The 2012 year for the sport of boxing saw some major ups and downs. There were numerous disappointments of big fights never actually happening, such as the Brandon Rios vs. Yuriorkis Gamboa fight that was supposed to take place back in April.
If major fights like Rios vs. Gamboa actually occurred as planned, then boxing could have had a really amazing 2012.
Brandon Rios ended up fighting replacement Richard Abril that night instead, in what many of us sitting ringside viewed as a gift decision awarded to Rios, who seemed to be outboxed for most of the fight.
Of course the ever frustrating Manny Pacquiao vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. fight seemed to escape us for yet another year making the fans, media and everyone else get teased and slapped in the face yet again.
One of the best all-action fights of 2012 so far, Mike Alvarado vs. Mauricio Herrera, was actually on the same card as Rios vs. Abril. Both Alvarado and Herrera went to war and traded bombs, with Alvarado dominating the crowd-friendly exchanges, which earned him a unanimous decision that night.
Alvarado will be facing Brandon Rios next Saturday at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Ca. in what many are already calling the second coming of Gatti vs. Ward.
With the final three months of 2012 now upon us, let's take a look at some significant fights that could be the best fight of the final quarter of 2012 for the sport of boxing.
Nonito Donaire has been riding high after dominating fight after fight, but he has seemed to lack the same world-shaking performance he so properly executed against Fernando Montiel back in February 2011.
The main reason may be that he is focusing too much on going for the one-punch knockout and entertaining the crowd rather than sticking to a calculated game plan of breaking down his opponents to set up the big knockout.
Also, many of Nonito's opponents are not willing to open up and trade toe to toe as Montiel was willing to do for their fight; instead, his opponents seem to be intimidated and often are either running away from any harm or excessively blocking.
Toshiaki Nishioka is not like Donaire's recent opponents. He earned the WBC super bantamweight title by defeating Genaro Garcia by TKO in the 12th round.
Nishioka also has one of the most impressive current resumes, having knocked out Jhonny Gonzalez in three rounds and beating Mexican legend Rafael Marquez by a unanimous decision.
Donaire vs. Nishioka is one of the best matchups that can be made at super bantamweight, and the winner of this fight should obtain all of the respect and notoriety that he deserves.
Donaire's speed and power may be the difference in this fight, but many have slept on Nishioka many times before to be proven wrong over and over again.
KING J's Prediction and Grade: Donaire will win a close decision, dominating the early rounds and giving up some middle rounds to Nishioka, making the fight appear closer than most expected.
I predict this fight will be an entertaining chess game that will bring out an overall better and more complete Filipino Flash than what we have been seeing lately. I give this fight a grade of B+.
On the same night as Donaire vs. Nishioka is the highly anticipated and hyped matchup of Brandon Rios vs. Mike Alvarado as the co-main event at the Home Depot Center.
Many of the commentators on HBO are getting really excited about this fight, mostly because of the common fight styles of both Alvarado and Rios, who pretty much just keep coming forward throwing high volumes of punches until their opponent is overwhelmed.
Alvarado is undefeated just like Rios, and they both have a lot of power in their fists as they prefer to go for the knockout versus winning a decision.
The key factor in this fight may be the weight issue.
Rios has been killing himself to fight at 135 and has not officially fought at 140 yet, whereas Alvarado has spent his entire career dominating the bigger guys at 140.
It will be interesting to see how the extra five pounds will effect Rios. Will it allow his body more comfort to be even more a beast for not draining himself as before? Or is Alvarado too much of a big task too soon for Bam Bam at his first time at 140?
One thing is for sure, and that is someone's "oh" must go that night. But in all honesty, an epic war that is so close that it ends in a draw would not be bad at all if that happened.
Boxing fans, if you want to win over new boxing fans then this is the fight to have those new guys watch with you either on the couch at home or in person at the Home Depot Center.
I myself will be at the Home Depot Center that night because a fight like this only happens once a generation.
KING J's Prediction and Grade: Again, this will be one of those fights that you should not even bother to score; just enjoy it for all its glory. This should end by a stoppage of some sort, but if it goes the distance, Rios will take the decision. Hopefully justice will be served this time, though. I give this fight an A+ because it just might actually live up to the hype.
Danny Garcia has won over a lot more fans with his exciting fourth-round knockout win over Amir Khan in July.
Is Swift's power underrated or is Khan's chin really that bad? Well, Garcia was able to knock down Morales in their first fight as well, in what was a pretty dull, sloppy fight.
Many criticized Morales for not even making weight for their first fight, and even having a bit of a gut that night.
At the same time, why wasn't Garcia able to easily dominate a shot former veteran legend who seemed to just show up for a last paycheck? Garcia won by unanimous decision but Morales was still able to make some of those rounds more competitive than it should have been.
You have to ask yourself, why is this fight even being made when Garcia has just won so impressively over Khan?
Garcia should look to stop this old, out-of-shape, past-prime Morales this time or he will lose much of the steam that he achieved by dethroning King Khan over the summer.
