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A Six-Pack of Fights That Can Save Boxing from the Pacquiao-Bradley Nightmare

Kevin McRaeFeatured ColumnistJuly 8, 2012

A Six-Pack of Fights That Can Save Boxing from the Pacquiao-Bradley Nightmare

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    Boxing has taken a beating in the public eye ever since Manny Pacquiao's controversial decision loss to Timothy Bradley on June 9th in Las Vegas. The fight, which was seen by most as a sham, has created all kinds of publicity that boxing doesn't want. 

    Here are six huge fights that will help boxing improve its reputation and bring fans back to the sport.

Floyd Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao

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    Even with some loss of luster, given Pacquiao's defeat by Bradley and Mayweather's legal troubles, there is simply no bigger fight in the sport. It's the once-in-a-lifetime fight that most of us feel we've waited a lifetime to see.

    Floyd Mayweather Jr. (43-0, 26 KO) has never tasted defeat in the ring and has seldom been challenged. His most recent fight, a clear but tough decision victory over Miguel Cotto, was his toughest challenge to date and he passed with flying colors. Mayweather is likely done fighting in 2012 though, owing to his current stint in jail stemming from domestic violence charges.

    Manny Pacquiao (54-4-2, 38 KO) has seen absolutely no negative consequences from his ridiculous decision loss to Timothy Bradley in June. Despite a contractual right for a rematch it appears that Pacquiao and his people are moving on to a fourth fight with rival Juan Manuel Marquez in November. After that there are few fights that make sense short of Mayweather.

    This is the fight boxing fans have been waiting years to see. It would be a huge mainstream sports event that would transcend boxing. Given the rash of unpopular decisions and controversies it could be the thing needed to save the sport.

Canelo Alvarez vs. Miguel Cotto

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    Canelo Alvarez has had a difficult time finding an opponent since defeating faded legend Shane Mosley on the Mayweather-Cotto undercard in May. Originally scheduled to face Paul Williams, the fight was cancelled when a motorcycle accident ended Williams' career. Since then fights with James Kirkland and Victor Ortiz have fallen through.

    Alvarez (40-0-1, 28 KO) is just shy of his 22nd birthday and has already become a superstar in the sport. It's hard to say a kid this young is due to step it up but that's what happens when you become a victim of your own success and hype. 

    Miguel Cotto (37-3, 30 KO), who was defeated by Floyd Mayweather in his most recent outing, is still an elite fighter in the sport. His loss to Mayweather was clear-cut but he was certainly not outclassed. He was in every round and has nothing to be ashamed of for his performance.

    This fight is not likely to happen at this stage, but it would be a barn-burner if it did. You have the natural Puerto Rico vs. Mexico fighting rivalry which would help the fight achieve mainstream success. Combine that with the styles of both fighters and you have the makings for some great in-ring fireworks. 

Sergio Martinez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

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    This middleweight showdown is already signed for September 15th in Las Vegas. 

    Sergio Martinez (49-2-2, 28 KO) has been the recognized middleweight champion since defeating Kelly Pavlik in 2010. His dominance of the division has led him to be ranked in the top three of most pound-for-pound lists, only behind Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, since that time. 

    In his last two fights, against European middleweights Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker, Maravilla has looked more vulnerable than usual. Add that to the grudge match element of a fight with the son of Mexican legend Julio Cesar Chavez and you have a compelling storyline for fight fans.

    Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (46-0-1, 32 KO) has seen his stock rise in recent years as his level of competition has gone up. But wins over Andy Lee, Peter Manfredo and Marco Antonio Rubio will be nothing like stepping into the ring with Sergio Martinez. 

    Martinez is an elite fighter with a grudge, who has dominated the middleweight division in recent years. Despite his recent hiccups—make no mistake about it—he will go all out for victory on September 15th. The question is will Chavez Jr. be able to take the giant leap up in class and pull out a victory.

    This is one of those fights that sells itself. An elite fighter in his prime taking on one of the best young fighters in the sport who also happens to be the son of a legend. Great drama and a great fight for boxing.

Timothy Bradley vs Amir Khan

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    Lost in all the controversy over the ridiculous scoring in his fight with Manny Pacquiao is the fact that Timothy Bradley is one helluva fighter.

    Now let's be clear. He lost the fight decisively and got a decision that he didn't deserve. But he also lasted twelve rounds on two bad legs and didn't make things easy for a fighter who is at worst the second best in the world. 

    Bradley (29-0, 12 KO) now holds a piece of the welterweight title and there are a few good fights available for him at that weight that don't involve Manny Pacquiao. 

    The best of those is certainly a matchup with British superstar Amir Khan. Khan (26-2, 18 KO) also found himself in some controversy in his last fight, though in his case he was the victim. 

    Khan was defeated via split decision against Lamont Peterson in a fight many felt should have gone his way. The controversy was inflamed by the fact that Peterson's margin of victory came as a result of two spurious-at-best point deductions against Khan for pushing. 

    The result also has to be further question now after Lamont Peterson tested positive for PED's in the lead-up to the now-cancelled rematch between the fighters. Khan instead will face Danny Garcia for the WBC Jr. Welterweight title this Saturday night.

    Bradley has already declined a fight with Khan once, in order to pursue and ultimately win the Manny Pacquiao lotto, but has recently stated a desire to face to Brit. This is the best welterweight fight available that doesn't include the names Mayweather or Pacquiao.

Wladimir Klitschko vs. Seth Mitchell

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    Wladimir Klitschko is the top dog in the heavyweight division. He has been for most of the past decade. There is simply nobody, outside his brother Vitali, who can stake any sort of claim to heavyweight dominance in this era. 

    That said, it's too easy for Klitschko. Now it isn't his fault that the heavyweight division is weak. His second knockout victory over Tony Thompson this past Saturday is a testament to the lack of serious competition, as was his laughable and ridiculous fight with blown-up cruiserweight Jean-Marc Mormeck in March.

    It has often been said that the heavyweight division is the glamour division in boxing. That glamour has been significantly faded over the past decade and many owe this to the lack of any serious American challengers for the heavyweight crown.

    One guy who has been turning a few heads as a possible threat is Seth Mitchell.  Mitchell (25-0-1, 19 KO) has shown good power and has size to possibly compete with the biggest of the big boys. 

    The question is whether or not he's ready for this step up in competition at this stage in his career. Mitchell has only been boxing as a pro for four years.

    But in an era of retreads and retreads of retreads, why not give Mitchell a shot? The storyline is clear and compelling and who knows? Maybe you'll see the next great American heavyweight.

Canelo Alvarez vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.

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    This one would be even bigger than Martinez vs. Chavez Jr. and Canelo vs. Cotto. An all-Mexican superfight between the two best young junior middleweights in the world? Who wouldn't want this fight?

    This one has been talked about for a while but hasn't come to fruition for several reasons. Primary amongst these is an unwillingness to damage the brand of either fighter in the event of a loss.

    But if both win their upcoming matchups—Chavez will be facing a much tougher task in Sergio Martinez than Canelo whose opponent is still undetermined—a fight could become inevitable. 

    Again the storylines would sell themselves. Two young, fierce Mexican warriors, fighting for national and division supremacy. This is a fight that would sell itself and with the action-packed styles of both fighters could be a fight of the year candidate.

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