British boxing set fair for 2010
While 2009 will largely be remembered in British boxing circles as the year Joe Calzaghe hung them up and Ricky Hatton was smashed to smithereens by Manny Pacquiao, it was also a year of rebirth for the sport in this country.
Calzaghe's retirement in February left Carl Froch as Britain's only world champion, down from a peak of seven in 2007, but green shoots soon forced their way through what some doom-mongers were claiming was infertile soil.
In April, Froch mounted one of the great comebacks to beat Jermain Taylor, and while his first fight in the innovative super-middleweight Super Six tournament was a stinker, he lived to fight another day.
David Haye defends his title against John Ruiz in 2010 - then for the Klitschkos
The Super Six, masterminded by American broadcaster Showtime, is a rare triumph of common sense and concord in boxing, the top men in the division fighting each other to decide who's best. So simple, fans can be forgiven for wondering why it doesn't happen more often.
Having squeaked past American Andre Dirrell, Nottingham's Froch now faces Denmark's Mikkel Kessler in Copenhagen in April. Kessler lost his WBA belt to former Olympic champion Andre Ward in November and a defeat to Froch would scupper his chances of advancing to the semi-finals. It's likely to get desperate, which means it could be a classic.
Amir Khan jumped to light-welterweight to wrest the WBA belt from Andry Kotelnik in July, although this win and his subsequent 76-second demolition of Dmitry Salita failed to silence the doubters, who won't shut up until the Bolton man beats a world-class operator who can bang.
Whatever your take on Khan, 2009 was certainly an improvement on 2008, which ended with his quite shocking defeat at the hands of unheralded Colombian Breidis Prescott. Mexican veteran Juan Manuel Marquez has been mentioned as a possible first opponent on American soil in 2010, although Hatton might have something to say about that.
Paulie Malignaggi, demolished by Hatton in Vegas in 2008, has emerged as a more likely opponent for Khan. Malignaggi ticks a lot of boxes. He is a former world champion, he is coming off an impressive-looking win, and he's American. But the most important box ticked is the one that has "couldn't break an egg" written next to it.
Kevin Mitchell oozed class in beating Breidis Prescott, suggesting he's ready for bigger things
As for Hatton, he says he has "the itch" again and admits Marquez is top of his wishlist. The news that The Hitman, now 31, wants one more "war" for the road will please some but leave many more wincing.
In November, David Haye did what he had to do in beating Russian brute Nikolay Valuev and claiming the WBA heavyweight belt. In so doing, he became the first Briton to own a portion of the heavyweight world title since Lennox Lewis in 2003.
Not everyone has taken to Haye, but no-one can deny the cocky Londoner has turned up the heat and got boxing's Blue Riband division bubbling again. Mandatory challenger John Ruiz looks tailor-made, and then it will be time to go Klitschko hunting.
Vitali looks like he fancies it most, which could be bad news for the Englishman, as the WBC title-holder is flintier than younger brother Wladimir, owner of the IBF and WBO straps. That said, the 39-year-old Vitali looked sluggish in beating Kevin Johnson earlier this month and could be appearing on Haye's radar at exactly the right time. Vitali or Wladimir, it will be fun. That's always the way with Haye.
Other Brits to manoeuvre themselves into world title contention in 2009 were Dagenham lightweight Kevin Mitchell, Leicester super-bantamweight Rendall Munroe and Sheffield's Ryan Rhodes (remember him?).
Munroe, 29, is a grafter, and not just because his day job is collecting bins. He fought three times in 2009, culminating in a nuggety defence of his European crown against Italy's Simone Maludrottu last month.
Munroe is now the mandatory challenger for WBC title-holder Toshiaki Nishioka, although he may have to travel to Japan to fight him.
Mitchell, 25, gave one of the most educated ring displays of 2009 in beating Prescott earlier this month. The former British and Commonwealth super-featherweight champion had garnered a reputation as an all-action scrapper, but his victory over the "Khanqueror" was something more cerebral.
Marquez is the current WBA lightweight champion but is likely to vacate, which would leave Australian hardman and WBA 'interim' champion Michael Katsidis blocking Mitchell's path to the title.
However, Mitchell has expressed an interest in fighting British champion John Murray, and that's a fight that would seem to make perfect sense. Manchester's Murray, like Mitchell, has long been linked with a match against Khan, and a Murray-Mitchell contest could double as a de facto eliminator for Khan's crown, while also being a quality domestic contest in its own right.
Rhodes, 33, first fought for a world title back in 1997, but his brutal seven-round victory over Salford's Jamie Moore in October, which saw him claim the European light-middleweight crown, could lead to a second shot.
British welterweight champion Kell Brook defended his title twice in 2009 and his promoter Frank Warren may decide he's ready for bigger things should he get past Chorley's Michael Jennings in February.
Brook, the 2009 young boxer of the year, looks the real deal, and it's a toss-up as to whether he or stable-mate Nathan Cleverly, the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion, will fight for world honours first.
Deserted by Calzaghe and Hatton, undone by some reckless matchmaking in the case of Khan, Warren looked vulnerable this time last year. But his new gaggle are coming along nicely, and one or two of them are starting to take on a golden hue. British boxing, Warren will reflect as the new year rolls round, is doing just fine.