5 Fights to Look Forward to in 2013 Now That Mayweather vs. Guerrero Is over
The big Floyd Mayweather Cinco de Mayo holiday weekend pay-per-view is now behind us, and earlier this afternoon, Manny Pacquiao vs. Brandon Rios was announced for next November 23 in China. Mayweather has stated that he intends to return in the autumn to fight on Mexican Independence Day Weekend in September, with his opponent yet to be determined.
But the sport will hardly be going into recess as we await the return of its two biggest attractions. Just as boxing has managed to thrive recently without the mythical Money-Pacman showdown ever taking place, the health of the sport will be fine as fans wait for them to return.
Through the rest of May and June, boxing fans will be presented with a number of compelling fights that will have implications that echo through the sport for the next couple of years. The next eight weeks will feature matchups that have significance to the junior welterweight, welterweight, middleweight and super middleweight divisions.
These won't be the same sort of gala events as a Mayweather or Pacquiao card. But they will be hearty meat-and-potato affairs that will keep boxing fans' bellies full into the summer.
May 18: Lucas Matthysse (33-2, 31 KOs) vs. Lamont Peterson (31-1-1, 16 KOs)
What's at Stake: Peterson's IBF junior welterweight title will be on the line, and beyond that, the winner should get a chance to take on WBC, WBA and Ring champ Danny Garcia in the fall. The 140-pound class has some of the best talent in the sport, and Matthysse and Peterson sit perched near the top of the food chain.
On May 17, we will see which one takes a step up and which one moves a notch down.
What to Expect: A highly entertaining fight contested mostly on the inside. Both of these fighters are athletic and aggressive pressure fighters. With 31 KOs in 35 professional fights, Matthysse has one of the best KO percentages in the sport.
Prediction: Matthysse's only two losses came by way of contested split decision in 2010 and 2011. He has won five straight since that time, all by stoppage, including a Round 10 TKO of previously unbeaten Ajose Olusegun and a first-round demolition of Mike Dallas Jr.
Peterson will be his toughest test since Devon Alexander, a split-decision loss that virtually every fan in the world believes Matthysse truly deserved to win. Matthysse is unlikely to walk through Peterson the way he has his recent competition. But he enters the fight riding a wave of momentum and is viewed by some as the sport's next breakout star.
Matthysse by decision, 116-111.
May 25: Carl Froch (30-2, 22 KOs) vs. Mikkel Kessler (46-2, 35 KOs)
What's at Stake: In this rematch of their April 2010 bout, the IBF and WBA super middleweight straps will be up for grabs. But those belts are pretty insignificant in a weight class where undefeated Andre Ward is the universally recognized top dog.
This fight is about establishing who is No. 2 at 168 and who will have the better chance at securing a rematch with Ward, who holds victories over both men.
For Froch, there is the added motivation of avenging one of his only two career losses.
What to Expect: A tough, tactically intelligent performance from both men. The Danish Kessler and the British Froch are both battle-tested ring warriors in their mid-30s. They've both been in the ring with the best fighters in the world and have had 12 previous rounds to study each other up close.
Both men are boxer-punchers, and neither one will shy away from taking necessary risks. But neither one will be stupid about it, either.
Prediction: Since they last fought three years ago, Froch has faced a much higher level of competition overall than Kessler has. The hotter the forge, the more well-tempered the steel, so I think Froch comes in with at least a slight advantage in this one.
Froch by a narrow decision, 115-113.
June 8: Marcos Maidana (33-3, 30 KOs) vs. Josesito Lopez (30-5, 18 KOs)
What's at Stake: The WBA Inter-Continental title is on the line in this one, and while it's always nice to get something new to wear around your waist, Lopez and Maidana both have grander ambitions than earning secondary belts. This fight is really about angling for a world title shot in the ultra-competitive welterweight division.
While they are both well-respected professionals, they are both several notches below the top of the 147-pound mountain.
What to Expect: World War III. Maidana is a ferocious pressure fighter, with 30 KOs in 36 professional fights. Lopez is the kind of fighter who likes to stay in the pocket and trade. Both men will spend most of the night in position to hit and be hit.
Prediction: This fight could be subtitled, "The battle of the two guys who made Victor Ortiz quit on his stool." Fighters don't come any tougher and grittier than Maidana and Lopez.
If Lopez can use enough footwork to avoid Maidana's attacks while counterpunching aggressively from angles, he should win his share of rounds and give himself a chance to carry the night. But I am more inclined to believe that Maidana's relentless body attack will wear Lopez down going into the championship rounds.
This one should be terrific. I've got Maidana 115-112.
June 22: Adrien Broner (26-0, 22 KOs) vs. Paul Malignaggi (32-4, 7 KOs)
What's at Stake: Malignaggi is the WBA welterweight champion, so a win here would make Broner a three-division world title holder at only 23. But nobody really views Malignaggi as the true champ at 147; few would even rate him in the top five.
This is all about finding out if Broner will be able to keep using his explosive power and athleticism to steamroll the competition as he moves up in weight, and finding out how he will adjust technically if he cannot.
What to Expect: A lot of movement from Malignaggi. With only seven of his 32 professional wins coming by way of knockout, Malignaggi is a classic stick-and-move fighter. He can be a very slick fighter, and he will need to be slicker than ever before to expose Broner.
Look for Broner to cut off the ring and attempt to unload with the heavy artillery from the start.
Both of these guys are known for being cocky, and there has already been a ton of smack-talk and insults exchanged between them. Broner is going to come gunning for a big knockout to make it clear to the world that he is a threat at 147.
Prediction: A move up to welterweight should lead to Broner's first significant challenges in the sport, but I'm not convinced it's going to happen this time against Malignaggi. Malignaggi might be able to frustrate him early, but I just don't see the Magic Man having the power to hold Broner off for an entire fight.
Broner by Round 9 TKO.
June 29: Gennady Golovkin (26-0, 23 KOs) vs. Matthew Macklin (29-4, 20 KOs)
What's at Stake: Gennady Golovkin is the WBA middleweight champion, and following Sergio Martinez's recent struggles against Martin Murray and his year-ending surgery, a lot of fans are now viewing Golovkin as the man to beat at 160.
Macklin will arguably be the best opponent he has faced to date, and since Macklin lost to Sergio Martinez a little over a year ago, this will finally give Golovkin and Martinez a common opponent for the sake of comparison.
What to Expect: A good scrap for as long as it lasts. Macklin is a rugged fighter with tons of heart, and I don't expect him to enter the ring feeling intimidated by Golovkin. He will show the Kazakhstan native zero respect in the early rounds, looking to impose his own will on the champ.
Prediction: Courage and toughness mean a lot in the fight game, but like Frankie Dunn says in Million Dollar Baby, "Tough ain't enough." Golovkin is a freight train, and I don't see Macklin being able to do anywhere near enough to slow him down.
Golovkin by Round 7 TKO.