Also on this same card is Malignaggi vs. Cano. Should Paulie win, rumors are saying that he may be next for the now-returned UK superstar Ricky Hatton should he win his comeback fight against Senchenko on November 24th.
Also on this night is Alexander vs. Bailey for Randall's newly acquired IBF welterweight title that he won by knocking out undefeated contender Mike Jones.
Alexander should have the youth and talent to outpoint the almost 40-year-old champion who has some stamina issues, but Bailey still has dangerous knockout power as his moniker "The Knock Out King" implies.
Personally, I would love for Bailey to knock out Alexander as he did Jones, but Devon may be just too fast for him and have the youth and stamina to outpoint him.
KING J's Prediction and Grade: Garcia will probably win again by decision in what should be a one-sided victory, but it will probably end up being another competitive fight. It will be just like their first one, a sloppy, dull scrap that has you wondering why it was even made again. My grade is a C-. However, the fact that this card is at Barclays Center and stacked with so many decent fights should bump the overall fight event to at least a grade of a solid B.
Mares vs. Moreno is also another big, meaningful fight at 122.
Abner Mares, the WBC 122-pound champion, is putting his belt up against the WBA 118-pound champion Anselmo Moreno.
For the real hardcore fans this fight will be a good one.
Moreno is coming off a one-sided clinic win over veteran powerhouse Vic Darchinyan last December. We have not seen Darchinyan that dominated since his loss to Donaire in 2007.
Anselmo also stopped David De La Mora in April in the ninth round.
Mares, the winner of the Showtime Bantamweight Tournament and now a super bantamweight champion, has been improving with each fight.
Outside of the obvious fight fans' favorite showdown in this weight class (Mares vs. Donaire), Mares vs. Moreno is pretty much the best fight that can be made for the undefeated Mares who has been fighting top elite opponents back to back for his last several fights.
Mares is giving up the height and reach advantages to Moreno who is an excellent boxer and counterpuncher. If Abner can get inside and make Moreno fight his fight then this could be a really good one.
Plus, on the undercard is the long-awaited return of Alfredo "Perro" Angulo taking on Raul Casarez.
Angulo has been dealing with immigration issues barring him from fighting in the United States ever since his fight-of-the-year war with James Kirkland last November. Pretty much anytime Perro is in the ring you will be entertained in an exciting brawl.
Also fighting on the same card is Leo Santa Cruz, who now holds Abner's old IBF bantamweight title and who has been making a name for himself by his high-pressure volume fighting style. Word has it that Santa Cruz may be in line next for Mares should they both win on this night.
KING J's Prediction and Grade: Mares should be able to beat Moreno in a close fight if he can get inside and work the body and beat Anselmo to the punch, getting his shots in first.
Due to the height and reach advantages, plus the excellent boxing skills of Moreno, this should make for a really good close fight. I give this fight a grade of a B+.
Carl Froch is coming off a huge, impressive win over Lucian Bute in April.
The Cobra utterly owned the undefeated IBF super middleweight champion by stopping him and taking his belt in the fifth round.
Froch is fighting Yusaf Mack in what is pretty much a keep-busy, make-me-look-good fight in his own backyard at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham.
Carl should make easy work of Mack and stop him.
He should look for a huge payday rematch with Bute in Canada or try to get Andre Ward to come out to the UK for a rematch next.
If neither of these fights can be made then he should go up to 175 pounds where there are a number of good fights to be made against any of those champions.
King J's Prediction and Grade: Again, Cobra should continue riding the steam he achieved from the big Bute win and stop Mack. This fight can be exciting to watch but not that meaningful at all, so I give it a grade of a C+.
Adrien Broner has been making waves for himself by mimicking one of the biggest stars in boxing, Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Not only outside the ring with his personality but even inside the ring with the way he fights.
Broner is good but we have yet to see him against a real top elite opponent who is the same size as he is.
Antonio DeMarco is the WBC lightweight champion who, just like Broner, has many weapons in his arsenal. They will be each other's toughest test to date when they meet inside the ring November 17th.
A big win for either fighter could really launch his career to the next level.
King J's Prediction and Grade: This fight has the potential to be a fight-of-the-year candidate, but if Broner decides to play it safe or be too defensive minded, it could get pretty dull too, as his fight with Ponce De Leon showed us.
I'm hoping Broner realizes that he has to win over the crowds first before he can be like his idol Money May. Broner should be able to win if his weight gives him no issues this time. I give this fight a grade of a B+.
There's only one Ricky Hatton, as evidenced by the Hitman's phenomenal star power in the UK that no British pugilist has even come close to achieving.
Rumors have been circulating for months about a possible Ricky Hatton return, but it was not until recently that he himself made it official that he will be back in the ring and fighting on November 24th against Ukrainian former WBA welterweight champion Vyacheslav Senchenko.
If Hatton can excite the masses as he did before his retirement, then that can only be a great thing for the sport of boxing.
Hatton vs. Senchenko is nothing more than a tune-up fight, and it should tell us if the Hitman is still the Hitman, or has the long layoff in retirement taken its toll on the former lineal 140-pound champion's heart and body?
