TOP TEN FIGHTS OF 2009
So you think boxing is a "dead sport"? Not even close. Other than the heavyweight division, the sport is thriving and better than ever—you just need to know who to watch. Below are the best scheduled fights for 2009 and another five that need to happen.
Juan Manuel Marquez (49-4-1)– Juan Diaz (34-1): February 28, 2009. Houston, Texas. Lightweight (135 lbs). Don’t miss this fight. Marquez has given Manny Pacquiao all he can handle in their two previous fights. I watched their second fight last night and Marquez is a brick wall that had Manny confused and, at times, dominated the Filipino champion. Pacquiao was fortunate to come away with a win. Diaz is a great fighter as Mexican pride is put on the line. Prediction: Marquez in a decision.
Ricky Hatton (41 – 1) – Manny Pacquiao (43-3-2): May 2nd. Las Vegas. 140 lb. The key to this fight is the weight class—140 lb. Hatton is unbeaten at 140 lbs. Also of note is that Hatton is now trained by Floyd Mayweather Sr. who has him boxing more and moved away from his predictable straight-forward style. It will be worth being in Vegas if nothing else for the thousands of drunk and singing Brits that will roll into town. Prediction: Pacquiao in 11th KO.
Antonio Margarito (37-5-0) – Shane Mosley (45-4-0): January 24th. Staples Center. HBO Boxing. Welterweight (147 lbs). I wouldn’t want to step in the ring with Antonio Margarito. Miguel Cotto hit him with bombs and he just kept coming. A tall, awkward fighter with a chin of granite and fists of bricks. Mosley will need to stick and move to make a game of it. Prediction: Margarito in 8th KO.
Jorge Orce (51-4-1) - Vic Darchinyan (31-1-1): February 7th. Home Depot Center. Showtime Boxing. WBC WBA IBF Flyweight Title. 130 lbs. Vic Darchinyan is scrappy, tough, unrelenting, and completely predictable. Yet, he just destroys opponents. A southpaw, he loads up and just throws a right hand that is unstoppable and just keeps throwing it. Prediction: Darchinyan in 7th KO.
Kelly Pavlik (34-1-0) – Marco Antonio Rubio (41-4-0): February 21st. New York City. PPV. Middleweight Title (160 lbs). Admittedly, I don’t know much about Rubio, but this is Pavlik’s first fight since getting dismantled by Bernard Hopkins. I’m anxious to see if "The Ghost" will come back from that butt-whipping. My guesses are that Kelly is a tough and smart fighter who will learn from his loss and make short work of Rubio. Prediction: Pavlik in 9th KO.
Fights that Should Happen
Manny Pacquiao – Juan Manuel Marquez III: I would love to see this fight happen this year before Marquez gets too old. I honestly think that Marquez is the only fighter that can stop Manny Pacquiao (and that include Floyd Mayweather Jr). He seems to have Manny figured out and I came away doubly impressed after their second bout. The deciding factor on this fight will be the weight class. Prediction: Pacquiao in a decision.
Antonio Margarito – Paul Williams: Everyone wants to see this fight. These are perhaps two of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world and nobody wants to step in the ring with either of them. Assuming Margarito makes quick work of Shane Mosley, this fight should get scheduled. Williams stopped Margarito a couple of years ago and a rematch should have happened by now.
This could turn into a rivalry on par with Ward – Gatti. Margarito would play the part of the stalking aggressor while Williams is a little more strategic. Prediction: Williams in a decision.
Sergio Mora – Kelly Pavlik: A wildcard, I know, but I love watching both these fighters. Mora, in spite of his Contender fame, is a smart, tough fighter who is a lot of fun to watch. Pavlik needs to fight someone with a reputation but not as dangerous as a Calzaghe or Hopkins. I think Pavlik is predictable enough that Mora would make a great fight of it. Prediction: Mora in a close decision.
Israel Vazquez – Vic Darchinyan: Vic Darchinyan just doesn’t get the respect he deserves. I place him as one of the top 5 pound-for-pound fighters in the world and I’ve never even seem him tested. That could change with Israel Vazquez. A tough Mexican who will fight Vic in the center of the ring. Prediction: Darchinyan in a 11th KO.
Floyd Mayweather Sr – Roger Mayweather: Forget about Floyd Jr., I want to see two old, tough Mayweather brothers square off. After watching all the HBO dysfunction in this family, it would be a heck of a fight. I have to take Floyd Mayweather Sr. in a knockdown. He just seems like mean cuss who would whip his younger brother. Prediction: Mayweather Sr. in 2nd KO.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Joe Calzaghe are "retired" and thus not included in this list. Personally, I hope they both stay retired for different reasons. Mayweather Jr. is just too boring to watch. After watching the public get fleeced by the De La Hoya fight, he needs to stay in Vegas counting his money. Joe Calzaghe, my favorite fighter of the last ten years, will be thirty seven and that’s just getting too old. It’s been a great run Joe, and we love you, but it’s time to move-on.