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Boxing 209 43 Boxing's best stories of 2011 30474322 Lamont Peterson's inspiring story Lamont+Peterson%27s+inspiring+story Boxing

From a homeless youth on the streets of Washington, DC, to being named world champion in that very same city, Lamont Peterson's upset win over WBA/IBF junior welterweight champ Amir Khan represented so much more than a victory in a sporting event. Forget the controversy surrounding the officiating of the bout, Peterson's post-fight emotional reaction to Michael Buffer's announcement was human drama at its finest and one of the most earnest, heartfelt sports moments of the year.

The Boxing Tribune

Nick Wass - AP Images
Boxing 209 43 Boxing's best stories of 2011 30474323 Hopkins makes history Hopkins+makes+history Boxing

In December 2010, Bernard Hopkins was denied a spot in history in Quebec when a seemingly sure win against WBC light heavyweight champ and Canadian resident, Jean Pascal, was scored a draw. The 46-year-old future Hall of Famer would not be denied again in their rematch on May 21, 2011, as he won on all three judges' scorecards, again in Quebec, to become the oldest fighter to ever capture a world title. Hopkins' win showed age and athleticism always play a back seat to discipline and a flawless grasp of fundamental boxing technique.

The Boxing Tribune

Boxing 209 43 Boxing's best stories of 2011 30467877 Fantastic Fridays Fantastic+Fridays Boxing

ESPN's long-running Friday Night Fights program has run hot and cold over its history, but 2011 will go down as, possibly, its best year of matchups to date. Featuring mid-level fighters in entertaining scraps, Friday Night Fights was a joy to watch for hardcore fans. Highlights included Pawel Wolak-Delvin Rodriguez I (shown above in their rematch), Hank Lundy-David Diaz, Mark Jason Melligen-Sebastian Lujan, Ruslan Provodnikov-Mauricio Herrera, and too many more to mention.

Frank Franklin II - AP Images
Boxing 209 43 Boxing's best stories of 2011 30474321 The return of James Kirkland The+return+of+James+Kirkland Boxing

When a parole violation sent exciting junior middleweight James Kirkland to prison for two years, the buzz surrounding the 'Mandingo Warrior' died. When he was knocked out in one round by light-hitting Nobuhiro Ishida two months after his release, most thought his career to be dead. To the delight of hardcore fans, Kirkland returned to trainer Ann Wolfe and took top contender Alfredo Angulo's heart and soul in a brutally thrilling six-round TKO. Now, with plenty of viable opposition in his weight class, a rejuvenated Kirkland is back in his spot as one of boxing's most exciting characters.

The Boxing Tribune

Scott Heavey - Getty Images
Boxing 209 43 Boxing's best stories of 2011 30474320 Miguel Cotto's redemption Miguel+Cotto%27s+redemption Boxing

The Puerto Rican star Cotto left a little bit of himself in the ring in 2008, when he was battered, bloodied and forced to take a knee against Antonio Margarito. A year later, Margarito was found to be wearing illegally altered hand wraps prior to a bout with Shane Mosley. The Cotto-Margarito rematch featured copious amounts of bad blood as Cotto accused Margarito of having taken Cotto's life in his hands by using the illegal wraps in their bout. On Dec. 3, after Cotto beat Margarito by physician stoppage following the ninth round, a stone-faced Cotto stood feet from his hated rival, staring Margarito down for an uncomfortably long period of time. Cotto walked from the ring at Madison Square Garden that night as if a weight had been lifted from his shoulders.

The Boxing Tribune

Al Bello - Getty Images
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