Rumors are indicating that if Hatton should get past Senchenko, and if Malignaggi (who took Senchenko's WBA welterweight title) gets past his fight against Cano, then it will be Hatton vs. Malignaggi II next.
KING J's Prediction and Grade: Ricky Hatton is always, for the most part, exciting to watch so it will be interesting to see if he can still bring it like he used to and if he can get the win against Senchenko.
If he is smart, he should get some rounds in to knock out any ring rust he will have and to regain his confidence. I give this fight a B- since everyone loves a big comeback, especially from a huge British superstar, which can only help the sport of boxing.
Rumors were circulating that Mayweather was going to fight Miguel Cotto again when he got out of prison, but unfortunately for those of us who enjoyed their first fight in May, his December 1st opponent would be undefeated WBA 154-pound champion Austin Trout instead.
Trout is coming off a very boring performance against Delvin Rodriguez back in June where many of us felt bored to tears and just wished that the fight would finally end.
Golden Boy was even potentially scouting Trout as a possible replacement opponent for Canelo's big September Mexican Holiday weekend fight last month, but his fight with Rodriguez was so uneventful that they decided to go with Lopez, a fighter who was coming up two weight classes instead.
KING J's Prediction and Grade:
Cotto is Cotto. He is always entertaining to watch as he attacks his opponents. So any Cotto fight is gonna pretty much get at least a B grade automatically.
But then again, if Trout fights the way he did in his last fight, then this fight may only end up being about a B grade.
Cotto should overpower Trout and give him the first loss of his career. Cotto is somewhat more fueled to pull off the win whenever he fights in his adopted town of New York because of the predominant Puerto Rican community there, so this time should be no different.
Here we go again! Fourth time's a charm, right?
Wrong. We should have gotten a clear winner last time in the rubber match, but due to Manny's supposed outside-the-ring distractions, we ended up seeing a good Marquez giving a bothered Pacquiao a run for his money.
As I stated in an earlier piece, if neither Pacquiao or Marquez produce a knockout this time, then they should not complain no matter what outcome is determined by the judges.
This fight will most likely end up being more like the rematch and rubber match, and half the fans will probably be upset and crying over the result.
Manny Pacquiao is one half of the biggest duo in the sport of boxing, and everyone and their grandma prefers to see him fight rather than the other biggest star, Mayweather, but unfortunately no one knows what's going on in the head of Floyd or what is up with his next fight.
KING J's Prediction and Grade: As a big fan of both Pacquiao and Marquez, at the end of the day, I'll be watching ringside and I'm hoping that this time there will finally be clear winner.
Many were shocked that Bradley was able to pull a controversial upset on the Pac Man last time to the point that many fans claimed they were done with boxing for good.
So the pressure is on Pacquiao and the judges to get the result right this time, which means Marquez needs a KO or we will probably see him storming out of the ring once again in protest.
Unless Manny can somehow channel his younger, hungrier self, then this fight will probably end up being about a C+/B-.
Amir Khan has a lot to prove in this comeback fight against Carlos Molina.
With a new trainer, Virgil Hunter, and a goal for redemption, Khan is taking on Molina who is undefeated but also does not possess much dangerous knockout power.
This is the biggest fight of Molina's career, and an impressive win over Khan can lead to much bigger things.
For Khan, this is nothing more than a test to show if he can reinvent himself and be a force once again as an elite fighter at 140 pounds.
This fight is taking place at the iconic Sports Arena, an arena that has much history but that this current, younger generation of fans has often forgotten about because of the current, newer Staples Center now holding more of the bigger events.
KING J's Prediction and Grade: Khan should be able to use his experience, speed, height and reach advantages over Molina to beat him.
However, if he is gun-shy, which most fighters are after a big knockout loss, then Molina may have his moments and be able to steal rounds.
I give this fight a grade of a B- just because it will be interesting to see what Hunter can do to resurrect Khan's career in this one.
The man who defeat Pacquiao most recently is back. Desert Storm will be fighting Lamont Peterson in a rematch on December 15th in Miami.
But why? Bradley clearly defeated Peterson the first time in 2009 in his backyard outside of Palm Springs, winning a clear one-sided unanimous decision and even knocking down in the third round.
After beating one of the biggest stars in boxing, Bradley should be going for all the big-money fights from now on, not stepping backwards to fight a man he already easily defeated and who is coming out of a failed drug test scandal.
Bradley has been facing a lot of unfair flack for the controversial upset over Pacquiao ever since Michael Buffer announced the shocking judges' scorecards, but taking on Peterson for the second time does nothing to help his image or career whatsoever.
It even makes you wonder if the producers of HBO just wanted to write off a "business trip" to Miami in December?
KING J's Prediction and Grade: Bradley should easily beat Peterson once again, and he may even stop him this time.
I give this a grade of a C- for having no significance, other than Peterson intending to redeem himself, which I don't see happening.
So there you have it, fight fans. Which fight are you looking forward to the most in this final quarter of 2012? Which fight will be the best? Leave your comments on this article and explain why.
King J is the Bleacher Report Boxing Community Leader and a Featured Columnist.
Follow on Twitter: @KingJ323