Combat sports had an up and down year in 2014

Rise of Gennady Golovkin was a high in boxing in 2014

Combat sports, 2014 in review

The highs

•The continued rise of boxing's middleweight world champion Gennady Golovkin. The 32-year-old from Kazakhstan improved to 31-0 with 28 knockouts by knocking out Mexican Marco Antonio Rubio in the second round of their fight in Carson. Golovkin is willing to fight anyone in the 154- to 168-pound range, and should land a big fight by the end of 2015.

Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. each were 2-0, and called each other out for their next fight. Pacquiao is a fighter-of-the-year candidate after one-sided triumphs over younger, previously unbeaten world champions Timothy Bradley and Chris Algieri (a six-knockdown rout in Macao last month). Mayweather endured a May brawl with Marcos Maidana, then dominated him in a September rematch by decision.

•The split of Oscar De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions' chief executive, Richard Schaefer. The good news for boxing is that De La Hoya is again making fights with Top Rank Chairman Bob Arum, ending a five-year cold war that deprived fans of quality co-promoted bouts. The trouble is Schaefer's split is in legal limbo, and that it doesn't take much to deduce there's a natural Mayweather Promotions union to be made between Schaefer and his friend and manager of multiple big-name fighters, Al Haymon, who continues to manipulate his stable of fighters to bouts in his best interest, not the sport's.

The lows

•The Cung Le drug-testing fiasco. After the UFC announced middleweight main-event fighter Le tested positive for human growh hormone, following photos in training camp of the 42-year-old's ripped physique. Le objected, citing flaws in the August test in Macao, including faulty lab procedures.

The UFC, which says it is in the process of establishing a more uniform testing policy, days later rescinded Le's one-year suspension. And the fighter's future is murky despite Le having more fights on his contract.

•UFC injuries. The sport's inherent dangers were obvious throughout the year. Champions Cain Velasquez (heavyweight), Jon Jones (light-heavyweight) and Chris Weidman (middleweight) all missed time because of injuries, following the hiatus of welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre and the leg injury that sidelined former middleweight champion Anderson Silva all year.

—Lance Pugmire

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