may have positioned himself for some regional and, maybe, world title shots, in 2014.
Previous BATB Beltway Boxers of the Year:
2006: Eric Aiken
2007: Darnell Wilson
2008: Lamont Peterson/Joshua Snyder
2009: Fernando Guerrero
2010: Tim Coleman
2011: Lamont Peterson
2012: Tony Jeter
(photos: Phil Jackson Benson by Wallace Barron; Tori Nelson and Thomas Williams, Jr. by Juan Marshall; Emmanuel Taylor courtesy of Doghouse Boxing; Tony Thompson courtesy of Eastside Boxing)
Those are the year-end awards for 2013. We ask that all award winners (including honorable mentions) join us on Friday, January 17 at Rosecroft Raceway in Fort Washington, MD when we will be formally handing out the certificates for these awards during the Keystone Boxing card.
Until then, have a very Happy New Year and we look forward to an outstanding 2014 in Beltway Boxing!