A big part of being a hardcore fight nut is speculating about hypothetical matchups and chasing down rumors over whether or not they will happen. Even in a good week it's hard to catch more than two or three cards of any immediate significance.
That means a lot of hours left over to post online or pontificate on a bar stool about who really should be fighting who.
Of course, most of these mythical matchups never end up happening. Even many of the ones you hear about from people in a position to know a thing or two often don't happen in the end.
That's just the nature of the business and the unpredictability of the sport.
Going into December of 2012, Brandon Rios was sitting pretty for next spring. He had stopped Mike Alvarado by TKO in October, in a fight that most people had already penciled in for Fight of the Year.
If I had been writing this column then, I would have been buying or selling on Rios as next in line for Manny Pacquiao in the spring.
And I would have been selling, because I was predicting a Juan Manuel Marquez win. Now that Marquez has come through, nobody has any interest in speculating on Pacquiao versus Rios at this time.
But the boxing public is most surely interested in seeing Rios fight somebody again. He has a fearless, all-action style and defensive limitations that guarantee an exciting fight against the right opponents.
And as we saw so dramatically last fall, one of those "right opponents" is Alvarado. The last clash was exactly the type of fight that demands a rematch.
On Dec. 20, The Ring's Lem Satterfield posted a story saying that Bob Arum had confirmed that talks were underway for the rematch to happen on HBO in March.
Now just because Arum says talks are underway for a fight to happen does not mean anybody should hold their breath in giddy anticipation. But this fight makes too much sense not to happen.
The score cards when Rios caught up to Alvarado in the seventh were 57-57 twice and 58-56 for Rios. I had it 58-56 for Alvarado myself. I thought Alvarado was clearly getting the better of it when he managed to keep the fight at middle distance.
Rios inevitably forced the battle into the trenches every round, but even then Alvarado managed to hold his own in the exchanges. I believe the stoppage by the referee was entirely appropriate, but Alvarado would almost surely jump at a chance to put the first loss of his career firmly behind him.
For Rios, the fight makes sense simply because it will give him the opportunity to once more pad his resume for most-exciting fighter of his generation. I have rarely seen a fighter who looks like he is having more fun in a fight.
Against Alvarado in October he looked positively ecstatic. Expect him to sign up for a second go-round if the money makes sense.
At this point boxing fans have been waiting years for Alexander Povetkin to rise up and challenge one of the Klitschko brothers. To many observers, he was the young heavyweight with the toolbox necessary to take the gigantic Ukranian brothers apart. He even became a special project of the great Teddy Atlas.
As 2013 begins, Povetkin still holds onto his undefeated record and his status as the third-ranked heavyweight in the world. He is also the WBA "regular" world champion, for what it's worth.
To anybody who has paid attention, that belt is worth absolutely nothing. The WBA vacated it in August of 2011 when they elevated Wladimir Klitschko to "super" champion status. Povetkin then won it by unanimous decision over Ruslan Chagaev.
Since then Povetkin has beaten Cedric Boswell, cruiserweight Marco Huck, and 40-year-old Hasim Rahman. That isn't exactly a murderers' row, and it doesn't exactly sound like preparation for a dominant fighter like Klitschko.
Still, after his easy destruction of Rahman, Povetkin and his promotional team quickly insisted that Klitschko would be next.
Somehow, at this point, I just don't see the stars lining up that way. Maybe it's the Eastern European heavyweight version of the Floyd Mayweather-Pacquiao phenomena, but I just feel like if the principals involved really wanted this fight to happen, it would already have been done long ago.
On Dec. 20, The Ring's Satterfield posted a story in the site's rumor section that quotes a lot of people saying that, if everything lines up and they both keep winning, Danny Garcia and Amir Khan are likely to fight a rematch in November of 2013.
If everything goes according to plan for both fighters, the matchup would probably make sense. Although Garcia caught up to Khan in spectacular fashion last July, Khan appeared to be the much slicker boxer over the first two rounds.
If Garcia handles Zab Judah with less ease than Amir Khan did during his 2011 Round 5 TKO victory, expect the talk for a rematch to heat up among pro-Khan fans.
But too much needs to happen first to call this one a sure thing. Khan is looking for a fight in the spring, and while I think he has the talent to outbox most of the top 140 and 147-pound fighters in the world, I also think it is now well documented that his chin makes him vulnerable to any of them.
I'd also frankly like to see Garcia take on Lucas Matthysse next, after Judah. He has averaged three and four fights a year so far in his career, so he could fight the Argentine in the summer and then Khan in the late fall.
But nobody should be assuming that Garcia would beat Matthysse.
This is a fight that everybody is talking about like a done deal, but for some reason I have my doubts. On Dec. 28, Boxingscene.com reported that Arum was claiming a fifth fight would occur.
But all that really tells me is that Arum wants to make all the money that he stands to make from a fifth installment.
In the first place, there seem to be some strong indications that the 39-year-old Marquez might be set to retire. On Dec. 20, Boxingscene.com reported a story quoting his wife, Erika, as being adamant that she wants her husband to step away from the ring now, while he is still at the top.
Marquez is a guy who worked as an accountant well into his professional boxing career. His cerebral ring style is a reflection of the fact that he is actually a very bright guy. He was already set up for a nice career as a media figure in his boxing-mad country, even before he delivered the most legendary knockout in Mexican boxing history.
Pacquiao's own obligations outside the ring are well known. The Filipino congressman seems to harbor further political ambitions, and is a full time philanthropist either way, in a country where so many people need help.
Of course, both men are warriors at heart, so walking away will not be easy. Especially not if either suspects his great rival is still waiting at the table to draw one more hand.
Even more so than Marquez-Pacquiao Five, Mayweather versus Saul Alvarez in September is the fight that everybody just seems to assume will happen now.
It seems like a smart-money bet to me. Both will have to get by reasonably tough opponents in the spring first.
Mayweather is already scheduled to meet Robert Guerrero. While I don't believe the Ghost is an easy night for anybody, I do think Mayweather will win.
Expect Alvarez to meet either Miguel Cotto, or Austin Trout, who beat Cotto on Dec. 1. In either case, I believe Alvarez wins with style. I see him walking Trout down and punishing his body, and I see him having the hand speed to beat up Cotto when trading at close range.
That would leave Mayweather and Cotto lined up perfectly for Mexican Independence Day Weekend. The pay-per-view numbers would be the best recorded since Mayweather fought Oscar De La Hoya back in 2008.
I know the majority of hardcore fans would much rather see Mayweather meet fellow pound-for-pound entrant Sergio Martinez at 154. But that is a much more dangerous fight for Mayweather, and for a lot less money.
I just think he is too shrewd a gambler to make that sort of play.
And I will say this: I think Alvarez makes for a better fight than people are expecting. Think Mayweather-Cotto, but tougher.